Re-enactors headed to Gettysburg for battle's 150th anniversary
When David Delisi takes to the battlefield in Gettysburg over the long July 4th weekend, he won't be thinking of his accounting firm, Delisi, Keenan & Associates, missed cellphone messages or upcoming appointments.
Delisi, along with his son and daughter, are living historians — part of a group of Civil War re-enactors of the 11th PA Volunteer Infantry Co. F who will travel to Gettysburg to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle there between Union and Confederate forces in July 1863.
“I'm a CPA, but I don't think about it when I'm there,” said Delisi, a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I was in ROTC at IUP and I enjoyed going out in the field,” said Delisi, a member of Westmoreland County Historical Society. “It's like when I was a kid, I played Army. This is like Army for adults.”
The 11th PA Volunteer Infantry Co F fought in several major battles, including Gettysburg, Antietam in September 1862, Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864 in northern Virginia, the Siege of Petersburg in 1864-65 and at the Battle Appomattox Court House, where Confederate States General Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865.
Reports state the battle began as the Confederate forces under Lee invaded Pennsylvania during the war's third year. Lee's Army from Northern Virginia was beaten back by the Union's Army of the Potomac, led by Gen. George Meade from Pennsylvania. Meade's troops beat back Pickett's Charge, an assault ordered by Lee, on Cemetery Ridge on July 3, 1863, the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg. (The attack was named for Maj. Gen. George Pickett, one of three Confederate generals who led the assault under the charge commander, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.)
Delisi, through the Greensburg Rotary Club, will be bringing two students from Greensburg, Kansas, the site of a devastating tornado in 2007, along with him to Gettysburg as part of a Rotary exchange program. The Kansas students are visitng from June 26 until July 17, according to the Rotary's website.
Keith MacGregor, part of 142nd PA Volunteer Infantry Co. F, has worked many events with Delisi over the years.
“I've known Dave a long time,” said MacGregor, director of loss prevention for New Penn Motor Express in Lebanon. “He is a great living historian and contributor to the group.”
For MacGregor, the opportunity to commemorate what actually occurred in Gettysburg 150 years ago by portraying a unit that was actually there is an unforgettable experience.
For both Delisi and MacGregor, interacting with other re-enactors who share the same appreciation for history is an advantage.
“When it's just us living historians around the campfire ... away from TV and cell phones ... you do a little time travel and get to experience these great historic events, ” MacGregor said.
Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.