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Cannons mark Gettysburg’s 150th

A visitor to Little Round Top views Devil’s Den during ongoing activities commemorating the battle.

Matt Rourke/AP

A visitor to Little Round Top views Devil’s Den during ongoing activities commemorating the battle.

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The booms of ground-shaking cannon fire Monday marked the 150th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg, the defining encounter of the American Civil War.

It was after 7 a.m. on July 1, 1863, when Union troops began firing on Confederate infantry advancing up Chambersburg Road on the edge of this small, south-central Pennsylvania town.

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On Monday, Civil War buffs and spectators deployed to the spot and swarmed other parts of the battlefield to snap pictures and soak in history lessons from eager National Park Service rangers.

More than 200,000 people are expected to visit Gettysburg over a 10-day anniversary period ending July 7. Monday also marked the opening of Gettysburg’s newest attraction, the Seminary Ridge Museum.

The National Park Service took the spotlight Sunday night with a commemorative ceremony, just about 100 yards from the actual point in the battlefield where Pickett’s Charge was rebuffed.

Historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin delivered the keynote address.

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