On April 12, 1861, Confederate troops under the command of Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire at 4:30 a.m. on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. These were the first shots that started the American Civil War, also known as “The War Between The States.” That fateful April day unknowingly brought a little town called Gettysburg into the nation’s eyes for three long days in July 1863.

Growing up and working in this town, my first job was at the Gettysburg Travel Council when it was located in the train station on Carlisle Street. The number one question asked when a tourist arrived was “where’s the battlefield.” I thought to myself, well, you’re kind of standing on it. I’d get them their town map, a list of all the museums and their hours and fees and then send them on their way to the Visitor Center on the Taneytown Road. The first suggestion I had for them was to see the Electric Map (I’m really making myself sound pretty old) and second was to walk across the parking lot to the Cyclorama to see the historic painting of Pickett’s Charge.

Jennie Dillon is vice president of Gettysburg Area Retail Merchants Association (GARMA) and owner of Artworks on York Street.

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