7th PA Volunteer Infantry

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Date: April 15, 2016
Contact: Kelly Fox, (301) 767-3714

Guarding the Potomac River at Great Falls in 1861

Potomac, MD –On April 16 and 17, 2016, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park will host a Civil War living history weekend with the 7thPennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.  

The program portrays 1861, and programming reflects the first year of the Civil War when American's worst fear of many has come to pass. War has come and the country is split right along the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. George Washington's dream of the Potomac uniting the country has given way to the nightmare of civil war, and the Potomac –at least according to the Confederates –has become a hostile frontier. The original 7th Pennsylvania first saw action while guarding the Maryland side of the Potomac River at Great Falls in September of 1861. Members of the unit participated in several skirmishes with Confederate forces on the Virginia side of the Potomac early in the war.  

In 1861, many local residents could not look at the troops along the canal without concern.  Were they liberators, foretelling the end of bondage? Were they a safeguard of lives and property? Were they an occupying force of interlopers?  Or were they just a nuisance, burning fences and stealing chickens?  How long would they stay? What would next year bring? During this event, the park invites today's visitors to reflect on what the Civil War would ultimately determine: the continued union of the United States, and eventual freedom of 4 million enslaved people.

In addition to the living history encampment, on Saturday April 16 between 1pm and 4pm the Mountain Dulcimers of Northern Virginia with other musical guests will share music of the Civil War era played on Appalachian Dulcimers. The Appalachian Dulcimer, a popular parlor instrument of the 19th century, came in many shapes;stop by the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center to see the tear drop, hour glass and perhaps even a Galax style dulcimer. From noon to 1 performers will have extra dulcimers on hand and will teach young and old to play simple tunes on this enchanting instrument.

This Civil War Living History weekend will offer both informal and formal programs. Visitors are invited to walk through the camp and talk to the re-enactors throughout the weekend.   Formal programs will be offered at 12:00, 2:30, and 4:00 both Saturday and Sunday. Civil War infantry tactics and life while guarding the C&O Canal will be discussed. The event will be free of charge, although there are fees to enter the park (currently $10 per vehicle for a single visit, unless a passenger has an applicable park pass).

Call ahead for details at (301) 767-3714 (press"0" to reach a live person, Wed.-Sun., 9:00-4:30)

Throughout 2016, please stay tuned to the Park's website, www.nps.gov/choh and the Centennial website, findyourpark.com, for more events celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service. Follow us on Facebook at chesapeakeandohiocanal and on Twitter @COcanalNPS. For more information on the C&O Canal's programs, please visit www.nps.gov/choh


Last updated: April 18, 2016

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1850 Dual Highway, Suite 100
Hagerstown, MD 21740



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