Carnegie Library Marks Civil War Sesquicentennial
For Immediate Release
Contact: Maggie Forbes, firstname.lastname@example.org
412-276-3456, Ext. 6
“April is the cruelest month.” So wrote T.S. Eliot in “The Wasteland;” students of American history would agree. The Civil War began (April 12, 1861) and ended (April 9, 1865), and Abraham Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865 and died the next day.
April 2011 marks the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War. The Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall (ACFL&MH) has developed a rich roster of day and evening of public programming on April 30 that will examine many aspects of this defining chapter in the nation’s history.
The ACFL&MH is home to a rare Civil War room, which is the inspiration for April’s programming. The Captain Thomas Espy Post No. 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic has been documented by scholars as probably the most intact GAR post in the country. In the late 19th century, there were nearly 7,000 posts across America.
Veterans of the Civil War custom-furnished a room at the Library and met there from 1906 until the late-1930s, when the last member of the Post died. The room, along with its original furnishings and artifacts including flags, weapons, books, prints and other items relating to the Civil War, had been locked and essentially forgotten for decades. The room re-opened following a meticulous restoration on the 201st anniversary of Lincoln’s birth in February 2010.
The Library & Music Hall has been offering annual Civil War programming since 2006, the centennial of the Espy Post’s move to the Library. However, this year’s programming has grown so much that it will take place at two sites: at the ACFL&MH and at nearby Carnegie Park.
“We wanted to do something special for the sesquicentennial,” says executive director Maggie Forbes. “Fortunately, our library director, Diane Klinefelter, is a Civil War historian with all the right connections. The programming has really taken off!” The Library & Music Hall hopes to build on the heightened public interest during the sesquicentennial years to establish its Civil War programming as an annual event anticipated by Civil War enthusiasts, re-enactors and the public alike.
Carnegie Park will be the site if an encampment, skirmishes and artillery demonstrations. Union and Confederate troops will re-enact skirmishes from Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. “Hopefully, the neighbors will be forewarned about the canon blasts,” laughs Klinefelter. Working with members of the 9th PA Reserves – and the research skills of a professional librarian -- Klinefelter has put together a series of safety precautions to govern the re-enactments. The Library & Music Hall is coordinating the event with the cooperation of the Carnegie Police and Public Works Departments.
Members of the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves will staff touring stations at the park, providing information on Civil War Medicine, Infantry, Artillery, Small Arms and Recruiting. To create a social context of the times, the Pittsburgh Franklins will play a game of vintage base ball (sic) as it was played in 1860.
At the Library & Music Hall, ongoing tours of the Espy Post will be enhanced with exhibits, a film, a talk, a Victorian tea and a ball. “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” a documentary film (which had its Pittsburgh premiere at the ACFL&MH in November 2010) tells the story of Sgt. Richard Rowland Kirkland, a Confederate soldier who gave aid to the Union wounded following the battle of Fredericksburg. Michael Aubrecht, a Greentree native, historian and author of the film, will talk on “The Gallant Boys of the PA 123rd.” Aubrecht’s talk will examine the role of this Pennsylvania regiment in the devastating 1862 Union defeat at Fredericksburg.
Exhibits include “Guns of Gettysburg,” a collection of the guns used at Gettysburg; original vintage photographs of Western Pennsylvania soldiers from Ronn Palm’s Museum of Civil War images; and “Civil War Memories,” photographs of re-enactors taken by James E. Meldrum. Members of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall USCT Drum Corps will perform at 12:00 and 2:45 p.m.
As an antidote to all the war and weapons, a Victorian Tea will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the ACFL&MH’s Reception Hall. In the evening the Reception Hall will be transformed for a Civil War Ball. Music will be performed by the Susquehanna Travellers and the dances will be “called” by Heather Nichols. Period attire is strongly encouraged for those attending the Ball, which begins at 8:00 p.m.
Sutlers (civilian merchants) will display their wares and food will be available in the ACFL&MH’s lower level. All programming is free and open to the public except for the tea ($12) and ball ($20/$30 per couple) for which tickets are required. A free shuttle will take visitors back and forth between the Library & Music Hall, Carnegie Park and ancillary parking at the Main Street parking lot (across from the old Post Office).There is limited parking at the ACFL&MH and no parking at the Park during the re-enactment.
A schedule of the programming is attached. Visit www.carnegiecarnegie.org for more information or tickets. Interviews can be arranged with the many people participating in April 30’s Civil War programming. ACFL&MH Civil War programming is made possible through a generous grant from the Massey Charitable Trust.