Roger Mudd keynotes McLean/Great Falls 150th Civil War Commemoration

Former newsman Roger Mudd to speak on October 22nd commemoration of the Civil War in McLean, Va.

VIENNA, Va., October 19, 2011  — McLean and Great Falls, Va. join together in a Sesquicentennial Civil War commemoration this Saturday, October 22, with an all-day event at the McLean Community Center at 1234 Ingleside Drive in McLean. McLean resident and Civil War buff Roger Mudd as the Honorary Chairman and Keynoter will speak around 11:15 a.m.

Mudd, an Emmy-award winning newsman who has worked with both CBS and NBC, brings a unique perspective to the Civil War commemoration: he is distantly related to Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who treated John Wilkes Booth when he fled after his assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

According to Paul Kohlenberger of the Event’s Planning Committee, a full program is slated from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as “McLean Remembers the Civil War.”

Former newsman Roger Mudd

Experts with Unique Stories: Interesting highlights include a talk by Event Chairwoman Carole Herrick at 12:30 on “The Sleeping Sentinel,” relating the story of a Vermont soldier stationed at Fort Marcy who received a death sentence for sleeping on duty. President Lincoln later commuted the sentence for the young guard.

This will be followed by a talk by Joe Stahl on the history of Fort Marcy, best known as the site where Vince Foster, White House Counsel from President Clinton’s administration, was found dead, but which has a serious tie to the Civil War. 

Rose Powhatan is what Kohlenberger terms the “penultimate speaker,” an acclaimed artist, educator, and cultural specialist in Native American studies. She is descended from the Pamunkey Tribe on her mother’s side and the Tauxenent Tribe on her father’s. She will speak on the Native- and African-American experience in the region during the war years.

John Waggoner, financial investment columnist for USA TODAY, who studies history on the side, will speak on the Battle of Dranesville, which took place off Route 7. 

Brad Gernand, a historian from the Falls Church area, will give a talk on Professor Thaddeus Lowe and his innovative aerial reconnaissance balloons, which the Confederate army used to scout more easily the incoming combatants. 

Local historian and documentary filmmaker Chuck Mauro of Herndon will also speak, exploring the civilian experience in McLean and environs during the War.

Re-enactors Will Bring the Day to Life

There will be a variety of re-enactors portraying President and Mrs. Lincoln but with the caveat that Mary Lincoln was not in McLean during the war! The spy contingent will also be represented with Paula Johnson playing the part of Southern spy Belle Boyd and Donna Marie as Northern spy Mary Louise Bowser. General George McClellan (Roy Kennedy) and Col. John Singleton Mosby (Gary Carroll) will also be present.

The Fairfax Rifles re-enactor group will set up three tents outside between the Community Center and the Dolley Madison Library, forming a miniature military camp.

Outside in the courtyard, John Tole and Anne Howard of the musical group  “Evergreen Shade” will provide period music for the attendees. 

Inside the community center, the rooms are crammed with Civil War artifacts. The Steadman Room will have a Civil War Medical Unit provide by Patrick O’Neill on one side and a local gun collection on the other. In the Maffatt Room, Susan Kelly will portray “The Yankee Schoolmarm.” And a magnetic telegraph system will be set up as well.

Special Displays Include Maps and Bios

A panoply of displays will abound. Kohlenberger said he has set up various biographical ones as well as maps of battle encampment/fortifications, voting, and slaveholding. 

Some noteworthy McLean residents of the period will be shown in biographical displays, including Capt. Franklin Sherman (a Union soldier later active in promoting education), Capt. J.O. Berry (long time county surveyor), Capt. Mottrom Dulany Ball (organizer of the first Fairfax cavalry company, a lawyer and journalist in the post-war years), Capt. James W. Jackson (the first civilian casualty of the war), and numerous others. 

Native American Rose Powhatan

In the foyer visitors will find books and videos for sale. A set of books will be raffled off and a number of Confederate bills have been reprinted as souvenirs. “They are as they were – worthless,” laughed Kohlenberger. 

McLean and Great Falls have pulled out all the stops on this one, making for an interesting and educational weekend for the younger set as well.

Free parking will be at the Community Center and at Dolley Madison Library.

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Martha M. Boltz

Martha Boltz is a frequent contributor  to the long running Civil War features in The Washington Times America At War feature in the print and online editions. She has been a regular contributor to the original Civil War Page and its successor page since 1994, and is a civil war buff, historian, and writer. "Someone said that if we don't learn about the past, we are condemned to repeat it," she said, "and there are lessons of all sorts inherent in this bloody four-year period of our country's history."  She is a member of several heritage and lineage groups, as well as the Montgomery County Civil War Round Table. Her standing invitation is, "come on down - check the blog - send me your comments and let's have fun with its history and maybe learn something at the same time."


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