The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee began planning the nationally significant 150TH Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment during the 145TH Gettysburg Reenactment in 2008. The Gettysburg 145TH Reenactment was really a dry run for the Gettysburg 150TH. By utilizing a slightly expanded footprint for this year’s event layout, and re-examining operations, resources, parking, ingress/egress, battlefield, viewing area, amenities, incident command and relationships with local providers and municipalities, our logistics have been experienced, proven, tested and tweaked.
The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee was formed in 1995 by local community members. For smaller events the event staff totals approximately 150 and for five-year events approximately 400. The organization is comprised entirely of local folks, from the Gettysburg and Adams County area, who leave their full-time lives for a week in July and come together as one to make this event happen responsibly. The staff come from all walks of life, but have a common bond of cherishing and appreciating the historic community we live in. Many of us have been working together on this event for all 18 years. The senior staff has decades of professional emergency management, event management, public service, administrative and business experience in this community as well the local, state and federal level. One of the main reasons GAC was formed in 1995 was to consistently and responsibly organize the Gettysburg Civil War Reenactment. Up to that point, year after year, organizers came and went leaving pathetic event logistics, unpaid bills and local carnage in their wake. On Sunday evening after the event these organizers were gone and did not have to walk down the street on Monday morning to face their friends, public officials or neighbors. When this organization was formed in 1995, even though we were local and well known, most local providers would not participate in the event or extend credit to us for services due to the dismal history with previous reenactment organizers. Over the years we had to earn their respect the hard way! We had to earn it!
With 18 years of historic performance, The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee has earned the deep rooted respect and gratitude of the local community and municipalities for responsibly organizing the Annual Gettysburg Reenactment. We feel we have also earned the respect of most of the reenactment community, that have attended our events, for superb organization. There is generally never a problem with reenactor needs like wood, water, clean toilets, ice, emergency medical services, shuttles, traffic control, wildfire suppression, security and event management. We run the event utilizing a National Incident Command System model as outlined in the National Response Plan by the Department of Homeland Security. It has not always been easy to operate at a high level as there are few “normal” reenactments. Heat, humidity, injury, illness, high wind, lightning strikes, too much rain and flooding seem to be constants in the hobby. A high level of organizational performance is difficult enough at a normal event. Now throw in any of the aforementioned issues; risks increase, services decrease and the difficulty of responsible performance become much more difficult. This is especially true if there is no relationship with local providers, institutions and governmental bodies. Most reenactors who have been to a number of events, have experienced exactly what we are referring to.
This year’s 149TH Gettysburg Reenactment was a prime example of a potential calamity. The Gettysburg 149TH was definitely going to be a nice smaller event. Then the 101 degree heat with 107 Real Feel descended – for the entire weekend. Knowing the event was going to be diminished due to the intense heat do you cut back on resources? No – quite the opposite! As organizers we had a responsibility and obligation to the reenactors, the visitors and our community. We actually suggested many of the additional resources and changes. Here is what U.S. Commander General Allen Baldwin & Confederate Commander Brain Guerso felt compelled to say about their 149TH Gettysburg experience:
|As the Overall military Commander and federal Commander for the Gettysburg Event I want to say Thank You!. The 149TH Gettysburg is now a memory, but as I look back on this memory it is one filled with pride. With your help and the commitment of General Gesuero and his staff along with the dedication and commitment of the Federal Headquarters staff and The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, were able to provide a memorable experience for all who attended. With the dedication and commitment of all involved, we were able to overcome the heat related issues to ensure the safety of those on the field, in the camps and the mounts that we rode and sent everyone home safely. Last year, at the Gettysburg 148TH, after a sever lightning strike in the middle of the night, five injured reenactors were removed from harm’s way during the storm, triaged, treated and transported to a care facility within twenty minutes of the strike. The staff then begana systematic grid search of each camp to account for the reenactor’s safety and other injuries. The staff response to this emergency was impressive to say the least!
