Experience Life During the ‘War Between the States’ at Governors Island National Monument’s Civil War Weekend

Re-enactors fire a cannon at Governors Island.
Re-enactors fire a cannon during Civil War Weekend at Governors Island National Monument

National Park Service

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News Release Date: August 6, 2014

Contact: Mindi Rambo, 212-668-2208

NEW YORK –On Saturday, Aug. 9 and Sunday, Aug. 10, visitors to Governors Island National Monument will step back in time when they disembark the ferries from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. They won't just see a beckoning expanse of green grass with a pair of historic forts, they'll also see Union and Confederate troops acting out scenes from a typical day in the life for soldiers of the garrison and military prisoners on the island during the Civil War.

This is the eighth year that the National Park Service has invited living historians from the 119th New York Volunteer Infantry and the Liberty Rifles to come to Governors Island and help tell the stories of the island's rich Civil War history. It is also a perfect time for visitors to come as the National Park Service across the country is in the midst of observing the 150th anniversary Civil War. During Civil War weekend, visitors will have the opportunity to experience cannon firings, drills, and demonstrations of life during the War Between the States, such as a soldier's camp life, a period baseball game and the prison experience of Confederate soldiers at Castle Williams.

"A lot of people don't realize that Governors Island was a significant player at the beginning of the Civil War," said Patti Reilly, superintendent of Governors Island National Monument. "The timing and the cause of the first shot of the war fired at Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., was because of the imminent arrival of a ship from Governors Island was carrying fresh troops and supplies to relieve the soldiers that had been under siege there since December 1860. Nor do many people know that Castle Williams and Fort Jay were used as stockades for captured Confederate soldiers and officers respectively. The brick buildings on the island were the New York Arsenal which supplied muskets and cannons for the Union during the Civil War. For this reason, we are inviting everyone to come out and learn about the island's practices and stories from 1861 to 1865 and have some fun."

What: Civil War Weekend

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 10
Saturday, Aug. 9
11:30 a.m. Cannon firing demonstration
11:30 a.m. "Officers of the Civil War Generation" tour
12:30 p.m. Civil War Music
1:30 p.m. Cannon firing demonstration
1:30 p.m. "Officers of the Civil War" program
3:30 p.m. Cannon firing demonstration
3:30 p.m. Civil War Music
4 p.m. Civil War baseball game
Sunday, Aug. 10
11:30 a.m. Cannon firing demonstration
11:30 a.m. "Officers of the Civil War Generation" tour
1:30 p.m. Cannon firing demonstration
12:30 p.m. Civil War Music
12:30 p.m. Small arms demonstration
1:30 p.m. "Officers of the Civil War" program

Who: People of all ages

Why: Family-friendly fun and hands-on history

Web: www.nps.gov/gois

Facebook: www.facebook.com/govislandnps

*Note: Schedule is subject to change.

About Governors Island National Monument
Governors Island National Monument was established to preserve the island's historically significant military fortifications, Castle Williams and Fort Jay. Governors Island is a 172-acre island, of which the National Park Service administers the 22-acre Governors Island National Monument. The remaining 150 acres are administered by The Trust for Governors Island whose goal is to redevelop the island as one of New York City's great destinations. The island is open to the public during the summer and early fall, providing opportunities to experience the visual and performing arts as well as to learn about the island's role in national and international events and its place as part of New York Harbor's rich history and ecology. To learn more about Governors Island National Monument, visit www.nps.gov/gois .

How to Get There: Governors Island is a 10-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. The ferry from Manhattan is located in the Battery Maritime Building, located at 10 South Street, adjacent to the Staten Island Ferry. The ferry from Brooklyn departs from Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at the foot of Atlantic Avenue. Ferry charge is $2 per adult, Seniors 65 and over $1 and youth 12 and under, free.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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