The city’s downtown will become the center of a two-day event incorporating historic reenactments, period music, storytelling and a formal dance. The weekend’s events will culminate Sunday evening with a mock funeral to honor Confederate Maj. John Pelham on the 150th anniversary of his death during the Civil War.
“This is supposed to be a positive thing to bring the community together,” said Joe Maloney, a organizer for the event.
Organizers said they hope the event will inform residents, and especially children, about Pelham and the historic events that occurred during his life. Though it focuses on a period of the history known for divisiveness, the organizers stress that the point of the events is to bring people together.
“This is just commemorating John Pelham, not his cause,” Maloney said. Pelham, a Confederate soldier from Alexandria, earned a reputa,tion for his tenacity in battle and his expertise in artillery tactics before dying at age ,24 from a cannon blast at the Battle of Kelly’s Ford in Virginia, Maloney said.
He added that Pelham was mentioned by name in documents penned by Gen. Stonewall Jackson and Gen. Robert E. Lee, who is credited with giving Pelham his nickname “The Gallant” Pelham.
“He was a remarkable character,” Maloney said of Pelham. “We want the public to be engaged.”
After Pelham’s death, his body was transported from Virginia to Blue Mountain by train. From there it was taken by horse-drawn buggy to Jacksonville, where he was buried March 17, 1863, organizers said.
Sunday’s events will recreate the historic burial. A casket with a spray of flowers will be pulled through the streets of Jacksonville and to the city’s historic graveyard, where a statue of Pelham stands over his grave.
Participants in the public event will be invited to follow the casket on foot.
The event is free. Attendees are encouraged, but not required, to wear period clothing.
Wander about the camps to see and speak to the re-enactors.
Saturday 9:00 a.m.-noon
Jacksonville Mayor Johnny Smith and the band Un-Reconstructed
Events on the historic square to include music, tours of notable sites, re-enactors.
Speakers, tours of the square and the cemetery, period music are scheduled throughout the morning.
Saturday noon-3:00 p.m.
Notable speakers, tours, music, prominent historic figures of the time in period costumes relating historic events.
Saturday Evening 4:30 p.m.
A dance on the Square with Un-Reconstructed providing the entertainment. Immerse yourself in the 1860s music and costumes
At 9:30 a.m. the weekend’s events will resume at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, where a prayer will be recited from a prayer book that was in use during the Civil War.
Sunday 1:00 p.m.
On the square, residents will read letters from the war years and other documents to explore Jacksonville’s history and the conflicting loyalties Confederate soldiers faced. The Calhoun County Community Band also will perform. The reading will be followed by the funeral procession at 1:30 and a wreath-laying ceremony that will include gun and cannon salutes at Pelham’s gravesite in the Jacksonville City Cemetery.
The commemoration will come to a close at 3 p.m. Sunday.