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Bicentennial Committee looks back at life during the Civil War

Dan Meehan, John Hollinrake, Steve Dow and Roger Nason of the Company A, 12th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment, load and fire their weapons. (Jeff Ferland) (click for larger version)
July 11, 2012
Gilford's summer long Bicentennial celebration continued Saturday, July 7 with a look back at life in Gilford during the Civil War, complete with reenactors from the Twelfth NH Regiment, remarks from a soldier's mother, and a visit from then-President Abraham Lincoln.

The day began with the Company A, Twelfth New Hampshire Infantry Regiment setting up a recruiting camp in the Village Field.

Dan Meehan said the Company was in its 11th year, and typically give presentation to schools and historical societies and a large annual living history event in New Durum in October, which is now in its 10th year.

Meehan said the troops in Company A would have just returned from the battle of Antietam, where they suffered heavy losses, and would have needed to recruit more men for the regiment.

Meehan and his three fellow soldiers suited up in their full gear and fired off several shots from their muzzle loading guns using old-style paper cartridges; of course without the minie ball.

Kathy Lacroix, Bicentennial Committee member and Civil War Day head coordinator, said the committee booked their guests through the New Hampshire Humanities Council, which provides grants for these programs.

Company A illustrated some of the issues associated with weapons at the time, as some of the primer caps failed to ignite the powder and set off the charge as they fired across the Village Field.

Also, to start off the day, Sarah and Dean Anderson presented a display of old toys from the era. According to Lacroix, more adults were interested in the toys than children as some might had seen similar toys in their childhood.

The Bicentennial Committee also invited Steve Wood, as Abraham Lincoln, and his wife Sharon Wood, who presented sentiments from a soldier's mother. They presented their first-person historical view with Sharon speaking earlier in the afternoon from the perspective of a 19th Century mother whose son joined a local regiment and went off to fight in the Civil War.

Steve Wood, as Lincoln, spoke later in the afternoon at the Union Meeting House about his visit to NH in 1860 to see his son, Robert, at Phillips Exeter academy.

During this trip, Wood said Lincoln gave a speech in New York, and had such a good turnout that he was invited to speak in several other locations around New England. Wood said this helped launch his presidential campaign.

Wood said he gave his first presentation in 1995, and began doing them steadily around the year 2000.

Lacroix said the Thompson-Ames Historical Society hosted Wood once before and had a great reaction, and decided to invite him again to help celebrate the Bicentennial. She was pleased to see a full house for each presentation with standing-room-only for Lincoln's address.

The Gilford Firefighter Relief Association hosted a BBQ lunch to help raise funds and feed hungry guests as they enjoyed the Civil War day sights.

Later in the afternoon, the New Hampshire Twelfth Regiment band played their period authentic instruments at the Village Bandstand to conclude the day.

According to Lacroix, the idea for Civil War Day came about during one Bicentennial Committee meeting after she learned that they could book Steve Wood through the NH Humanities Council.

Lacroix said she was pleased with the turnout and thankful for the good weather.

The Bicentennial celebration continues Saturday, July 21 with the Gravestones Come to Life cemetery walk at Pine Grove Cemetery from 4 to 6 p.m.

Salmon Press
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