I've always wanted to see this, the largest of the Civil War reenactments, and I was not disappointed, which is why I was surprised by the previous negative reviews (5 of which were the reviewers' first ever reviews). Maybe they went on a different day because I did not experience that much negativity. First of all, one should plan their trip carefully. The battles were held 2 a day (one day had 3 battles) each of the 4 days of the event. Supposedly they represent 9 different engagements. Your ticket is an all day ticket, so you get to see both battles of the day. I suppose if you got the money, you can attend all 4 days. But I'm not that rich, so I had to pick carefully. I chose the last day, when they were doing Pickett's Charge, because I definitely wanted to see that most of all. They also had a calvary battle that day as well, so it was a good combination. I bought my tickets almost a year in advance because I figured they'd be a hot item in this anniversary year. Plus there's a discount if you buy them in advance. I also bought grandstand tickets because of previous advice, and I would say it's good advice. Sure, it costs a bit more, but it's insurance you will have a good view and a good time. With all the time and expense involved in getting here, why suddenly get cheap and risk it all? I saw that the grandstand seats were sold out, at least for the day I was there. So I wouldn't count on them being available when you get here.
Even a year in advance, it was hard to find a hotel room in Gettysburg during this period. I did manage to get one night on the last day of the reenactment. Maybe that's because many people are leaving on the last day. Maybe demand will be less next year but I think the anniversary period is always going to be a little busier than any other time of the year. I ended up getting a room in Frederick, MD the night before the reenactment and drove in from there.
According to the brochure sent with the tickets, the recommended route was to take US Route 15 North to the Hunterstown exit, Route 394 (Shrivers Corner Rd.) Turn left on Shrivers Corner Rd., then turn left on Table Rock Rd. Maybe everybody took that route, accounting for the traffic jam some people reported. I myself took a route planned by Google maps and did not experience any tie up. I went on US Route 15 North but took the US-30 W exit and turned left onto US 30 W/York Rd. After 0.4 miles, I turned right onto Shealer Rd. This apparently turns into Boyds School Rd. Anyway, after a couple of miles, you turn onto Table Rock Rd. But instead of continuing on to the main entrance where most people were probably coming in, I was directed to turn right on to a road (I think it was Miller Rd.), which winds around to a second back entrance. And this entrance was much closer to the area where the sutlers were and the main grandstand! We got there around 9:15 in the morning and there were already lots of people there.
They did let me bring in a small backpack (which they searched) with water bottles. You defintely need water in this July weather! A hat and sunscreen is good, too. They sell food and drinks, but as expected at these types of events, they charge a premium. We wandered among the sutlers' tents. Nice stuff if you're a Civil War fanatic. But since I'm not planning on being a reenactor myself, I didn't buy much. At 10:30 we decided to get spots in the grandstand for the 11:00 battle.(The first battle each day was always at 11:00). We were able to get good spots and not be too crowded, either.
The main grandstand was a good place to watch this cavalry battle. The smaller grandstand seemed pretty far from the action. It was supposed to be Custer's action in the East Calvary Field, but I think they said they changed it up to represent a generic cavalry battle. It was by far the biggest live cavalry action I've ever seen, must've been a couple hundred horses. There were a couple of charges as well as a review by the grandstands. Took about 45 minutes.
Next battle wasn't until 3:30 (6:00 other days). We left to go into town for lunch and to visit a museum. We left via Table Rock Rd. There was a bit of a traffic slow down. On the way back in, we used the same approach as in the morning and had no traffic issues.
Browsed until 3:00 and headed up to the grandstand. They were totally packed! Should've looked for a spot a half hour or more earlier. I think they must've sold more tickets than actual spots. Some people had to take spots in the aisles. The battle itself did not disappoint. There must've been well over a hundred cannons going off and over 10,000 reenactors fighting. Again, the main grandstands had a better view than the smaller one. We could see everything very clearly.
We left as soon as the battle finished. Good thing, since it was starting to rain. Took about 20 minutes to get out the back exit.
This is not the sort of thing I would see every year since it is kind of costly. But it is something you should see at least once. Just make sure to get those grandstand tickets!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.