GETTYSBURG, Pa. —
The Blue-Gray Alliance re-enactment group opened the schedule Friday with its first of three days of battle re-creations. Organizers expected about 10,000 participants to take part.
They began with a detailed, three-hour re-enactment of the battle's first day, when Union cavalry looking for the enemy encountered Confederate infantry. Other re-enactors took part in living history presentations, such as the demonstration of a Confederate field hospital at the Daniel Lady Farm.
Across the street, in a field doubling as the parking lot, Michael Sipes took care of his brown horse, Dale, before pulling on his gray wool cavalry topcoat to get lunch. He's portraying Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early — it says so on his business card. Sipes, 61, a gun shop owner from Hanover, does living history appearances regularly, too.
First, though, he had to finish a chore.
"Who thought a general would be cleaning up his own horses," he asked while shoveling waste out of the trailer.
Sipes, a descendant of a Confederate veteran, said he prefers smaller-scale re-enactments, though welcomes the opportunity at Gettysburg this year to teach history.
"If you don't know your past, you won't know your future," he said. "If you forget about your past and you don't know where you came from, you won't know where you're going."
Wearing a white smock over his dark vest and white dress shirt, Henry Trippe relished his role as a Civil War surgeon and answering questions about treating injuries and amputations.
Trippe, 59, a sales clerk from Ypsilanti, Mich., brought his own collection of scalpels, knives and anesthetics including powdered morphine.
Or at least, white power made to look like morphine.
"I do not have a drug permit," he joked to visitors. "Do not report me to drug enforcement."
The Park Service programs begin with a Sunday night ceremony. Another re-enactment held by the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee is scheduled on a farm north of town July 4-7. Re-enactments are held on private properties.