Civil War Reenactment
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Historic Battle Reenactments Across America

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Civil War Reenactment
Chris Browne/istockphoto

Living History

The Revolutionary War, Civil War, and other monumental battles fought on American soil are squarely in the past, but try telling that to the reenactors that fire muskets or cannonades over storied battlefields. Across the country, history comes alive through battle reenactments that pay tribute to war veterans from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, all while giving attendees an insight into the living conditions, entertainment, and even attire during periods of war. For history buffs and the battle curious, here are more than a dozen battle reenactments to visit across America. 


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Civil War - Cannons
Douglas Rissing/istockphoto

Battle of Gettysburg

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania


As one of the most famous Civil War conflicts, the Battle of Gettysburg signaled a turning point in the war, resulting in a victory for the Union and dashing Robert E. Lee’s hopes for a Confederate win. It was also incredibly bloody: The three-day battle ended in roughly 50,000 casualties, making it the most deadly battle of the war. Each year in July, a reenactment is held at the Daniel Lady Farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, which served as General Edward Johnson’s headquarters and a ​​Confederate field hospital during the battle. Visitors can witness demonstrations by the United States Sharpshooters, a dress parade, and, of course, reenactments of the bloody battle over two days.


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Battle of Bunker Hill
Spencer Grant/Getty

Battle of Bunker Hill

Hudson, Massachusetts


The Battle of Bunker Hill took place during the American Revolutionary War’s Seige of Boston, though the majority of the battle wasn’t actually fought in Charlestown’s Bunker Hill. It was waged on an adjacent hill, later called Breed’s Hill, and proved to be a victory for the British. This year’s reenactment will take place in July at the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, Massachusetts, with pyrotechnics galore. Witness the bombardment on Breed’s Hill, attacks on Boston’s shoreline, and the landing of troops in Charlestown, then check out the museum along with the Historic Aircraft Hangar and Classic Car Barn.

Washington Crossing
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Washington Crossing

Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania


You likely know the famous painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” an oil-on-canvas by artist Emanuel Leutze depicting then-General George Washington leading the Continental Army across the Delaware River on December 25 during the American Revolutionary War. Each December, onlookers can gather on the banks of the Delaware River to watch a reenactment of the historic attack against the British Army, which resulted in an American victory. Spirited reenactors dressed in Continental military outfits listen to a speech by General Washington, then row across the river in Durham boats. 


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The Alamo, San Antonio, TX
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Battle of the Alamo

San Antonio


“Remember the Alamo!” Visitors can do just that by traveling to San Antonio’s The Alamo, the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1863. The historic battle between the Texan Army and the Mexican Army is reenacted every February, and while the actual battle only lasted around 90 minutes, the weeks-long commemoration also honors the 13-day siege preceding the battle. Witness demonstrations of the Mexican Army’s arrival, Colonel William Travis’ call for reinforcements, a tribute to the freemasons who died during the battle, and more events that are free and open to the public.

Muster in the Mountains
Muster in the Mountains by Mt. Washington Auto Road (CC BY-NC)

Muster in the Mountains

White Mountains, New Hampshire


Though it doesn’t focus on one battle in particular, Muster in the Mountains features reenactors from the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and “Mountain Man” era, and highlights colonial encampments from the 18th and 19th century. Despite the lack of a traditional battle, Muster in the Mountains’ annual September reenactments offer ​​firearms and cannon displays, tomahawk and knife throwing, crafts competitions, and gunsmithing.

Battle of Lexington
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Battle of Lexington

Lexington, Massachusetts


Fought on April 19, 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord signaled the military start to the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain and America. The battles, which were fought across the Massachusetts towns of Lexington, Concord, Arlington, Lincoln, and Cambridge, are now commemorated every Patriots Day — held on the third Monday in April. The day features Paul Revere’s storied ride to signal that “the British are coming!,” a reenactment on the Lexington Battle Green, tours, a parade, and a pancake breakfast — admittedly a meal that neither the British nor Americans had that day.

Battle of Aiken
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Battle of Aiken

Aiken, South Carolina


The Battle of Aiken was one of the last Confederate victories of the American Civil War, as General William Tecumseh Sherman led his troops across South Carolina. Since 1995, reenactors have been recreating Sherman’s battle during the first full weekend in February. The event features scripted battles, encampments, field surgery demonstrations, and artillery demonstrations, along with authentic period fare, music and dance traditions, and crafts.

