History Comes Alive: Civil War Saturdays

September 15: Meet a Boy in Blue: The Battle of Antietam (11:00, 1:00, 3:00). The epic battle fought on September 17, 1862 in western Maryland. It was the bloodiest single day in American history with over 23,000 casualties and was the catalyst for Lincoln issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

September 22: A Call to Arms! A day-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the 114th Illinois’ mustering into service. The 114th Illinois Volunteers were recruited from Sangamon, Cass, and Menard Counties and were mustered into service as part of Lincoln’s call for 300,000 more volunteers in the late summer of 1862. The regiment fought in the Western Theater and was mustered out of service at Camp Butler in 1865. In 1969, the regiment was reactivated by Governor Samuel Shapiro and has since been a treasured resource for the Springfield community and a long time partner of the Old State Capitol. Members of the regiment will demonstrate the enlistment process and turn from civilians into well-drilled Union soldiers.

September 29: “This Fiery Trial: Civil War Stories by Candlelight”: The Old State Capitol and Vachel Lindsay Home are partnering with the Elijah Iles House, Lincoln Home, Lincoln Tomb, and the Edwards Place to tell the story of Civil War Springfield by candlelight. Come tour the sites like you never have before and hear stories about this city in a way that has never before been done. These historic sites will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and a short vignette will be performed at each site allowing you to visit all six historic places in the time allotted.

October 6: Antietam Aftermath: An Appeal for Assistance: This fall’s largest Soldiers’ Aid Society event. From 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. the Society women will operate four stations for all visitors to help produce supplies to be sent to Union soldiers following the Battle of Antietam. Participants will be able to make and roll bandages, roll cartridges, lint making, and making cleaning patches for muskets. All ages are welcome and can participate.

October 13: Meet a Boy in Blue: The Battle of Perryville (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) The climactic battle which was a tactical Confederate victory but which secured Kentucky for the Union. Lincoln wrote to Orville Hickman Browning that he believed “to lose Kentucky was nearly the same as to lose the whole game.” In August 1862 Confederate troops invaded Kentucky hoping to wrest it away from the Union. They were cornered by a larger Union army and fought the Battle of Perryville on October 8. The following day the Confederates began retreating back to Tennessee. Kentucky would never seriously be threatened by the Confederates again.

October 20: Civil War Camps and Cooking: Civil War soldiers will set up tents on the Old State Capitol lawn and demonstrate cooking (and eating) as well as camp life, equipment, and fire muskets on a regular basis. Camp will be open roughly 10:00 to 4:00.

October 27: Meet a Boy in Blue: The Brown Water Navy (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) A study of the naval actions on the rivers in the Western Theater. The dramatic naval episodes on the Atlantic included blockade runners and hunting of Confederate raiders and privateers such as the infamous CSS Alabama, but the dirty work to help secure Southern rivers for the transportation of troops and supplies was done by the shallow draft gunboats of the “Brown Water Navy.” The Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee Rivers as well as many tributaries became battlefields as vicious fighting was done at close range between ironclad gunboats, rams, and mortar boats. This program will cover the early portion of the naval war on the rivers from Fort Donelson in early 1862 to the Vicksburg Campaign in mid-1863.

October 27: Meet Governor Richard Oglesby (12:00 and 2:00) In between the Meet a Boy in Blue presentations on October 27, come and meet Illinois governor Richard Oglesby, of Elkhart and Decatur. Oglesby was a Mexican War veteran and served as a Colonel and Brigadier General during the Civil War. He was wounded severely at the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi in October 1862. In 1864 he was elected Governor of Illinois in the Old State Capitol and served from 1865 to 1869, then a ten-day second term in 1873, and a third term 1885 to 1889 in the “new” state capitol. Oglesby will be portrayed by Dick Torgerson of Decatur, Illinois.

November 3: Meet a Boy in Blue: Lincoln and McClellan (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) A chronicle of the tumultuous relationship between President Lincoln and his commander George B. McClellan. After the Union disaster at Bull Run in July 1861, Lincoln appointed McClellan to reorganize and command the Army of the Potomac at Washington City. McClellan succeeded in building a force of 150,000 men, and all but refused to fight it. When General-in-Chief Winfield Scott retired in November 1861, McClellan was appointed to succeed him. Friction grew between the president and the general as he refused to move his army forward and when he finally did he crept toward Richmond at a snail’s pace. Lincoln stripped him of command in August 1862, but when Lee invaded Maryland the following month he was forced to once again turn to McClellan. The victory at Antietam caused Lincoln to give him yet another chance, but McClellan was unable to live up to expectations and was relieved of command for good in November 1862.

November 10: Meet a Boy in Blue: Geography of War (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) Maps were some of the most important tools for commanders. It may shock some people to learn that there was no national repository for maps and many inaccurate maps were given to Civil War commanders. Most generals took to acquiring their own cartographers to help them maneuver and navigate through the Confederate states.

November 17: Four Seasons: A Ladies’ Wardrobe (2:00 to 3:00) Chillier weather is approaching and that means that the ladies in the Soldiers’ Aid Society will need to pull their fall and winter clothing out of the wardrobe. This will be a presentation on how women’s clothing was different depending on the time of year.

November 24: Meet a Boy in Blue: The Campaigns Against Vicksburg (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) On July 4, 1863 the Confederate bastion of Vicksburg, Mississippi capitulated to the overwhelming force of Ulysses S. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee. This was the end of a long, drawn-out series of offensive movements by Union forces spanning over nearly a year and resulting in thousands of casualties and millions of dollars being spent. This program will detail some of the Union setbacks in the early portions of the operation.

December 1: Meet a Boy in Blue: Winter during the Civil War (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) Most movements during the Civil War ended with the onset of winter. Dirt roads became impassable. Weather was unpredictable. Rivers would freeze, flood, and freeze again. But the soldiers did not simply go home during the winter and military life had to go on. What was that experience like for the average soldiers who lived in tents or huts and huddled around fires searching for warmth?

December 8: Meet a Boy in Blue: The Battle of Fredericksburg (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) Pressured to move before winter set in, the new commander of the Army of the Potomac, Ambrose Burnside, attempted to advance against Richmond via the city of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bogged down by indecision and winter weather, Burnside’s path was blocked by Robert E. Lee. Despite this, Burnside tried to blast his way through toward the Confederate capital, but was bloodily beaten back at Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862 in the last of a series of major Union setbacks of 1862.

December 15: Soldiers’ Aid Society New Year Baskets for Camp Butler: This will be an all day event where you and other visitors can join the women of the Soldiers’ Aid Society as they prepare care packages for the Union soldiers who are sick or recuperating in hospitals or training at nearby Camp Butler.

December 29: Meet a Boy in Blue: Flummoxed—The Strategic Situation at the Midpoint of the War (11:00, 1:00, 3:00) The Civil War had been going on for nearly two years as 1863 began. During this time the face of the war had changed; beginning as a war to put the Union back together, it was now a war against the institution of slavery. Tactics were changing as battle lines were beginning to give-way to trenches and breastworks. Tens of thousands of square miles of Confederate territory had been conquered by Union troops, but people saw no end to the fighting in sight. What had happened in the war up to this point? What was about the happen? And how was the war changing?