Maybe you've been to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to see the battlefield. Maybe you've even gone to the battle's anniversary, which men and women reenact with great verve, carrying the weaponry and dressed in the clothes of the era. Lasting three days in 1863, from July 1-3, Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War, and a purely unplanned accident that grew out of a desperate need for soldier's shoes. Park officials and enthusiasts always commemorate the battle on battle days in Gettysburg, and it's a great event. But if you haven't visited the battlefield, this sesquicentennial anniversary year is a good time to make a virtual trip, if not a real one. Starting with these guide and history books is a great beginning to what could be a life-long interest.
Having witnessed the activities of scores of reenactors who visited the park during the years I lived near the town, I know that people invest themselves very deeply in the Civil War in general, and in the Gettysburg battle in particular. Civil War buffs live in their own unique subculture, but you don't have to be a fan at the William Frassanito level to appreciate the silence of the rolling battlefield landscape. Imagining the July heat, the stench of sweat, horse, wool clothing and blood, the cries of pain and death, is easy to do when you are on that "consecrated ground" as Abraham Lincoln said in his famous Address.