Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is the site of one of the most pivotal battles in American history. More than 3,000 men died over the course of the three day confrontation, with the Union finally forcing a Confederate retreat on July 3.

In July 2013, Dennis Mack got to experience part of the battle first-hand. Travelling 2,000 miles from Great Falls to Gettysburg, Mack was one of roughly 150,000 spectators to witness the reenactment at the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

To commemorate the event, more than 10,000 reenactors staged various parts of the battle across three days. The coordination alone was impressive, made all the more exciting by the authentic costumes, antique and replica firearms, trained horses, and fully-functioning canons.

When the reenactors weren’t engaged in battle, they could be found in Union or Confederate camps. As he explored the camps, Mack was impressed by how well the actors stayed in character.

“It was humid and hotter than blazes. All the soldiers were in wool uniforms,” he chuckles.

As a veteran, history buff, and co-chairman of the Western Collectibles & Antique Gun Show, Mack found Gettysburg to be captivating. He attended demonstrations, toured the museum, viewed the town’s original architecture, and visited the cemetery where President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. He also explored many of Gettysburg’s monuments, though he was not able to see all 1,328.

“It takes a couple days just to see the highlights,” says Mack.

Although the yearly celebration is not quite as extravagant as the 150th Anniversary, a reenactment and other activities are held annually on the anniversary of the battle.

“If you have any interest in U.S. history, I encourage you to see it,” says Mack.