Reflection and Remembrance: What to Expect for the 160th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

(Photo: Destination Gettysburg)

By Ashley Adams

June 21, 2023

To commemorate the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, 12 days of events are planned, including battle reenactments, special tours, speakers, live performances, and living history encampments throughout the town.

Prior to the summer of 1863, Gettysburg was just another small town in Pennsylvania. But the events that occurred there 160 years ago would forever change not only the residents and the town, but also the course of history.

Millions flock to Gettysburg annually to relive the history of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Civil War’s bloodiest battle. To mark the 160th anniversary of the decisive battle, the town will host 12 days of events starting Friday. The festivities will culminate in an Independence Day celebration and fireworks on July 4.

Acts of Valor, a new battle reenactment, kicks off the anniversary celebration and will feature recreations of battle scenes, a replica Civil War hospital, and more. It is expected to draw 3,000 re-enactors. 

A living history village at the Daniel Lady Farm featuring demonstrations on a variety of subjects such as Civil War medicine, cooking, and children’s games is expected to draw more than 10,000 spectators.

A third re-enactment, at the Shriver House Museum, will show visitors the fierce fighting

that occurred in the streets of Gettysburg. 

“The re-enactments and living historians really bring the history to life in a very powerful way,” Carl Whitehill, vice president of Destination Gettysburg, said. 

But it’s not just about the reenactments this year. In addition to the encampments, there will be more events focused on telling the entire story of the battle, how it affected the town and the residents. A major contributor to that objective, Whitehill said, is the new museum that opened in April called Gettysburg Beyond the Battlefield.

“We’ve put a lot into the stories of the townspeople over the last few years,” he said. “This museum really shares that story in a unique and powerful way. These townspeople have tremendous stories of tragedy and triumph.”

Here’s what’s planned for the 12-day anniversary celebration in Gettysburg: 

Friday, June 23

The Patriots of the Civil War Association will host the Gettysburg Acts of Valor 160th Anniversary Re-enactment from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1301 Blackhorse Tavern Rd. Events include battles, talks, demonstrations, and other activities. The event is ticketed and takes place on private property.

A free, guide-led program of One Hundred Nights of Taps Gettysburg 2023 starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Soldiers’ National Monument in Gettysburg National Cemetery. The playing of “Taps” takes place at 7 p.m. This event takes place every night of the 12-day festivities.

Various guided historical tours will take place throughout the day. Click here to learn more.

(Photo: Destination Gettysburg)

Saturday, June 24

The Patriots of the Civil War Association will host the Gettysburg Acts of Valor 160th Anniversary Re-enactment from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The 50th annual Civil War Relic Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2638 Emmitsburg Rd. It will feature more than 300 tables of authentic Civil War era relics to see and buy.

At 1 p.m., the 160th Battle of Gettysburg Anniversary Program Series: Roads to Gettysburg will take place at the new Beyond the Battle Museum, 625 Biglerville Rd. This is a free, non-ticketed public program that covers the intersections of the roads that led to Gettysburg.

An Evening with the Painting is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. This is an after-hours, close-up look at the historic Cyclorama painting displayed in the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center.

A Night at the Museum is planned from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. This event features gripping stories presented by living historians inside the Gettysburg Heritage Center Museum.

For information about the guided historical tours happening throughout the day, click here.

Sunday, June 25

The Patriots of the Civil War Association will host the Gettysburg Acts of Valor 160th Anniversary Re-enactment from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The 50th annual Civil War Relic Show will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., a child-friendly, hands-on program about 19th century farm life with stories of the battle will be staged at Spangler Farm. 

The Burning of Caledonia Iron Works, a one-man show about the burning of the iron works and the aftermath featuring Ross Hetrick, president of the Thaddeus Stevens Society, will take place at 1 p.m. at 101 Pine Grove Rd. 

Various guided historical tours will take place throughout the day. Click here to learn more.

(Photo: Destination Gettysburg)

Monday, June 26

At 1 p.m. at the new Beyond the Battle Museum, the 160th Battle of Gettysburg Anniversary Program Series: Jubal Early’s Raid will take place. This is a free, non-ticketed public program that looks back at the dramatic events of June 26, 1863.

Guided historical tours taking place on this day include:

Tuesday, June 27

Guided historical tours taking place on this day include:

Wednesday, June 28

Guided historical tours taking place on this day include:

Thursday, June 29

At 7 p.m. at the Beyond the Battle Museum, the 160th Battle of Gettysburg Anniversary Program Series: We Fought at Gettysburg, The 17th Connecticut at Gettysburg will take place. 

Guided historical tours taking place on this day include:

Friday, June 30

Starting at 9 a.m. re-enactors and living historians will bring history to life at Daniel Lady Farm, 1008 Hanover St. This event is ticketed and takes place on private property.

Throughout the day on the battlefield, nearly three dozen programs commemorating the 160th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg will take place. All are free of charge, unless otherwise noted.

Beginning at 1 p.m., Sue Boardman and Abbie Hoffman will present Children of the Battlefield, a program relating the stories of local children who witnessed the battle up close. The program will take place at 625 Biglerville Road.

Then, at 7 p.m., also at 625 Biglerville Rd., Tim Smith will present the program Prelude to Battle 160 Years Later, an examination of the events that lead up to the Battle of Gettysburg.

At 7 p.m., a special event featuring poetry and original music by Ryan Mascilak called “Marching Still: A Musical Tribute to Civil War Poetry,” will take place at the Kinsley Theater at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center.

“The Night Before Gettysburg,” a free, half-hour play about President Abraham Lincoln making the final touches to his Gettysburg Address will be held at the Historic Lincoln Railway Station on Carlisle Street at 7 p.m. Additional showings will take place at the same time Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Various guided historical tours will take place throughout the day. Click here to learn more.

(Photo: Destination Gettysburg)

Saturday, July 1

A special flag raising ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. on Barlow’s Knoll on Howard Avenue.

Starting at 9 a.m. re-enactors and living historians will bring history to life at the Daniel Lady Farm.

At various locations and times throughout the day on the battlefield, living historians will provide demonstrations on the tools, tactics, and firepower used by the two opposing armies. Firing demonstrations will take place on the hour from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., a living history encampment offering children’s programming featuring displays, crafts, and talks will take place at 451 Baltimore St.

Confederates Take Shriver House: Civilians Caught in the Crossfire will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Shriver House Museum, 309 Baltimore St. 

For information about the guided historical tours happening throughout the day, click here.

Sunday, July 2

Starting at 9 a.m., reenactments at Daniel Lady Farm.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., a child-friendly, hands-on program at Spangler Farm. 

Stage and screen actor, playwright, and author Stephen Lang will be signing his book “The Wheatfield” in the gift shop of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum from 1 to 3 p.m.

For information about the guided historical tours happening throughout the day, click here.

Monday, July 3

Starting at 9 a.m., reenactments at Daniel Lady Farm.

At 11 a.m., two new historic landmark signs will be unveiled at the Welty House, 452 Baltimore St., noting the significance of the site where a gruesome fight took place during the battle.

At 12 p.m. at the Jennie Wade House Museum on Baltimore Street, author Cindy Small will give a special tour and host a book signing.

Various guided historical tours will take place throughout the day. Click here to learn more.

Tuesday, July 4

Civil War-era patriotic tunes played on flutes will take place in the town square starting at 10 a.m.

A Gettysburg Fourth!, a celebration of the nation’s independence featuring music, food trucks, raffles, bingo, and more starts at 4 p.m. The event will culminate with a fireworks display at 9:20 p.m. 

Guided historical tours taking place on this day include:

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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