“Letters Home” from the Civil War

Civil War letters bearing descriptions of horrific battles, amusing observations of camp life and lonesome yearnings for home will be read to musical accompaniment at the Historical Society of the Town of Middletown (HSM) Thursday evening, Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m..

“Letters Home,” will feature excerpts of letters written by and to seven Middletown area soldiers. They will be read by Open Eye Theater players, interspersed with Civil War tunes performed by the Delaware Dulcimores at the HSM hall, 778 Cemetery Rd., Margaretville. Admission is $4 ($2 for HSM members).

The program complements HSM’s summer exhibit, “Middletown in the Civil War,” which is on view every Saturday from 11 to 2 through Labor Day.

The letters offer an intimate glimpse into the hearts and minds of local farmers turned soldiers. Sometimes angry, occasionally funny, always homesick, they are all the more poignant with the knowledge that five of the seven writers did not return to their families who lovingly copied and preserved these cherished letters for 150 years.

The soldiers were Abram Delameter of Millbrook, Daniel W. Gavette of Arena, Edward Easton of New Kingston, Marcus Marks of Millbrook, Cyrus Hasbrouck of Ulster County, and James and Thomas Elliott of New Kingston. All but Delameter and Easton died far from home.

Open Eye Theater performers who will read excerpts from their letters include Mark Gunst, Bill Tari, Cedric Taylor, Alice Zigelis, Wilma Mazo, Marcy Thorn, Laura Battelani and Pat Brannen. Open Eye Artistic Director Amie Brockway will direct the dramatic reading.

The program will open with a half hour of period music performed by the Delaware Dulcimores, who will also play between readings.

The Dulcimores are area musicians with a passion for Civil War era history and music. Coordinated by Terry Gemmel on hammered dulcimer, the performers play banjo, flute, violin, accordion, cello, guitar and harp. They include Chris Carey, Doris Carman, Shirley Tripp, Cynthia Waterman, Julian Wilcox, Sheila Addison, Jerid Goss, Amy Lieberman and Sally Scrimshaw.

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