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'Gone With the Wind' to be shown at Constellation Gala Dec. 2

November 30, 1999

The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is welcoming supporters of the historic USS Constellation Museum to Hagerstown for a gala benefit to support the restoration of the spar deck armament on the ship to its Civil War appearance.

The event is at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown. Tickets are available for $25 per person (which may be partially tax deductible.)

For this event, The Maryland Theater will play host to an evening of entertainment consisting of a concert of Civil War period music by the 28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band of Philadelphia, followed by a showing of "Gone With the Wind" on the "big screen."

"It isn't often that the public has the opportunity to view 'Gone With the Wind' on the big screen in a historic setting," said Steve Bockmiller, Constellation Museum Advisory Board member and coordinator of the event. The 28th Pennsylvania Regimental Band is donating its services to the museum for this worthy cause. History enthusiasts and "Windies" (Gone with the Wind enthusiasts) are expected to travel from throughout the region to Hagerstown to support this event.

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Tickets to the event are available through The Maryland Theatre box office, 27 S. Potomac St., or via telephone sales at 301-790-2000, or via the internet at www.mdtheatre.org.

"It's a natural outreach that we should come to Hagerstown for this event," Bockmiller said. "The USS Constellation is a state and national treasure. It isn't just a Baltimore thing."

The USS Constellation has its own tangible connection to Hagerstown. When the ship served from 1859 to 1860 in a squadron of ships on the coast of Africa interdicting the illegal export of captives to the west, the ship's second in command was Lt. Donald McNeill Fairfax. During that deployment, Constellation rescued 705 captives and set them free in Liberia. After his retirement with the rank of rear admiral, Fairfax lived for the rest of his life on South Prospect Street in Hagerstown in a home which stands to this day. When he passed away in 1891, he was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery (see historical footnote below.)

"The Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau is proud to be a financial sponsor of this event, which will raise funds to help preserve this valuable part of our national heritage," said Tom Riford, president and CEO of the CVB. Calling the ship an irreplaceable part of American history, Riford said, "the volunteers helping to preserve the USS Constellation were looking to extend awareness into other parts of Maryland and found enthusiastic supporters in Hagerstown with The Maryland Theatre and the CVB. We are very happy to be involved with this event."

Historical footnote:

Fairfax gained national attention during the Civil War when he served as the second in command of the USS San Jacinto in 1861, when that ship stopped the British ship Trent.

Fairfax was ordered by Capt. Charles Wilkes to board Trent and arrest two Confederate emissaries being sent to England and France. Known as the "Trent Affair" this was an international incident that almost led to war with England. The Lincoln Administration returned the two prisoners and apologized to the British, smoothing over the incident.

Later in the war, Fairfax commanded an ironclad "monitor" and finished the war as Commandant of Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy (temporarily removed to Newport Rhode Island for the duration of the war).

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