Port Jervis is transported back to the Civil War

| 23 Jun 2015 | 04:46

The City’s central Orange Square turned into a Civil War era encampment during the celebration of Stephen Crane’s famous novel “The Red Badge of Courage” that coincided with the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War.

The day started clouded, and downpours threatened the event, but they passed, and people continued their strolling among the square, where the participants stayed in their character during the whole event, and answered questions. The police estimated by late morning about 110 visitors filled the square so far, but the day was still young.

Mayor Kelly Decker read the proclamation, and there were greetings from governing bodies.

Ties to the novelPort Jervis has ties to the novel. Stephen Crane lived there until his teens, and both his father and brother were prominent city residents practicing law or in the clergy.

He is said to have visited Orange Square where the 124th New York known as the Orange Blossoms, Co Veterans used to sit, and based his book on those conversations, said Port Jervis Tourism Board’s William Schill who came up with the original idea.

Young historianAmong those enjoying the day was 11-year old Christopher Buffino, Jr, dressed in Civil War era costume. He came with his grandmother Lisa Gleason who used to do reenactments, although Christopher’s parents are not interested in it.

“He goes to all the events,” Gleason explained. "Christopher knows all about the Civil War, WWI, WW2, Revolutionary War, and French and Indian Wars.”

“I like history, all history,” Christopher agreed. “I want to do something to do with history when I grow up,” he added, but he also “definitely wants to be in the military” as well.

Christopher’s great-great-great grandfather fought in the 15th Cavalry, Gleason added.

Civil War era activitiesThe Drew Methodist Church housed an exhibit of Civil War documents and items, and the Red Badge of Courage black-and-white film showed several times during the day in the First Presbyterian Church, where the authentic era clothes were also on display.

The loud boom of the cannon fire startled the visitors, courtesy of the 143rd New York Volunteer Infantry. Donavan Nietzel, 17, from Liberty in nearby Sullivan County kept watch to keep anyone who got too close away from the cannon while it was being fired.

“We’ve done a lot of these,” he explained, “It being an anniversary year.”

Lee’s Battery Virginia Light Artillery made its appearance, camping on the square, and representing the Confederacy.

Several ladies dressed in period clothes milled about in the square, including two dressed in head-to-toe black mourning clothes.

President and Mrs. Lincoln, and Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant walked and talked among the visitors, and made proclamations.

Robert Eurich gave a presentation titled “Stephen Crane: His Civil War Veteran Neighbors and The Red Badge of Courage”.

For the energetic, a bus tour of the Civil War Veteran’s burial sites in the city’s Laurel Grove Cemetery was available, while outside the Methodist Church, The Gray-Parker Funeral Home’s 1867 Hearse and Pike County Historical Society’s 19th century show a Hiawatha stagecoach were on display.