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Straight from his victory at Appomattox: Ulysses Grant

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GROTON — The MacNeil Lounge at Lawrence Academy will host a special living history presentation with a visit by Ulysses S. Grant.

The Groton Historical Society is hosting this live performance by renowned Civil War re-enactor John Balco on Tuesday, July 10, at 7 p.m.

Balco began as a Civil War re-enactor while living in Virginia as a member of Company E of the 33rd Virginia, “Stonewall” Jackson’s brigade.

Upon returning to Massachusetts and, as he admits, “seeing the light,” he switched sides and joined the 28th Massachusetts, the so-called Irish Brigade. While visiting an exhibit of Winslow Homer’s Civil War paintings in Portland, Balco was standing next to a statue of Ulysses S. Grant when his wife observed the close resemblance. Encouraged by other re-enactors, he began to develop a Grant persona.

Balco observes that “dates and facts are easy to find, but the most difficult challenge for a ‘first-person’ re-enactor is to understand the person himself or herself.” It took about two years of study and practice for him to become comfortable with Grant, the man. Since then Balco has performed as U.S. Grant before many historical societies, school groups, and other venues.

Balco will also be portraying a somewhat older President Grant during the upcoming Civil War re-enactment weekend in Groton, July 14-15.

Balco is a member of the Society of Europe, an association of re-enactors that focuses on the international aspects of the Civil War, and is past president of the Civil War Roundtable of Central Massachusetts. He is currently pursing an master’s degree in history at Fitchburg State College.

This program is free to the public and is made available by a grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trusts Lecture Fund.

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