Civil War encampment looks back to move forward

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 31, 2008

NATCHEZ — Ser Seshs Ab Heter- C.M. Boxley believes silence does nothing to heal old wounds.

So Boxley has organized today’s Black and Blue Civil War encampment as a way to keep history alive and tell another side of the story.

Collectively put on by the Friends of the Forks of the Road and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, the event will showcase actors and re-enactors portraying the days of the Civil War.

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Specifically, black soldiers will be highlighted, those who were forced to fight for the men who enslaved them.

“The only way to heal from that and transcend is to talk about it, demonstrate it and you move beyond it,” Boxley said.

All three dozen local and out of town re-enactors will be dressed in costume and will tell stories in five different acts.

Boxley said the acts are; “I Was Enslaved Before War,” “Where I Was and What I Did Before The War,” “The Beginning of the Civil War,” “Why I Ran Away in Freedom Summer of 1863,” and “What I Did During the Civil War.”

Boxley said the acts will end with everyone singing the Soujourner’s Battle Hymn.

Set up along the campus will be a mock hospital, a mock school that was used during the Civil War and a mock lodge that was used for the Union army veterans, Boxley said.

Also, there will be a living members of the Women Relief Corps which supported the Grand Army of the Republic, who will tell her story.

“The president of the Women Relief Corps is in her mid-90s and she can tell you about the black Civil War veterans who came across the river from Vidalia and marched out to the National Cemetery to pay honor to their comrades,” he said.

Boxley said the length of the event depends on the crowd.

“If it’s a large crowd, we’ll string it out,” he said.

Food will be provided by Soul Heaven and admission is free.

“This is a great event for the family,” Boxley said. “All the people involved will learn the history of the black experience in the Civil War and this is something that’s been missing for years here in Natchez.”

He reiterated that this kind of event will bring growth to the community and help unite all races.

“You’ve got to embrace this and deal with this straight up and then you can grow from that,” Boxley said.

The event starts at noon at Historic Jefferson College.