Summer Challenge: Seminary Ridge Museum

SRMlogoI have been vacationing in Florida the past few days for a family reunion but the Summer Challenge Continues.  If you would like some background on the Summer Challenge, see this post.  Although the challenge was for local sites I could not pass up the opportunity to see the new Seminary Ridge Museum at Gettysburg and it was worth the trip.

The Seminary Ridge Museum is located in the original building of the Lutheran Theological Seminary located on Seminary Ridge overlooking the Gettysburg battlefield.  This was the location where General John Buford watched the first day’s battle from the cupola located on the roof of the building.

The Museum tells the story of the pivotal first days battle and the roll that the seminary had in that event.  The Seminary quickly became a field hospital where the Union wounded were treated and housed for most of that summer.  The top floor of the building tells the story of the first day of the battle with a variety of displays in the various rooms located on the 4th floor.

The third floor explains field medicine in the 1800’s and what had to be done to keep the wounded alive.  If a soldier had a wound to his head or a limb he had a better chance of survival than a wound to the torso.  Amputations were large in number and infection control was the name of the game.  Several of the rooms are set up to display soldiers recovering from their wounds but the most striking room is the operating room.  This is not for the faint of heart.

The second floor tells the story of the religion in the area and moral and religious debates that were taking place during that time period.  There were many ethical debates about the war that was supposed to be over quickly and would rage on for several more years.  These debates are not always spoken about but there has been some new research in this area of the war and this is a particular area of interest for me.

The highlight of the tour for me was the trip up the stairs to the cupola to get the same view that General Buford had.  Of course the area has changed in the last 150 years but if you set your mind to it you can see what he saw and why this was an important vantage point for him.  Standing there, looking out over the battlefield, gives one an entirely different perspective on that first day of the battle.

If you find yourself in Gettysburg do take the time for the tour.

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