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Kenosha's Civil War Museum celebrates 10th anniversary

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A day of re-enactments, actor portrayals, live music and hands-on activities are planned for “The Grand Review: A Celebration of the Civil War Museum’s 10th Anniversary” on Saturday at the Civil War Museum, 5400 First Ave.

The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no admission charge and all activities, exhibits and performances are free.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate 10 years,” said Doug Dammann, education coordinator for the Kenosha Public Museums. “We’re viewing it as a thank you to the local community for 10 years of great support to not only the Civil War Museum, but all three museums.”

Civil War re-enactor Steve Acker kicks off the event with “You are a Soldier” at 10:15 a.m.

The Battlefield Balladeers perform songs from the American Civil War at 11:15 a.m., followed by portrayals of First Lady of Wisconsin Cordelia Harvey and Harriet Tubman at 12:10 p.m. and 1:10 p.m.

My Little Red Canoe performs melodies of the Civil War era at 2:10 p.m. before the Kenosha Pops wraps things up with a festive indoor performance at 3:30 p.m.

Kathryn Harris, the former director of the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield, Ill., portrayed Tubman, a former slave and Underground Railroad conductor, during an annual “Salute to Freedom” event at the Civil War Museum several years ago.

Tubman helped more than 300 slaves, including her own parents, escape to the North. After the Civil War, Tubman worked for the Union as a cook, nurse and a spy.

“It was such a powerful performance we wanted to have her back,” Dammann said. “She was very high on the list. We’re extremely happy to have her back in Kenosha.”

In addition to acting and music, there will be several hands-on activities involving archaeology, artillery, telegraphs and submarines. Visitors can make submarines out of small film canisters and test them, according to Dammann.

The CSS Hunley, of the Confederate States of America, was the first combat submarine to sink a warship during the Civil War.

“Most people don’t realize it,” Dammann said. “There were submarines around during the Civil War.”

The Civil War Museum features two permanent exhibits: “The Fiery Trial” and “Seeing the Elephant.” There is also a Veterans Memorial Gallery and a featured genealogy and heirlooms exhibit “For Honor and Family.”

“Our interpretation, our collection, our exhibits have all grown greatly over the 10 years,” Dammann said. “We’re excited to show them all off for the anniversary celebration.”


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