Harpers Ferry is giving tourists a taste of life during the Civil War as the holiday season begins.
Harpers Ferry was a key location during the Civil War’s Shenandoah Valley campaign, and changed hands eight times until it was secured by Union forces in 1864. The yearly event will show Harpers Ferry under martial law as it existed during the Christmas season.
“Right up towards the tail end of the Civil War, Harpers Ferry was being used as a supply center and a garrison town for the Union Army as it pushed its way through the Shenandoah Valley,” Harpers Ferry National Historical Park representative Leah Taber said. “It was pretty consistently a battleground between Union and Confederate forces, just due to its geography.”
The exhibits include reenactments of a Victorian ball hosted by members of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry and their wives, and the crime and punishment of a Union army deserter.
Taber said these events aim to put people in the mindset of those who lived during the period.
“Our visitors, if they come to this event, can really get a sense of what it was like during that holiday season where there were starting to be glimmers of hope that the war might come to an end,” Taber said. “But that holiday season was tempered also by the realities of war.”
The event is set for Dec. 3 and 4 throughout the park from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Lower Town area will be restricted to one-way only traffic and the park recommends using the bus service from the visitor’s center instead.