Over the 150th Anniversary Weekend of the Battle of Antietam, on Sept. 15 and 16, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum will host several unprecedented living history events.
During the Battle of Antietam, the Pry House served as headquarters for General George B. McClellan and the Union Army. One hundred fifty years later, the Pry Farm will once again be under occupation as living historians on the lawn and around the house will portray members of the Union Army headquarters. They will be joined by the elite 5th NY Regiment, who will serve as camp guards and perform drill demonstrations. Visitors are encouraged to visit the camp and talk with staff officers from the Army of the Potomac.
The Pry's threshing barn served as a field hospital for the US 2nd Corps, treating 400-500 wounded men during and after the battle. Over the weekend, living historians from four different organizations across the country will come together to recreate a surgical hospital in and around the original barn. Visitors can witness the heroic response of medical officers to the ghastly toll of America's bloodiest day. Costumed interpreters will demonstrate surgical procedures and displays will showcase a variety of tools and equipment. It will be one of the largest Civil War medical living history presentations organized in this region.
Outside of the barn will be parked a reproduction Civil War Wheeling Ambulance and a modern MRAP armored ambulance provided by the United States Army. Visitors can explore both vehicles and discover how medical transport has changed in 150 years.
A Soldiers' Fair at the Pry Farm will help visitors to experience aspects of life on the Union home front during The Civil War. The fair will attempt to recreate events from Civil War fundraising carnivals, explain the efforts of soldiers' relief organizations, and demonstrate elements of civilian life during the 1860s. Activities will include hands-on demonstrations, period crafters and artisans, music and entertainment, and special presentations throughout the day.
Wet-plate photographer Chris Morgan will showcase Civil War era photography, making tintypes throughout the weekend. Members of the Chesapeake Region Lace Guild will to present Victorian lace-making and help visitors to try the delicate art. World-renowned banjo-maker amd museum Executive Director George Wunderlich will demonstrate the construction of early banjos, allowing visitors to help in the process. Other crafters will be making candles, socks, and other items for Civil War soldiers. Other exhibitors will discuss quilt-making, period roads, and other subjects important to both soldiers and civilians. Living historians will portray members of the United States Sanitary Commission, explain how private citizens helped soldiers at war, as well as teach visitors about food preservation, clothing, and laundry in the 1860s. Children can enjoy playing with toys and games of the Civil War era and make their own rag dolls. Visitors can also learn about the importance of letter-writing to soldiers and their families and try their hand at writing with a dip ink pen.
On Saturday, the Susquehanna Travelers will give a free concert of Civil War era music. The Victorian Dance Ensemble will be on hand to give Civil War dancing lessons and demonstrations throughout the day. Mr. Bill Gent, who portrays a Confederate surgeon, will give a presentation on the Confederate Medical Service. Also on Saturday, Richard D'Ambrisi, as Professor Richard Pearce will demonstrate the amazing "science" of Phrenology, the popular Victorian practice of reading character and personality by the shape of the skull. Prof. Pearce will perform examinations on willing visitors.
On Sunday, a minister will perform a Civil War period Christian church service. All are welcome to observe or participate regardless of belief or denomination. Susan Rosenvold, of the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office, will present Clara Barton's travelling lecture on her experience at the battle of Antietam.
During Anniversary Weekend, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no additional fee for the weekend's events. A donation of $3 per person is suggested while visiting the Pry House Field Hospital Museum.