BALTIMORE (WJZ) — You don’t have to be a Civil War buff to know that Baltimore played a major role in the conflict. In fact, the war’s first casualties occurred on Pratt Street.
As a milestone anniversary of the war approaches, Ron Matz reports some major events are getting underway in Baltimore.
Baltimore is marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. On Feb. 23, 1861 President Lincoln secretly traveled through Baltimore en route to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration.
Baltimore has big plans for the war’s anniversary on April 16 at Fort McHenry.
“Everything begins on April 16 at the fort. We’re going to have a grand union encampment. We’ll have fifes and drums and programming all day. The highlight for Saturday will be the candlelight tours from 6 to 9 p.m. and it’s free because it’s National Parks Week,” said Ranger Vince Vaise, Fort McHenry.
“We are going to have a lot of things going on to commemorate the Civil War. You’ll have exhibits around the city. You’ll have one here at Sports Legends, another one at the Maryland Historical Society and re-enactments of the Pratt Street riots, and you’ll have living history encampments at Fort McHenry,” said Tom Noonan, CEO of Visit Baltimore. “It’s really the start of Baltimore selling itself as a historical destination. We have the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the 1864 Jubilee, Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. We have the Emancipation Proclamation and then we roll in to the War of 1812. For the next five or six years, Baltimore and the state of Maryland are really going to brand themselves as a historical destination.”
The Pratt Street riot led to the war’s first casualties.
“It’s a fascinating historical event because it’s all about what we’re all about and we’re still arguing about some of these issues. How much power should the states have, how much power should the national government have. It’s still an issue and it was a big issue then during the war,” said Burt Kummerow, Maryland Historical Society. “When you talk about the first bloodshed of the Civil War, 16 people got killed in the Pratt Street riot. It’s the beginning of this unbelievable war that killed 600,000 young Americans. I think it couldn’t be important and more symbolic that it started here.”
The commemoration includes a new exhibit at the Sports Legends Museum, formerly Camden Street Station.
“Our new exhibit is ‘Riots, Railroads and the Coming of Mr. Lincoln,’ not a sports theme. It’s something completely different for us. They’re going to see the history of Camden Station in relation to the American Civil War. The exhibit starts today and continues through Dec. 31. We’re very fortunate to have some of our Civil War landmarks still here in Baltimore, President Street Station and Camden Station,” said Sean Herne, chief curator, Sports Legends Museum. “I want people to come down and enjoy the exhibit and hopefully they’ll understand a little bit more about Baltimore and Maryland in the Civil War.”
“There will be a lot of excitement. It’s really going to be awesome. It’s the 150th anniversary of the war that defined America as we know it today,” said Vaise.
“There are a lot of people who love to travel for culinary reasons, for cultural reasons, for museums and attractions and there are a lot of people who like to travel to historical sites. Obviously there’s a lot of history here in Baltimore and Maryland. We’re excited to have this unique opportunity to show all those assets off for the next five or six years,” said Noonan.
For a look at all the Civil War commemoration activities in Baltimore, click here.