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Fields of War: The Gettysburg Reenactment
The green hills, farms, and forests of Pennsylvania turned red during the Civil War when the central region of the state became the main priority of the Confederate States of America with its ability, as a national crossroads, to control trade, travel, and power. Gettysburg alone conjoins ten roads, the reason why the Confederacy hoped to take the town, although many may believe the myth that they sought shoes. To stop the Confederates from reaching Harrisburg and Philadelphia, the Union Army met the rebels on the fields of Gettysburg for three days, July 1st-July 3rd. The Battle of Gettysburg saw the largest casualties of the Civil War (over 50,000), ended the Confederacy's invasion of the North, and turned the tide of war into the favor of the Union and President Abraham Lincoln.
To see one of the legendary reenactments of this battle, head to southern Pennsylvania to the Gettysburg National Military Park July 1st-July 3rd for the 153rd Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Reenactment. It will be held at the Gettysburg Movie Site overlooking the famous Round Tops. Order tickets soon for this national event that coincides this year with the actual days of the Battle of Gettysburg. Besides the reenactment of the battle, the three-day event also features impersonations by its stars, such as Robert E. Lee and his wife, and music from the time period performed by professional artists. If you're more interested in the dark side of Gettysburg, ghost stories will be told by "Spooky" Riley that feature the hauntings of Gettysburg by the 50,000 casualties of the battle. My personal favorite event is the demonstrations of artillery and mortar fire that follows the reenactment of the battle.
There is also a variety of activities taking place in Gettysburg that would make for an unforgettable Independence Day. Tours of the battlefield are offered in the afternoon, lessons on Civil War-era medicine, and a nighttime campfire are only a few of the attractions and activities that this National Park has to offer.
Don't forget to take a moment to feel the weight of the landscape and its importance to the history of our nation. Take a deep breath in solitude, in the quiet amongst a line of trees on the edge of the grassy expanse. Look across the hills. Imagine 200,000 soldiers spread out across those round tops before moving on with your tour or your family. One visit here will not be enough to see all there is to see, so be sure to plan another visit to Gettysburg before you leave. Change your vantage point. Learn something new next time. But make sure you come back and never forget this small Pennsylvania town.
To find your Civil War ancestor, visit the National Park Service's website.
A complete list of events for the 2016 Gettysburg Battle Reenactment can be found at http://www.gettysburgreenactment.com/reenactors/event-schedule.
Guest blogger Brandon Sherbo