O.K. Corral Gunfight
JimVallee/Getty

O.K. Corral Gunfight

Tombstone, Arizona


Wild West fans are drawn to Tombstone, Arizona, where, in 1881, the O.K. Corral Gunfight took place between the Earps and the Clanton-McLaury gang — a real cowboy shoot-out. Or, more accurately, a shoot-out between prominent ranchers (the Clanton and McLaury families) and Tombstone businessmen (the Earps). The 30-second fight — the result of years-long tension and an unsettling night of poker — ended in three men dead and three others wounded. Today, the gunfight is reenacted daily at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. — and, at 30 minutes, lasts longer than the real gunfight.


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Spirit of Vincennes
Library of Congress

Spirit of Vincennes

Vincennes, Indiana


Held in May each year, the Spirit of Vincennes offers realistic Revolutionary War reenactments, with four battles taking place over the two-day event. Smoke fills the air as soldiers move in from the woods, and the sounds of cannons, muskets, and rifles being fired give the reenactment an incredibly authentic feel. Visitors can also take in music, wares, and food from 18th century life, view a parade of uniforms, and walk through a mock encampment.

Battle of Cedar Creek
Battle of Cedar Creek by RobHarding (CC BY)

Battle of Cedar Creek

Middleton, Virginia


The 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek was another turning point in the American Civil War, and one that took place in the Shenandoah Valley of Northern Virginia. While the Confederate Army dominated early on, the Union eventually rallied, recapturing their own artillery and taking control of the enemy’s artillery and other supplies — and, most importantly, preventing the Confederate Army from ever moving into the northern states. Each fall, a reenactment of the Battle of Cedar Creek is held over two days, featuring thousands of reenactors in action and in camp. Attendees can listen to music, watch civilian demonstrations, and enjoy raffles and food vendors. 


Battle of Monmouth
State of New Jersey

Battle of Monmouth

Manalapan Township, New Jersey


Held at Monmouth Battlefield State Park, the Battle of Monmouth reenactment recalls the 1778 battle that held one of the longest artillery duels of the Revolutionary War. Following a three-hour cannonade, the Continental Army emerged victorious. Today, hundreds of reenactors recreate history through battle, mounted horse demonstrations, and children’s cannon and musket drills. “Keep track of your children or they may be drafted into one of the armies,” the reenactment website notes. Got it.

Battle of Camden
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Battle of Camden

Kershaw, South Carolina


It did not go well for American troops in the Battle of Camden, a 1780 battle that resulted in a British victory and over 160 American casualties. Held on a private 550-acre farm, today’s annual reenactment takes place over two days in the fall. Hundreds of Revolutionary War reenactors take to the field, firing 18th century cannonades and recreating the battle’s bloody end. Living history participants have crafted an immersive experience through demonstrations, realistic campgrounds, and activities that allow attendees to get a glimpse of what life was like in 18th century South Carolina.

World War II Days
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World War II Days

Rockford, Illinois


The only World War II battle fought on American soil took place in Attu, an island off Alaska. You won’t find World War II Days — one of the largest WWII reenactments in the U.S. — in Alaska, though. Instead, it occurs each year in Rockford, Illinois, bringing in 1,000 reenactors and 70 WWII vehicles to stage battles against the backdrop of a makeshift European village. Visitors can view bunkers and entrenchment exhibits, all while the excitement of an armored battle and infantry assault — complete with pyrotechnics — takes place on the main battlefield.


Winter Moonlight
jtyler/istockphoto

Battle on Snowshoes

Ticonderoga, New York


The Battle on Snowshoes in 1759 occurred during a snowy winter night in New York, a skirmish that pitted Rogers' Rangers, French troops, and Mohawk warriors against French, Canadian, and Native American troops during the French and Indian War. At Fort Ticonderoga, visitors can tour the French soldiers’ quarters, listen to French drummers and folk songs, and don snowshoes to walk to the edge of Lake Champlain, where the annual reenactment takes place on the original battlefield.

D-Day Conneaut
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D-Day Conneaut

Conneaut, Ohio


The Ohio city of Conneaut is transformed into the beaches of Normandy during D-Day Conneaut, a reenactment of the Allied Invasion of Normandy during World War II. Within Conneaut Township Park, reenactors from the United States and Canada act in mock battles to pay tribute to WWII veterans. Entry is free, and attendees can also peruse exhibits dedicated to WWII attire, vehicles, and more.


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