General Allen Baldwin
|“To my fellow reenactors,
I have spent the last week reflecting on my 5 days at the 149th Gettysburg Reenactment. Having command of the Southern Forces at such a paramount event is such a responsibility in itself but given the oppressing heat we were faced with, the tasks at hand were incredible. I can tell you that with the unsurpassed cooperation from General Baldwin, the Federal Commander and the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, we were able to take measures everyday to ensure the safety of our people and our horses. Some of these measures included having ice and water along our march routes, shuttles from the battlefield back to camp, areas of shelter in the woods with ice and water, people miser’s and a horse washing/cooling station. I think these changes were well received by the troops and made a significant positive difference in the outcome of the event.
General Brian Gesuero!
Planning for the 150TH Gettysburg has been going on in our community for over a year. Community organizations like the Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Gettysburg/Adams Chamber of Commerce, The Gettysburg Foundation, The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, and local institutions like Gettysburg College and The Lutheran Seminary, and government agencies like the National Park Service, Gettysburg Borough, Cumberland Township and Adams County have come together and have been meeting on a monthly basis for over a year to insure a coordinated and quality experience for everyone. The 150TH Gettysburg has been called by some Gettysburg’s Olympic Moment. This collaboration led to the 150TH Gettysburg Kick-Off last April where for the first time ever, there was living history and an actual skirmish at The Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary and fighting on Baltimore Street in downtown Gettysburg. Three other communities, Chambersburg, Greencastle and Fairfield, all with their own rich civil war heritage, also participated with events. The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee and its staff led the way in making all that happen and supplied the volunteer planning, leadership and resources as a proud and committed community members. This is just one example where it has been necessary to not only plan for the reenactment, but to also plan for the multitude of other events that have been announced and scheduled. The eyes of the world will be on Gettysburg next year. As members of the community we are attempting to meet that challenge in an organized and responsible manner.
Jim Fox, our Director of Planning & Command Center Supervisor for the past 18 years, was formerly the Emergency Management Director for the Adams County and is currently on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Response and Recovery Team. He has been meeting with the municipalities, Gettysburg Hospital, Adams County officials, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, FEMA and the Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services Federation to coordinate event planning efforts. When he is not giving commands on the field, General Allen Baldwin is the Director for Emergency Response for the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He is also Gettysburg Fire Chief and President of the Adams County Fire Chiefs Association. General Brian Gesuero is a professional emergency responder at BWI Airport with an extensive background in large event and emergency operations and management. For 18 years The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee prides itself as having one of the best living history areas of any reenactment in the country. Living History coordinator Kirk Davis has been there all 18 of these years making it happen. The living history area just gets better every year. The Deputy Director of Operations for the past 18 years is Gettysburg native Timon Linn. Tim has been the Chief of Police & Security for Gettysburg College, Elon University and is currently in the same position at St. Johns College in Annapolis. The Director of Operations/Incident Commander for the past 18 years is Randy Phiel. Randy is a 30 year veteran retired U.S. Law Enforcement Ranger for the NPS with an extensive background in event operations, emergency services, wildfire suppression, homeland security, dignitary protection and incident command. The York County Wildland Firefighting crew has been with us for at least 16 years. They arrive before the first reenactor sets foot on the property and do not leave until Monday morning. Many of the crew are also EMT’s and paramedics. One of the crew is an emergency room trauma physician who was extremely valuable after the lightning strike during the 148TH Reenactment. The extensive EMS staff are professionals from both the Gettysburg and Hanover areas who come back year after year offering a wealth of specific event experience. Our long-time office Administrator, Joanne Sease, is very dedicated and experienced when handling either reenactor, visitor, community or media matters. Media Coordinator Andrea DiMartino is another community member who has been part of the organization for all 18 years.
Site preparation for the 150TH Gettysburg National event at the Redding & Entwistle Farms began even before this past year’s 149TH event. Some of the tasks include crop rotation compatible for a large event, repair and building of additional bridges, upgrading of roads, placing of additional firewood in appropriate locations, meeting with additional landowners, increasing the size of the CSA Camp, improving the CSA shuttle road, improving entrances and exits, and meeting with local, state and federal officials to insure good planning, compliance, safety, comfort and excellent logistics. We also have on site our own on-site Command Center and Radio Communications system approved by the Federal Communications Commission. There will be three fully staffed 24/7 EMS areas with immediate response capability. There will be one in each camp and one in the visitor area. We should mention that we are also blessed with wonderful and cooperative landowner partners who bring many needed resources to the table.
