News Column

Civil War event stirs patriotic spirits

June 1, 2014

By Ike Wilson, The Frederick News-Post, Md.

June 01--Words and music from the Civil War era made for an emotional Saturday evening for several people who attended the performance of "Civil War Songs and Letters" by the Dead Men's Hollow band and members of the Guillotine Theater.

The performance consisted of letters from writers impacted by the American Civil War read aloud by the professional actors of the Guillotine Theatre and accompanied by period music. The mixture of the spoken word and the music was moving, said David Snyder, of Point of Rocks.

"And it seemed to have more meaning because it's in Frederick, not in California or somewhere else," Snyder said.

Snyder's wife, M.J., said she knows nothing about the Civil War.

"I went to Catholic school, and they didn't teach us about the Civil War," M.J. Snyder said. "But it was very well done. I liked the individual letters by people who were touched by the war, the different personal perspectives of the war, not just soldiers dying."

Maryann Greico traveled from Rockville for the event "because this is special," she said. "You can do all the other events any Saturday night, but this is special."

Grace McKinney, 23, said her father is heavily involved in the Frederick Film Festival, which presented the performance, but she has her own interests in the Civil War.

"These are very human stories from both sides" of the conflict, McKinney said. "These are compelling stories. I'm fairly academically inclined, so I find primary sources interesting."

In addition, Maryland is the Old Line State, which was right in the middle of the conflict, McKinney said, adding that bodies and troops were transported through the state and the National Museum of Civil War Medicine is in Frederick.

McKinney joined several others in applauding the music by Dead Men's Hollow band.

Hearing words from the people involved in the Civil War and others who lived during the conflict was extraordinary, said Meg Egan Auderset, of Frederick.

"We live in Frederick and the Civil War was all around us, but I'm really struck by the words and music of that era," Egan Auderset said. "I'm very conscious of the Civil War. Our churches and hospital are rich with those echoes."

Ron Layman described the event as "keeping history alive. I'm no Civil War buff, but I think they're doing a great job," he said midway through the performance, referring to the band and actors.

"The soldiers -- they marched right through downtown Frederick," said Layman, owner of the Faux School building, where the event was held.

The event began with a showing of the film "The Wheatfield," a short animated film written and performed by actor Stephen Lang, which provides the tale of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of an old Union soldier named James Jackson Purman.

The event was a way to connect the film, history, music and theater, event volunteer Suan Butcher said.

"And with the Frederick Film Festival coming the end of June, we invite the public to come out and see over 70 films that will be shown over a three-day period, both at the Weinberg Center and the Delaplaine Visual Arts Education Center," Butcher said.


Information about the sixth annual Frederick Film Festival scheduled June 27 to 29 is at


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Source: Frederick News-Post (MD)

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