Still, there are plenty of engagements to watch. Many battles have two names because the North named skirmishes after the nearest body of water (Bull Run), and the South named conflicts after the nearest town ( Manassas). Most sesquicentennial events will be scheduled for the weekend closest to the battle's anniversary date.
Here are five reenactments set for this year and next, chosen for their significance to the war.
Gettysburg was a crucial defeat in 1863 that forced Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to retreat to Virginia after losing more than a third of his troops. Gettysburg will host special sesquicentennial events the next four years, with the largest turnout expected in 2013. This summer, 3,000 to 4,000 reenactors and 20,000 spectators are expected.
Recommended airport: Baltimore Washington International ( BWI), 61 miles from Gettysburg
Info: Gettysburg National Military Park, (717) 334-1124, Ext. 8023, http://www.nps.gov/gett
Gettysburg Foundation, http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org
Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau-150, http://www.gettysburg.travel/150
Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, Va.
Manassas/Bull Run in Virginia, the first major battle of the Civil War, on July 21, 1861. Northern civilians from Washington, D.C., brought picnic lunches to watch the battle, expecting the South to be quickly defeated. Instead, the Confederates prevailed.
Next year, the Battle of Second Manassas (Aug. 28-30, 1862), which the South also won, will be reenacted.
Recommended airport: Dulles International Airport (IAD), 18 miles from Manassas
Info: Manassas National Battlefield Park, (703) 361-1339, http://www.nps.gov/mana
Prince William County/Manassas Visitor's Bureau-150th Civil War Manassas/Bull Run, http://www.manassasbullrun.com
Battle of Cedar Creek/Belle Grove, Va.
Oct. 15 and 16