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Highlights Archives

20th Annual Wade House Civil War Weekend

Union and Confederate cavalrymen cross swords during the battle re-enactment at the annual Wade House Civil War Weekend

Kentucky, 1862, is the setting for the 20th Annual Wade House Civil War Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, September 25-26 — a critical juncture in American Civil War history. In the late summer and fall of 1862, both Confederate and Union forces had their sights set on seizing Kentucky. President Abraham Lincoln had stressed the importance of Kentucky to the Union cause when he wrote in a letter a year earlier, "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game."

On October 8, 1862, near the village of Perryville, federal troops forced what became the decisive battle for Kentucky under the command of Gen. Don Carlos Buell. Despite taking heavy casualties, Buell's men, including members of the 15th and 21st Wisconsin Infantry, prevailed. The Southern forces retreated, never to threaten Kentucky again. Members of the 15th and 21st Wisconsin Infantry helped achieve this strategic victory for the Union, which marked the beginning of the end for Confederate hopes for victory in the west.

Two Battles Each Day and an Appearance by Abraham Lincoln

In a scene reminiscent of what took place that fateful autumn, Union and Confederate armies will skirmish at 11 am each day, followed by a full-scale battle at 2 pm. In between the action visitors will be able to access the battlefield to get an up-close look at the men, horses and equipment that bring Civil War history to life. Listen to our nation's 16th president brought to life by one of America's premier Abraham Lincoln presenters, Fritz Klein, as he shares his concerns about losing Kentucky, the overall war effort, and the trials to come.

Plan to arrive early — programs will begin at 9 am each day. Explore the camps of each army on your own, and learn about 1860s military life. See a traveling variety show performed by an authentic 1860s theater troupe and a concert performed by a 19th-century military brass band.

You'll also have a chance to stroll through the camps of sutlers, or civilian merchants who shadowed troop movements to hawk their goods to soldiers. You can browse the sutlers' tents, stocked with 19th-century reproduction items, and watch as they demonstrate their many talents. Many other activities, their times and locations are detailed in the Civil War Weekend section of the Wade House website.

Many Other Historic Attractions to Explore

Make a day of it and visit the site's historic and popular attractions, from the 1860s Wade House stagecoach inn and nearby Dockstader Blacksmith Shop to the working, water-powered Herrling Sawmill and the Wesley Jung Carriage Museum, which houses one of Wisconsin's largest collections of hand- and horse-drawn carriages and working wagons. The day's admission includes all the site's many features.

Food and drink vendors of all sorts will be on hand to help satisfy your hunger and quench your thirst. Admission to Civil War Weekend is $12 for adults, $6 for children 5-17, $10 for students and senior citizens or $32 for families (two adults and two or more dependent children).

:: Posted September 20, 2010

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