Hancock marking sesquicentennial of artillery battle

January 05, 2012|By DON AINES |

HANCOCK — One hundred and fifty years ago, Union and Confederate forces exchanged artillery fire across the Potomac River for two days, a battle being commemorated this week by the Town of Hancock.

The events started Thursday night with a reading of students’ essays on the battle and a Civil War concert, both held at the St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 2 E. High St., Mayor Daniel Murphy said.

Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson ordered the surrender of Hancock on Jan. 5, 1862, but the commander of the Union garrison, Brig. Gen. Frederick Lander, refused and held out through the bombardment, blocking Jackson from crossing the river.

Compared to other battles in which thousands were killed or wounded, the Battle of Hancock was a small affair with about two dozen casualties, but it forced Jackson to retreat to winter quarters in West Virginia and prevented disruption of rail and canal traffic.

Thirty-five Hancock Middle School students submitted essays, and another 10 were submitted by high school students, Murphy said. The winning entries, to be read by the authors, were Sara Wagner from the high school, and middle school students Jared Hose and Whitney Trovinger, Murphy said.

Civil War period music was to be performed by the Springs Chamber Ensemble, a group that includes musicians from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and the Tri-State area. The performance was also to include the reading of poetry and letters from the era.

Friday’s events begin at 7 p.m. in the Hancock Performing Arts Center, 126 W. High St., with an overview of the battle presented by Art Callaham.

An exhibit, Hancock’s Hall of Heroes, with photos and biographical information on soldiers who took part in the battle, will open, as will a student art exhibit.

The evening also features a display on the use of ground-penetrating radar to find unmarked graves and a lecture on Civil War battlefield surgery by Dr. John Rathgeb.

The Hancock Arts Council Riverside String Band will also perform.

Several other concerts, lectures, demonstrations and other events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

If You Go ...
What: Battle of Hancock Sesquicentennial Commemoration Schedule of Events

Hancock Performing Arts Center, 126 W. High St., 7 p.m.
• Overview of Battle of Hancock by Art Callaham.
• Hancock’s Hall of Heroes exhibit opens.
• Student art exhibit opens.
• Display on use of ground-penetrating radar to locate unmarked graves.
• Lecture on Civil War battlefield medicine by Dr. John Rathgeb.
• Hancock Arts Council Civil War String Band.

St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, 2 E. High St.
• Battle of Hancock 5K Walk/Run, 9 a.m.
• Storyteller Matthew Dodd, 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.
• Firing demonstration and re-enactors, 10 a.m. noon and 4 p.m.
Hancock Performing Arts Center
• “ID Discs of Union Soldiers in the Civil War” with Joe Stahl, 10:30 a.m.
• Presentation of Ron Lesser print, “The Shelling of Carlisle,” to the Hancock Historical Society by F&M Trust of Chambersburg, Pa., 11:30 a.m.
• Music workshop with The Wildcat Regiment Band, 2 p.m.
• Lecture by Dr. Robert Hileman of the Col. Crowther Foundation, 2 p.m.
• Civil War lecture by author Bob O’Connor, 3 p.m.
• Wildcat Regiment Band Concert, 5 p.m.

Hancock Performing Arts Center
• John Mentzer, author of “If These Walls Could Talk,” 1 p.m. Tonoloway Baptist Church (two miles north of Hancock on Pa. 655), open 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church
• Overview of St. Thomas’ role in the Civil War, 2 p.m.
• Civil War Soldiers Memorial Service and dedication of grave stones, 3 p.m.
• Civil War period prayer service with choir, 4 p.m.

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