Harpers Ferry recreates 1864's wartime Christmas - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Harpers Ferry recreates 1864's wartime Christmas

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park will present Captain Flagg's 1864 US Quartermaster City on Dec. 7-8.

Through this annual yuletide event, the park invites visitors to reflect on what the Civil War would ultimately determine: the Union of the States, and eventual freedom of 4 million enslaved people.

For many citizens and soldiers, Harpers Ferry was both a home and military post. To represent Capt. Flagg's Quartermaster city, Harpers Ferry will be depicted as a Union garrisoned town during the Christmas season of 1864. The town is under federal occupation, and the American flag that flies over this national park flew here 149 years ago.

For several months, Harpers Ferry had been the staging area for Union operations in the Shenandoah Valley – a successful operation that brought the inevitable end of the conflict ever closer. Troops and supplies steadily poured south from the ferry by rail and wagon train. More than 60,000 federal soldiers and all their gear passed through into the Shenandoah Valley.

Those same means of transportation brought back a steady stream of wounded soldiers, prisoners and the dead. Buildings at Harpers Ferry that were not used to house supplies were occupied by hospitals, the Christian Commission and the Sanitary Commission. These organizations provided charity, aid and comfort to soldiers spending another Christmas far from home.

On the home front, the Christmas spirit was tempered by concern for the safety of loved ones far from home and deployed in harm's way. Hopes and prayers were that Santa Claus would visit every home, but that a notice of sad tidings from the battlefield would not. The spirit of Christmas, and the spirits of hope, charity and joy were muted, overshadowed by the clouds of war and an occupying army in the field.

A special workshop, "While Visions of Sugar Plums Danced in Their Heads" will be offered from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again from 2-4 p.m. during both days of the event. Join Carol Anderson, historic food and 19th century confections expert to learn the art and mystery of the confectioner's yuletide trade and treats while exploring the world of sugar work.

Cost for this workshop is $20 per person (in addition to park entrance fee) and pre-registration is required along with payment at 304-535-1523. Captain Flagg's 1864 US Quartermaster City programs will run from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Dec. 7 and 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Dec. 8.

The park entrance fee is $10 per private automobile or motorcycle. Children 15 and under admitted free. For information, contact the Information Center at 304-535-6029.