Reenactments, tours, and a remembrance under a month away for Gettysburg’s 161st Anniversary

20 June 2024- The boom of cannons and clash of armies will return this summer as visitors flock to south central Pennsylvania to walk in the footsteps of history during the 161st anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

From July 1 to 3, 1863, the bloodiest battle of the Civil War resulted in more than 50,000 casualties. The conflict proved to be a major turning point for the Union Army. Since then, the story of Gettysburg has continued to draw millions of visitors to Adams County each year.

Gettysburg will mark the 161st anniversary with a 10-day commemoration from June 28 through July 7, featuring re-enactments, special events, live performances, guided tours, and an Independence Day celebration with fireworks.

A two-day battle re-enactment produced by the Gettysburg Battlefield Preservation Association at the historic Daniel Lady Farm will cap off the commemoration July 6 and 7. The event is expected to draw thousands of spectators and hundreds of re-enactors. Visitors can look forward to epic battle re-creations, living history demonstrations, interactive activities for children that include a “little soldiers battle,” and more as history comes to life before their eyes.

A downtown re-enactment will take place at the Shriver House Museum July 6, depicting what the Battle of Gettysburg looked like for one family whose home was caught in the crossfire. This event provides a unique perspective on the war and how the civilians of Gettysburg were impacted when nearly 170,000 soldiers came crashing through their small town.

Gettysburg National Military Park will mark the occasion with daily ranger guided programs and events July 1 through 3. Free hikes, walks, and family programs will explore and reflect on this pivotal moment in history. The public is invited to join the National Park Service staff throughout the three-day period on the battlefield, at Gettysburg National Cemetery, and at the Museum and Visitor Center.

As part of the 161st anniversary, the Gettysburg Foundation and Gettysburg National Military Park will host Sacred Trust Talks & Book Signings July 1 to 3 and July 6 to 7 at the Museum and Visitor Center. Through thought-provoking discussions, authors will bring the stories and lessons of the battle to the audiences of today.

The 10-day commemoration will kick off with performances by author and playwright Chuck Johnson as he portrays Abraham Lincoln in his 30-minute play, “The Night Before Gettysburg.” The one-man show gives audiences a glimpse into what might have been the 16th president’s state of mind as he put the finishing touches on the Gettysburg Address. Free performances will take place June 28 through 30 at the Gettysburg Lincoln Railroad Station starting at 7 p.m.

Throughout the anniversary and through Labor Day, the “100 Nights of Taps” tribute to fallen soldiers will occur at Gettysburg National Cemetery each night at 7 p.m. This poignant tradition reminds visitors of the great sacrifice made more than 16 decades ago. Prior to each musical performance, licensed battlefield guides will offer free interpretive programs beginning at 5:30 p.m.

For a full list of 161st anniversary events, visit DestinationGettysburg.com/161.