Events are planned in many states to provide Americans an opportunity to remember an important chapter in the country's history and reflect on the meaning of the bloody war, which lasted from 1861 to 1865.
On Saturday in Kennesaw - the staging ground for the Great Locomotive Chase in April 1862 - war re-enactors of the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry staged an encampment that included military drills, weapons demonstrations and displays at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. The group conducts such encampments about four times a year on the museum's front lawn, but brought the event indoors as a result of Saturday's wet weather.
War re-enactor Howard Morgan of Marietta, company commander, said the encampment is important "to continue to talk to people about our history and what happened, so that mistakes that were made in the past don't happen again."
Morgan, 64, who works as Starbucks regional development manager, said he became interested in the war as a high school student and started participating in Civil War re-enactments about 15 years ago.
"I actually didn't start doing this until all my kids grew up," he said.
The 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1862. It was commanded by Colonel Emerson Opdycke, a veteran of the Battle of Shiloh.
"It started out with about 860 people," Morgan said.
"They actually joined with Sherman's army when he came down through all of the campaigns of 1864, including the Battle of Atlanta. They started up in Chattanooga. They were actually at Chickamauga. They fought in the battles of Rocky Face (Ridge), Dalton, Resaca and Ezra Church. They were instrumental over at Cheatham Hill in the Battle of Kennesaw and actually were part of the battle for Atlanta."
Leighann Hardy of Marietta, who portrayed a cook, was among the small group of re-enactors at the museum who spoke with visitors about what life was like during a typical encampment that was set up in between battles and in the winter. There are 45 people who participate as re-enactors with the 125th Ohio Infantry.
"The last time I cooked I made a huge roast and I boiled it with onions, carrots and potatoes," Hardy said. "We have a better diet than they did back them. They just ate a lot of fatback, bacon and whatever they got from the quartermaster."
Hardy said she became interested in the Civil War when her 23-year-old son, Kevin Hardy, studied it in elementary school and was an assistant cook re-enactor. Interestingly, Kevin Hardy, a 2009 Oakwood High School graduate, is now a U.S. Army cook currently stationed in Seoul.
Allatoona High School junior Ryan Krohn's combined love for music and Civil War history led him on Saturday to participate as a musician reenactor. Also known as drummer boys, Krohn said musicians played an important role in battles.
"First they were used to get the troops out on the battlefield," said Krohn, 17, a member of his school's band.
"But in other ways they were also used to communicate between different regiments and battalions. If there was a commanding officer over there with 150 men and the general wanted him to move to the left, he'd used a musician to sound a musician-type call and the officer would understand the call and say, 'We need to move to the left.'"
That's why musicians, who ranged from age 12 to 22, had such a high death rate in the war, Krohn said.
For Jim Lewis of Ontario, Canada, distinguishing the Union from the Confederacy was a little tricky as he visited the encampment and museum displays, but by the end of the day it began to make better sense.
Lewis, a member of the Canadian Air Force, was in town to receive training at Lockheed Martin and decided to tour the Southern Museum.
"Being a train buff, interested in trains and history, I did some research and thought I'd like to come down here," he said. "I read about the General train chase and said I had to be here."
The 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry reenactors are scheduled to participate in the 35rd annual Big Shanty Festival in downtown Kennesaw on April 16 and 17.
In addition to the Southern Museum's encampment, Kennesaw State University on Saturday hosted its 8th annual Symposium on New Interpretations of the Civil War. This year's theme was "Civil War to Civil Rights" and featured a forum that discussed the connection between the Civil War and the struggle for civil rights for African Americans.
Three Cobb museums hosted a family day event called "The Yankees are Coming: Life in Marietta During the Civil War," on Saturday that included tours, period music, cooking and dance demonstrations and war reenactors at the Root House Museum, Marietta Museum of History, and Marietta Gone with the Wind Museum.
GaCivilWar.org, the state's official Civil War website, was launched by the Tourism Division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development to commemorate the war's sesquicentennial and as a marketing initiative to encourage locals and visitors to explore and experience Georgia's Civil War history.