On Fort Sumter. Where the first shots of the Civil War were exchanged on April 15th in the year 1861, and where Confederate troops first took the reins of this war.
33 hours of dueling canons, but not enough blood was shed for what historical precedent deems necessary to end a war. It would take four years and the lives of almost 700,000 people. Soldiers.
On July 13th, 2013 I will present a theatrical concert, shining light and darkness upon the soldiers, who for those four years gave up everything they knew and everything they were to fight for their respective countries.
Rooted in music, letters, movement and poems from then and now, this theatrical concert explores the American Civil War soldier’s tale, the war’s impact on the nation and the internal struggles that make love a battlefield everyday.
The piece takes us along for the ride of these soldiers throughout the Civil War, stripped away of frills and effects, we hear and see and experience through spoken word, music, and movement what a battle might feel like, what the recovery in a hospital might be like and what eventually happens to the lucky veterans who make it through battle after battle. They survive, carry on, and even come home, but are forever changed.
For men, who weren’t career soldiers, who thought their time serving would be short, who went in with high expectations and hope for tremendous adventures and glory, The Civil War proved to be a radical awakening to an entire country, forcing a new vantage point of what it was to serve your country. The Federal Army at the onset of the Civil War was 16,000 strong. By the war’s end over 3 million men had served. Almost 700,000 died. In four years and one fell swoop, this War created a country capable of mobilizing roughly two percent of its population, marking the beginning of the war industry and the career soldier.
From those first rallies ’round the flag to the waving and wailing over a battle field, men became soldiers; and from all the marching, machinations, and massacres of these fledgling armies, soldiers would slowly lose their sense of being men. It was the first time leaving home for many of these men and homesickness developed within their hearts and psyches. Compounded with sickness, starvation, and squalor, we didn’t yet have a name but “homesickness” and “nervous disorder”… and every war since has slowly refined its definition of what war does to soldiers. They would carry these wounds with them in battle strengthening and weakening them accordingly. The Civil War was a learning experience, War was its teacher, and soldiers became her medium.
By the piece’s end we examine the words of a male and female soldier in today’s most recent battles who share much more than we think with their sesquicentennial brethren.