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Civil war events

HistoryTourism and LeisureThe Washington PostWilliam Howard Taft

Sesquicentennial events abound as the four-year observance of the Civil War begins this week. Here's a sampler of those upcoming in the next few months:

Maryland

Baltimore, April 15-17: Commemorative events, living-history exhibits and a grand procession marking the route through the city taken by Union troops when they clashed with Southern sympathizers, resulting in the war's first bloodshed. Go to civilwarbaltimore.com.

For events beyond Baltimore, such as Frederick's living-history exhibition on the debate over secession (April 29-May 1), check out visitmaryland.org.

Pennsylvania

Gettysburg, Pa., April 29-30: Gettysburg Kick-Off Event, featuring living-history encampments, the lighting of 150 luminaries and 150 cannon blasts. Go to gettysburgcivilwar150.com.

For events across Pennsylvania, go to pacivilwar150.com.

Virginia

Manassas, Va., July 21-24: The 150th anniversary of the first Battle of Manassas or Bull Run features ceremonies and observances at Manassas Battlefield Park, plus four days of events and activities in town and in surrounding Prince William County. There'll be a re-enactment of the battle near the park, plus a centennial re-enactment of the 1911 Peace Jubilee attended by President William Howard Taft and surviving veterans of the Civil War, as well as a period baseball game. Go to nps.gov/mana, historicmanassasinc.org, manassascivilwar.org or manassasbullrun.org.

Richmond, Va., April 16: Civil War and Emancipation Day (www.civilwar.emancipationday.net), with exhibits, period music, performances and more held around the city.

Other re-enactments: Battle of Cloyd's Mountain (April 30-May 1), the Battle of New Market (May 14-15), the Battle of Cedar Creek (Oct. 14-16).

West Virginia

There's no shortage of ways to relive this historic period, such as the re-enactment of the Jones and Imboden Raid (April 30), the Meeting of the Civil War Generals in Clarksburg (May 14-15), the First Campaign Tour (July 6) and the Civil War Fashion Show and Tea in Philippi (July 16). For those rare days when there isn't a special activity, follow the Civil War Discovery Trail. Info: civilwar150.wv.gov; wvcommerce.org.

South Carolina

Charleston, S.C., through April 17: Re-enactment of the first shots fired in the Civil War, plus a series of exhibitions and presentations on antebellum life, including for free and enslaved African-Americans. Go to nps.gov/fosu.

Websites

To learn more about the Civil War, its sesquicentennial or historic sites and tours, check out these online resources:

National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/civilwar150/

Civil War Trust: http://www.civilwar.org/

Civil War Traveler: http://www.civilwartraveler.com/

Books

The Complete Civil War Road Trip Guide, by Michael Weeks, published by Countryman Press 2009

The Civil War Battlefield Guide, edited by Frances H. Kennedy for the Conservation Fund, Houghton-Mifflin, 1998.

To learn more about the war and how it changed the country forever, one of the best one-volume histories is:

Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James M. McPherson, Spring Arbor/Ingram, 2003.

The Washington Post contributed to this article.

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