Take a Teacher’s Tour of the Battle of Gettysburg

Historian Matthew Pinsker leads a teacher’s tour of the Battle of Gettysburg, highlighting key moments and individuals to illustrate the broad story of the battle, its implications for the Civil War, and its legacy in American history.

Watch the full tour below, or scroll down to study the battle through short segments.

 


 

Tour Segments

Discussion

Great connection to the modern day - the "handshake" is a powerful bridge for learning.
EA
Stuyvesant HS


Really insightful and thought provoking on the political ideas of the north. Details about the military conflicts were also enlightening.

KY
Stuyvesant High School


It's really interesting how the topography played such an important role in both sides' military strategy and execution. Cemetery Hill, The Round Tops, and Culp's Hill all affected the outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg. This is something that is not usually taught in classes, but remains a topic in need of recognition.
AL
Stuyvesant High School


Although the Battle of Gettysburg was unexpected by both sides, each minor detail whether it involve the terrain or the soldiers, added to the result. War in the 19th century may have been more coincidence and circumstance than strategy and war heroes.


Agree with EA. In addition, incorporation of topography brings the battle to life visually in a way that is typically hard to capture so long after the fact.
SG
Stuvesant High School


Great argument for a less is more approach to studying the Civil War. Students connect with individual stories and are inspired by them to ask the insightful questions that lead to deeper understandings.

In the intro, the idea of being a "handshake away" from Gettysburg reminds me of the Patricia Polacco children's story of the Civil War called "Pink and Say" which we read to our students at the end of our year to bring everything together. This is a family story passed down through generations about a boy soldier from Ohio in the Union Army who "shook the hand of Abraham Lincoln" before 2nd Bull Run and ends up being saved from a battlefield in Georgia by a Union Colored soldier about his same age.

Individuals, decisions, and chains of consequences are explored in the Shaara historical novel, "The Killer Angels" which is readable by middle schoolers and can be shared in excerpts. This also was well turned into the long film "Gettysburg" which also can be shown and closely viewed in excerpts.

Finally, I remember being a cadet in Army ROTC and studying Chamberlain at Little Round top as a case study in leadership. I still use the leadership manual presentation on occasion with my students.

We've been studying the Civil War through a close viewing of the film "Glory" about the 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment. Might switch back to Gettysburg this year.

Will also connect a virtual visit to the Gettysburg National Cemetery with our 8th Grade DC trip visit to Arlington National Cemetery.


It was really interesting to see how much the war still impacts us today with things like the Eternal Light Peace Memorial. The influence of geography and topography on the outcome of the battles was also interesting. We often think of battles being won by people but rarely think of the surroundings.
TJ
Stuyvesant High School


I found it very surprising that the confederates were never beaten from the field, and seeing the battlefield where it happened really helps you imagine the whole situation. "It is all my fault" really got to me, both upsetting and powerful.

DR
Stuyvesant High School


What surprised me most was how close and relatively recent the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War is to us today, when he talked about how when his students shook the hands of someone who had shook the hands of Gettysburg veterans, it made me realize that the Civil War was not as far away as I had originally thought. Combined with the account on the New York Times article written by a father when he found his dead son showed how real and devastating this war was to both soldiers righting on the front and for people at home.


What surprised me most was how close and relatively recent the Battle of Gettysburg and the Civil War is to us today, when he talked about how when his students shook the hands of someone who had shook the hands of Gettysburg veterans, it made me realize that the Civil War was not as far away as I had originally thought. Combined with the account on the New York Times article written by a father when he found his dead son showed how real and devastating this war was to both soldiers righting on the front and for people at home.

GT
Stuyvesant High School


Hearing more personal, individualized stories about those fighting at Gettysburg and actually seeing where they were makes it seem so much more real and concrete, as opposed to just another story in a textbook. The idea that Pinsker's students, or Pinsker himself, could be just one handshake away from people who'd fought at Gettysburg was really just mind blowing to me; it made the conflict seem so much more close.

DT
Stuyvesant High School


This was really enlightening in terms of how the war was fought. The discussion of cavalry as a reconnaissance unit was really intriguing and explains why they were still employed in a world that killed off mounted knights with gunpowder. More importantly than the style of 19th century war was the discussion of individuals that really humanized and event that was previously just associated with Union victory and with death.

GG
Stuyvesant HS


I really enjoyed the tour as it focused on very specific individuals and their unique stories at this battle and I love how it was connected to more recent events such as the handshaking with the veterans. Before the video I had seen the Battle of Gettysburg as the turning point of the war in favor of the Union, but I know see how the battle was a huge missed opportunity that was actually technically not a victory for the Union.

