The American Civil War was fought in a wide area, covering thousands of fields. Between 1861 and 1865 more than three million people took up arms and 600,000 men and boys lost their lives. Towns were burnt to the ground and disease was rife in the war that ripped the country apart. It was a destructive chapter in the United States' history.
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest combat of the Civil War and fought between July 1 and July 3, 1863. Of the 158,300 soldiers who fought it out around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 83,289 were on the northern Union side lead by Major-General George Meade and 75,054 on the southern Confederate side under General Robert E Lee.
The battle was the turning point in the Civil War with the Union claiming victory, but it was at great cost. There were 51,000 casualties.
Today, vast and peaceful wheat fields show no physical signs of the war, but memories are strong, and Ben Dark went there for the annual re-enactment. It's been running for 25 years for three days over the Independence Day weekend, July 4.
Ben joined up with the 47th Virginia Infantry, Company I, for mock battles, mountain music and lots of large servings of food. There are five battles, 2500 re-enactors and usually around 4000 spectators watching on from grandstands.
While the original event was a solemn one, the anniversary is remembered with one heck of a costume party. It attracts thousands of history buffs and tourists, all dressing up to get a taste of 19th century combat.
There are live mortar fire demonstrations, a living history village with activities and demonstrations. For those who want to feel part of the experience, period clothing is available at Sulter Row.
Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, 90 minutes from Washington, DC.
Gettysburg re-enactment single day entry is around $24 for adults and $12 for children. Gates open at 8.30am and events are on all day. Tickets will be on sale soon for next year's re-enactment.
V Australia has flights to Los Angeles with connections to Washington, DC. They start at $1549 from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The fares are on sale until midnight September 22, 2009, and for travel between October 16 and November 30, 2009 and January 16 and March 31, 2010. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at September 17, 2009.
For further information
Gettysburg Anniversary Committee
PO Box 3482
Gettysburg PA 17325
Ph: +1 717 338 1525
Gettysburg Visitors Bureau
8 Lincoln Square
Gettysburg PA 17325
Ph: +1 717 334-2499
Gettysburg National Military Park
Museum and Visitors
Open daily (excluding Public Holidays)