GEORGIA: Groups Remember Ancestors at Confederate Cemetery

MARIETTA — Beneath large shade trees and in the midst of thousands of Confederate flags perched near tombstones Sunday, the Daughters of Confederate Veterans on Confederate Memorial Day honored their ancestors who died in the Civil War.

James Tolbert, right, loads a charge into The Preacher, a Civil War-era cannon, as former Marietta resident David Sapp waits to fire the weapon on Confederate Memorial Day on Sunday at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta.  Staff/Jeff Stanton Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Honoring history Groups remember ancestors at Confederate Cemetery.

James Tolbert, right, loads a charge into The Preacher, a Civil War-era cannon, as former Marietta resident David Sapp waits to fire the weapon on Confederate Memorial Day on Sunday at the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta.
Staff/Jeff Stanton
Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal – Honoring history Groups remember ancestors at Confederate Cemetery.

Some attendees donned period garb, wearing hoop skirts and outfits reminiscent of Confederate soldiers. Others said they just wanted to remember the soldiers who died in the bloodiest battle to take place on American soil.

Maryanne McCurdy, president of the Kennesaw Chapter 241 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, which hosted the event, said it’s important to take the time to reflect on history.

“We are honoring our ancestors,” McCurdy said. “It’s not about fighting the war again. We are honoring people who laid down their life for what they believed in.”

Richard Boarts agrees. He traveled from Haralson County, near the Alabama border, with his fellow members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to participate in the ceremony.

He played taps at the cemetery after muskets and a cannon were fired.

Setting aside a day to remember lives lost in the Civil War is just as important, Boarts said, as reflecting on the casualties of other battles.

“Why do we honor Georgia Washington? Why do we honor World War II soldiers? The same reason. Identical,” Boarts said.

Marietta is deep in Civil War history, said Brad Quinlan, a local historian, who spoke at the Sunday ceremony.

“Here in Marietta 150 years ago, it was the second largest hospital site,” Quinlan said.

All 15,000 hospital beds throughout Marietta were full, Quinlan said, and sights of dying soldiers with wounds wrapped in bed sheets were all too common.

He quoted letters written by Marietta residents who described images of soldiers lying on blood soaked stretchers outside the Kennesaw House and in open fields across the city.

About 3,000 soldiers are buried in the Marietta Confederate Cemetery, which is the largest Confederate cemetery south of Richmond, Va.

Confederate Memorial Day has been a legal holiday in Georgia since 1874, and the members of the Ladies Memorial Association, United Daughters of the Confederacy and Sons of Confederate Veterans have kept the tradition alive.

In 2009, Georgia permanently designated April as Confederate History and Heritage Month.

-Marietta Daily-Journal


MISSOURI: Wide Awake Films Wins Silver Telly Award for Production of Battle of Gettysburg Animated Map

KANSAS CITY, MO — Wide Awake Films, an Emmy award-winning production company based in Kansas City, Missouri, is honored to be the recipient of a 2014 Silver Telly award in the Online/Historical Programs category for their production of a Gettysburg Animated Map for the Civil War Trust. Produced to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the epic battle between Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War, this Gettysburg Map features a high-tech blend of locally filmed live-action footage and movie-quality special effects.



“When 19th-century history meets 21st-century technology in innovative ways—like the creative, educational and entertaining Gettysburg Animated Map—the results can be spectacular,” said Jim Lighthizer, President of the Civil War Trust. “Not only do viewers learn something about a turning point of American history, but they come to understand the battle’s continuing relevance in our society. The Civil War Trust is proud of our longstanding partnership with Wide Awake Films and looks forward to many more collaborative efforts to bring the past alive for modern audiences and inspire future generations of preservationists.”

The filming that went into the Gettysburg Animated Map production was no small effort. To create a highly-realistic depiction of the battle, Wide Awake Films’ crew, along with dozens of historical reenactors, braved long days, hot weather, deep woods and, according to Seley, a “plague of ticks.” But the producers, director and crew at Wide Awake Films are no strangers to unsympathetic filming locations. They are self-proclaimed “history buffs” and “detail fanatics” who want to capture nothing less than an accurate historical portrayal and will go to great lengths to get it right for the viewers.mapfeature

“We see our work as a way to educate the youth about what happened during that period of American history and help them to understand the historical importance of the land,” said Ed Leydecker, Partner and Development Manager at Wide Awake Films.

In addition to support from live actors, the map features green screen work and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to better illustrate how certain events might have transpired—such as the killing of Major General John F. Reynolds of the Union Army by a bullet shot from a Confederate rifle. Through CGI, viewers can travel with a Confederate bullet as it soars over the battleground and through a tree line before it ultimately finds its target.

The award-winning Gettysburg Animated Map is not only drawing honors from the industry, but numerous visitors to the Civil War Trust website as well. According to web analytics for the site, the twelve-minute-long Gettysburg Animated Map presentation has become one of the most-watched multimedia aspects of the site’s content.

“We’ve done a number of historical documentary pieces, but it was a real honor to work with the Civil War Trust and produce a high-quality project that garnered an award like this,” said Shane Seley, Founder and Director at Wide Awake Films. “It’s always rewarding to receive recognition from the industry, but the best part of the experience was that we helped the Civil War Trust raise awareness about the Civil War, as well as the money they needed to save a piece of land with enormous historical value.”

