Civil War ball to commemorate anniversaries

Feb 27, 2015

Civil War attire Most Americans know the Civil War began when the Confederates fired on Union soldiers at Fort Sumter, S.C. on April 12. 1861. Most people also know the war ended when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865. There are many more facts, however, of which people are not aware, such as women dressed as men so they could fight; and the hardship faced by women who took over the farms and solely raised their children. Kathy Jasinski of Batavia is a member of a newly formed group in Batavia, called Daughters of the American Civil War. “I don’t like violence, so the actual fighting of the Civil War did not attract me, but the resourcefulness and stamina of the women impressed me,” Jasinski said. “I wanted to join the group that promoted that information. I want to keep the spirit of the women of the Civil War era alive, and this is a way to do it.” Their first event was a tea last summer, which Jasinski said was very well received. Their next event, however, is a major endeavor and one which has never been done in the area before. On March 21 at the Clarion, the Daughters of the American Civil War will sponsor a Civil War Ball, in conjunction with Genesee Community College’s Civil War Initiative. Derek Maxwell, professor of history, is in charge of events at GCC, and said it is important for people to be aware and remember these historical events. “We all share the same passion, and I’m glad to be a part of these commemorations,” Maxwell said. “They are the ultimate teaching opportunity, and these stories have to be told. To go in the classroom day after day and be faced with such historical illiteracy is very daunting. What these ladies are putting together for the public is extremely important.” At 1 p.m., Tom Schobert of West Seneca, a historical re-enactor for more than 25 years, will do a first-person portrayal of General Lee and his life four days after Appomattox. The general will be returning to his home in Richmond and will share a retrospective on his life and career, Schobert said. “Lee” will discuss factors he believe caused the war, reminisce about important events before and during the war and will share his hopes for the future after the restoration of the nation. Schobert is an actor with Buffalo’s Forest Lawn Cemetery, portraying several personalities from Buffalo’s history, including William G. Fargo who was mayor during the Civil War and was also co-founder of Wells-Fargo and American Express companies. In the mid ‘90s, Schobert appeared in the film “Gettysburg” as a Confederate soldier. Currently, he is president of the Buffalo Civil War Roundtable. His career also includes 23 years with the United States Army, having retired as a lieutenant colonel. From 1 to 3 p.m., dancemaster Jerome Brubaker will give instruction at the Clarion on the proper dance steps of the day. Displays will be set up, including a sutler, portrayed by Theresa Potter of Batavia, selling the types of merchandise which a soldier of that era might need and was not provided by the Army. Just prior to the opening of the ball at 7 p.m., General Lee, played by Schobert, and General Grant, played by  Ed Broadbeck, will re-enact the surrender. Other guests will include President Abraham Lincoln (impersonator not yet determined); Ely Parker, played by Terry Abrams; an aide to General Lee, played by Dave Armitage; and an aide to General Grant, played by Fred Til of Lewiston. A grand promenade will open the ball, and each guest will receive a dance card. The City Fiddle Band will play period dances, including the Schottishe, waltz and Virginia reel. Several speakers will entertain during intermission of the band. Patrick Weissend as Joseph Ellicott will give a brief history of the Holland Land Purchase; Larry Barnes will speak on the anniversary of the city of Batavia; and Ellen Bachorski will give a brief overview of the end of the War of 1812. The dance not only commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, it also is an observance of the 200th anniversary of the end of War of 1812, 200th anniversary of the Holland Land Purchase and 100th anniversary of the city of Batavia. The Daughters of the American Civil War was an idea of Dona LaValle and her fiancé, Armitage, both of whom are avid re-enactors. Information on joining the group is available on their Facebook page. Armitage and LaValle both play musical instruments, and LaValle said music was an important part of the war. “General Lee once said you couldn’t have an army without music,” LaValle said. “Buglers led the battles and sounded the retreats.” She said any stringed instrument, such as fiddle, banjo or guitar could be slung over a soldier’s shoulder as he marched, and at night when they had nothing to do, they’d sit around the campfire and play. Sometimes, they would exchange music with the enemy across a river, she said. “At re-enactments, the first thing you hear in the morning is the drums,” LaValle said. At a recent get-together, Bachorski of Batavia, Mary Jo McConnell of Elba, Potter, LaValle and Jasinski met to discuss the ball. Bachorski wore an authentic ball gown of the Civil War era, while McConnell, Potter and LaValle were clad in what was called “day dresses.” “Even though ladies were required to wear a certain uniform in public, they had an amount of leeway,” McConnell said. That will also be the case at the Civil War Ball. Guests are required to come in formal attire, period dress, if possible. LaValle said they hope the ballroom will be filled with ladies in their ball gowns from several historic eras. While period costumes are preferred, ladies may wear long gowns and men may wear a tuxedo or military uniform. Young adults are encouraged to attend in their prom dresses and suits, and any re-enactor is welcome. Proceeds of the ball will go to the Genesee County Historians Association and the Veterans’ Support Network, who is working to set up a store front in Batavia where any veteran of a war could go for help of any kind, even to mowing his lawn. If the dance is successful, LaValle said they would like to make it an annual event. Tickets for the ball are $25 per person, presale, or $30 per person at the door. They are available at the Holland Land Office or by logging on to www.showtix4u.com. Anyone attending the ball who wishes to spend the night will receive special discounts and room rates at the Clarion. Article from the Batavia Daily News and taken from http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/lifestyles/article_406fbf48-b953-11e4-9c50-6fee11df392c.html