Monday, July 1, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the battle that took place in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pa., between Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Known as the Battle of Gettysburg, The clash involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point.
It’s estimated that between 200,000 and 300,000 visitors will descend this weekend upon the town and fields of Gettysburg National Military Park to mark the 150th anniversary of the three-day clash, which cost an incredible 51,000 casualties.
The commemoration will be highlighted by a large reenactment of Pickett’s Charge, an infantry assault ordered by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade's Union positions on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 3, the actual anniversary of the attack, National Park Service rangers will guide thousands of visitors in loose formation across a gently rolling field. Others will stand where Federal regiments poured rifle and artillery fire into the arc of Confederates.
The event will conclude with the playing of Taps by multiple musicians, a solemn remembrance of selfless sacrifice by the warriors at Gettysburg.
About 400 other events are planned over 10 days, including a second battle reenactment next weekend.
In addition, Gettysburg National Military Park on Sunday will hold one of its 150th anniversary signature events, an evening program entitled "Gettysburg: A New Birth of Freedom." The keynote speaker is historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Country music singer Trace Adkins and a military band will perform the national anthem.
The ceremony concludes with a procession to the Soldiers' National Cemetery, where luminaries will mark each of the 3,500 graves of soldiers who died at Gettysburg.
Besides portrayals of the fighting, the reenactment will include about 200 individuals representing the town of Gettysburg in 1863.
"The civilians living there have done careful research of the residents of the town, and they have taken on their identities, including their trade and craft," Shelton said. People are here to recognize and honor and commemorate what these people went through, the sacrifices of both soldiers and civilians,” she added.
Gettysburg, now with a population of about 7,800, and surrounding Adams County anticipate a $100 million economic impact from 150th anniversary observances.