One Tank Trip

One Tank Trip: Seminary Ridge Museum

GETTYSBURG, Pa. - It's the battle of Gettysburg like you've probably never seen it before in a town dedicated to the memory of what happened here.

One view of where it all happened wasn't always that easy to see on your own.

"We're looking towards the west here at the first days battlefield," said Peter Miele, director of education and museum operations at Seminary Ridge Museum.

You can see it from the cupola atop the museum in Gettysburg.

"This was the original home of the Lutheran seminary when it was constructed in 1832," Miele explained. "Everything for the school took place in this building."

There were students living here, doing things students do, like leaving a mark. The door frame still bears the names they carved in it.

When the war broke out and the forces advanced, the seminary had a good vantage point. In 1863, the cupola was used as a military observation post.

One of the guided tours begins in the attic.

"So the attic is the most original part of the building," Miele said. "The rest of the building was updated in 1895. It was converted into a dormitory, but up here, not much has changed."

Up a narrow wooden staircase, 48 steps. It's the same path Union General John Buford took on the morning of July 1, 1863.

Then, he could see thousands of campfires burning in the west. The Confederates were close by. The battles that took place around the building set up what would happen in the next two days.

Map: Seminary Ridge Museum


There's so much to learn, and it's laid out in chronological order as you wind your way back down.

"Usually you go to a museum and go to see artifacts, and it's a new building," Miele said. "Well, I like to say you're standing in our largest artifact."

As the casualties mounted, Union and Confederate soldiers were brought inside, making the seminary one of the largest Civil War field hospitals, treating between 600 to 700 soldiers.

"For these men, it didn't end on July 1," Miele explained. "They lived with their wounds, physical or emotional or mental, for the remainder of their lives."

And being a seminary, it seems fitting there is also a focus on faith and freedom."

As the tour comes to an end, the focus shifts to faith and freedom, the religious beliefs of soldiers, how religion was used in the slavery debate and how it all relates to us today.

In 1914, the peace portico was added. You can walk out on it. It was the first monument to peace in Gettysburg.

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