The 23rd Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend schedule is in place for the Sesquicentennial commemoration of the last year of the Civil War, the death of President Lincoln, and the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery. Peterboro, a historic hamlet in the Town of Smithfield, Madison County, is located about 25 miles southeast of Syracuse.
The event opens Saturday, June 13 at 10 am immediately followed with a line-up at 10:30 for the Processional Honoring Veterans of the Civil War. The organizing committee invites all interested persons to walk in a procession that will begin on the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and walk (approximately 120 yards) to the Civil War statue donated by Michigan Governor Aaron Bliss, a Civil War soldier from Peterboro who escaped Confederate prison camps with the aid of an ex-slave who came to Peterboro. (Persons unable to manage the walk may assemble directly at the statue.)
Walkers are also encouraged to install a small 35 star flag (available at the event) and fresh flowers with Civil War veterans’ names at the base of the statue. The 157th NYS Volunteers (reenacting) will carry the colors – with the 35 star flag. The procession will be led by Jack Baylis as President Lincoln, escorted by The Young Abolitionists-United States Colored Troops re-enactors from the Stephen and Harriet Myers Residence Underground Railroad site in Albany. Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War will follow as well as others who join in as they arrive. The procession will include Scott Seymour driving a Morrisville State College team pulling the facsimile of Lincoln’s casket crafted by Harold Reichard. The 12th United States Infantry Reenactment Regiment of Syracuse and the Civil War Heritage Foundation, military reenactment hosts of the event, will conclude the procession and conduct the brief memorial service at the Civil War statue.
The 12th and the Civil War Heritage Foundation will be encamped on the green for the weekend demonstrating civilian and military life, and will provide a skirmish each day at 2 pm. The skirmish is an educational / entertainment event that displays the military techniques, skills, and equipment of Civil War soldiers. The re-enactment, using accurate reproductions of clothing, tactics, and strategies, reflects the conditions of 19th century military conflict. A surgeon’s station enlightens the spectator concerning medical techniques. The plan for the skirmish is worked out beforehand by military company officers. Spectators do not know who is going to be victorious. Before and after the skirmish, re-enactors canvas the crowd answering question and providing explanatory detail.
SATURDAY, JUNE 13th PROGRAMS
- 10 am – 2 pm New York State Museum: Book sales and signing An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War. This book is the companion to the award-winning exhibition of the same name, displayed at the NYS Museum September 2012 – March 2014. The publication includes reproductions of objects from the collections of the NYS Museum, NYS Library, and NYS Archives, as well as more than 25 different institutions across the state. Robert Weible, NYS Historian and Chief Curator, Jennifer A. Lemak, Senior Historian, Aaron Noble, Associate Museum Exhibition Planner will be hosting the exhibit.
- At 12 noon on Saturday, June 13 the Smithfield Fire Department chicken barbeque will commence, Darlene Haflett and Jody Luce will conduct a walking tour of the Hamlet of Peterboro, and Blaine Elkie, a volunteer at the National Memorial Day Museum in Waterloo, will explain the origin and activities of Decoration Day.
- 1:00 and 3:00: Songs of the Civil War will be presented by the Fiddle De Divas and Dudes. Returning for a second year, the youthful fiddlers perform a large repertoire with impressive ability and enthusiasm. Lydia (15), Danielle (14), and Adeline (10) have been performing together for 5 years. The Divas bring 1865 fiddle tunes to life with the help of David Secor on piano/ guitar & Mike Caringi on guitar.
- 2:00 pm Skirmish
- 3:00 pm Edythe Ann Quinn PhD, Professor of History Hartwick College, Oneonta NY presents on her years of research and her publication Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and the Hills Community, Westchester County NY. Through detailed letters, recruit rosters, and pension records, Quinn shares the story of 35 African American Civil War soldiers and the United States Colored Troop regiments with which they served in the 29th Conn Infantry, 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery (11th USCT, and the 20th)The 36th man served in the Navy. Dr. Quinn will have her exhibit and books available both event days and presents her program on Sunday at 11:00.
- 4:00 p.m. Edward Clarke will proudly recite O Captain! My Captain! Walt Whitman’s poem written in November 1865 expressing the sorrow of Lincoln, the Captain, “fallen cold and dead.” Edward will present in the Lincoln Funeral exhibit at the Smithfield Community Center. Ted is a third grader from Binghamton NY who enjoys playing the piano, reading, biking, swimming, and playing chess. He loves theater, and has won two poetry contests and a class spelling bee.
- 4:00 pm Life of a Civil War Soldier: Retired social studies teacher and CWRT President, Matt George first portrays a fictitious soldier of the 134th NY Regiment and shares his experiences of serving in the war. George then steps out of character and discusses his role as a reenactor and the years of preparation to ensure historical accuracy. He presents at his large exhibit of memorabilia and items for sale that benefits Civil War battlefield throughout the nation. In 2006 the Capital District CWRT was selected as the Civil War Round Table of the Year by the Civil War Preservation Trust.
At 7 pm Saturday, June 13 Surrender at Appomattox, a Sesquicentennial feature, will be presented by Patrick Schroeder, Historian at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, VA. Schroeder will describe the events and terms of General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of the Northern Army of Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant. The program covers how the surrender meeting came about at that location, the personalities, primary source accounts, and details of the meeting that effectively closed the war and reunited the Nation. Schroeder will also explain the 2015 activities at the national park during the Sesquicentennial year of the surrender.
