Thousands of reenactors played the parts of Union and Confederate soldiers in a reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg to commemorate its 150th anniversary.
Thousands of people gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of one of the Civil War’s most important battles. Reenactments, ceremonies, and special battlefield tours were held to celebrate the anniversary. The special events began on June 30 and continued through the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a major battle that marked a turning point in the Civil War. In May 1863, Confederate leaders saw an opportunity to invade the North. They hoped that a victory there might bring an end to the war. In June 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s troops headed north and reached Gettysburg on July 1. The Union army, led by General George G. Meade, met Lee’s army there.
The Battle of Gettysburg lasted for three days and was one of the deadliest battles of the Civil War. About 3,000 Union soldiers and more than 4,000 Confederate soldiers were killed. More than 20,000 soldiers on each side were wounded or reported missing. After the Union victory on July 3, General Lee’s army retreated to Virginia and was never again able to launch a major attack on the Union.
On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln helped dedicate a cemetery at Gettysburg. He gave a speech about the ideals of liberty and equality on which the United States had been founded. He honored the many soldiers who had died defending those ideals. Lincoln’s famous speech became known as the Gettysburg Address.
This year’s anniversary events began with an opening ceremony at Gettysburg National Military Park on June 30. Country singer Trace Adkins sang the national anthem, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin gave a keynote speech about the battle. The ceremony ended with a procession to the Soldiers’ National Cemetery to see luminary candles marking the graves of soldiers who died in the battle. Throughout the week, about 8,000 reenactors took part in recreating key parts of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Image credit: ©Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images
- Gettysburg National Military Park
Learn more about the Battle of Gettysburg and the national park that helps preserve its history.
- The Civil War: 150 Years
Find out how the National Park Service is commemorating the 150th anniversary of many events from the Civil War.