Civil War breaks out again in Pipestone
PIPESTONE -- The community of Pipestone is preparing for a visit by the president, but it's not Barack Obama on the campaign trail. President Abe Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, too -- even though they died 147 and 130 years ago, respecti...
PIPESTONE -- The community of Pipestone is preparing for a visit by the president, but it's not Barack Obama on the campaign trail. President Abe Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, too -- even though they died 147 and 130 years ago, respectively -- will be on hand for Pipestone Civil War Days, set for Saturday and Sunday at the Song of Hiawatha Pageant grounds near the Pipestone National Monument.
Lincoln impersonators Max and Donna Daniel will make their third appearance at the biennial festival, which features battle re-enactments and a wide variety of educational programs from the Civil War era.
"Abraham Lincoln is one of the biggest highlights," said event coordinator Chuck Ness. "They're going to be putting on a program at the Pipestone Performing Arts Center, 'An Evening with the Lincolns,' on Saturday night. The two of them sit down and discuss their life up to that point, then they stand up and say, 'I think it's time for us to go to Ford's Theater.' She comes back out afterward and talks about her life after he dies. It's very moving."
The Lincolns will be highly visible throughout the weekend, doing several presentations and reviewing the troops. New on the program will be a presentation by "Abe" on his cabinet; and "Mary's" new offering will focus on how the war divided families, a subject she is familiar with having grown up in a slave-owning Kentucky family.
Those programs are just the start of what's new at Civil War Days this year. Ness highlighted quite a few first-time offerings, including a program on knitting.
"I didn't realize that women during the Civil War would knit bandages and mail them to their loved ones to be used if they got hurt or to give to their comrades," Ness explained. "If people are interested, they can sit down and learn how to knit bandages to send to the front."
Medical programs have proved to be popular in previous years, and for 2012 there are separate programs focusing on medical practices in the North and South camps.
"Another program will be on hot air ballooning, which became very popular during the war," said Ness. "At first they had trouble getting soldiers to go up in the air, but from up there they could see everything and report where the artillery was located, where the soldiers were at. But once they started shooting cannons at the balloons, it was tough to get volunteers."
Faire Wynds, a traveling medicine show, will set up shop on the festival grounds, and the 97th Regimental String Band, musician Bob Welch and naval historian-comedy team Mason and Dixon will also provide entertainment. Battle re-enactments are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, and attendees can stroll through the camps and learn about a Civil War soldier's life.
Because this year marks the 150th anniversary of the Dakota Uprising in southern Minnesota, members of the 5th Minnesota re-enactment group will discuss the role the company played in the conflict, and "President Lincoln" will offer his perspectives on the Mankato trial of the Native Americans involved in the conflict.
Pipestone Civil War Days was begun in 1989 as a way to honor Pipestone County settlers who had served in the Civil War and to commemorate the Grand Army of the Republic, which gathered for an encampment in 1886 in Pipestone. Each year, more educational offerings have been added to the program.
"This is what the public wanted," said Ness. "We tend to look for new and different things."
Pipestone Civil War Days hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday on North Hiawatha Avenue, with a few select programs scheduled at other venues. For a complete schedule of events, go to www.pipestoneminnesota.com/cwd .
"It's just a great event," said Ness, adding a weather prediction, "and it's going to be cool for the weekend -- probably in the 70s."