Civil War exhibit making the rounds

Rev. Randy Webster of Christ Episcopal Church, of Susquehanna, puts up a photograph of a recruitment poster that was used during the Civil War. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

A new traveling exhibit of historical photographs that depict Susquehanna County’s involvement in the Civil War opened this weekend at Christ Episcopal Church in Susquehanna.

Betty Smith, curator of the Susquehanna County Historical Society, said the photographs tell a rich story about a county tremendously engaged in what the History Channel has called “the defining moment in American history.”

That moment was more precisely four years, and with this year marking the 150th anniversary of the onset of the Civil War, Rev. Randy Webster- who pastors Christ’s Church- felt it was important to remind people about an area’s sacrifice, and why his church was opening its doors to show off the pictures.

But, Smith said the display has more than just pictures of the soldiers who went off to war.

“There was a tremendous engagement of the community about the war just as I imagine people felt about World War II,” Smith said.

“The mass exodus of able-bodied men from within the county’s borders to serve many miles away, obviously left a void back home,” Smith added, and that, too, is shown in the photographs.

The Ladies Aid Society was actively engaged back home in sending off uniform parts, food and other provisions that were needed on the war front, she said.

But there are also photographs of ordinary Montrose citizens’ reactions to Robert E. Lee’s 1865 surrender at Appomattox, Va., marking the end of the war, residents patriotically celebrating the Fourth of July, and area residents welcoming home the black troops that had gone off to serve.

An especially endearing image taken in 1913 on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, shows soldiers gathering at a local train station so they could take part in the festivities recalling the events of July 1-3, 1863,  when some 45,000 men were either killed or wounded.

That would be the equivalent of the entire population of Susquehanna County today, Webster said.

The exhibit will be open on July 23-24, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 276 Church Street, Montrose, and  on July 30-31, it will be at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 115 Main Street, New Milford.

The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday.