It is officially American Civil War Commemoration weekend in Fairfield, with events slated throughout the town today.
The “Battle Hymn of the Republic” played loudly Friday night while re-enactors, local residents and dignitaries alike converged on the Historic Fairfield Inn to begin “Fairfield Civil War Days,” the third in a series of local kickoff events marking the 150th anniversary of the nation’s deadliest war.
“After 150 years, the voices of the fallen still echo and speak to us as we shape our tomorrow,” said Dr. Brad Hoke, chairman of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary planning committee. “Many have fought and died here to preserve our liberty and many of them are still lying here today.”
Rain moved Friday’s ceremony indoors, where the names of 170 Civil War soldiers from Fairfield and Hamiltonban and Liberty townships were read followed by a bell toll in their honor.
The festivities pick up in earnest on Saturday, rain or shine.
Living history demonstrations and re-enactor encampments will be scattered throughout Fairfield.
At 11 a.m., local historian Tim Smith will discuss Fairfield’s role in the Civil War, specifically the 1862 raid by Confederate Gen. James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart, in Borough Hall, 108 W. Main St.
With 1,800 cavalrymen under his command, Stuart rode through Cashtown to Fairfield and Emmitsburg, taking hundreds of horses from local farmers and kidnapping many Adams Countians including the Fairfield postmaster.
State Rep. Dan Moul, R-91, referenced on Friday another Fairfield event and the focus of Saturday’s re-enactment.
“Gettysburg is so well known but I think it is wonderful that we will have an influx of people coming here this weekend and throughout the 150th celebration that will realize it wasn’t just Gettysburg,” Moul said. “There were so many other areas, like Fairfield, that were affected and played a part in the Civil War. They will see where Robert E. Lee spent some time and learn about Hagerstown Road, which was held open so he could flee back to safety in Virginia.”
The July 3, 1863, event that secured Hagerstown Road for the Confederates, “The Battle of Fairfield,” will be re-enacted on the Landis Farm, North Miller Street, Saturday at 2 p.m.
One hour later, at 3 p.m., a re-enactment of Stuart’s raid and the kidnapping of Fairfield ‘s postmaster is scheduled for 11 W. Main St.
Other events scheduled for Saturday include Civil War Era House Tours (11 a.m. and noon) at 118 W. Main St., a Taste of History (noon) at the Fairfield Inn, Civil War High Tea and Magic (2 to 4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn, and closing ceremonies (4 p.m.) at the Fairfield Inn.
This weekend’s events in Fairfield were preceded by kickoff celebrations in Greencastle and Chambersburg. Gettysburg will wrap up the four-town series on April 29 and 30 with a multitude of events including a skirmish on Baltimore Street at 6 p.m. On April 29, a “Luminary on the Diamond,” will be held on Lincoln Square at 8:30 p.m.
The following day will feature a Gettysburg kickoff ceremony at the Pennsylvania Memorial. Matthew Pinsker, author of “Lincoln’s Sanctuary: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers’ Home,” will be the keynote speaker for the 7 p.m. event.
At 7:30 p.m., 150 cannon shots will be fired to pay tribute to the men and women who fought in the American Civil War.
Living history camps will also be located throughout Gettysburg.
Other events include Gettysburg: Red Zone for the Underground Railroad, Candlelight Remembrance Tours, Meet the Generals at the Diamond, Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital, a military recruitment and demonstration, as well as an African-American Experience. There will be historic church walking tours and a musical performance by the 2nd South Carolina String Band.
The weekend activities will culminate with the playing of “Taps” on Lincoln Square Friday and Saturday night at 10 p.m.
“All of these events have really been awesome,” said State Sen. Rich Alloway, R-33, who presented members of the Pa. Civil War 150th Anniversary kickoff committee with a Senate proclamation on Friday.
“The re-enactment of the 1864 Burning of Chambersburg was so phenomenal and lifelike. The events here in Fairfield are also a great way to commemorate what happened here.
It is a big deal for this area.”