pennsylvania · Uncategorized

Gettysburg Explorations

Originally published on 19 August 2014.

Today Lydia and I are rounding out our Gettysburg stay by exploring the sights and scenes of this small town’s big history!

First up today: Exploring the Fairfield Inn B&B:

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Continuously operating since 1757

Since it is so historic, they have a self-guided walking tour you can take and get to know the place. Since we were the only ones staying there the night before, we got to go into all the rooms–some of them are VERY fancy!

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We had noticed coins all over the place–on windowsills, in cracks in the walls, in the floorboards, etc.–and wondered what that could possibly be all about. Well, it’s like the whole building is a wishing well! People leave coins in all sorts of places, and at Christmas, the owner collects as many as he can find and donates them to a local charity. Very cool! Here are some coins in the wall of one of the dining rooms:

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And this is breakfast! WOW!

The chef came in as we were touring the place, and he was so friendly! Breakfast is usually served at 8:30, but he went ahead and started getting things ready for us before 8:00! Coffee and juice awaited us at the table, and then when breakfast came out, we were just flabbergasted at well, everything! Or at least I was. We both cleaned our plates, though!

After breakfast, we finished our tour, including the JEB Stewart room, Grumble Jones Room, and the underground railroad exhibit! There was a separate battle fought in the Inn’s backyard (Battle of Fairfield), and it’s in a spot that was certainly traversed before and during the Revolution as well!

Lydia made a friend before we left.

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Now that we’ve fueled up, packed up, and checked out, let’s go! There’s an auto tour of significant sites related to the Battle of Gettysburg, and two of the stops were on our way into town. We figured that would be a good thing to do while it was raining. The auto tour was pretty well done. Most of it was on a road specifically made for the tour–which means no unnecessary pass-through traffic or annoyed locals having to watch out for silly tourists. =) The other good thing is that is follows the battle more or less chronologically. Stop #1 describes the first moments of the battle at 8:00AM on July 1, 1863, and the rest follow the events of each day.

I was really amazed the first day to see all the monuments in the fields, but this time we got to see them up close, and in crazy remote areas. Most of the monuments are from NY and PA from what we could tell, but there were a LOT of markers from the Army of Northern VA as well. Those are all the closest neighbors, so it makes sense that most of the men fighting would be from those places. And out of nowhere, without looking specifically, we found a TENNESSEE monument! I think the website that lists all the monuments said there are three TN monuments, but that’s the only one we saw. It looks very different from the vast majority, so it was easy to spot! Marble, gold, three stars. Love it.

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Now we’re on a mission to find a WISCONSIN monument! That’s where Lydia is from! We went about following the tour in order. We ended up having to double-back on one part, but we found it!

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There she is… Miss Wisconsin! Soon to be a MRS. =)

Now, into the town to see how the locals lived during a rough three-day battle. The Shriver House Museum does just that. It was built in 1861 with the intent of being a saloon and ten-pin alley (bowling alley), but before the house and business could open, George Washington Shriver, the head of the Shriver family and proprietor, decided to join up with the Union army, leaving his wife and two daughters in the safety of their new home.

Fast forward just under two years to June 1863. The Confederates have surrounded the town. The Union is coming in. Many families, including the Shriver ladies, got out of town. The Shrivers stayed at a farm about 3 miles away, but that was not far enough. While the battle raged for three days, they took care of wounded soldiers from both sides. When they came home a week after the battle, that stench I mentioned earlier greeted them. Their home looked like this:

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Messy and bloody. Upstairs in the attic, they found dead sharpshooters (Confederates) and plenty of shells up there as well. They had cut out holes in the brick walls of the attic to shoot through, but some of the Union soldiers must have been pretty good shots as well to shoot the sharpshooters through those holes.

Mr. Shriver came home at Christmas that year, but only for a few days. In January he was captured and taken to Andersonville, GA, where he dies of scurvy and starvation.

Sad story, so I apologize for the downer. The story of the family and the house is fascinating, though. You’ll have to tour the house to hear it all!

There were still plenty of things Lydia and I wanted to do–the Gettysburg museum, the Jennie Wade House, etc., but what we really wanted was lunch at the historic and beautiful (and ever so haunted!) Dobbin House Tavern.

Fun fact: Parking on the streets of Gettysburg is a mere 25 cents per hour. HOUR. The previous night’s expense in the faraway parking garage was more than that! Fortunately for us, I had lots of quarters in my car’s cup holder. We were set for the day!

So we put in another quarter and walked off to lunch! The tavern portion of the inn is in the deep, dark recesses of the basement. The only light there came from candles–very atmospheric!

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Their menu was quite extensive, but we both opted for sandwiches. But you know what took the prize for best food item? The potato salad! I don’t know what they put in it to make it fabulous, but it was delicious. See?

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It’s a bit dark, but you get this gist. Mr. Peabody Pembroke liked it, too.

After lunch, we stopped off at the B&B to pick up some cheese fudge that we left in their fridge while we were out for the day. Lydia, being from Wisconsin, brought back some delightful cheese fudge for Steve and me to try! She and I snacked on it on the way back to VA, sweetly rounding out our adventure.

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