500 Civil War reenactors march on Philadelphia – no, you aren’t on a movie set

If you’re visiting the City of Brotherly Love this weekend and stumble upon a field of Blue and Gray marching down the city, shouting about state’s rights and ending slavery … no, you haven’t found a movie set. You’ve found the city’s largest reenactment for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

A bit of background: On April 15, 1861 President Lincoln called for volunteers to defend Washington, and three days later the first Philadelphians left for the capital. This weekend, approximately 500 infantry, artillery and cavalry re-enactors and civilians (to include Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass) will march in a parade led by Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

Of course, there’s a small catch – the event will actually take place on April 16 at 10 AM. The parade follows the route taken by those first troops. After a brief program at the Union League of Philadelphia, the parade will end with an encampment and living history demonstrations at the intersection of Broad Street and Washington Avenue, where the soldiers left for the front in 1861. Military re-enactors will provide vignettes of life as a Civil War soldier, including drills and demonstrations of horsemanship, scenes of camp life, demonstrations of horsemanship, weapons care, medical and surgical procedures, and related activities. Civilian reenactors will portray domestic and leisure time activities. The day’s events will end with a gala dinner and period Civil War ball at the Union League featuring 1860s music, dancing, and costumes.

Other activities planned by the Consortium for 2011 include hosting the statewide traveling exhibition, the Civil War Road Show, in July and August, and a historic battle re-enactment the weekend of August 20-21. Consortium member institutions are also planning a wide range of exhibitions and events.

Sounds like a fun and family friendly event for history buffs and weekend travelers alike.