There was no place Pearce Truesdale would rather be than sleeping in an open field, drinking coffee from a canteen and leading soldiers in a charge.
The Battle of Gettysburg, fought during the first three days of July 150 years ago, came alive for Truesdale and other local Civil War re-enactors who traveled to Gettysburg, Pa., to commemorate the battle this week. There was no way they were going to miss the premier event of the Civil War sesquicentennial.
“Just to say ‘Wow, I was part of something,’ ” said Truesdale, of North Augusta, before leaving June 26 for his five-day trip with fellow re-enactor Will Christman.
“You only have one 150th,” he said.
More than 20,000 re-enactors from across the nation descended on Gettysburg to commemorate the bloodiest battle of the Civil War – 51,000 casualties. The Union victory was the turning point of the war and inspired President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Two historical re-enactments have been held on farm fields just outside the actual battlefield.
The first event, and the one attended by Truesdale and Christman, was fought last weekend. The second begins Thursday.
Truesdale and Christman are members of the First Independent Brigade, a local group portraying the 38th Georgia Infantry. At the Gettysburg anniversary, however, they wore the blue uniforms of Union soldiers. There’s often a greater need for Union soldiers to balance an overabundance of Confederate re-enactors from Southern states.
“The guys in gray were just as honorable as the guys in blue,” said Christman, a social studies teacher at the Academy of Richmond County and the moderator of the school’s Civil War Re-enactment Club.
Kevin Rorer, a re-enactor from Aiken, left Tuesday for Gettysburg. The battle will be his fourth event commemorating the Civil War sesquicentennial, and he plans to attend more next year.
He knew the 150th anniversary was an opportunity he couldn’t miss.
“I’m not going to live long enough for the 175th,” said Rorer, 52. “I want to honor my ancestors. I had ancestors at Gettysburg.”