In anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Middlesex County Historical Society is pleased to sponsor a living history event, an encampment of Company G, Fourteenth Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry on Saturday, September 18, from 10 am to 3 pm. The General Joseph Mansfield House backyard will come alive with living history through demonstrations of camp skills, along with cooking, drilling, and firearms demonstrations. Participants will be able to interact with the reenactors who are recognized for their high standards of authenticity and attention to detail. Company G’s present membership has five members whose ancestors fought with the original 14th Connecticut. The civilian women of the group, also in full and authentic costume, will present activities performed by women on the home front that greatly contributed to the Northern War effort.
The day’s events will include a performance of Civil War era music at 11 am by the ensemble Back Swamp. The group consists of local musicians Mary Cooke, Joe Mayer and Nancy Meyers on fiddle/violin, Wayne LePard and Tom Worthley on guitar, and Ron Krom on accordion. Songs by Middletown’s own Henry Clay Work will stir the audience along with traditional love ballads like Lorena and Shenandoah.
At 12:30 pm, William Hosley will present his new program, “Monumental Accomplishment: The Civil War and the Making of History.” Prior to the Civil War there was no tradition of public memorialization, almost no statues or monuments commemorating great events or deeds in the life of our country, and only a small emerging corpus of historical narrative and scholarship. After the Civil War, the supply and demand for these things surged and it was not by accident. The Civil War, an event of cataclysmic emotional and cultural significance, coincided with a wave of nostalgia and loss induced by the transformation of an agrarian society into an urban industrial society. The period’s new engineering capabilities enabled the ultimate expression of this newfound turn to remembrance; the remnants include much of our most inspiring public sculpture, a wide layer of art and material culture, and some of our most auspicious public buildings and landmarks including the Connecticut State Capitol. Bill will provide an armchair tour of Civil War monuments, art and material culture in Connecticut and related places.
Bill Hosley, the principal of Terra Firma Northeast, is an independent scholar, cultural resource consultant, planner, writer, and photographer. He was a curator and exhibition developer at the Wadsworth Atheneum, most recently working on and writing the exhibition catalog for Sam & Elizabeth: Legend and Legacy of Colt’s Empire.
Admission for this event is $5 to benefit the Society, with children under 12 free. In the event of heavy rain, the encampment will be cancelled but the music portion and talk will be held. The Mansfield House, the headquarters of the Middlesex County Historical Society, is located at 151 Main Street, Middletown. The Society’s three current exhibits, Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown and the Civil War and Greetings from Middletown: Changing Views of a Colorful City will be available for viewing. For further information call the Society at 860-346-0746.