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Vicksburg Civil War Heritage Fair
Vicksburg, Mississippi

Date of Event:

April 5, 2013 - April 7, 2013

Event Description:

Vicksburg National Military Park Marks Sesquicentennial with Civil War Heritage Fair

Although it was America’s bloodiest conflict by far, there is more to the story of the American Civil War than just soldiers, sailors and battles. There were families, wives, and children – whole communities swept up in the cataclysm of that war. How can we tell their story? Vicksburg was one of those communities. How can we tell its story? And even the soldiers and sailors themselves – when not fighting, they were just men and boys far from home; scared, sick, hungry, bored and tired. How do we tell their stories? During those turbulent four years from 1861 – 1865, the South’s economy, culture and society was completely upended; a social order destroyed and a people liberated. How do you tell this story?

Fortunately, as people have done long before and after the Civil War, they have told their own stories to us in many ways: diaries, books, letters – and music. Generals wrote autobiographies, privates sang songs about their experiences and exploits. North and South both turned to ballads, poems, music and song to express their heartfelt feelings; from the patriotism of Dixie and The Battle Hymn of the Republic to the loss and grief of The Vacant Chair and Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells” (I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day). The speeches of the great statesmen and orators have been handed down to us from Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Frederick Douglass – each espousing their cause and the cause of their people.

Vicksburg National Military Park is proud to present this music, these songs, these speeches – along with crafts and handiwork of the period – in our first signature Sesquicentennial event: The Vicksburg Civil War Heritage Fair, on Friday, April 5th, Saturday, April 6th and Sunday, April 7, 2013. The Fair will all be held in historic downtown Vicksburg at the park’s Pemberton’s Headquarters, the Old Courthouse, and the Southern Cultural Heritage Center. In addition to the performances, presentations and demonstrations listed below, Pemberton’s Headquarters will be open to the public all day on Saturday, April 6th; and two free walking tours of the historic neighborhood will be given at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm that day by Vicksburg National Military Park Licensed Battlefield Guides.

Performers, Presenters and Craftspeople:

The Heritage Fair will be giving a broad and diverse sample of the songs and music of the day, bringing together local musicians with well-known groups and individuals from around the country:


The 2nd South Carolina String Band: One of the best known and respected groups that have researched and performed the songs of the soldier’s camps and the minstrel stage. For over two decades they have performed at major Civil War venues, reenactments and commemorations throughout the country.

The 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band and the Olde Towne Brass: No fair would be complete without a brass band, and for our fair it had to be brass bands that played original Civil War arrangements on original Civil War instruments. Representing the Union will be the 33rd Illinois coming down from their home state; and the Olde Town Brass will be coming from Alabama to represent the Confederacy.

George Ward: A respected and beloved musician, folklorist and historian from New York State who is well known for his research and performances of folklore and music of the Adirondacks, Erie Canal, and the transatlantic merchant and naval sailors of the 18th and 19th Centuries, will be telling the stories of those Civil War sailors as well as the emigrants from Ireland, Scotland, England and elsewhere who came to America to start a new life and in many cases lost their own in fighting for their adopted country – both North and South.

Nick and Julia Blake: Local musicians who will be doing “music from Emma Balfour’s parlor”, referring to the wife of Vicksburg’s Dr. Balfour, and the woman whose famous diary gives us one of the best first-hand accounts of being a civilian caught in that terrible 47 day siege of the city. Their performances will highlight the songs and music one would’ve heard in any antebellum house of quality throughout the South in the days just before the war.

The NO Quarter Shanty Krewe: Vicksburg, then as now, was a port city – its riches coming from the plantations, sent via the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico beyond. The Krewe comes to us from New Orleans and performs and preserves the songs and chanteys of the brown water and blue water sailors that worked and plied these waters. Audience participation in the chantey choruses is, or course, mandatory.

The Jubilee Singers: From the Utica campus of Hinds Community College, this choral group preserves and performs the black work songs and spirituals of 19th Century Mississippi that were collected in the early 20th Century by the group’s founder, and performed since 1921. They have traveled the world and are well known and regarded as the tradition-bearers of these musical art forms.

Bridging the Gap: Another local group; they preserve and play the “old time” music that originally came from the British Isles in colonial times, and then followed the English and Scots-Irish descendants as they moved down the Appalachians and across the Deep South.


Dennis Boggs as United States President Abraham Lincoln.
Philip McGourty as Confederate States President Jefferson Davis.
Fred Morsell as Frederick Douglass.
Larry Clowers as Gen’l. Ulysses S. Grant.
Yulanda Burgess as a Northern free black missionary from the American Missionary Association.

All five of these fine actors have spent years studying their subjects and their works; and will, in “first-person” speak to you in the very words of those they portray. Each will be a powerful and moving experience to see and hear.


