An Opportunity This Weekend to Live the History of the Civil War

By WBNG News

An Opportunity This Weekend to Live the History of the Civil War

August 20, 2012 Updated Aug 20, 2012 at 3:56 PM EST

(WBNG Binghamton) This weekend will provide the opportunity to experience what life was like 150 years ago, as the Tompkins County Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission sponsors “The Civil War: Living History,” a two-day-long demonstration of life in Civil War times.

According to a news release:

Members of Company E of the 148th New York Volunteers will set up camp at the property of the Ithaca Veteran Volunteer Firemen’s Association, 638 Elmira Road in the Town of Ithaca. (Look for the banners.)  On Saturday, August 25 and Sunday. August 26, from 10:00 to 5:00 each day, the men of the Company, and those who accompany them, will demonstrate how people lived, coped, fought and died, and the causes of that war.

The soldiers will call roll, drill, cook, and perform period music with a sing-along.  Staff from the Tompkins County Public Library will be there to tell stories of the era, and the Civil War Commission will connect each visitor with a soldier from the county who served in the 137th  NY battalion, a Civil War nurse, or a member who enlisted in the United States Colored Infantry.

The program is made possible, in part, by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program.

County Historian Carol Kammen, co-chair of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, stresses that the purpose of the Living History event is not to glorify war, but to remember it and learn the lessons of another day.  “While the Encampment Weekend will be entertaining and educational, this demonstration is meant to serve as a reminder of what soldiers sacrifice in wartime, what it takes to prepare for combat, what it is like to be left at home, what patriotism means,” Kammen states.  “The weekend is planned to help us empathise with those of the past, and to stir our imaginations:  to make history come alive.”

The event is free and everyone is welcome—to spend the day or just an hour or two.  Company members will be in uniform, and there will be others in period dress.  The Encampment will take place rain or shine, but not if there is thunder and lightning.

150 years ago, in August 1862, the call went out throughout the Union for volunteers, and men lined up in every town to serve.  At that time, the 148th New York Volunteers formed in Geneva, filling its ranks mostly with young men from Seneca and Ontario Counties, but also including two men from Tompkins County. 

The current Company E of the 148th is known around the country for the authenticity of its reenactment, and appears frequently at Civil War battlefields and days of commemoration. The Company is coming to Ithaca at the invitation of the County Civil War Commission.

Below is the schedule of the Company’s events this weekend:

Saturday, August 25:

10:00-10:30: Roll Call & Manual of Arms
10:30-11:00: Children's Games - Civilians
11:00-11:30: School of the NCO, The Corporal- Ray Derby
11:30-12:00: Cooking Demonstration - Civilians
12:00-12:30: Lunch, Discussion of Soldiers’ Rations
12:30-1:00: Free Time
1:00-1:30: Shooting Demonstration
1:30-2:00: Civilians Craft Projects (to continue through the afternoon)
2:00-2:30: School of the Musician, The Bugle - Jim Goloski
2:30-3:00: Civil War Camp Music
3:00-3:30: Bayonet Drill
3:30-4:00: Children's Games - Civilians
4:00-4:30: Equipment & Uniforms of the Infantry
4:30-5:00: Shooting Demonstration

Sunday, August 26:

10:00-10:30: Roll Call & Manual of Arms
10:30-11:00: Children's Games - Civilians
11:00-11:30: Reading of the Articles of War - George Shadman
11:30-12:00: Cooking Demonstration - Civilians
12:00-12:30: Lunch, Discussion of Soldiers Rations
12:30-1:00: Free Time
1:00-1:30: Shooting Demonstration
1:30-2:00: Civilians’ Craft Projects (to continue through the afternoon)
2:00-2:30: Chaplains of the Civil War, The Bugle - Marty Hillman
2:30-3:00: Civil War Camp Music and Civil War Games: Horseshoes and Baseball
3:00-3:30: Camp Inspection Discussion
3:30-4:00: Children's Games - Civilians
4:00-4:30: Equipment & Uniforms of the Infantry
4:30-5:00: Gun Cleaning/Shooting Demonstration

Two other events will be associated with the Living History weekend.  On Saturday, beginning at Noon, the Ithaca Veteran Volunteer Firemen’s Association will hold a chicken barbecue, and on Sunday, beginning at 8 a.m., there will be a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Joseph Sidney Camp #41 of the Sons of Union Veterans, proceeds from the sale of food to go to these organizations.

The Civil War Commission urges all to experience the Living History weekend to go back in time to consider the hard decisions and experiences of people who lived in Tompkins County 150 years ago, in a nation at war with itself.