Students hear about Civil War life

Students hear about Civil War life

November 5th, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Ricky Langford, left, and Preston Parker demonstrate how black powder rifles fire during a living history event with a Civil War theme in downtown Charleston, Tenn., Friday morning.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

CHARLESTON, Tenn. -- President Abraham Lincoln stood tall in his black coat and top hat in the city park here Friday and didn't seem to mind the chill in the air.

John Manesfield and his wife, Betty, portraying Mary Lincoln, are here from Nashville to take part in the 150th anniversary of a Civil War historic event in East Tennessee -- the burnings on Nov. 8, 1861, of railroad bridges that aimed, but failed, to cripple the Confederacy's shipping routes.

Across town at the Hiwassee River boat dock, people portraying Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Southern notables were explaining to visiting schoolchildren what life was like during the war.

"It's funny, and it's awesome" is how Melody Prince, a Hopewell Elementary fifth-grader, summed up her class visit.

Katie Towne, Rory Brown and Karley Buckner, North Lee Elementary fifth-graders, huddled together at the boat dock and agreed, "It's awesome."

"They must have worked very hard," Rory said about the people who lived in Civil War times.

Friday's school presentations were a prelude to today's main event for Charleston, the re-enactment of the bridge burning. The real burning took place at night, but the re-enactment is at 2:30 p.m.

Organized by the Charleston/Calhoun/Hiwassee Historical Society, today's living history encampment at the boat dock opens at 9 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., there is an infantry drill, followed each half hour by other demonstrations.

Lee, portrayed by James Young, is scheduled to speak at noon. Admission is $5.

On Sunday there is a 10 a.m. worship service in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church that once served as a Civil War hospital.