1998 Gettysburg Reenactment
by Col Paul Whaley, 33rd Alabama Reenactors
While I did not attend the recent Gettysburg re-enactment, I did attend the 135th event there in 1998. That was the largest re-enactment held to date in this country and likely the largest that will ever be held. There were almost 25,000 uniformed troops on the field covering all branches of service. All three days of the battle were re-created within sight of both Round Tops. The scale of the event and the scenarios on the field were unprecedented.
Most impressive, however, was Pickett's charge on the final day wherein the Confederate assault was full scale: over 13,000 troops forming a line of battle over 3/4 of a mile long and advancing over one mile of open field to the stone wall. A preliminary barrage was provided by almost 200 full-scale artillery pieces. The Confederates stepped forward with colors unfurled and advanced to a dirt road lined on both sides with a rail/worm fence located within 400 yards of the federal position. The fences were knocked down and as with the original battle, the men were moved forward a few feet and the commands were given all along the line, directing men to guide center on their colors and advance at the common time. The federals were six deep along a stone wall loading rifles in the rear and passing them forward. It was a solid sheet of flame and noise.