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Roar of artillery will bring extra punch to Gettysburg battle commemoration

Besides reenactments, visitors to Gettysburg can see artillery and learn about its role in the pivotal battle.

A rare sight is planned for Gettysburg, Pa., during the Fourth of July weekend, marking the 152nd anniversary of the battle that many say changed the course of the Civil War.

Visitors to the town just 60 miles northwest of Baltimore will see more than 25 artillery pieces firing, unusual even at what is arguably the most famous battlefield in America.

“Artillery played a major role in the Battle of Gettysburg, and some historians go so far as to claim that the Federal artillery’s superiority in number, placement, mobility, handling and better ammunition made victory possible,” Bradley M. Gottfried wrote in “The Artillery of Gettysburg.”

Union forces had 372 cannons, the Confederates 283, Gottfried writes.

Getting a look at the weapons that may have changed history is but one of the events planned for the July 3-5 activities. On the more sedate side, there will be Civil War weddings and period fashion shows.

And of course there will be reenactments of the engagement that left dead or wounded 23,000 of 88,000 Union troops and as many as 28,000 of 75,000 Confederate forces. (The South did not keep precise records, it’s said.)

Fans of the 1993 movie “Gettysburg” starring Martin Sheen and Tom Berenger may have film flashbacks because this year’s reenactments will unfold at the Yingling Farm, where scenes in the movie were shot.

The farm is south of Gettysburg National Military Park and adjacent to the Sachs Covered Bridge, which both Union and Confederate troops used during the three-day battle.

This year’s event also features living history encampments along with special youth activities including enlistment, drilling and learning about the life and gear of a young soldier.

General admission is available through E-tix,  (800) 514-3849, in one-, two- and three-day packages. Adult (older than 12) admission for one day costs $29; children (6-12) is $16. Add $10 per person for bleacher seats, for which advance purchase is recommended. E-tix charges a $3 order fee, more if you want tickets mailed.

Info: Gettysburg Reeanactment

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