Civil War era to come to square

Donelle Pardee Whiting

Civil War history holds a certain fascination for many — the stories of brother against brother, the sheer numbers of those who died and the battles.

Another part of the Civil War is Abraham Lincoln and his determination to reunite the fractured country.

To commemorate Lincoln’s upcoming 200th birthday, many communities plan to celebrate.

Washington is no different. The Lincoln Bicentennial Committee of Washington will present a Living History of the Civil War Era.

Lincoln was known to make stops in Washington on his way to the Metamora Court House.

One of his stops included R.D. Smith’s Dry Goods Store, which is now known as Holland’s Mercantile, committee member Kristy Howell said.

Historical society member Sue Freeman said the committee has been planning the event for a while to honor the days of Lincoln’s time and educate the community about his efforts during the Civil War.

Among the events will be Civil War dancers at 11:30 a.m. The dancers are a group that perform perdiod dances and dress in Civil War era clothing.

Judy Gross said the group also goes to various civil war reenactments where there is usually a ball.

“They perform frequently at the Metamora Courthouse,” Gross added.

Portraits of the Past, created by the Washington Historical Society, will be at 1 p.m. at the Zinser House. Actors will bring to life the stories of Washington’s Civil War heroes.

“President Lincoln” will also be on hand for a chat and a glass of lemonade from 2-3:30 p.m. at the Zinser House.

At 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., Ron Kirchgessner will give a demonstration of Civil War Medical Techniques.

Kirchgessner portrays Civil War surgeon  Major Charles Winne from the 77th infantry.

As part of his demonstration, Kirchgessner said he sets up a battlefield hospital, and tells of how doctors from that time period were not required to have the extensive education of today.

Surgeons learned on the job in battlefield conditions.

Kirchgessner said he always studied history and went to a few reenactments with a friend a little more than eight years ago.

After that, he said, he decided to participate in the experience rather than just watch.

Kirchgessner, a former emergency medical technician, decided to use his medical background as a starting point.

He said he wanted to portray a real life surgeon on the battlefield, reenacting battlefield medical scenarios.

In addition to traveling around various reenactment events, Kirchgessner also gives presentations at area schools.

Kirchgessner said he is looking forward to sharing his knowledge with Washington residents.

Other attractions on the square will be a blacksmith demonstration, kettle corn kitchen, spinning demonstration, dulcimer player, weaver demonstration, confederate and Union soldier display, Major General Ambrose Burnside with Civil War artillery and an engineering and surveying unit display.

Booths and displays will remain open throughout the event.

In honor of Lincoln’s visits to Washington, The Lincoln Bicentennial Committee is promoting a fundraiser to sponsor the celebration and to purchase a bronze plaque to put on Holland’s Mercantile.

Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to the Washington Chamber of Commerce, 112 Washington Square, Washington IL 61571. Make checks payable to Washington 2000.