Thousands of Civil War re-enactors will gather next weekend at Harrisburg, Pa., to commemorate the 135th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
The highlight of the Friday-Sunday celebration is a two-mile Grand Review parade through Harrisburg by Union and Confederate troops, starting at 1 p.m. Saturday. The parade will begin at the Farm Show Complex and end at the Pennsylvania Capitol. The original Grand Review was held in Washington in May 1865 as thousands of Union troops marched through the nation's capital on their way to demobilization at the end of the war.
Two battle re-creations will be featured. The first is a demonstration of the clash of the ironclad warships Monitor and Virginia, which took place in March 1862 at Hampton Roads, Va., and will be re-enacted by scale-model ships at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the Susquehanna River at Riverside Park and City Island.
The second re-enactment is a dramatization of what would have happened if Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee had gone through with his plans for an attack on Pennsylvania's capital during his invasion of the state in 1863. The river-crossing demonstration will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at Riverside Park and City Island, with Confederates crossing on the Market and Walnut Street bridges.
Spectators and participants in Harrisburg's Grand Review 2000 will also get a chance to visit the new National Civil War Museum at Lincoln Circle at Reservoir Park in Harrisburg.
The museum's buildings, grounds and exhibits will officially open in November, but the construction site will be open during the re-enactment weekend.
Museum officials promised that, "Unless we have a monsoon spring, our visitors will be able to walk the grounds, view the re-enactors in living history programs at the site and get a true taste of what they can expect when the museum opens."
Organizers of the Harrisburg commemoration say that, "Unlike traditional Civil War events, the Civil War Grand Review 2000 will focus on American life in the 1860s, including the philosophies, politics, economics, industry, agriculture and art of this important era in our history, as well as the military aspect of the conflict."
"Although the original Grand Review, consisting of only Union troops, was held in Washington, D.C., in 1865, both Union and Confederates, with 'the healing of our nation' as our theme, together with all cultures, will participate in the weekend activities, including the Grand Review parade, battles, balls, an exposition, seminars and period encampments."
The event is sponsored by the Great American Civil War Society, the Camp Curtin Historical Society and Civil War Round Table and the city of Harrisburg.
Barbara Mowrey, a spokeswoman for the organizers, said the goal of the event was to provide education to safeguard the history of the Civil War and highlight "the importance of preserving our heritage."
Mowrey said that money raised by the event will go toward preservation of Civil War sites. Organizaers hope to raise $3 million.
Organizers anticipate 200,000 spectators for the event, which has been designated by a tourism industry selection committee as one of the top 100 spectator events in the country this year.
Friday, June 9:
1 p.m.: Cavalry demonstration at Farm Show Complex.
6:30 p.m.: Naval demonstration in the Susquehanna River of the Monitor-Merrimack clash.
Dusk: Retreat, Silver taps, fireworks at the National Civil War Museum.
Saturday, June 10:
10 a.m.: Cavalry demonstration at Farm Show Large Arena.
1 p.m.: Civil War Grand Review 2000 parade in downtown Harrisburg.
8 p.m-10:30 p.m.: Public Grand Ball at the Farm Show Complex.
Sunday, June 11:
9:30 a.m.: Church services under the trees of Harrisburg Community College-East Side.
11 p.m.: Cavalry demonstration at Farm Show Complex.
2 p.m.: A riverfront crossing battle at Riverfront Park.
Living history exhibits and re-enactor encampments.
Civil War Grand Review Expo at the State Farm Show complex; noon-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information:
Great American Civil War Society, 1449 Heidlersburg Road, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325, phone 717-528-8761.