Play to bring Lincoln, Lee and Longstreet to life (with audio)

Play to bring Lincoln, Lee and Longstreet to life (with audio)

April 11th, 2013 by Todd South in Local Regional News

Dennis Boggs portrays Abraham Lincoln (Photographed by Todd Hibbs, Nashville, TN)

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

* What: Shadows of Gettysburg play

* When: Saturday, April 13, 7 p.m.

* Where: Rose Center Museum, 442 W. Second North St., Morristown, Tenn.

Cost: $15 individuals, $25 couples, $2 children accompanying adults

Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet managed to drive a third of the Union Army from the battlefield at Chickamauga nearly 150 years ago.

When he left this area shortly afterward, Longstreet's men marched along the mountains of Tennessee on their way to help Gen. Robert E. Lee in Virginia.

But snow stopped their progress near Russellville, Tenn.

Longstreet set up his winter camp there to wait out the weather in a house that's since been preserved by a local group as the General Longstreet Museum.

At the nearby Rose Center Museum in Morristown, Tenn., an actor portraying Longstreet will advise Lee in the "Shadows of Gettysburg" play on Saturday night.

The play, authored by David Chaltas, presents President Abraham Lincoln anguishing over the pending battle of Gettysburg with appearances by Lee and Longstreet. Chaltas will portray Lee in the play.

Reece Sexton is the chairman of the Lakeway Civil War Preservation Association, which cares for Longstreet's house and is putting on the play.

The play offers an opportunity to see historic episodes of the war presented by actors devoted to the historical accuracy of the period, Sexton said.

Lincoln presenter Dennis Boggs will portray the man in the play. He works full time portraying the late president in an estimated 250 annual school performances and other events.

Boggs grew up in Middle Tennessee and North Alabama and said the stories he heard from family about Lincoln made the man "not one of my childhood heroes."

But after getting involved in community theater in Nashville in his late 30s, Boggs played Lincoln once and became fascinated with the man.

Since 1997 he's made his living portraying the president. At 6 foot 4 inches, Boggs is a quarter inch taller than Lincoln, but grows a beard in the same style, which helps keep the likeness accurate.

He's since reversed his childhood opinions of the man. "I realized someone really had the stories wrong."

Lincoln's one promise upon election was to preserve the Union, and Boggs said Tennessee was vital to accomplishing that once the Civil War began.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.