Even as the hot July sun beat down on his wool uniform Thursday, Shaun Myers was in his element.

There's nothing better, the 28-year-old Dallastown man said, than sleeping under the stars the way a Civil War soldier would have done in 1863.

"If I could, I'd live back in the 1860s all the time," Myers said. "It's just so much more relaxed." There are no cell phones, no cars, no stressful 40-hour work weeks, he said, surrounded by comrades who'd begun chuckling.

Where's your cell phone, Shaun?

"It's actually turned off in my tent right now," Myers admitted, if a bit sheepishly.

Don't worry. The cell phone did not accompany Myers to the battlefield, where he and the rest of the 87th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Company C were soon headed.

Confederate troops battle Union troops during a 150th Anniversary National Civil War Battle re-enactment at Redding Farm outside Gettysburg Thursday. MORE
Confederate troops battle Union troops during a 150th Anniversary National Civil War Battle re-enactment at Redding Farm outside Gettysburg Thursday.
MORE PHOTOS (Bill Kalina)

The group is based in York. This weekend, they're about 20 guys and gals among 10,000 re-enactors in Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Gettysburg. The original 87th was organized in York County in 1861 a few months after the start of the war.

Re-enacting, Myers said, is something he's wanted to do all his life.

"This is the best way to honor them," he said, speaking of the soldiers.

Annie Susemihl of York City - who was camping in a hoop skirt - said she strives for authenticity as a re-enactor.

"In doing this we actually have an obligation to do it as accurately as possible," she said.

That, of course, does not mean leaving the sunscreen and bug-repellent at home, Susemihl said.

"Getting a wicked sunburn does not honor history," she said.

James Van Laeys, captain of the 87th, said he has high expectations for the sesquicentennial event, which continues through Sunday.

"This is big," he said.

For Benjamin Beazley, it's something he's been looking forward to for a long time.

The 32-year-old York man said he became fascinated with the Civil War as a 12-year-old boy, having seen the movie "Glory."

Beazley participated in the 146th Gettysburg re-enactment, but the 150th is "much more spectacular," he said.

Brian Schade, a New Jersey man who joined the 87th for the weekend, said he used the past few years of sesquicentennial events to challenge himself.

These days, when he's re-enacting, Schade strives for extreme authenticity.

"The only thing I will eat here is something that the soldiers would have had," he said.

For example, Schade won't eat any imported apples - just those that would have been in season and available during the battle.

He sews his own uniform and sleeps under the stars rather than in a tent.

"I want it to be that next level," Schade said. "It keeps me entertained."

- Erin James can also be reached at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.