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Civil War Christmas opens continuing holiday celebrations in Shepherdstown

By Staff | Dec 8, 2017

Jessica Sharpless For the Chronicle

Shepherdstown’s Village Brass band opened Civil War Christmas last Friday, with a festive and beautiful look at music of the 19thcentury. The performance featured not only music of the era but a short introduction with history as each piece was introduced. It gave listeners the real sounds of the era, complete with a period historical trumpet.

The full musical performance included a medley of marching tunes and one of revolutionary war music still popular in the 19th century; spiritual pieces; and holiday music such as the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah and the double duty anthem of O Tannenbaum/ Maryland, My Maryland. The village brass gave its all, filling the air with festive sounds and plenty of history in between.

The musical performance was followed by historical presentations from two speakers, John McMillen and James Broomall. Both presentations focused on how geography and local conditions impacted the civil war. McMillen offered a look at the war in what would become West Virginia as it was impacted by the mountains and weather of Appalachia. Broomall focused on the local area of the Potomac valley, giving information on how often the area changed hands and the devastating impacts the war in the area had on civilian life and the terrain.

The lectures and music were a fitting way to open the event, which combines the magic of the holidays with a look at local history and life in the civil war era. The full weekend event featured a Civil War-era encampment manned by Shepherd University Students and other historical enthusiasts at the George Tyler Civil War Studies Center and other historical lectures throughout the weekend.