Celebrations in Adams, Cumberland and Dauphin Counties
The Battle of Gettysburg was the largest conflict ever fought on American soil and one of the most pivotal in the nation’s military history, resulting in over 50,000 casualties and changing the course of the American Civil War. This summer marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the the historic battle, which will be honored during Gettysburg 150 – Reflections of History, a 10-day commemoration from June 28 through July 7 that will include the largest reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg ever held. History enthusiasts will travel from around the world to be in attendance, but residents of Central PA will have the opportunity to witness the massive event firsthand without having to leave the midstate.
Reflections of History begins on June 28, with Gettysburg Batttlefield Tours providing guided double-decker bus tours of the town’s most famous landmarks, and the Gettysburg National Park Museum and Visitor Center hosting An Evening with the Painting, a private viewing and celebration of the famous Gettysburg Cyclorama. Attendees are given exclusive after-hours access to the nation’s largest painting, where they will learn about the cyclorama’s history and preservation and have the to journey beneath the diorama to see how the circular viewing area’s illusion is brought to life.
Numerous festivals will launch on June 29, including the 150th Gettysburg Commemoration Family Festival at Adams County Winery, featuring living history figures, live music, family activities and official 150th Anniversary wines, and the Celebrate History Music Festival at the American Civil War Wax Museum, where bands spanning multiple genres come together to highlight American history, culminating at July 5th’s Cornets and Cannons, a “battle” between The Federal Composite Band and The Band of The Army of Northern Virginia.
The region’s many parks and trails will have both self-guided and group tours, providing outdoor activities for both individuals and families. From July 1 – 4, Gettysburg National Military Park will offer Key Moment Programs, hourly presentations at dozens of the battleground’s most critical sites, and Marching Orders: A Tour for the Whole Family on the 4th of July, which includes hands-on exhibits that let visitors load muskets, march, fire cannons and defend their positions.
Cannon fire commemorating the first shots of the battle will also mark the grand opening of the Seminary Ridge Museum at 8 AM on July 1. The 20,000 sq. ft. museum located at a former Civil War field hospital is dedicated to the pivotal first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and presenting the moral, civic, and spiritual debates that were prevalent during the Civil War era.
On Wednesday, July 3, Gettysburg holds their Independence Day Parade, featuring participants that represent the town’s history since 1776, from reenactors of Ben Franklin, Robert E Lee and Abraham Lincoln and the 1860 Gettysburg baseball team to present-day dignitaries and celebrities. The parade will begin at 7 PM, followed by fireworks at 10 PM at the Gettysburg Area Recreation Park.
Reflections of History culminates on Independence Day weekend at 1085 Table Rock Road, with the monumental Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment taking place over July 4 – 7. Over 15,000 reenactors will take part in two full-scale battles each day, including full cavalry with over 400 live horses, replica artillery, cannons and pyrotechnics. In between battles, visitors can learn about Civil War weaponry, medicine, music and daily life through the Living History Village, and field demonstrations, lectures, concerts and living history demonstrations will be held throughout the weekend. During the reenactment, director Rob Child will be filming Gettysburg 150th – Final Measure of Devotion, a documentary capturing the events of the anniversary scheduled for release in November 2013.
“The High Water Mark” of the anniversary takes place on Sunday, July 7 at 3:30 PM, with the recreation of Pickett’s Charge, a tremendous infantry assault launched by the Confederate Army on the final day of the battle. Repelling the assault was a key victory for the Union, and Pickett’s Charge is lauded as the most spectacular of the Gettysburg reenactments. Grandstand tickets for the battles begin at $15 per day, and are available at Tickets.GettysburgReenactment.com.
Gettysburg 150 – Reflections of History is one of the most dramatic and exciting events taking place during the American Civil War’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Whether you would prefer to spend a week hiking the battlefields and attending festivals or would rather take a day-trip to view one of the reenactments, Reflections of History offers a full range of experiences to bring you closer to one of the United States of America’s defining moments. For complete details on all aspects of the 150th Anniversary, including trip planning information and an events calendar featuring daily activities through the end of 2013, visit GettysburgCivilWar150.com
Dauphin County commemorates the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War with the Freedom Jubilee, a series of special events highlighting the county’s rich and vibrant history during the Civil War. “This region played a pivotal role in the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and much more,” said Dauphin County commissioner Jeff Haste. “Step back in time—150 years ago—and explore our rich history and culture during the Civil War, and discover how we, as a nation, triumphed over tragedy. Don’t miss this great opportunity to reconnect with our nation’s past.”
