Cahawba to remember Civil War soldiers

Published 10:09 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Old Cahawba Archaeological Park will be going back in time Saturday when reenactors come in full period dress for a memorial service for the Union soldiers that were once imprisoned there during the Civil War.

“For me, it’s always a very touching and emotional service,” said Linda Derry, site director at Old Cahawba.

“The war was so costly to everybody involved, and I think it’s good to remember the price of any war and the loss of any of our troops. We shouldn’t forget, and [we need to] make sure that they’re not forgotten.”

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The memorial service started three years ago as part of the Battle of Selma, which won’t be taking place this year. Continuing the service, Derry said, is a way to keep things going and get ready for next year’s battle and service.

“We wanted to help them keep that momentum going … so they can pick it up next year,” Derry said.

New this year at the service is the reading of letters and diary excerpts from actual Union soldiers that were kept at the prison.

“Hundreds of decedents [of Union soldiers] have come to visit us over the last few years and some of them come bearing gifts. Often, they will scan letters or diary’s that were kept in the prison, so we have a wide selection of them,” Derry said.

“I think the most touching part of it is going to be when the reenactors read excerpts from letters that were written from Union soldiers that were held captive at Old Cahawba.”

Derry said having the actual letters read will be a great way for people to really understand what the soldiers went through and experienced.

“It will be like they are actually speaking to us because it will be their words they’ll be reading,” Derry said. “I think that will be very touching, and very educational and very informative, and what better than let them speak for themselves about what happened to them.”

The service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, but Derry asks that people start arriving around 15 minutes early.

The service is free, but a $2 donation is asked of people that want to stay after.