Museum display is cornerstone of Civil War anniversary weekend

June 12, 2012|By LAUREN KIRKWOOD
  • Roger Finn, left, and Stephen Bockmiller speak at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Tuesday about the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area's First Call Weekend celebration this weekend in Hagerstown. The event marks the 150th anniversary of Gen. Robert E. Lee's Maryland Campaign.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Military rifles, photographs, letters and other artifacts from the Civil War all form part of an exhibition to be unveiled Saturday at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown.

The exhibit, known as “Valley of the Shadow,”  is a cornerstone of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area’s First Call Weekend celebration — a weekend of events in the city to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Maryland Campaign.

The display includes about 400 Civil War-era relics, museum Director Rebecca Massie Lane said. The artifacts will allow visitors to explore themes such as combat, medicine, everyday life during the war, and women’s and children’s history, among others, she said.

Some delicate objects will be rotated out of the display because of conservation needs, but the museum will house the artifacts for about 13 months, Massie Lane said.

Borrowed from a variety of collections, many of the objects have never before been displayed in public, she said.

“This is not just for the Civil War buffs,” said Todd Bolton of the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. “These events are designed for everyone.”

First Call Weekend — named for a bugle call used to signal soldiers during the war — will feature a myriad of events geared toward marking the historical significance of Hagerstown and the Washington County area during the Civil War, said Tom Riford, the president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

“We remember this; we remember as a community,” Riford said. “We celebrate our past so that we remember those who came before us.”

The event is the first in a series of three First Call weekends.  The other two will be held in Carroll County in 2013 and Frederick County in 2014.

While this year’s celebration commemorates the Maryland Campaign of 1862, the 2013 expo will focus on the Gettysburg Campaign, and the 2014 event will focus on the Battle of Monocacy, Riford said.

Other events planned for the weekend include a Civil War Ball Friday night and author signings of Civil War books at the museum Saturday and Sunday. There will also be re-enactors, musical performances from the 2nd South Carolina String Band, which aims to recreate music of the war, and even a Civil War-era baseball game at City Park.

“It’s not just about re-enactors or re-enactments themselves,” Riford said. “It’s also about all the things that are here 365 days a year.” 

Although the city has been planning for First Call Weekend since 2008, it is “an event that is a century and a half in the making,” Riford said.

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