Americans are commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (1861-1865). Museum exhibits and special programs have been going on in various states with a Civil War history since 2011 and will continue through 2015. Major battles, such as the Battle of Wilson’s Creek near Springfield, Missouri, have been reenacted with historical accuracy of uniforms, supplies, food, and anything else soldiers would have had with them. These reenactments have attracted visitors numbering into the thousands. One of the most famous battles will be recreated during the week of July Fourth. That is the Battle of Gettysburg.
The battlefield around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of the largest single military engagement ever on American soil, and is considered by many to be a turning point in the war. From July 1st through July 3rd, 1863, the fighting between Union and Confederate troops resulted in a combined total of over 46,000 casualties which included close to 8,000 killed. The outcome of the three-day battle was a Union victory. The Union Major General George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, putting a stop to Lee’s northern invasion. President Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery that same year in November.
Since the Gettysburg National Military Park is part of the National Park Service, the reenactment will be held on private property. This year, because it is the 150th anniversary, there will be two different groups recreating the battle at different times. The Blue Gray Alliance’s battle will be June 27-30, and the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee will stage their battle July 4-7. Both groups will have thousands of soldiers, some on foot and others on horseback. Each group will offer family-friendly activities that include guest speakers on topics of living history, Civil War music, medicine, and daily life.
In addition to the reenactments, there will be many other events during the 10-day anniversary. Tours of the Gettysburg National Military Park will be given by National Park Service rangers. Free tours will also be given of Gettysburg’s oldest historic home, the Dobbin House Tavern. This house was built in 1776 and was one of the stops along the underground railroad as slaves made their way to freedom.
July 1st is the grand opening for Gettysburg’s newest museum, the Seminary Ridge Museum on the campus of Lutheran Theological Seminary. Special programs on Civil War medicine and the role of faith on and off the battlefield will run from July 1st through July 4th. The Independence Day parade and fireworks are set for July 3rd. For a complete listing of events during the 150th anniversary, please check the schedule provided by the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Written by: Cynthia Collins, Museum Correspondent
Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Schedule of Events