The Gettysburg Animated Map produced by Wide Awake Films for the Civil War Trust is just one part of an ongoing series of multimedia-driven documentary pieces being developed to drive interest in the Civil War—its triumphant and tragic events and the historical value of the lands upon which so many brave soldiers gave their lives.

This is the 21st Telly award for Wide Awake Films, which has also won three Emmy awards for historical documentary work.

About Wide Awake Films
Wide Awake Films is a creative media group focused on innovative, efficient execution of historical, commercial and corporate video and film production. The production company excels in producing compelling and powerful corporate messages, as well as Emmy award-winning historical content for museums, documentaries and television programming.

-Civil War Trust


IOWA: Civil War Fashion Celebrated

KEOKUK, IA —  Clad in everything from hoop skirts to blue jeans, a diverse audience gathered Saturday morning at First Christian Church in Keokuk for the Civil War Reenactment Brunch and Style Show.

This year’s event was organized by local seamstress and reenactor Shirley Leeson.

First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, portrayed by Donna Daniels of Wheaton, Ill., was the featured speaker and style show emcee.

Perspective was everything

Daniels opened the program with an explanation of the theory behind Civil War era fashions.

Barb Chancey of Mulberry Grove, Ill. works on a knitting project while waiting for the presentation to begin. Chancey is a member of the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry.

Barb Chancey of Mulberry Grove, Ill. works on a knitting project while waiting for the presentation to begin. Chancey is a member of the 10th Illinois Volunteer Cavalry.

She often borrows a slogan from a car manufacturer to explain the 19th-century perspective on beauty.

“I don’t remember what kind of car it was but I was struck by the tag line, ‘wider is better,’” she said. “And I thought, ‘that is a perfect slogan for dressing in the 19th century.’”

Clothing and even hairstyles, she explained, were specifically designed to create or accentuate the illusion of width. This perspective was a decided advantage to girls with “meat on their bones,” according to Daniels, and horizontal stripes were a good thing.

Speaking in character, Daniels explained how visual sleights of hand were used to affect the overall appearance.

“Hairstyles are parted down the middle and pulled off to the side, to make the face look wider,” she said. “If you look closely at the dresses, you’ll see that the shoulder seam does not fall at the natural shoulder where you would expect it. It’s dropped off to the side to make the shoulders look wider.

“Cinched in at the waist and then wider through the bottom through the use of petticoats and hoop skirts, creates the hourglass figure that we’re talking about,” she added. “I’ve also heard it described as looking like two triangles on top of each other, one upside down. Wider at the elbow makes the wrist look smaller. They used to say that the mark of a lady was that she had a narrow waist and a narrow wrist.”

Pretty, but practical

Fashion was balanced by practicality, and women often were innovative in the construction of their clothing. The cost of materials and the difficulty of washing the fabrics of the era affected the construction of garments.

“Collars, sleeves and hems are very often separate pieces that can be taken off separately, laundered separately and put back on, or easily replaced,” she said. “If the hem gets all torn up on gravel, they can take that off and put another hem on. Or if you put a different kind of sleeve under a pagoda sleeve, you can change the look of the dress.

“This became very useful especially to ladies in the South during the war, because as the blockade clamped down, we couldn’t get new fabric and trims in on a regular basis,” Daniels added. “They had to become very creative in ways to make something old look new. And sometimes that could be done simply with changing the trim on the dress or putting a different color sleeve underneath the pagoda, to accentuate a different color in the dress.”

One example of this technique could be seen in the dress exhibited by Nancy Daugherty of Barry, Ill. The formal day dress started life as a ball gown. But when she needed a new dress for a special reenactment event, she added a yoke and collar to the bodice and added matching undersleeves to create an entirely different look, Daugherty said.

Because the real women of the Civil War era exhibited a spirit of invention, historical accuracy contains a certain amount of variety as well. Daniels said that although the fashion show offered a good picture of what was usual for the period, she is careful not to disregard departures from the norm.

“The best advice I ever got when I was learning how to narrate a fashion show was never to use two words,” she said. “Never say ‘never’ and never say ‘always.’”

A V-necked lightweight sheer dress worn by Karen Howe of Cedar Rapids demonstrated how women of the 1860s often combined patterns to produce elegant new designs. An accomplished seamstress, Howe strives for authenticity in choosing a fabric, sometimes even looking as far as Minneapolis or Chicago to find just the right material for her projects.

A rare luxury

While the general public tends to enjoy the graceful attire commonly associated with ladies’ fashions of the period, Daniels reminded the audience that there was more to the life of Civil War women than sitting around in their prettiest dresses drinking tea. Some did not have the luxury of keeping up with fashion trends.

“Women helped to keep this country going during war time and a women who had to work could not dress like this,” she said, indicating her elegant silk day dress. “A skirt that ‘poofs out’ like this is borderline dangerous when you work around open flame, like cooking or doing laundry. A big pagoda sleeve can be dangerous if you’re working in a factory around gears and machinery. So working class women wore something that was much closer to the body and the sleeves were maybe a little bit tighter, and they might wear either a very small hoop or several layers of petticoat.”

Daniels suggested that working class apparel is much simpler and less costly to make, and would be a good starting place for any woman interested in becoming a reenactor.

-Keokuk Daily Journal