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Year in Review No. 5: 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg draws thousands

Confederate re-enactors charge a Union position during the Blue Gray Alliance Reenactment in Gettysburg June 28.
Confederate re-enactors charge a Union position during the Blue Gray Alliance Reenactment in Gettysburg June 28.(Dave Munch)

Thousands of people from across the country went to Gettysburg, Pa., this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of its famous Civil War battle.

Over 10 days in late June and early July, more than 400 events were planned to honor the Battle of Gettysburg, attracting an estimated 235,000 visitors to the town, according to the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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Hundreds of members of the media were credentialed for the events in June and July.

The bloody battle took place from July 1 to July 3, 1863, and is seen by many as the turning point of the war, which was eventually won by Union forces.

The events to commemorate the anniversary of the battle included the opening of the Seminary Ridge Museum, two large battle re-enactments and a commemorative march of Pickett's Charge.

Pickett's Charge was a Confederate advance that many historians call the climax of the battle.

The commemorative march featured thousands of people dressed in Confederate and Union uniforms. This included Westminster resident Russell Justice, whose great-great-grandfather fought as a Confederate in the battle and was captured during the charge.

Carroll County also held several events in the months leading up to and following the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg, including living history encampments at the Union Mills Homestead and events commemorating Corbit's Charge, a skirmish between Confederate and Union cavalry that took place in Westminster June 29, 1863, right before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Other commemorative events were held throughout the year in Gettysburg, including a dedication of President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," which was attended by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, historian James McPherson, state and federal elected officials and thousands of people who came to commemorate the speech.

Lincoln recited the 272-word address Nov. 19, 1863 — months after the battle. Lincoln gave the address as part of a dedication of a cemetery for Union soldiers who died in the battle. The Soldiers' National Cemetery would later contain the bodies of more than 3,500 Union soldiers.

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Scalia performed a naturalization ceremony at the dedication for 16 new U.S. citizens from 13 different countries.

The Gettysburg commemoration created fodder for critics of President Barack Obama, who was absent from the festivities.

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