President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, received a private tour of the Gettysburg battlefield and the new visitor center and museum Friday.

Their tour guide was Gabor Boritt, a history professor and director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College who has previously spent time with Bush talking about history.

The two-hour tour covered the first, second and third days of the battle, including a stop at Little Round Top, said Jake Boritt, who accompanied his father and helped with the tour.

The president, who hails from Texas, listened as the historian talked about that state's infantry regiments' role in the second day of the battle.

They also visited the Gettysburg National Cemetery and the new visitor center and museum, where the president got a sneak peek of the restored Cyclorama painting, which opens to the public later this month.

"They're definitely impressed by Gettysburg overall," Jake Boritt said.

The president has talked about coming to Gettysburg for years, Jake Boritt said.

It wasn't until two weeks ago, though, that the Boritts found out the president might come for a tour. Then plans were on and off because of Hurricane Gustav and the Republican National Convention, Jake Boritt said.

The Boritts found out Wednesday night the president and some of his colleagues were definitely coming.


The group included former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former White House political adviser Karl Rove, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Karen Hughes, former undersecretary for public affairs for the State Department.

They made the trek by motorcoach from Camp David.

The visit Friday afternoon caught many people by surprise, including tourists. The president did shake hands and have his photograph taken during the tour.

Some visitors were standing outside the visitor center and talking on their cell phones, saying, "I just saw the president of the United States," said Dru Anne Neil, spokeswoman for the Gettysburg Foundation.

Neil said she didn't know the president was coming until the day of his visit.

"It was not something that was widely known," she said.

York County developer Bob Kinsley, chairman of the Gettysburg Foundation Board, was in the museum for the president's visit.

Neil said she heard the president was impressed with the cleaned and restored panoramic "The Battle of Gettysburg" painting.

"They loved it," Gabor Boritt said.

Jake Boritt said they gave the president a copy his father's book, "The Gettysburg Gospel," and a copy of a documentary that Jake Boritt has produced about his father, called "Budapest to Gettysburg."

"It was quite an honor to be with the president of the United States," Jake Boritt said. "It was quite a thrill."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.