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Posts tagged “gar post

Waiting

row of antique chairs
row of antique chairs

Waiting

A row of antique bentwood chairs awaits the long-dead members of the Capt. Thos. Espy Post in the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall; these quiet chairs in somber light speak of lives past.

The chairs, the quarter-sawn oak panels, glass-front bookcases holding books that chronicle the Civil War are all authentic, left behind from the members of this post room, opened in 1906. The carpet is a printed replica that resembles the scraps of carpet surviving around the edges of the room. Once there were over 7,000 posts for members of the Grand Army of the Republic all over the country, now there are only six, and this one is possibly the most intact, and lovingly restored to its original dignified grandeur.

Every so often I get to visit the room and photograph the room and its contents. See other photos of the Capt. Thos. Espy Post and related Civil War activities at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Living History 2012

ACFL&MH 2012 Living History Civil War Reenactment
ACFL&MH 2012 Living History Civil War Reenactment

A father and young son dressed as bucktails, denoted by the buck's tail attached to their hats which marked them as sharpshooters.

I had always wondered about reenactors of various wars. Hadn’t we done our best to end them, to heal and move forward? I can see dressing up in clothing from another era, but why would anyone want to reenact a bloody battle?

After meeting and getting to know at least one group of Civil War reenactors, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves based at the Capt. Thos. Espy Post No. 153 of the G.A.R. at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, I’ve come to understand that for most it’s not the battles, but respecting and learning from the history of the events, of spending a day or a few days literally in the shoes of someone—often an ancestor—who lived and may have even given their life more than a century before, to understand their decisions and maybe a little more about life in that era, and how it led to where we are today.

two women in antebellum dress on the swings

Mixing Metaphors, from last year's event.

So it’s more about history for many, about being an expert in how things were, and a perspective on how we are. It’s also about wearing neat clothes and living life as someone else for a while. And about adding your personality to that character, reacting to your surroundings as that person might have, as the two ladies on the swings did—had they been dressed like that and walking through a park and seen the swings, of course they would have hopped on and gone for a ride.

Four reenactment groups camped at Carnegie Park from a frosty 35-degree Friday night, through a misty, cold and sleeting Saturday. Both Union and Confederate reenactors participated, pitching their tents among the trees.

Their realistic setups showed us how Civil War camps were organized and what they actually carried around with them before the days of easy communications and even carbon copies. In addition to setting up and hanging around in period clothing, reenactors also participated in Artillery Demonstrations and a reenactment of skirmishes.

But this event wasn’t all about reenacting battles with guns as another two groups met on another field to play Civil War-era base ball. And back at the Library & Music Hall people enjoyed a Victorian Tea, an impressive fashion show narrated with letters from an ancestor, tours of the Espy Post and more activities.

Below is a slide show from events this year which I attended; this includes the tea, fashion show, reenactment, baseball and tours of the Post. I will use these in the future when I design the newsletter and promotional materials for the Library & Music Hall.

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Reenacting For the Sake of History

two women in antebellum dress on the swings

Mixing Metaphors

I had always wondered about reenactors of various wars. Hadn’t we done our best to end them, to heal and move forward? I can see dressing up in clothing from another era, but why would anyone want to reenact a bloody battle?

After meeting and getting to know at least one group of Civil War reenactors, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves based at the Capt. Thos. Espy Post No. 153 of the G.A.R., I’ve come to understand that for most it’s not the battles, but respecting and learning from the history of the events, of spending a day or a few days literally in the shoes of someone—perhaps even an ancestor—who lived and may have even given their life more than a century before, to understand their decisions and maybe a little more about life in that era, and how it led to where we are today.

So it’s more about history, about being an expert in how things were, and a perspective on how we are. It’s also about wearing neat clothes and living life as someone else for a while. And about adding your personality to that character, reacting to your surroundings as that person might have, as the two ladies on the swings did—had they been dressed like that and walking through a park and seen the swings, of course they would have hopped on and gone for a ride.

Four reenactment groups camped at Carnegie Park from a frosty 38-degree Friday night, April 29, through a misty, drizzly Sunday morning, May 1. Both Union and Confederate reenactors participated, pitching their tents among the trees and turning the familiar park into a convincing scene from 150 years ago, only the occasional anachronism like a car or the mowed grass or tennis shoes jarring your attention back to the future.

Their realistic setups showed us how Civil War camps were organized and what they actually carried around with them before the days of easy communications and even carbon copies. In addition to setting up and hanging around in period clothing, reenactors also participated in Artillery Demonstrations and a reenactment of skirmishes at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg.

I’ll be posting a series of photos I took from this weekend on a site I set up for the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, the first entitled Living History Weekend: The Encampment featuring a dozen images (out of over a hundred) of just reenactors living the life for the afternoon.


Treasures Left Behind

photo of the espy post at acfl&mh

Treasures Left Behind

I’ve been immersed in the re-opening of the Capt. Thomas Espy Post No. 153 of the Grand Army of the Republic—yes that’s really its full name—at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, and most of the photos I’ve taken in the past few weeks have been of the room or of the Lincoln Photos Exhibit. This is one view of the room including the cases with the uniforms and small artifacts collected by post members so long ago.

G.A.R. posts were formed by veterans of the Civil War as a fraternal organization for social meetings and assistance and support to veterans and their families. At one time there were about 7,000 of them around the country, now there are about a half dozen still in existence. This newly restored room now has the distinction of being perhaps the most intact of these posts in the country.

It was installed in an existing room in the Library in 1906 an members met there until the last one died in 1937, at which time the door was simply left locked until sometime in the mid-1980s when the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves re-enactor unit undertook to care for it. Water damage, vermin, dirt and time took its toll on the munitions, uniforms, books and various artifacts, but surprisingly, much of the content was still in the room and could be restored.

Read more about the room by visiting www.CarnegieCarnegie.com, and plan a real visit to the room. I’m not so interested in military matters, but I do love history. All this was left for us to learn.