As an organization we learned one thing very early in our history. When you organize a reenactment there are three very, very critical constituencies. They are the Reenactors, the Visitors and the Community. Too often one or more is neglected. It is consistently our goal to equally and responsibly serve all three. There is a reason that very few groups organize large reenactments. It is normally difficult, it takes experience and it is risky. As the Gettysburg Reenactment organization we continue to consistently learn and improve every year. That is good for the Reenactors, The Visitors and the Community. It also enables us to walk down the street every Monday morning, when the event has concluded, and hold our heads high.
We look forward to and welcome your participation in the 150TH Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment & Commemoration on July 4, 5, 6 & 7, 2013. This may be one of the final opportunities for the reenactment community, our community and our nation to come together to experience a milestone in reenacting this iconic and pivotal battle that took place July 1863.
The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee
Each year the Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, local organizers of the Annual Gettysburg Reenactment, choose several community and preservation causes and support these organizations with a portion of the proceeds from the event. Some of the past beneficiary’s have included The Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Association, National Park Service Cannon Restoration, Friends of the National Parks at Gettysburg, The Civil War Trust, Brandy Station Battlefield, The National Historic Trust for preservation, the Lincoln Train Station, Marine Sgt. Eric McColley scholarship fund, The Wounded Warriors Support Fund, The Adams County Historical Society, The Land Conservancy of Adams County, The National Wreath Project and The Daniel Lady Farm.
The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee is very proud this year to announce its support of five very worthy preservation and patriotic organizations. They are The Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum, , The Adams County Historical Society, The Land Conservancy of Adams County, The Sgt MAC National Wreath Project and the Sachs Mill Covered Bridge Improvement Project. We are pleased and proud to announce that for the 150TH Gettysburg Anniversary National Civil War Battle Reenactment The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee will be donating $5 of every reenactor registration distributed equally to all five preservations and patriotic organizations.
Schmucker Hall is the most important privately owned building in the Gettysburg area. It is located on the campus of the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary and was utilized by both armies during the battle. On the First Day, the famous exchange between Buford and Reynolds took place from its cupola and eventually over 600 wounded suffered, died and were cared for in the building. Schmucker Hall is presently undergoing a major $11.7 million year-long renovation and will be re-opened this July 1st as the nationally significantGettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum. Two of the four floors will feature civil war religion and medicine. The extensive collection of the Adams County Historical Society exhibits will also be displayed in the museum. The Adams County Historical Society, located on the Lutheran Seminary campus, plays a significant role in preserving Adams County History and offering research opportunities for visitors, students and historians utilizing paid and volunteer staff. The Land Conservancy of Adams County is a member supported nonprofit land trust with over 600 members and the noble mission of preserving the rural lands and character of Adams County. The Conservancy holds over 95 easements covering over 6,000 acres. The Sgt. MAC Foundation honors the memory of Gettysburg Marine Sgt Eric McColley who was killed serving his country in 2008. At a cost of about $40,000, this year’s donation will support laying thousands of wreaths at Gettysburg National Cemetery and Quantico National Cemetery. GAC was the largest single contributor to the perpetual endowment of the Sgt Eric McColley Scholarship of Honor Fund when it was established in 2007. They have also been an annula supporter of the National Wreath Project since 2008. The Sachs Mill Covered Bridge was used by both armies during the battle and its aftermath. It is quite visible from GAC events at the Gettysburg movie site. There is currently a movement to improve the historical integrity of the bridge and its surroundings, create more aesthetically appropriate parking, remove graffiti and add some visitor and security improvements.
All of these organizations do a wonderful job of improving our community and quality of life working with very limited budgets. Financial and volunteer support is needed and appreciated by all these noble organizations. For the past 18 years, The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee has supported, and will continue to support, community and preservation causes that reflect the heritage of our very special community.