Marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

In fields of ornate and powerful monuments, the one to commemorate the first shot is almost nondescript.

It is often overlooked beside a Gettysburg intersection. But here is where Marcellus Jones, of the Illinois Cavalry fired the battle's first shot.

"In pulling that trigger, he fires the opening salvo of what will be the largest battle to take place in the history of the western hemisphere," park ranger Jared Frederick said.

Here in Gettysburg, this history is not confined to the books. It's one that comes alive.

"I'm a lieutenant colonel, the rank denoted by the two stars on the collar," said reenactor Dick Waters of Howard, Pennsylvania.

In the coming days, an estimated 15,000 reenactors will tell the story that was originally written by 165,000 soldiers in blue and gray.

Butch Dell lives in Gettysburg now, but was born in Maryland and has been a Confederate reenactor for 30 years.

On this first day of the Battle of Gettysburg 150 years ago, the Confederate gray had its way with the Union blue, chasing the Union army through town.

Dell has never added up how much time and money he's spent on his passion for reenacting -- but he's afraid he knows.

"I might maybe have been able to buy two houses by now," Dell said with a laugh.

Rae Egglestone, who comes all the way from England to take part in reenactments, has spent a small fortune.

"I'm obsessed with the Civil War to the point where it's a lifestyle for me now," she said.

A lifestyle she's gone to great lengths to take part in. She plays a male journalist.

"I even cut my hair," she said. "It was right down my back on Thursday, and I cut it all off just for this."

Reenactors look real and provide a history lesson but can never quite capture the harsh realities of the carnage, the mayhem and the sheer terror that descended on this peaceful town 150 years ago.

"Most Gettysburg civilians took shelter in their basements and there, for two or three days rode out the storm. They had no idea what was happening, just heard the constant din of battle," said Franklin.

For more coverage on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, visit our sister station WHTM.

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