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North and South Reunite for Second Annual Civil War Days in Dexter

The Dexter Area Historical Society's commemoration of the U.S. Civil War will take place June 8-10.

History will come alive this weekend as Confederate and Union armies clash on the grounds of Gordon Hall in Dexter.

Though no actual battle re-enactments are planned for the second annual Civil War Days, members of the Dexter Area Historical Society are promising plenty of entertainment throughout the three-day event.

Included in the festivities will be a display of 1860s military and civilian culture on the Gordon Hall property, which is owned by the nonprofit historical society. There will be military encampments featuring the 4th Michigan Infantry, Company A, 1st Michigan Light Artillery, Battery B, and 17th Michigan, Company E, among others.

"We have a great program this year with a lot of returning events, but also some new unique presenters," event chairwoman Donna Fisher said.

Civil War Days opens Friday evening with the Towne Band performing a free concert on the front lawn of Gordon Hall at 7 p.m. The period performers play on 1860s Civil War-era instruments with a narrative to accompany the music. Also performing is the St. Patrick's Boychoir, comprised of boys ages 8-12. Visitors are asked to bring blankets and chairs for seating.

On Saturday, President Lincoln will arrive in Dexter on horse-drawn carriage before addressing attendees prior to the Lincoln dinner. The dinner is a closed fundraiser for the Dexter Area Historical Society with tickets required to attend. Guests will enjoy a full dinner featuring an 1862 White House menu, attend a special presidential press conference, and meet Civil War historian Brian Egen.

Also planned throughout the weekend are meals from the 1860s that can be purchased by visitors, games for children from the era, and a tea and fashion show. A vintage baseball game featuring the Dexter Union Base Ball Club and the Chelsea Monitors will take place  at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

"We thought we put together a great program last year, and word began to spread among the re-enacting community, so this year we have a lot more participation," Fisher explained. "Our intent was never to make Civil War Days bigger and better, but we're thrilled to see so many people willing to attend our event in only our second year."

To that end, several new activities are planned this year including a musical bones workshop with San Slomovitz of the children's group Gemini; a Sunday morning memorial service at Forest Lawn Cemetery in honor of Col. Harrison Jeffords; and a presentation by film director Jeff O'Den, who will tell stories of black soldiers and sailors in the war. O'Den is the official photographer and historian for the 102nd U.S. Colored Troop in Detroit.

Another addition this year will be "sutlers," or traveling merchants who procured items and supplies for sale to a traveling company of soldiers. Visitors will be able to purchase select items like gum or candy, but socks, candles and other goods will actually be sold to the re-enacting troops throughout the weekend.

Fisher said that the number of events and activities for children has also been bolstered significantly this year, with butter churning, knitting, weaving and various other activities and games for children.

"Last year there were so many kids running around, laughing and having fun. There was no chaos and kids were just engrossed in the day," she said.

For a complete list of activities, visit http://www.dextermuseum.org/cwd_2012/schedule.htm.

Civil War Days is free and open to the public on Friday. A suggested donation of $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-17 is requested for Saturday and Sunday. Gordon Hall is located just outside the Village of Dexter, at 8341 Island Lake Road.

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