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
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 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
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
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?