Every re-enactor and visitor has his or her individual reason for participating in or observing the 156th Anniversary Battle of Gettysburg Re-enactment.
Joshua Wartluft and his daughter, both of Hanover, camped out in the US Calvary Camp to “experience what the soldiers experienced.”
“We’re both history nerds and events like this just bring history to life,” Wartluft said. They plan to camp for the whole weekend and participate in the re-enactment.
Sharing the camp was Chris Baublitz, who said he does it because he enjoys camping.
Within the tent, there were a number of children running around dressed in period clothes, who were also participating in the event.
Across the camp, there is a tent that is noticeably different than the rest. Instead of the just the traditional cream-colored fabric, Ross Nelson’s tent had a “bower” which is made up of branches and foliage. Nelson said it acts as protection from the July sun and any looming rain.
“I read about it in a Civil War book,” Nelson said.
Nelson, who traveled from Phoenix, Arizona, said he has had a love for history since he was a small child and has been participating in re-enactments for 30 years.
When asked why he participates in re-enactments, Nelson had an unusual response.
“I’m not sure why, but I’m compelled to do this,” he said. “There’s no particular reason why, I just have to.”
Tucked in behind the tree line is part of the Cavalry camp, filled with horses chewing on hay after showing off their skills in a demonstration.
Bill Scott, who lives near Manassas, Virginia, was one of the mounted re-enactors in Friday’s “Battle: Fearful Probe of Destiny (Cavalry).”
He said, “Horseback is the only way to go.”
“Not only do we have to obey the commands, but we need to convince them [the horses] to do it too,” Scott said.
Randy Crabill, who also rode in the same battle, said he comes simply “because it’s fun.”
The Gordon family of Mount Airy, Maryland, came to Gettysburg to see “history come alive.”
Parents Rob and Janice Gordon brought their kids Rylan and Maddie to see the soldiers and the battles.
“Rylan is really into soldier action figures and we thought it was a great opportunity for him to see soldiers in action,” said Janice Gordon. “Maddie likes history and has enjoyed seeing the horses and the dresses all of the ladies have,” she added.
The family visited the “Living History” section of the event, where Maddie got to speak with women about their dresses and the fashions of the 1860s, including re-enactor Aurora Schaar.
Another family posed next to a set of cannons for a picture, each member clad with red, white and blue. The mother, Erica from Oregon, said she and her family were visiting family in Lancaster and decided to come see Gettysburg. “The kids are super stoked to see Abe [Lincoln],” she said.
The re-enactment has drawn people of all ages to experience the Battle of Gettysburg, allowing “history to come alive.”
The re-enactment activities continue through Sunday afternoon at 965 Pumping Station Rd., in Gettysburg.