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Tomorrow, 12 April, marks the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and communities, states and the US National Park Service are marking the occasion by organising events at battlefields, historic sites and parks, aimed at history lovers, nature enthusiasts and families.

"This is a Civil War town, but we're ramping it up this year," said Carl Whitehill, a spokesman for the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. The site of the Civil War's most famous battle, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania has historic events year round, but this month kicks off a five-year commemoration with expanded programs and tours, special observances and the opening of a new museum. From April through October there will be living history encampments at several places around town.

"Kids can walk up and talk to soldiers -- Union and Confederate -- and ask about what they are wearing or what they are cooking for dinner," Mr Whitehill said. "There will be large battle re-enactments and smaller skirmishes in the streets. That's one of the things we do best here."

In Manassas, Virginia, "cannons boom and rifles crackle" too, as the pivotal Battle of First Manassas is recreated in July, but visitors to the area can also watch crafts demonstrations, listen to live music and learn dances of the Civil War era.

Baltimore will host a series of events and exhibitions, including "The War Came By Train" at the B&O Railroad Museum. Locomotives and rail cars that served during the war will be showcased for five years, changing yearly to reflect the course of the war.

North Carolina recently unveiled a new statewide Civil War Trails guide that maps the war with markers at 232 sites in 78 counties. It aims to capture historic moments at the scene of major battles, guerrilla fighting and steadfast resistance between 1861 and 1865. As you walk the trails, stories will unfold at field hospitals, cemeteries and the Salisbury Confederate Prison. The effort is part of Civil War Trails, Inc, a nonprofit that maps some 1,200 sites in six states, said Mitch Bowman, executive director. "And we are working on hundreds more," he said.

For more about the trails program, and listings of battlefields, sites, events, maps and reenactment schedules in 29 states, visit CivilWarTraveler.com.

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