Throughout 2013, the National Civil War Museum will host 1863, a series of commemorative exhibits for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, including a timeline of key events and battles, as well as graphics and a variety of artifacts and documents. Summer highlights include the Rollick on the River on June 29 at Fort Hunter, featuring live music and historical actors, and Lincoln on the Lawn on June 30, a free showing of the Oscar-winning portrayal of President Abraham Lincoln on the grounds of the National Civil War Museum. The Freedom Jubilee includes the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra’s A Patriotic Celebration, a free concert on July 3 at City Island’s Metro Bank Park, featuring Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait.
“We’re expecting thousands of history enthusiasts and families to visit the region in early July for the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg,” said Commissioner Mike Pries. “We encourage visitors to make Dauphin County a vacation destination. The Freedom Jubilee has something for everyone—not to mention it offers fun, educational and affordable entertainment for the whole family.” The Harrisburg-based National Civil War Museum will also have a number of special exhibits and lectures scheduled in honor of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, and commemorative efforts also will highlight the African-American patriots of the Civil War, including the USCT Hallowed Grounds Project and the Bethel Trail. “This summer, forget about $4 a gallon gas prices and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway,” concluded Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III. “Stay home in Harrisburg to see, hear and touch the amazing history that we too often take for granted.”
For more information on Dauphin County’s Freedom Jubilee, visit DauphinCounty.org
Cumberland County was home to numerous significant battles and pivotal moments during the Civil War. On June 28, 1863, General Albert Jenkins marched his 700 or so cavalrymen through Mechanicsburg, and on July 1, 1863, the Confederate Army shelled the borough of Carlisle, during the Battle of Carlisle. The region is home to historic sites, museums, markers and unique events that allow visitors to experience the heart and history of the Civil War. Cumberland County’s commemoration of the American Civil War’s Sesquicentennial began in 2011 and will continue through 2015.
Ongoing exhibits such as 1863: Invasion in the Valley at the Cumberland County Historical Society and Shippensburg Goes to War at the Shippensburg Historical Society provide historians with Civil War activities during the entire summer. Carlisle’s U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center is the Army’s preeminent research and archive facility, including the world’s largest collection of Civil War photographs, and the Center’s Army Heritage Trail gives families the opportunity to hike a one-mile outdoor trail with interactive exhibits including recreations of Civil War Winter Cabins and a section of the Hagerstown Pike.
One-time events will take place throughout the summer as well, coinciding with key dates in Cumberland County’s history. On June 14, Historic Carlisle Inc. presents Occupation Weekend, a special remembrance ceremony on the steps of the old Cumberland County Courthouse, which was scarred by the shelling from that fateful night.
The National Watch & Clock Museum hosts the American Civil War Ball on June 22, commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the burning of Cumberland County’s Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge. The Ball celebrates and honors the fighting men and women presented in the Museum’s Enlisting Time exhibit. Attendees are encouraged to wear period attire, Blue or Gray, and musical entertainment will be provided by the Gilmore Light Ensemble.
On June 23, the Mechanicsburg Museum Association and historian Scott Mingus will present Flames Beyond Gettysburg, a talk about the Confederates’ approach led by Jubal Early in June 1863 to the Susquehanna River, where state militia defending the river crossing burnt the world’s longest covered bridge to prevent Confederate passage.
From June 28 – 30, there will be three days of events marking the 150th anniversary of the Confederate Invasion of Mechanicsburg. The commemoration will include an opening ceremony, tours of the Confederate route, living history reenactments, and special exhibits.
Additional Cumberland County Civil War Sesquicentennial events include reenactments, lectures and guided tours through battleground sites. For more information on Cumberland County’s Civil War events, visit CumberlandCivilWar.com