Patrick Schroeder was born in Virginia and raised in Utica NY, returning to Virginia with his family when he was a teenager. Patrick has a B.S. in Historical Park Administration and an M.A. in Civil War History. He is an independent researcher, a Civil War author, and owner of a small publishing company. The public is encouraged to attend the Surrender at Appomattox program. Admission is a Lincoln bill for adults and a Lincoln penny for students. The program is free to Civil War reenactors and volunteers, and Saturday Civil War Weekend visitors with hand stamps. (Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY)
SUNDAY, JUNE 14th PROGRAMS begin at 7 am with a Pancake Breakfast (sausage, scrambled eggs, juice, milk, and coffee for $7 and $4 for 5-12 years) provided by the Peterboro United Methodist Church.
- 11:00 am, directly following the Pancake Breakfast at the Smithfield Community Center, Edythe Ann Quinn PhD, Professor of History Hartwick College, Oneonta NY presents a program on her years of research and her publication Freedom Journey: Black Civil War Soldiers and the Hills Community, Westchester County NY.
- 11:00 am Sgt. Tom Brokaw, re-enactor preaches a Sermon for the Union troops.
- 12 noon Darlene Haflett and Jody Luce will conduct a walking tour of the Hamlet of Peterboro.
- 2:00 pm Skirmish
- 1:00 pm Songs of the Civil War will be presented by the Fiddle De Divas and Dudes.
- 3:00 pm Janet Ashworth presents Audacious, a discussion of Confederate Commander Robert E. Lee’s bold invasion of Maryland in September 1862. Author Janet Ashworth, a retiree and graduate of Syracuse University, was recognized in Florida Today in 2013 for her first historical novel Swift Currents of Change. Ashworth will sign books throughout the weekend.
- 3:45 pm Taps will close the weekend event. The familiar end-of-day melody was composed by Oliver W. Norton at the request of his commander Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield. According to agreement, Norton brought the body of his fallen comrade Alexander Dickey to Siloam in the Town of Smithfield for burial.
A special Sesquicentennial exhibit by Harold and Jan Reichard of Lincoln’s funeral will be at the Smithfield Community Center both days of the weekend. The large collection of artifacts and information on the Lincoln death and funeral has been collected for many years as the Reichards have developed this special display. Articles in the Reichard exhibit range from Jan’s piece of lace on Mary Lincoln’s mourning dress to a reproduction of Lincoln’s funeral casket made by Harold. The coffin will also be part of the Processional Honoring Civil War Veterans at 11:00.
Visitors can shop at two Peterboro Mercantile shops and at sutler tents. Civil War clothing, books, flags, toys, etc. can all be found. Vendors and demonstrators will be on the green. Children’s period games will be hosted by educators.
Ongoing Civil War exhibits throughout the weekend include:
- Binghamton Civil War Historical Society and Round Table organized in 1992, with membership from Broome and contiguous counties in south central New York State and part of northeastern Pennsylvania. The Society holds a provisional charter in New York State as a registered historical and educational organization. The region provided several artillery, cavalry, engineers and infantry companies during the 1861- 1865 War of the Rebellion, and also hosted Camp Susquehanna, a large basic training facility. The exhibit has copy photos and other glimpses of local solders and military units, and the roles some of them played in the war. Depictions include some regional civilian and military notables, and touch upon the importance of the railroads that carried soldiers, munitions and supplies in the area.
- Capital District Civil War Round Table has a large exhibit of memorabilia and items for sale that benefit Civil War battlefields throughout the nation. Postal cancellations and cachets, many of which are for sale, are also on display. In 2006 the Capital CWRT was selected as the Civil War Round Table of the Year by the Civil War Preservation Trust.
- Daughters of Union Veterans will participate again with records and activities.
- Onondaga County Civil War Round Table from Syracuse area will once again be on hand.
- Veterans in a New Field, A Civil War Mystery of the Irish Brigade: Author William H. Payne presents throughout the weekend in The Barn as a Civil War Union Marine displaying accoutrements, artifacts, books, and CDs. Payne has degrees in history and sociology and military service in the Marines in Viet Nam and the 10th Brigade of the NY Guard for 23 years. After a 42 year career in working with prisons and probation, Payne is currently active in veteran affairs and re-enacting military roles that relate to his own experiences.
- The Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark has exterior exhibits and interior exhibits in three buildings on the Underground Railroad, African-Americans seeking freedom, Gerrit Smith and his philanthropy and human rights activities, and Greene Smith’s Ornithon and his bird collection.
- The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum has a video on the 1835 NYS Antislavery Society inaugural meeting in Peterboro, banners on each of the abolition inductees, the Chronology of American Abolition, the Women’s Transatlantic Anti-Slavery Networks, Hugh C. Humphreys’ mural Come Join the Abolitionists, Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and panels from the NYS Museum Exhibit: The Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War.
- The Peterboro Area Museum has exhibits on the Town of Smithfield. Beth Spokowsky, the president of the museum and Donna Burdick, the Town of Smithfield Historian will be hosting the hamlet museum.
- Women’s Rights History at the Gerrit Smith Estate and on the NYS sign at the west corner of Park Street.
Emphasis on the Sesquicentennial will continue with Lincoln: The Great Emancipator October 23 -25.
The Peterboro Civil War Weekend is an educational and fund-raising event of the Smithfield Community Association based on the Gerrit Smith-John Brown relationship which helped ignite the Civil War.
Admission is $8 for Adults, $3 for those 6-12 years, and free for children under 6, and covers weekend activities (except food). Volunteers and reenactors are needed and encouraged to contact 315-280-8828 or [email protected] for information. Check updates at civilwarweekend.sca-peterboro.org or contact 315-280-9928.