More than 10,000 participants turned out for the 150th anniversary reenactment of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle, the Battle of Gettysburg, waged July 1-3, 1863.
The battle was considered the turning point for the Union, and the cost in American lives on both sides was steep: 51,112 were killed. By contrast, The Korean War left a total of 36,574 soldiers dead. In Vietnam, 58,209 were killed.
Reenactors were awed by the battlefield courage displayed by the soldiers, and took great pride in performing an accurate reenactment.
“It’s extremely accurate and feels real - the noise, conditions, and spectacle - but you’re not confronting the likelihood of you or your friends being killed,” Union reenactor Jon Sirlin told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Battle of Gettysburg opened when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee located his troops around the town of Gettysburg, in anticipation of Union Gen. George G. Meade’s approach. The battle opened with a seeming Confederate win: Gen. Lee’s troops drove the Union soldiers to Cemetery Hill on July 1.
On July 2, Gen. Lee’s army hit at the flanks of the Union line – leading to several bloody skirmishes, including the charge at Little Round Top. Confederates gained, but could not force the Union troops to flee.
And on July 3, the Union army regained its ground. Gen. Lee tried a run at Cemetery Ridge, but was pushed back and suffered heavy losses, in what’s now known as Pickett’s Charge.