Gettysburg, site of the famous Civil War battle, is a fabulous town to visit for a weekend. There’s plenty to see and do and lots of places to just sit and be quiet if you prefer. Located just north of the Mason-Dixon line in Pennsylvania, the Battle of Gettysburg raged over three days from July 1 – 3, 1863. The battle took place in the town and the surrounding countryside and is considered a major turning point in the Civil War when Gen. George Mead’s Army of the Potomac finally repelled the Confederacy’s attempt to invade the North under the command of Gen. Robert E. Lee. (Wiki).
We were there for the NCAA Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championships but also to visit the Pennsylvania monument to look for the names of my ancestors. Clark Field, where the games were played, is immediately adjacent to the park. It’s an odd thing to look up and see the monuments and tourists visiting the historic site. The campus of Gettysburg College wasn’t immune from the battle. One building was used as a field hospital for the Confederates.
The campus itself is an interesting juxtaposition of modern buildings and historic treasures with peaceful grassy areas surrounded by trees and flower beds. Rick managed to catch a nap in one of the chairs while we were waiting for the game to start. I was able to snap a few photos and mess around with some of the settings on my camera.
We were there for two days and had plenty to see and do both days. We saw people touring the battlefield on segways and horses. Both sound like a lot of fun, I’m not sure which I would rather do; probably the horses for the opportunity to leave the roadway and actually cross the huge fields. There were other groups with personal historians with the ability bring the battle to life through personal stories. In fact, you can “rent a historian” from the historical society located downtown.
We weren’t able to find a hotel room in Gettysburg except for a really expensive bed and breakfast as there was a large youth soccer tournament going on. Just about any field large enough for a couple goals was pressed into service. We ended up sleeping in Emmitsburg, Md. just over the state line. The hotel was right next to the highway and within 10 minutes of the Gettysburg exits.
I have two ancestors who fought at Gettysburg. I know more about one than the other, thanks to the effort of a distant cousin, but their children married and produced my grandfather. They were but two of more than 34,000 men from Pennsylvania who came to fight on those hot days in July. There’s a huge memorial on the battlefield commemorating those men. The Pennsylvania Monument dominates the landscape. There are plaques around the walls with the infantry at the bottom and the cavalry listed under the arches. We were able to find the name of one ancestor, but only the regimental plaque of the other. You can climb up a very narrow set of spiral stairs to the top of the monument where you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the landscape.
We ran into another gentleman and his children doing a similar search. He told us the story of how his great great grandfather’s effects had been passed down through his family and how they visit once a year. He took great pleasure in spending time researching a particular aspect of the battle before making the trip and was able to show us his ancestor’s name on one of the cavalry plaques.
The historic downtown area has been restored and preserved and is filled with charming shops where you can spend a few pleasant hours browsing. Naturally there are plenty of places to eat all over the town (you knew I was getting to a recipe :)). We stopped in one on the main circle to grab a beer and a bowl of soup. I had a tomato bisque that was full of the flavor of thyme and tomato. It was a bit sweet and I suspect the cook tried to thicken it with a slurry of flour and water which ended up in little lumps. Fortunately they were cooked through and were almost like little dumplings (I’m being kind because the soup itself was rather tasty).
I decided to try to recreate the soup when we got home, using silken tofu as the creamy and thickening agent. My version is lower in fat but higher in protein than a soup made with cream or half and half. This was really simple to throw together because I used canned vegetables and had vegetable broth available. If you prefer to roast them yourself, you’ll need about two cups.
You’ll need an immersion blender or some means of creaming all the ingredients together to make this delicious soup. This site recommends preparing the tofu by pulsing it in a blender until smooth. I didn’t do it, and wonder if the finish would be smoother if I had.
- 1 15 ounce can roasted tomatoes with fennel and red pepper (or 2 cups roasted veggies)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 4 ounces silken tofu
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (more or less)
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (less if using dried)
- Heat the tomatoes and vegetable broth in a large sauce pan.
- Cut the tofu into small pieces and add to the soup.
- Use an immersion blender to cream everything together.
- Add the salt and pepper, stir in the balsamic vinegar and thyme.
- Garnish with sprigs of fresh thyme.
This was our second trip to Gettysburg as a couple. I remember going to visit with my parents but I don’t remember being particularly thrilled about it, probably because I wasn’t allowed to run and climb all over stuff. I’d love to go back and visit again. The trip itself is about 3 hours from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, but once you’re out of the Baltimore-Washington corridor the land opens up into rolling hills and farm country(and the roads narrow to two lanes). We haven’t seen everything in Gettysburg by any means, just the area near the Pennsylvania monument and a short trips through the countryside. There are museums to explore, ghost tours for the adventurous, a covered bridge nearby to visit and the Eisenhower homestead to check out.
Gettysburg is perfect for couples, but families will find plenty of activities to occupy the younger ones. You’ll find more information at Destination Gettysburg.