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"The Civil War"

"The Civil War" performers include, left to right, Roger Bush, Barbara Morris Full and Jim Full.

Three members of Parkersburg Actor’s Guild with Calhoun connections brought out the Calhoun Pride last weekend. Roger Bush, CCHS Class of 1969, Barbara Morris Full, Class of 1967, and her husband, Jim Full, were featured in the play, “The Civil War.” Roger was Capt. Emmet Lochran of the Union Army, Barbara was a wife and the angel, and Jim was Virgil Franklin, a Confederate. The three had several vocal numbers.

I had the feeling that the cast lived their parts, instead of just being good actors. Several of the performers played multiple roles, first appearing as Northerners and then coming back as supporters of the Southern cause. It showed the anguish of war, not only for the soldiers, but also for their families. The actors included Union and Confederate soldiers, slaves and civilians.

The play was based on letters, diaries and correspondence of Civil War soldiers and their families, as well as words and writings of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman.

An early scene shows young recruits from both the North and the South shouting war slogans and making fun of their opponents. They boast of their strength and are enthusiastic about the war, saying, “We’ll get home before the first snow.”

One particular scene that was heart breaking portrayed two sentinels. A Northern soldier is shot by a Rebel, and while the victim lay dying, he was heard to say, “Tell my father that his son didn’t run or surrender . . . he remained proud and true like he taught me.” The assailant realized it was his brother, and took him in his arms as he took his last breath.

The slaves are shown in a slave auction on a Savannah wharf. Their story tells of the ordeal of being sold as merchandise, separated from those they love, and of the terrible life they endured on the plantations. A man and a woman, sold on the auction block and soon to be separated, sing of their devotion to one another and their desperate longing for freedom

Pierce, a captain in the Confederate Army, sings of his homeland, “Virginia.” He dreams of the plantation of his youth and wonders if the way of life he has known has gone forever.

Captains of the opposing sides, Pierce and Lochran, confront their thoughts on the eve of battle. They each pray, asking for God’s mercy for sending men to their deaths in battle. As the sun rises, Lochran and Pierce think of all the letters they have written to mothers whose sons have died in battle and the faces of all the soldiers they have lost.

A nurse tells how she talked with a young soldier, sick with dysentery and typhoid fever, who asked her to read to him from the Bible. He told her that he did not fear death, and he dies as she tries to comfort him.

The exhausted soldiers wonder if the war they thought would be so easy to win will ever come to an end. They dream of home, knowing all the while they are likely never to return there.

Abraham Lincoln sits alone in the White House in the winter of 1862. Late into the night, he wrestles with his thoughts, as his wife shows concern that he will make the right decisions.

Another scene shows a Union officer and a Confederate sentinel. At first they insult each other, but soon they are talking of the similar situations: comparing bullet wounds and bad rations. They are talking simply as men, not as enemies, and realize that they could probably solve the problem in a short time if it was left to them. They both admit that they are really scared.

“The Civil War” will have two more performances, Friday, Apr. 25, and Saturday, Apr. 26. Performances are at 8 p.m. at the theater located at 724 Market St. For reservations, call 485-1300.

The play features a wide variety of music, some comedy, and the everyday feelings of ordinary people who were involved in the conflict. The directors, Charlie Matthews and Mike Dotson, have said that “The Civil War” will hopefully touch your soul and endure as a monumental celebration of sacrifice for the 620,000 who died.

This Week's Editorial:

By Helen Morris:

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