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Civil War Living History Weekend

The year 2008 marks the 143rd anniversary of the Battle of Forks Road, an important skirmish that preceded the fall of Wilmington during the Civil War. During the weekend of February 22-24, the Cameron Art Museum will present the Civil War Living History Weekend, an outstanding event that recreates the final fight to take Wilmington on February 20, 1865. This significant skirmish followed the fall of Fort Fisher, directly preceded the fall of Wilmington, and led to the final surrender of the Confederate armies. The site is where Major General Robert F. Hoke made his last stand against Union soldiers, primarily made up of African American troops (referred to as U.S. Colored Troops during that era) from several divisions, before evacuating Wilmington. The “Sable Arm” of the US Army was made up of freed men and former slaves who volunteered for service after the Emancipation Proclamation. Living history demonstrations by re-enactors include encampments, artillery and calvary demonstrations, storytellers, traditional arts and crafts, and children’s games. The weekend is in conjunction with the 4th Annual US Colored Troops Symposium, which encompasses multiple perspectives on the roles of African Americans and women in the Civil War. Special guest presenters include Prof. William B. Gould IV, Stanford University Law School, who will lecture on his book Diary of a Contraband: The Civil War Passage of a Black Sailor, which tells the story of one of Wilmington’s largest slave escapes. The rare diary, written by Gould’s great-grandfather, is the only known Civil War diary of a black soldier who was a former slave. Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr., UNCW history professor and author of numerous books about Civil War history, will discuss the fall of Wilmington and the Battle of Forks Road. This outstanding educational program affords visitors a great opportunity to learn more about the role of African-American troops during the Civil War history. (Continuing education credits are available for teachers.) Step back in time with African-American, Union and Confederate re-enactors, special guest speakers, and Civil War historians. Dress warmly and come out to see the restored Civil War mounds at the site where the Battle of Forks Road actually took place. On Saturday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and on Sunday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, re-enactors will be dressed in period costume and artillery to demonstrate life as it was in the mid-1800s. On Saturday at 7:30 pm, a Period Dance will be held at the Halyburton Park Event Center. The public is invited to dance with reenactors. The event is free and donations are welcome and appreciated. For more information and a complete schedule of events, please call Cameron Art Museum at 910-395-5999 or visit Cameron Art Museum is located at the corner of Independence Blvd. and 17th Street Extension. Parking for this event is at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center parking lot, located across the street from the museum. The original Battle of Forks Road battlefield is located on the grounds of the Cameron Art Museum. The Civil War mounds were restored when the Museum opened at this location in 2002.

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