Live updates from Gettysburg
8:01 - 'Daddy' volunteers, becomes national hero
The fighting was heating up when an old man dressed in his Sunday best joined the Union ranks.
John Burns, 69, cobbler, former constable of Gettysburg, and native of Burlington County, N.J., went to war wearing a blue swallow-tailed coat with burnished brass buttons and a tall, bell-crowned hat.
"At any time, his figure would have been noticeable, but it was doubly so at such a moment," said Union Maj. Thomas Chamberlain.
Burns asked a Federal officer for permission to fight the Rebels. "Certainly you can fight with us, and I wish there were many more like you," the officer said.
Some of the soldiers in the Iron Brigade kidded Burns, calling him "Daddy." But they later cheered him when one of his bullets appeared to knock a Confederate officer from his horse.
Burns was wounded but survived to become a national hero and meet President Abraham Lincoln. "He was true-blue and grit to the backbone," said Sgt. George Eustice of the Iron Brigade.
- Edward Colimore
7:29 p.m. Dressing the reenactors' part
The fighting has ended on the Gettysburg battlefields, at least for Thursday.
Though the day's battle recreation was bloodless, it was historically accurate in other ways - largely because of the reenactors' personal investment.
A Union private can be authentically equipped with a uniform, shoes, musket, tent and other supplies for about $1,200, said Jon Sirlin, a Philadelphia lawyer who is serving as a Union officer and chief of staff.
Officers may spend considerably more - as much as several thousand dollars when counting the costs of the uniform, tall boots, sword, sidearm, large tent, horse and saddle.
The expenses "can be a drag," said Sirlin, 64, "a historian by hobby" who lives in Center City Philadelphia. "There's interest but not the funds to pursue it."
Some reenactors such as Confederate reenactor Harry Sonntag have spent more than most. The Northeast Philadelphia man has sunk about $20,000 into the hobby.
"I'm a little atypical," said Sonntag, 46, who lives in the city's Winchester Park section and is vice president of the American Living History Education Society.
As a surgeon, he's equipped himself with a uniform, tents, period surgical instruments, knives, saws tourniquets, clamps and wooden and metal pitchers for drink. "Some might say that's hardcore," said Sonntag, a medical consultant. "Everything is accurate to 1861 to 1865."
Others have spent at least $15,000 to $20,000 on artillery pieces and limbers, said reenactor Terry Jones, who portrays an artist, such as Alfred Waud whose drawings of battles were turned into woodcuts and reproduced in newspapers.
But Jones, of Newtown Square, Delaware County, managed to get off for several hundred dollars. For his portrayal of a period artist, he bought a duster, cavalry boots, vest, hat, camp chair, sketch pad, and pen and ink.
"I'm an artist so I will have a little flask, too," said Jones, 66, who is the sculptor of the Gen. John Gibbon bronze statue near the "Angle," target of Pickett's Charge on the third day of the battle.
"If there's going to be combat," he said, "I have to position myself" for the best view.
- Ed Colimore
5: 00 p.m. - Southern pride roars at Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg is commonly acknowledged as a turning point in the Civil War, when the Union stopped the Confederate march North and gained momentum that would ultimately lead to an overall Union victory.
But talk to Confederate reenactors 150 years later, and one thing is clear: Southern pride roars on.
"It was a Union victory at Gettysburg, but it was a hard-fight fought victory," said John Jacob, 69, from Oakley, Calif. and a Confederate reenactor.
Jacob, sitting beneath a canopy in Confederate camp Thursday afternoon, agreed with two friends who sat with him: the Union's victory doesn't dampen spirits of those this week who will be on the losing end of this battle.
"I'm here because my ancestors fought here," said Richard Lawrence, 64, from Cottonwood, Calif., a friend and fellow reenactor with Jacob.
Marty "Moose" Warren, a towering 38-year old from Cedar Grove, Tenn. who was smoking a Marlboro beneath another canopy, said that the main point of reenacting was not to focus on results, but to educate the crowds.
"We want to put on a show," he said through a thick Southern drawl. "We're all historians in one way or another."
And Steve McDaniel, 61, a Tennessee State Rep., said that whatever the outcome of the battle chosen for reenactment, the goal is to honor those who fought for their ideals.
