Places of loss and inspiration

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When President Abraham Lincoln alighted at the Gettysburg Train Station on November 18, 1863 day was already giving way to darkness. He walked a block to the home of David Wills, attorney and school superintendent, who had invited the president to say “a few appropriate remarks” at the dedication of the nearby national cemetery that Wills had been instrumental in establishing. That now world famous speech–the drafting of which was completed in Wills’ home–is known as the Gettysburg Address.

At that time the train station had only been in operation for about five years but already it had seen plenty. It acted as a hospital during the devastating Battle Of Gettysburg (July 1-3, 1863) during which an an estimated 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing. Many were transported through the station after the gunpowder had settled.

Standing in the small station today is a solemn experience, the ground as hallowed as the nearby cemetery and battlefield. When I visited it last fall I couldn’t believe such a moving and historically significant spot wasn’t part of the Gettysburg National Military Park. But late last December that changed with the passage of federal legislation which added the train station to the national park system.

Learn more about Gettysburg National Military Park.

Read the Gettysburg Address.


Photo courtesy Destination Gettysburg.