Civil War Civilian Living History

Interpreting the American Civil War Home Front

Prospects of Peace: Harper’s Ferry 2016

I really enjoy participating in events at Harper’s Ferry. There is just an atmosphere that adds to the moment. Prospects of Peace is the annual Christmas event weekend at the town and set in 1864. I attend this event as a member of the Atlantic Guard Soldiers Aid Society. We are allowed to stay in one of the park buildings for the weekend. The apartment is modern as are several other living spaces hidden in period building in the lower town. It is very nice being able to be in the lower town for the weekend. Walking through the streets after dark can be an amazing experience with the military fires going and the sounds of soldiers in town.

Usually the AGSAS group portrays the Roeder family at the confectionary and provides the living history volunteers with script with which to purchase baked goods and candies provided by AGSAS president, Faith Hintzen. I understand there was a complaint at the Provost of someone trying to pass off counterfeit script from Hopewell!

 

But this year, I decided to interpret the boarding house, which is upstairs above the general store and Provost Marshal’s office. This is a lovely space to hang out for a weekend, although it was a bit cold.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was joined at the boarding house by another AGSAS member.

We were to be interpreting women who had actually been placed under house arrest in Harper’s Ferry for smuggling. This idea soon went by the wayside when our rooms were commandeered for use as a military hospital.


 

 

 

 

 

These gentlemen were wonderful companions for the day. Their first person was great, even to the point of calling us out for secessionists. It also worked out very well as I was working on a pair of hospital slippers. I used a period pattern I found online.

The men seemed to really like them and one gentleman was lucky enough to get to wear them :).

The gentleman in the Provost’s office was really great with first person as well. I went down and complained about the hospital being disruptive to my business renting rooms. He was very good natured about it and once he realized what was happening he played along well.

Saturday night the park provides a turkey dinner for the volunteers. There is always so much food!

Sunday I was back at the boarding house. Unfortunately, the hospital had moved on. I was able to complete my long fichu over the weekend (me on the left in the dark dress).

We had an extra special treat on Sunday when a couple of park rangers came up to place a banner on the balcony. The large windows behind the settee are French doors that go out to the balcony and they allowed me to go out to see the town from above.

In the afternoon the park presented a program on African American hymns. One of their staff played a period organ that was in another room of the boarding house. It was nice to listen to the music in the afternoon.

I took some time Sunday to walk around and visit the various displays in the store fronts and, of course, visit the bookstore. Didn’t buy anything at the bookstore but did have a wonderful first person interaction with park staff in the dry goods store. First it is a wonderful display and interpretation.


 

 

 

 

 

When I first entered the store, the “proprietor” asked if I needed help and then promptly showed me the new sewing machine he had just gotten in. When I explained to him I had no money as the government had taken over my boarding house, he asked his young clerk to throw me out! It was really a lot of fun.

When I returned to the boarding house I stopped at the Provost and asked if I would be reimbursed for the money lost due to the hospital taking over. I was told I would have to submit a claim, etc., etc., I asked him if he could pay me or did it have to go through red tape, and, of course, it had to go through channels. While we were having this conversation, some of the public walked in and, as I found out later from the Provost as I was leaving for the day, they really enjoyed the interaction.

I was really sad to see this one end. It was so much fun and it was nice to see so many open to first person interaction. I will definitely plan on this one next year. And I heard the hospital soldiers say they really liked the boarding house and would hope to be there again next year.

Categories: Civil War