As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, re-enactors describe their preparation. News4 Washington's Richard Jordan reports.
As the nation marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, Civil War buffs gathered in Pennsylvania to prepare for a massive re-enactment.
Organizers are expecting 80,000 people in the Gettysburg area every day through July 7. Many of them are already checking in online, but they're not only doing it on social media -- they're also checking in at motels. There's not a single vacancy for miles, reports News4's Richard Jordan.
"It takes a little time to get them all here, but it's a lot of fun once it happens," said re-enactor Chuck Stephens.
"We're got people here from California, Oregon, Germany," said volunteer Bill Scott.
Thousands are eager to bear witness to mark the anniversary of the bloodiest battle in American history. Combined, the Union and the Confederacy suffered 51,000 casualties. Fought July 1-3, 1863, the battle is considered a turning point in the Civil War, forcing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's troops out of the north.
Over the next several days, re-enactors on horseback will portray the reality of a war far back in time. The clothing is heavy and hot -- these men and women are wearing wool from head to toe.
"Wool in July. They call it the Jenny Craig weight-loss program of 1863," quipped re-enactor Rex Orton.
"I'm just in awe, when I saw the cavalry go by," said visitor Pamela Yates. "Where we're from, we have a lot of cavalry at the Moore Park event, which is the largest in California, but it's nothing compared to this."
Those taking part in the re-enactment have prepared for weeks to create an authentic representation that brings Gettysburg's past to the present for all to see. The battle isn't all -- re-enactors also represent scenes of camp life, drill demonstrations, period music and more.
"We just love history, and the camaraderie," Orton said, while donning a Union uniform. "You know, we're friends with all the Confederate people, and it's just like a big family."