David Rambow, Civil War Photography
David Harris,  Civil War surgery and medicine


From throughout central Mississippi we have gathered the following craftspeople who will be demonstrating, displaying and selling their handiwork at the fair from 9:00am until 6:00pm on Saturday, April 6th:

Ken McLemore – Port Gibson            woodcraft and carving
Janice Clark – Utica                         leather work
Brenda Harrower – Vicksburg           weaving/spinning/dyeing
Lyle Wynn – Jackson                        blacksmithing
Denise Miller – Vicksburg                 quilting, crocheting, knitting and playing the Mountain Dulcimer
Walter Mabry – Jackson                   scrimshaw/powder horn            
W. D. Norton – Brandon                   split oak baskets
Curtis Hegwood – Raleigh                scrimshaw
Sarah Rick – Sallis                           quilting                       


Friday Evening, 7:00pm until 10:00pm, April 5, 2013:

The Friday evening concert will feature musical performances by George Ward, The NO Quarter Shanty Krewe, Nick & Julia Blake and the Olde Town Brass. There will also be cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Frederick Douglass and Ulysses S. Grant.

The concert will be at the Auditorium of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, on the corner of Cherry and Crawford Streets in downtown Vicksburg.

Saturday, April 6th, 9:00am until 6:00pm:

The craftspeople will be set up for display, demonstrations and sales on Crawford Street (the street will be blocked off to vehicle traffic from Cherry to Adams Streets).

Saturday, April 6th, 9:00am until 4:00pm:

Location #1:                 SCHF Auditorium
Location #2:                 SCHF Chapel
Location #3:                 Old Courthouse
Location #4:                 PHQ Side Yard


9am - 10am

NO Qrtr Shanty Kr. (#1)
Bridging the Gap (#2)
33rd IL Band (#3)
CW Medicine (#4)

10am - 11am

Jeff Davis (#1)
George Ward (#2)
Abe Lincoln (#3)
U.S. Grant (#4)

11am - 12noon

2nd SC String Band (#1)
Bridging the Gap (#2)
Fred. Douglass (#3)
CW Photo (#4)

12noon - 1pm

Abe Lincoln (#1)
Olde Towne Brass (#3)
CW Medicine (#4)

1pm - 2pm

Yulanda Burgess (#1)
George Ward (#2)
Jeff Davis (#3)
2nd SC String Band (#4)

2pm - 3pm

Jubilee Singers (#1)
Nick & Julia Blake (#2)
NO Qrtr Shanty Kr. (#3)
U.S. Grant (#4)

3pm - 4pm

Fred. Douglass (#1)
Yulanda Burgess (#2)
Olde Towne Brass (#3)
CW Photo (#4)

4pm - 6pm

33rd IL Band Military/Civilian Ball on Crawford Street

Saturday, April 6th, 4:00pm until 6:00pm:

The 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will teach, play and call the dances for a Civil War Ball to be held on Crawford Street. 19th Century cavaliers and belles, 21st Century guys and gals – all are welcome to come learn and dance the reels, polkas, waltzes and schottisches of the 1860s!

Note: The Heritage Fair is rain or shine! In the event of inclement weather, all outdoor events on Saturday, April 6th, will be moved to the gymnasium of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center.

Saturday, April 6th, 7:00pm until 10:00pm:

The Saturday evening concert will feature musical performances by The Jubilee Singers, The 2nd South Carolina String Band and the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band. Again, there will be cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Frederick Douglass and Ulysses S. Grant.

The concert will be at the Auditorium of the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, on the corner of Cherry and Crawford Streets in downtown Vicksburg.

Sunday, April 7th, Noon until 1:00pm:

In the tradition of the “Second Great Awakening”, the combined brass bands of the Olde Towne Brass and the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment will be performing the accompaniment for a good, old fashioned Revival! You’ll have to get your fill of preachin’ at your own Sunday morning services, but save your voice for this public hymn sing as we try and drown out the bands in four-part harmony while singing those great old hymns of the Civil War era (you’ll be surprised – you already know most of them). Hymnals will be provided. No serpents will be harmed or present during this Revival meeting!

The Revival Hymn Sing will take place in the upstairs courtroom of the historic Old Courthouse Museum in downtown Vicksburg.

Sunday, April 7th, 1:30pm until 3:00pm:

In an almost symbolic gesture of the war fought among brothers, we shall end our festival by taking the bands and singers from the harmony and good fellowship of the Revival hymn sing and turning them upon each other. The Olde Towne Brass and the 33rd Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band will have a “Battle of the Bands” on the lawn of the Old Courthouse. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, sit on the green grass of this most recognizable and historic building in Vicksburg, and cheer on your team as Dixie is answered by Rally Round the Flag and Bonny Blue Flag is played in defiant retort to The New York Volunteer!

In the event of inclement weather, the Battle of the bands will be held in the upstairs courtroom of the Old Courthouse Museum.

Admission to all events is free. Wear comfortable clothes and sensible shoes (the Old Courthouse is three blocks from the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, Crawford Street, and Pemberton’s Headquarters). Bring your dancing shoes for the ball, and chairs/blankets for the lawn concert. Wear sunscreen if sunny, ponchos if not. Having fun is mandatory.

For more information, call Vicksburg National Military Park at 601.636.0583; check our web site at

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