TK Stuyvesant High School


It is fascinating to hear the perspective that Professor Pinsker provides in regards to the Battle of Gettysburg by shedding light on perhaps some of the more little-known aspects of the battle. By utilizing a "building block" approach in which the achievements of each side are broken down into the achievements of each individual, the cliché that the actions of a few can affect the many proves itself true through this chapter of American history.

AO
Stuyvesant High School


Pinsker's storytelling was very effective in portraying the emotion and trauma present during the Battle of Gettysburg. I truly enjoyed it; it was time well spent.

JK
Stuyvesant High School


I can more clearly see the Battle of Gettysburg as a whole when looking at the individual components that make it up. You can see in a sense, how contingent this was on individual actions and decisions, rather than the heralded general who receives the credit.

JW
Stuyvesant High School


This tour did such a great job at capturing the emotional and intellectual aspects of the Battle of Gettysburg. It was so heartbreaking that such a young boy such as Bayard Wilkeson was put on the spot and pushed to the point where he was tempted to amputate his own leg, dying just a few hours later. That the battle and its symbols (such as the National Cemetery) still connect to us and impact us today makes learning about this Battle and its effects worth it.


This tour gave more insight into the Battle of Gettysburg . Topography, strategies, and position of the troops influenced outcomes of battles. Leaders were also very important; segments showed that it was crucial for leaders to obey orders of higher authority. Also shown was the devastating impact of war on soldiers' families.

JG
Stuyvesant High School


Including the topography of each strategic location and memorial helps emphasize the importance of setting in the Battle of Gettysburg. It's interesting how each individual person and their decisions had such a great impact on the outcome of the war and the way it was fought.
RC
Stuyvesant High School


I am struck by the attention to detail, especially by the mentioning of specific figures such as Amos Humiston, who died with a photo of his children. I'm left to wonder how different the outcome of the battle, or even the war, could have been if one of the many small factors that helped Union victory at Gettysburg would have been missing.


Including the topography of battle sites and memorials help visualize the events and details. It's also interesting how each individual's decisions and actions determined the outcome of the war.
RC
Stuyvesant High School


I am struck by the attention to detail, especially by the mentioning of specific figures such as Amos Humiston, who died with a photo of his children. I'm left to wonder how different the outcome of the battle, or even the war, could have been if one of the many small factors that helped Union victory at Gettysburg would have been missing.
KL
Stuyvesant High School


Really brings to light how every little action influenced the outcome of the battle. Definitely made the Battle of Gettysburg much more interesting.

CL
Stuyvesant High School


I completely agree with you on the idea that the Battle of Gettysburg (and the Civil War in general) was highly influenced by many individuals rather than a few generals and politicians. I was also blown away by the connection between the death of Bayard Wilkeson and the Gettysburg Address because it showed that a seemingly insignificant event (the death of a lieutenant), influenced one of the most famous speeches in America.

Ish M
Stuyvesant High School


The way that geography is used to illustrate the war and military situation of the time provides an interesting backdrop to the discussion of the Civil War's events. I also consider it fascinating how Lincoln's beginning of the Gettysburg address "Four score and seven years ago" was in part a response to Lincoln's uncertainty in Response to a Serenade, which plays into this larger theme of Lincoln's constant striving for growth and improvement.


The story of the Taylor Brothers from the First Minnesota Regiment was particularly striking because this family sacrificed so many of their children to the war effort. It really shows the extent of the widespread involvement of average families on both sides of the war.

DD
Stuyvesant High School


I find it very interesting that even though America thinks of the Battle of Gettysburg as the turnover of the war, they don't realize the complication along with the victory from the Union. The strategies and the planning by both sides to approach the battle were very detailed and contributed a great deal to the outcome of the battle.

EM
Stuyvesant High School


I've been to the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and at the time I don't think I understood the true meaning of what I was seeing and visiting. Capturing the battle through the lens of specific individuals, may they be the highest ranking officers or journalists, really pulled the fighting off the battlefield in 1863 and into the present; I found this to be very captivating.

EX
Stuyvesant High School


What particularly struck my interest was the segment about Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet's differing battle opinions. Mr. Pinsker's detailed descriptions of both men's opinions and thoughts really showed the strategic savvy required to wage a war. "If Longstreet could have pierced union lines or taken the roundtops, the confederates would have won." I still am awed by how close the battle actually was--and how big the risk it was for both sides.

YX
Stuyvesant High School


This tour was extremely informative and offered interesting insight into how the topography of Gettysburg affected the clash of the Confederate and Union forces. Additionally, it stressed the importance of intelligence and information gathering in the battlefield and the role of individuals in this battle by recounting the stories of soldiers and the decisions and sacrifices they made that ultimately determined the outcome of the battle.
NZ Stuyvesant High School


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