Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’

Last week I took a weekend vacation to Gettysburg, PA and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.

harpers ferry

Although I had never planned on traveling to Gettysburg, I figured I would sneak it in since it is a big part of Civil War history.

But my main purpose of the trip was to see Harper’s Ferry.

Harper’s Ferry has been on my radar for a while.  If you are not familiar with the town, it’s a really small city in West Virginia where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet.

But what is so unique about the town, is the amount of history in such a small area, especially civil war history.

It was the scene of the famous John Brown raid.  If you are not familiar with this, I highly recommend you read the wikipedia page, it’s a good read for any history buff.

john brown

Basically, John Brown was a big abolitionist (anti-slavery) before the U.S. Civil War started. Whether his anti slavery ideas came from his devotion to religion or from his business failures is debated, but what is not debated is that towards the end of his life he gained a “militaristic” hatred of the institution of salary.

Although the civil war did not start yet, it was slowly starting to develop.  John Brown had already led some successful slave insurrections and came up with the idea of raiding a federal weapons armory.  The idea was that he could arm many of the slaves in the South and start a major slave uprising.

Long story short, his plan backfired.  He was caught pretty quickly, several of his son’s  were killed on the scene and he was tried and hung in the nearby town of Charlestown (named after George Washington’s brother).

Although John Brown was not succesful, his raid on the armory was big news and helped fuel the anger on both sides which started the Civil War shortly after.

The town itself was also taken over by the confederacy and the union several times during the war.

Like I stated, small town, big history.

It’s hard to explain Harper’s Ferry.  It’s basically a town on a river bank, with a railroad, pedestrian and car bridge, along with some small shops and historic area’s.

harpers ferry 3

They have parts of the original fort that John Brown was captured in, along with a ton of hiking trails.

Overall, I give Harper’s Ferry a “C+/B-”  It’s not bad, just not a lot to do.

It is limited on hotels, but there are a decent number of good restaurants near the water front.

harpers ferry 2

Outside of town, Charlestown has a nice horse track and casino about 10 minutes away.

You can basically make a day out of it or maybe stretch a weekend trip.

Check out the John Brown fort area, walk over the pedestrian bridge, pick some hiking trails and then hit the casino.

Not a horrible trip, but not sure if I would go again.

-John Andre

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I just returned from a visit to Gettysburg, PA.

First impressions: Ugh.

Gettysburg is pretty bad.  If you aren’t familiar with Gettysburg, it is a small town in Pennsylvania that is known for one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War.


When you consider that Americans were killing other Americans, it is the scene of possibly the largest number of casualties in American war history.

So what is wrong from Gettysburg?

When I was researching online, I expected the town to be “high-end”.

Not very high-end like the Hampton’s, but maybe similar to Newport Rhode Island or Woodstock Vermont.

I at least expected it to be nice.

Also, most of the hotels were also sold out on a Saturday in October, so I figured it must be a popular tourist attraction.

The ride took me about 4 hours from NYC, and as soon as I arrived into the middle of town, I noticed that something was off.

The city is small.  Very small.

It’s basically a roundabout in the middle of town, a train station, and several blocks of small gift shops and restaurants.

gettysburg 3

After eating at the “Lincoln diner”, we decided to do some shopping.  Unfortunately, the gift shops are pretty bad.   I showed up to town with cash in hand, looking to buy some something and the stores were pretty horrible.

Both my wife and I said the same thing “how are these stores still in business”?

But let’s be honest, you don’t travel to Gettysburg to go shopping and eat at fancy restaurants, you go to see the battlefield.

The battlefield is a quick 5 minute ride out of downtown and is large and completely preserved.

Now, don’t get wrong.  It is nice.  There is ton’ s of historical monuments and you can can do a guided or audio tour, which is also pretty cool.

But to be honest, it’s just a big field in the middle of Pennsylvania.

Although trip advisor has great reviews on it and I am really into Civil War history, I still felt the battlefield was really boring.

I almost think that people are scared to criticize it.  Is is unpatriotic to say that the battlefield is not worth a trip?

The history is very, very interesting.  But the geography is just not very nice.

I climbed up to the “devils den” which is supposed to be the one of the highlights of Gettysburg and that was also pretty boring.

devin den

It’s basically a 100 foot hill with a bunch of medium-sized rocks on the bottom.

The only interesting party of Gettysburg I found are the memorials.

I didn’t realize how many Irish immigrants had died there and there are many old memorials with shamrocks on them. Very cool.

Overall, I give Gettysburg a “D”.

You will find better civil war history in Cape May, NJ, Charleston S.C. or Savannah.  I liked seeing cities, ports and churches.

There is only so much to look at in a field.

The restaurants are bad, the stores are run down and I’m sad to say that I cannot recommend it.

We also checked out Antietam, which was also the scene of another major civil war battle.

It’s not as preserved as Gettysburg and I actually like it better.  They have a really cool Civil War cemetery and the famous Dunker church that was near the confederate line during the battle.

My next review will be for Harper s Ferry, WV.

-John Andre

Check out my book on! Book 3 is coming out soon!

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