Men who'd worn blue or gray at the Battle of Gettysburg gathered in the small Adams County town for the last time in the summer of 1938. Only a few of the battle's veterans remained among the living.
They were there to see President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicate the Eternal Light Peace Memorial on the 75th anniversary of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Gettysburg anniversaries doubled as reunions for veterans.
Today, 150 years since the Union Army held the rebellion to its high-water mark in Gettysburg, the blue and gray uniforms still return on anniversaries. But they are worn instead by re-enactors who bring 1863 back to life.
Gettysburg is bracing for its biggest anniversary yet.
During the next month, about 200,000 people are expected to visit Gettysburg.
"This is our generation's major anniversary," said Carl Whitehill, spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Everybody talks about the 75th anniversary. Everybody looks back at that as being just an incredible moment for this community. We want people to look back at the 150th in the same
light that they do the 75th, as something that was a very proud moment for this community."
This year, for the first time, two major events will mark the milestone 150th anniversary of the July 1-3, 1863 battle.
"In no way do we believe they are competing," Whitehill said. "We're happy that visitors have more opportunities to commemorate the 150th."
First re-enactment: A national group called the Blue Gray Alliance will hold its first Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on the weekend of June 27-30 at the Bushey Farm in Freedom Township. The event is open to the public on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30.
Tickets are $10 for anyone over 12 years old.
The group is promoting its event as one "by re-enactors, for re-enactors" because of the emphasis on historical accuracy, said Kris Shelton, event media coordinator.
The Blue Gray Alliance has organized other 150th anniversary re-enactments -- including Wilson's Mill in 2010, Twin Rivers in 2011 and Shiloh last year.
About 9,300 re-enactors -- split between the Union and Confederate camps -- are registered for Gettysburg.
Battle scenes will unfold very close to the real thing, something that should also appeal to visitors, Shelton said.
"The more historically accurate it is, the more people are going to get out of it in an educational way," she said.
The Blue Gray Alliance re-enactment is like a kickoff to the long week of anniversary events, which continues the following weekend with another re-enactment put on by a more familiar group.
The second event: The Gettysburg Anniversary Committee, which has marked the battle anniversaries with a re-enactment for the past 18 years, will hold its own event July 4-7 at the Redding Farm, 1085 Table Rock Road.
Between 10,000 and 12,000 re-enactors will show how the Civil War battle was fought in Pennsylvania, said Andrea DiMartino, the committee's spokeswoman.
"(The Civil War) brings about thoughts of many things, brother against brother, father against son," DiMartino said. "It tore our nation in two. It happened right here in the United States and, for many of us, with our ancestors."
More than 60,000 people are expected to attend the four-day event, she said. Adult tickets are $35 for one day.
The event includes at least two major battles each day, 135 cannons and more than 400 horses, as well as more than 700 living historians who will teach about life during the Civil War era. Other activities include a wedding, 1860s fashion shows, military camps tour and medical demonstrations, DiMartino said.
"The living historians know the history and understand how the battles affected lives at that time," DiMartino said. "They enjoy doing this. Many of them are (veterans)."
At the military park: Gettysburg National Military Park will mark the 150th anniversary with a few public events on the battlefield, the national park that surrounds the town.
On the evening of Sunday, June 30, the park will host a ceremony that will include a keynote speech, readings of eyewitness accounts of the battle and a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by country artist Trace Adkins.
Around 9 p.m., the ceremony will move in a processional from Gen. George Meade's headquarters to Soldiers' National Cemetery, where 3,500 soldiers are buried. There, luminaries will mark the graves.
Around 3 p.m. on July 3, the park will sponsor a commemorative march of Pickett's Charge, the fateful battle that decimated Confederate ranks at Gettysburg. Anyone is welcome to join the march, which will be led by park rangers.
"Visitors can join the ranks and line up along Confederate Avenue and walk the mile over to Cemetery Ridge," Whitehill said.
The exposure: The visitors bureau has been working to issue credentials to television, newspaper and radio journalists who will arrive to cover the anniversary story. Already, 225 journalists are signed up, and that number is likely to rise, Whitehill said.
"The exposure that this town and this destination is going to get through major media being here at this time is really going to help us in the future," he said.
The economic impact of the anniversary is expected to infuse the local economy with $750 million throughout 2013 -- up from about $605 million in 2011, Whitehill said.
"There's been a lot of people waiting a very long time for this," Whitehill said. "This community has really had its eyes set on this for a very long time. It's going to be exciting to see the people come to town that have been waiting so long to see this."
-- Dispatch staff writer Eyana Adah McMillan contrib uted to this report.
Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list of Gettysburg area events planned in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the battle, head here.