Posted Monday, November 30th, 2015
This year, 2015, commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, in which as many as 80,000 New Jersey residents – including many from Morris County – fought for the Union Army. Though no battles occurred in our state, a visit this weekend to Historic Speedwell in Morristown will provide a hands-on look at a Civil War Christmas, with the help of the re-enactors of the 2nd New Jersey Brigade.
On Saturday, Dec. 5 from 12 noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 6 from 12 noon to 4 p.m., explore the Christmas holiday from multiple 19th Century points of view; soldiers at an encampment, a family celebrating on the home front, and officers attending a ball.
“The Civil War raged for four years, so many soldiers experienced multiple Christmases away from home. Around the holidays, it was vital to enhance the troops’ morale, and offer some of the comforts of home,” said Mark Sutherland, Historic Sites Manager of the Morris County Park Commission.
During the Civil War Christmas event, you can visit the soldiers’ encampment where a special holiday meal is cooked and a small tree is decorated with popcorn and dried fruit. Soldiers also will sing Christmas carols, many of which we enjoy today, such as Silent Night, Deck the Halls, and Jingle Bells.
On the home front, you can listen to a “family’’ read actual letters from Union troops written to their loved ones. Discover the simple, yet elegant holiday decorations, and a formal-set table for the Christmas meal.
Also, you are invited to a Civil War-era Officer’s Ball, complete with fiddle music, period costumes, and dance. An authentic period dance instructor will teach re-enactors and visitors how to properly dance to the historic pieces.
In addition, enjoy a traditional craft workshop, sip on hot mulled cider by an outdoor fire, and take a look at the Friends of Historic Speedwell’s Gift Shop which will be filled with unique holiday decorations, gifts and stocking stuffers.
Admission to A Civil War Christmas is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors (65+), $5 for children (4 – 16), and FREE for children age 3 and under.
For more information and directions to Historic Speedwell, visit morrisparks.net, or call 973.285.6550.