"We might not like that the South lost," he said. "But what can you do?"
- Chris Palmer
4:11 p.m. - A reenactor's life includes tent living
For the 10,000 or so reenactors who make Gettysburg their home this week, "home" is a tent in a field.
Both the Confederate and Union camps have seemingly unending lines of white tents, and reenactors build the tents themselves. The process is relatively easy, they say: you simply spread the canvas over the ground, drive stakes through slots along the corners into the ground, then raise the center of the canvas up and use a few wood poles to hold it up.
"It's just three pieces of wood and some stakes in the ground," said Jake Wolf, 16, from Cincinnati, Ohio. "It's pretty simple."
Inside, depending on the level of period-authenticity the reenactor employs, they'll sleep on cots, in sleeping bags or just on the ground.
Most tents here this week have flaps acting as "doors," but in 1863, many people slept beneath smaller sheets without doors, their heads or feet often exposed to the elements, according to Grover Godwin, of the Charlotte Artillery.
The accommodations here this week could hardly be mistaken for even a basic motel room. But Justin Fox, 24, from Raleigh, NC, said they work just fine.
"It's pretty easy," he said.
- Chris Palmer
1:49 p.m. - The battle of the facial hair
One telltale sign of a reenactor: facial hair.
It comes in all shapes, lengths and colors: red moustaches, brown mutton chops, snow-white full beards.
Some comes styled specifically for the event, others are more permanent fixtures.
"He hasn't shaved his beard since December 1987," Sue Maust said of her husband Ray, who has an 8 inch long, scraggly black mane to match his long dark hair.
Ray was a merchant, selling items with his wife at their shop, Sue's Creations. The couple, both 53 and from Cutn Shoot, Texas, said Thursday's heat was no bother.
A novice facial hair wearer, however, begged to differ.
"It's kind of rough up here in this heat," said Robert Meekins, 45, from Preston, Md.
Robert and his brother Craig, 48, both part of the 2nd Maryland Infantry, grew facial hair specifically for Gettysburg. Robert had been growing his, an unkempt full face of hair, for about a month. Craig gave his salt-and-pepper goatee 13 months to grow.
Neither a typical beard wearer, Craig demurred when asked if he'll keep it after this weekend.
"My wife doesn't like it," he said.
- Chris Palmer
12:22 p.m. - Canteen is a must-item for reenactors
A Civil War soldier reenactor is easily identifiable by their wool uniforms and weapons.
But there's a lot more to their outfits than meets the eye.
Almost all carry canteens draped over their shoulder, which Carl Thelen, a member of the 1st Ohio Light Artillery says is actually the most important item they carry, especially on a day like today of high humidity and temperatures into the 80's.
"You're less inclined to fight when you're on the verge of dehydration," he said with a chuckle.
Many also carry haversacks draped over the other shoulder, which can contain a variety of items.
Thelen's, which was covered in tar to protect against water damage, contained a plate, some dried fruit, and a modern item: sunscreen.
Ross Brault, a member of the Confederate Florida 39th North Carolina, was carrying playing cards, a bit of leather string and a fork and knife.
And other reenactors carried a variety of eccentric items. Ed Mann, 66, portraying Confederate General Thomas Jackson, had a pair of original 1860-period field glasses (binoculars).
And one item he was disappointed to have left at camp, that he said he almost always carried: his 1860-period Bible.
- Chris Palmer
10:39 a.m. - Enemies on the field, new friends for life
Spectators filled two enormous grandstands positioned on either side of a mock battlefield just north of Gettysburg as the first day of reenactments began in earnest.
At 11, Union and Confederate reenactors will stage the first battle of the day, recreating the cavalry battle at Hunterstown on July 1, 1863.
In the vast Union encampment, reenactors lined up for drills, mounted horses and filled canteens for a hot day ahead.
Doug Snyder, of Harrisburg, is an analyst at HP by day but a colonel in the Union Army for the weekend. Stationed in one of four Union headquarters, he interrupted an interview to grab a bridle for a higher-ranking officer.
"That sounds like mortar fire," he said, grinning, as troops moved across the field. But the best part of this weekend, he said, is the people.
"You make friends from all over the country," he said. "It's a great group to be with."
- Aubrey Whelan