Suffolk to remember Civil War in April

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 20, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Time will roll back about 145 years during Suffolk’s Civil War Weekend next month, giving residents and visitors alike the chance to glimpse back into the city’s rich 19th-century history.

The two-day festival, slated for April 2 and 3 in the Prentis Street area, will feature expert guest speakers, re-enactment camps, musical performances and horse-and-buggy rides through the historic Cedar Hill Cemetery.


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Along Prentis Street, visitors will find an assortment of activities, including the entertainment stage, living history exhibits, vendors and crafters, said Theresa L. Earles, the city’s tourism development coordinator.

In the living history camps, re-enactors will demonstrate how soldiers of that era survived during the war, said Earles.

&uot;We are working really hard to make the event well-rounded and educational,&uot; she said.

&uot;Vendors and crafters will be selling all sorts of items, including

of reproductions of Civil War apparel, period doll clothing, handcrafted jewelry, blown glass, and wooden bowls and candlesticks, just to name a few.&uot;

Families will enjoy horse and buggy rides through Cedar Hill Cemetery, one of Suffolk’s two official Virginia Civil War Trail sites.

Costumed interpreters will be stationed throughout the cemetery to guide walkers.

Katheryne Hamilton, descendant of a black Confederate veteran who is buried in Suffolk, donned in period dress, will speak of her ancestors.

For the history lover, North Main Street’s Riddick’s Folly House Museum will offer narrated bus tours highlighting Suffolk’s array of Civil War sites. Reservations are required; call the museum at 934-1390 for further details. Led by local historian Kermit Hobbs, there will be two tours on Saturday and one on Sunday, Cost is 15 or $20 per person, depending on the length of the tour.

Also, special Civil War guided tours of Riddick’s Folly House Museum will be available. The museum has a temporary exhibit, &uot;The Civil War and its Legacy,&uot; featuring items such as rifles, a Confederate Veterans flag, a scalpel and bloodletting tools.

Over the course of the weekend, festival-goers will be able hear from several Civil War experts and authors, including:

nJohn V. Quarstein, director of the Virginia War Museum and renowned history author.

His works include Fort Monroe: The Key to the South; The Battle of the Ironclads; Hampton and Newport News in the Civil War: War Comes to the Peninsula; The Civil War on the Virginia Peninsula; and World War One on the Virginia Peninsula, Newport News: A Centennial History.

nDr. Harold Wilson, an author and Old Dominion University history professor. He will discuss his latest publication, Confederate Industry: Manufacturers and Quartermasters in the Civil War.

nKeith Dickson, author of Civil War for Dummies.

nL.B. Taylor, author of Civil War Ghosts of Virginia, will deliver the haunting tale of the ghost at Cedar Hill.

nC. Brian Kelly will offer a glimpse into his Best Little Ironies, Oddities and Mysteries of the Civil War.

nIngrid Smyer, who wrote The Two Women Who Counted, which focuses on Mary Todd Lincoln and Varina Davis.

All presenting authors will be available for book signings following their respective presentations, Earles said.

Also during the weekend, awards will be presented to the winners of the citywide elementary, middle and high school Civil War-theme poetry contest, Earles said. The Nansemond River High School concert band and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy 7th-grade concert band will perform.

Although this is the tourism department’s first major Civil War-oriented event, the department expects to make it an annual tradition, Earles said.

&uot;With the revitalization of downtown, heritage and historic preservation is first and foremost on everyone’s mind,&uot; she said. &uot;This is a way we can start appreciating our history.&uot;

Celebrating and keeping history alive is important, said Betsy Brothers, a member of the Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society.

&uot;The Civil War has a rich history in this city,&uot; Brothers said. &uot;So many lives in Suffolk and Nansemond County were touched by the war.

&uot;My family was greatly affected by it. Both of my great-grandfathers fought in the war,&uot; she continued. &uot;I hope this festival will make people more aware of the history of the Civil War in Suffolk and Nansemond County.&uot;