Civil War Reenactments at Gettysburg

Early in the sixties, when the Civil war centennial commemorations were taking place, reenacting the civil war began to become popular, when the enactment of these battles and events drew a wide audience.

The penchant for watching it and taking part faded out nearly as quickly as it had begun until about the mid 80’s when living history began to wildly popular and everyone who was anyone either watched it or took part in it.
Now many historica battles and events are recreated each year, including cannons, guns, muskets, live horses and more realistic enactments than every before of such battles as Gettysburg and Antietam.

Close attention is paid to detail,. and the enactments often take on something of a sacramental feeling, evoking thoughts of a nations struggles as it grew.


American Civil war reenactments now have a very sisable following, whose supporters are enthusiastic about having everything authentic in detail.
Reenactors of any age, from 16 to 76 take part in the enactment or the audiences who make up the field of watchers, and both the viewer and the participant will very often brave some horrid elements to take part in them, or to watch the enactment.
They expend large sums of money and effort as well as vast resources to make the reenactments as absolutely close to the reality as is humany possible and many of them duplicate the dress and event down to the slightest detail, including food, clothing, eating and even attend classes to learn how to “die” in the right form.

Most of the reenactments that I have personally attended, which include Antietam and Gettysburgs Little Round Top, had upward of 300 participants, and portrayed both Union and Confederate, using artillary, infantry, cavalry and old style tent cities in which they live for the weekend or week of the reenactment.


To this date, the largest one was the 135th, held at Gettysburgh, which was host to over 41 thousand participants (reenactors) and about fifty thousands spectators.
Having attended it, I’d have to say that it was the most magnificent spectacle I have ever personally witnessed.

Living history is just what it says.
It brings to life those things we cannot imagine, because of time change, or changes in our life and culture.. its difficult to envision the entire country being at war, brother against brother.
A visit to Gettysburg during the reenactments is a way to bring home what the nation went through as it came of age, and to afford ourselves a glimpse at the history of our country in a way that far surpasses any book we might read.
The American Civil war saw literally thousands of men killed each day, and the Gettysburg cemetery bears an entire section, of several thousands of men who were never identified, whose family and loved ones never know what had happened to them.
Many people say they dedicate their reenactments to those men, so that people won’t forget what it means to have a war on our own soil.

Living history, Civil war Reenactments in Gettysburg are one of the better places to visit in the great outdoors.

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