Band performs in honor of Civil War anniversary


On Saturday afternoon, the 5th Michigan Regiment Band brought the sounds of the 19th century to the front lawn of the Capitol building.

The Friends of Michigan History put on their third annual The Turning Point of the War, 1863 concert. The concert is a tribute to the Civil War Sesquicentennial, which is the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

This was the first year that the Friends of Michigan History invited the 5th Michigan Regiment Band to perform at the event.

Donning attire and flags from the era, the 5th Michigan Regiment Band performs pre-1865 compositions on authentic brass instruments. On Saturday, some of those songs included “Pickett’s Charge March” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.”

Group president Carol Smith spoke of the band’s mission.

“We are trying to have people know about the Civil War (and) about the history of our wonderful country,” Smith said. “This is the big 150th anniversary of the Civil War — that’s why we are out here.”

Both the male soldiers and the ladies of the band wear authentic Civil War outfits, group historian Joyce Brown said. The male soldiers in the band wear wool uniforms, similar to what soldiers in the North wore during the war due to the absence of cotton. The ladies wear seven layers of clothing, along with corsets.

“It gets very hot … I’m glad we don’t live in those times now,” Brown said.

The treasurer of the Friends of Michigan History, Keith Harrison, said that Michigan made a tremendous impact during the Civil War.

According to Harrison, 90,000 men from Michigan fought in the Civil War, approximately one-sixth of the male population.

Harrison spoke of the importance of keeping historical events in perspective.

“Too often, many of these historical events are just totally lost in history,” Harrison said. “You forget what basically transpired and the sacrifices that were made during those times.”

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