Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gettysburg's Anniversary to Be Marked by Events, Re-Enactors

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Gettysburg's Anniversary to Be Marked by Events, Re-Enactors

Article excerpt

What do you wear to Pickett's Charge?

If you're a spectator, lots of sunscreen. But if you're a Civil War re-enactor, try 20 pounds of wool and at least as many pounds of authentic gear, including a full canteen to battle the heat of July in Gettysburg.

For the next eight days, spectators and re-enactors from around the country and even the world will descend on central Pennsylvania to mark the 150th anniversary of this pivotal battle. They'll have three chances to relive not only Confederate Maj. Gen. George Pickett's failed attack but also fighting at the Wheat Field and Cemetery Ridge. And Abraham Lincoln will present his Gettysburg Address at 11 a.m. for four straight days, even though that didn't actually take place until November.

Gettysburg's 150th is such a milestone that it entails two weekends of re-enactments, three days of National Park Service- sanctioned military "demonstrations" and dozens of lectures, workshops and living history programs in and around the city. If it all seems a little too much, well, you're not as much of a history buff as Michael Kraus. The McCandless man has been taking part in re- enactments since he was a teenager and was a Union commander at the 125th Gettysburg anniversary, when 13,000 re-enactors outnumbered the spectators.

"I love to be in Gettysburg. It's impossible to have a bad time," he said earlier this week. "It will have its moments -- they all have great moments. I just hope it's not oppressively hot or too much rain."

Mr. Kraus, who is a curator at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland, says there will probably be more than 13,000 re- enactors in Gettysburg this week, but they'll be divided among the three events. He's taking part in two, the demonstrations on the actual Gettysburg battlefield July 1-3 (www.nps.gov/gett) and the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee's 150th battle re-enactment July 4- 7.

The GAC (www.gettysburgreenactment.com) stages its event every five years. This time, it will be held on Table Rock Road, north of downtown. Well-organized and packed with activities, it aims to create an authentic experience for re-enactors and an entertaining show for visitors, who pay up to $40 a day and for an additional fee can sit in grandstands for a better view of the action. …

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