Civil War history camp this Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — The second annual Black and Blue Civil War Living History Camp this Saturday at Historic Jefferson College will center on black Union soldiers from the Natchez area, and their role in fighting for freedom from slavery, said Ser Sesh Ab Heter-CM Boxley, coordinator of Friends of the Forks of the Road Society, Inc.

“It is a full program, and I’m excited about the response from this,” Boxley said.

According to Boxley, during the first read through of the program, the actors said they found the program to be educational.

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“We think it will be the same for the public,” Boxley said.

The enactment camp and the stories presented throughout the program are derived from Anthony E. Kaye’s book Joining Places and the written records the book focuses on.

“We’re not presenting an academic idea on what went on — we’re presenting the actual words and reports who had to make a decision on pensions during the Civil War,” Boxley said.

The stories that will be presented to Saturday’s audience come straight from Union Army files of black Union soldiers, nurses and cooks who were once slaves from the old Natchez district.

“We have both black and white role players and actors to help deliver these stories in many ways by taking on these stories of African-American-decent freedom fighters during the Civil War,” Boxley said.

Highlighted among these Union stories is the tale of Wilson Brown, a black man enslaved on the Carthage Plantation who escaped and joined with the Union Navy.

The Navy sent Brown to New Jersey to train for combat and in 1864 after the Battle of Mobile Bay, Brown was awarded a medal of honor.

Brown is buried in the Natchez National Cemetery, but on Saturday, his memory will be brought back to life by former Natchez mayor Phillip West.

And while Brown’s story is more well known than some, Boxley said the program promises to introduce the audience to names and stories from the past long forgotten.

“We want people who come to our event to understand the role of ex-slave females —cooks and seamstresses — who were employed by the Union.

“Part of our mission is to rescue these hidden or omitted stories of African-American-decent people during the Civil War here in the Natchez and Louisiana area,” Boxley said.

The eight-act production will take the audience through the stories of the black uprising against the Confederate Army in an effort to join with the Union to bring about their own emancipation through the use of local talent and music provided by the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church Civil War Choir.

“I hope people leave with a working understanding of the role that enslaved people played in gaining their own freedom during the Civil War,” Boxley said.

The Second Annual Black and Blue Civil War Living History Enactment will be held at Jefferson Military College campus on Oct. 10 with a children’s soldier camp kicking off the day at 10:30 a.m. and performances set to begin at 12 noon.