Camden Public Library hosts Civil War series

Jul 10, 2014
Volunteers of the 20th Maine Company B will be camped in Camden Harbor Park the weekend of Aug. 23 as part of the Camden Public Library’s Civil War series of events. Today, the 20th Maine is a history-oriented, non-profit educational organization whose members hail from across New England. The group authentically portrays the common Maine infantry soldier during the 1862-1865 period.

Camden — Maine played many important roles on the national stage and on the front lines of the Civil War, but Maine was sharply divided on the need to go to war in 1861.

The coastal towns that benefited from shipbuilding and shipping had deep reservations about the war. In fact, Jefferson Davis was invited to speak at the Fourth of July celebration in Thomaston in 1859, according to historian Lee Webb. Webb will be the kickoff speaker in the Camden Public Library’s Maine and the Civil War series, beginning Tuesday, July 29.

Among the events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the library will host a large travelling exhibit created by the ALA and NEH, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War,” from July 25 to Sept. 4. In conjunction with the exhibit and the anniversary of the Civil War, the library will host of series of lecturers, actors, movies, reading program, and displays.

The events will include Webb’s lecture on Maine During the Civil War, on Maine’s economy and sharply divided politics, Thursday, July 25, at 7 p.m.; a screening of the movie "Glory," outdoors in the Amphitheatre, Monday, Aug. 4, at 8:15 p.m.; and actor Stephen Collins in the persona of Walt Whitman Tuesday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. In addition, Dave Cheever, Maine State Archivist, will present One Month — How Maine Prepared for Civil War Tuesday, Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.; Erin Bishop, former education director of the Lincoln Library and Museum in Illinois will speak on Lincoln: Evolution of a President Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m.; and author Jerry Desmond will present his new book, recently published by Down East Books, “Turning the Tide at Gettysburg: How Maine Saved the Union.”

Desmond’s talk will be very timely, as the re-enactors of the 20th Maine Regiment Company B will be on bivouac in Camden’s Harbor Park for the weekend of Aug. 22-24. The company will be living in period uniforms and equipment, and will host a day-long program of mini-lectures, displays, military drill, and firing drill Saturday, Aug. 23.

Continuing the month-long celebration, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m., Earle Shettleworth, Maine State Historian, will present a pictorial history of the Civil War; and Thursday, Aug. 28, 7 p.m., Dr. Richard Kahn will present The Medicine of the Civil War, along with a display of his collection of historical medical paraphernalia. The library will also host a display of period dresses and attire throughout the library, with children’s clothes, dolls, and a Mary Todd Lincoln dress, created by Diana Thompson.

The annual Summer Reading Program for Adults at the Camden library will also feature a Civil War theme this year. In the adult Reading Program, just as in the kids’ reading program, readers get the chance to post a response to each book read, and also work toward earning Book Bucks. Each book read earns one credit toward Book Bucks, and each Civil War book earns two credits. Readers are invited to start any time; book prizes, including gift certificates to Sherman’s Books and the Owl and Turtle Books will be awarded at the grand finale on Aug. 28. Visit the library for more details and a suggested reading list.

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