Guns and Gabions at the Gap

Gabions being made in Petersburg, Virginia
Making gabions at Petersburg, Virginia

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News Release Date: June 6, 2012

Contact: visitor center, (606) 248-2817

Weekend Events Commemorate the Civil War at Cumberland Gap

A century and a half ago, our nation was gripped in the throes of a tragic Civil War; across the country today, sites are commemorating that event. June 17th marks the 150th anniversary of the first Confederate withdrawal and subsequent Union occupation of Cumberland Gap during the War, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is marking the occasion with two days of Civil War programs.

Living history will be the focus of the weekend, with opportunities for visitors to interact with both Union soldiers and women camped on the grounds of the park visitor center. One on-going program will have the theme of "Fortifying the Gap." Defending the rocky Cumberland Gap during the Civil War wasn't easy, which is why U.S. Army engineer William P. Craighill incorporated gabions in his designs for several Gap earthworks. Re-enactors will be creating these woven baskets under the instruction of Craighill himself.

Civil War soldiers used whatever materials they could find when constructing gabions. In that same spirit of making-do, the re-enactors here will be using kudzu vines in their work, which has the added benefit of helping to rid the park of an unwanted exotic plant species! In what is truly a community enterprise, Boy Scout Troop 544 helped in gathering the materials, and will also be participating in the day's events.

There will be a Junior Ranger program "Guns and Gabions at the Gap!" on Saturday, June 16th, at 10:00 a.m. during which younger visitors can participate in a mock drill, help make gabions, and even make their own models of the earthwork forts here at the Gap!

The Goodwife Guild will be providing a glimpse into the traditional woman's role during the Civil War, cooking for the men stationed at the camp. There will also be a small exhibit of Civil War maps, drawings, and artifacts relating to the action at Cumberland Gap, where control exchanged hands several times over the four years.

Visitors are invited to visit from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days and learn more about what went on in daily life at the Gap during the Civil War, as soldiers prepared for the battle that never came.

On Sunday morning June 17th at 10:00 a.m., Park Ranger Lucas Wilder will be making a solitary march down from the Pinnacle in Confederate uniform with the Confederate national flag to symbolize its withdrawal from the Gap 150 years ago. Visitors can muster with Wilder before his march, reminiscing about the glory of the south. On Monday morning, June 18th at 10:00 a.m., Wilder will reverse his march in Union uniform, beginning at the visitor center and carrying the Union flag up to stand at the fort. Visitors are encouraged to rally him on with shouts of "Hoorah, hoorah!"

For more information about Cumberland Gap National Historical Park please call (606) 248-2817.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Mailing Address:

91 Bartlett Park Road
Middlesboro , KY 40965


606 248-2817

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