This year’s Civil War Day at the Middlesex County Historical Society is dedicated to the men from Middletown who made the ultimate sacrifice at Antietam: Maj. Gen. Joseph King Fenno Mansfield, 2nd Lieut. George H. D. Crosby, Private John K. Doolittle, Private Robert Hubbard, and Private William Lovejoy. They are but a few of the 110 men on Middletown’s Roll of Honor on the Civil War monument located on the South Green.
Civil War Day will be on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the General Mansfield House from 10 am to 3 pm. Company F of the 14th CVI will set up camp and demonstrate life for the ordinary soldiers: cooking, drilling, and firing their weapons.
The mission of Company F is “education, historic preservation, and authenticity.” Toward that mission, Company F, including civilian re-enactors, donates its honoraria to the Civil War Trust, the main battlefield preservation group in the country. Fittingly, Antietam was the actual Company F’s first battle.
The ensemble Back Swamp will perform Civil War era music at 11 am. The group consists of local musicians Mary Cooke, Joe Mayer and Nancy Meyers on fiddle/violin; Wayne LePard and Tom Worthley on guitar, Bob McCarthy on bass, and Ron Krom on accordion. Songs by Middletown’s own Henry Clay Work will stir the audience along with traditional love ballads like Lorena and Shenandoah.
Professor to talk about new book on Antietam
Professor Richard Slotkin who will speak about his newly published book, “The Long Road to Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution,” at 1 pm. In the summer of 1862, after a year of protracted fighting, Abraham Lincoln decided on a radical change of strategy – one that abandoned hope for a compromise peace and committed the nation to all-out war. The centerpiece of that new strategy was the Emancipation Proclamation, an unprecedented use of federal power that would revolutionize Southern society.
In The Long Road to Antietam, Professor Slotkin reexamines the challenges that Lincoln encountered during that anguished summer 150 years ago. In an original and incisive study of character, he re-creates the showdown between Lincoln and General George McClellan, the “Young Napoleon” whose opposition to Lincoln included obsessive fantasies of his own dictatorship and a military coup. He brings their ruinous conflict to life, demonstrating how their political struggle provided Confederate General Robert E. Lee with his best opportunity to win the war, in the grand offensive that ended in September of 1862 at the bloody Battle of Antietam.
Richard Slotkin is the Olin Professor of American Studies (Emeritus) at Wesleyan University. He is best known for a trilogy of scholarly books on the myth of the frontier in American cultural history: Regeneration Through Violence (1973), The Fatal Environment (1985), and Gunfighter Nation (1992). He will have copies of The Long Road to Antietam available for purchase and signing.
Admission for this event is $5, with children under 12 free. In the event of heavy rain, the encampment will be cancelled, but the music portion and talk will be held. The Mansfield House, the headquarters of the Middlesex County Historical Society, is located at 151 Main Street, Middletown and is handicapped accessible.
The society’s exhibits, Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown and the Civil War and Within These Walls: One House, One Family, Two Centuries will be available for viewing. For further information, call the Society at 860-346-0746.