The Civil War Living History Commemoration event will include speakers on the history of soldiers from this area and the many riverboats that served during the war. There will also be an accurate portrayal of a black nurse who saved the lives of many wounded who were brought to southern Illinois to heal or die.
The event will be held at Fort Massac State Park. Known during the Civil War as Camp Massac, the site served briefly as a recruiting facility training camp in the early days of the war. Although there was never a battle here, over 100 men died from disease such as a measles epidemic in 1861-62 that claimed the lives of soldiers of the Third Illinois Cavalry and the 131st Illinois Infantry, who were using the fort as an encampment. Many other men who joined here were killed in battles all over the south.
Speaker presentations are scheduled to last an hour with a 15 minute question and answer session to follow. Presenters will be:
• 9:30-10:30 a.m. — Phil Shappard: Massac County Boys in Blue — A grand-nephew of Massac County educator Howard Shappard, he is the national operations manager for Moody Radio in Chicago. His love for history and the knowledge of his family's roots in Pope and Massac counties led to some significant local discoveries of the Civil War era. With his great-great-grandfather Henry Shappard serving in Company K of the 29th Illinois Infantry Volunteers, he plans to tell this storied unit's history through first person accounts of the Great War of Rebellion.
• 11 a.m. - Noon — Glen Bishop: Holding the Line at All Hazards: Massac County Volunteers of the 56th Regiment Illinois Infantry in the Battle of Corinth, Miss., Oct. 3-4, 1862 — A Civil War researcher, he has been giving lectures on the involvement of southern Illinois soldiers in the Civil War for over 10 years and recently added southeast Missouri. Bishop resides in Jonesboro.
• 2-3 p.m. — Marlene Rivero: The Hospital Ship Red Rover, the Mound City Marine Ways & the Story of Ann Stokes — A southern Illinois born-and-raised storyteller, she celebrates several ancestors’ adventures in stories, song and costume. Through conjecture from two federal archaeologists, Rivero took their field and archival research notes coupled with local historical recordings, to develop leading historic woman personas and based on research surrounding the Historic African American communities. She also incorporated the Underground Railroad activity into this educator workshop on their brand new floating classroom in St. Louis, Mo.
• and, 3:30-4:30 p.m. — Bob Swenson: Civil War Steamboats Built at Metropolis — A Metropolis native, practicing architect and retired associate professor of architecture at SIU Carbondale, he has been researching southernmost Illinois history for many years. His presentation will focus on Ohio River steamboat design and construction, especially those built at Metropolis and Mound City that served during the Civil War.
Descendants of war veterans are being sought to be included in a re-enactment of the recruitments in Metropolis. The mock recruitment will be held at 1:30 p.m.
Re-enactors dressed in Civil War uniforms will be on hand not only during the Saturday event but also on Sunday, Oct. 28 to demonstrate their guns and other battle equipment. They will be at the park from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Sunday. A skirmish will be held at 1 p.m. both days.
The unit portrays Company E of the 81st Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which was made up of men from the southern Illinois counties of Union and Williamson. Organized at Anna and mustered on Aug. 26, 1862, they were ordered to Cairo on Oct. 8, 1862 and participated in the Battles of Port Gibson, Miss., Jackson, Miss. and Champion’s Hill.
In 1863, Company E assaulted Vicksburg during sieges on May 19, June 22 and June 25. It stayed after the siege was over, from July 4, 1863 to March 1864. Certain veteran elements of the unit also participated in the Atlanta Campaign from June 8 to Sept. 8, 1864; against Kennesaw Mountain, June 10 through July 2, 1864; and in operations against Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood in north Georgia and north Alabama, Sept. 29 through Nov. 3, 1864. The remainder of the regiment marched through Arkansas and Missouri in pursuit of Missouri’s Confederate Gen. Sterling Price from Sept. 17 through Nov. 21, 1864.
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