Posted Wednesday, November 30th, 2016


photo-civil-war-christmas-on-the-homefrontExperience the holidays during the Civil War — on the home front, at a soldier’s winter encampment and at an Officer’s Ball – all this weekend at the Morris County Park Commission’s Historic Speedwell in Morristown.

Walk through the village and speak with Civil War soldiers at their holiday encampment, far away from home.

Visit the Vail house to experience Christmas with the soldiers’ loved ones on the home front, and attend an Officer’s Ball with period music, costumes, and dance!

“This is just another example of the outstanding programming and facilities offered by the Morris County Park Commission,’’ said Freeholder Doug Cabana, the county’s governing board’s liaison to the park commission. “We invite all county residents to come out this weekend and enjoy this event.’’

“Civil War Christmas’’ events will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 12 noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec.4, from 12 noon to 4 p.m. with the help of the 2nd New Jersey Brigade.

“The Civil War raged on for four years, 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,” explained Mark Sutherland, Historic Sites Manager of the Morris County Park

“A special holiday meal was cooked, and a small tree decorated with popcorn and dried fruit. Soldiers sang Christmas carols, many of which we enjoy today; Silent Night, Deck the Halls, and Jingle Bells to name a few,” Sutherland added.

Guests at the 2016 Civil War Christmas will get a look at the 1860s home front, where you can listen to the family read actual letters from Union troops written to their loved ones. Discover the simple, yet elegant period holiday decorations and a formal-set table for the Christmas meal.

You also will get a chance to attend an 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, guests can enjoy a traditional craft workshop, and sip on hot mulled cider by the outdoor fire. You also can peruse the Friends of Historic Speedwell’s gift shop, which is filled with unique holiday decorations, gifts and stocking stuffers.

park-commissionAdmission for 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 or call 973.285.6550.

Historic Speedwell, a National Historic Landmark preserves the restored estate of Stephen Vail, proprietor of the Speedwell Ironworks from the early to mid- 800s. The Morris County Park Commission acquired the property in 2002 and opened it to the public in 2003.

A restored Factory Building reopened in 2008 with the assistance of the federally-funded grant program, Save America’s Treasures. The project also received a Historic/Cultural Award of Excellence from the National Association of County Parklands and Recreation in 2009.