GROTON — In 2005, one of Groton’s major 350th anniversary events put on by the 350th celebration committee was the Civil War re-enactment held at Hillbrook Orchard in July. The event was well received with almost 300 re-enactors from around New England and thousands of visitors attending.
Due to the success of the first event, and at the urging of the re-enactment units who participated and townspeople who attended, the Groton Historical Society is sponsoring a Civil War Re-enactment & Living History Weekend at Hillbrook Orchard on Old Ayer Road, Groton, on July 13-15.
In addition to daily battle sequences held on the spectacular site of Hillbrook Orchard’s hillside, Groton’s 2007 Civil War Re-enactment will include military and civilian activities, demonstrations and living histories each day.
A special focus at the field will be the presence of Lt. General Ulysses S. Grant, General Robert E. Lee, Dr. Samuel Green, Captain Moses Palmer, Governor George S. Boutwell, a resident of Groton and Governor of Massachusetts from 1851-52, and his wife, Sarah, and representatives of the Women’s Sanitary Commission, a forerunner organization to the Red Cross.
Additional living histories focused on Post-Civil War events and issues in Groton (including a visit from President Grant) will go on in town at the Groton Historical Society, throughout the weekend, as well.
The weekend activities will begin on Friday with a fireworks display and concert sponsored by the Groton Parks Department at the Town Field behind the Groton Public Library. The encampment will include separate Union and Confederate camps, as well as a Civilian camp. The camps will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, 2007, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 15.
Spectators will also be welcome to participate in the dance on Saturday night, period dress encouraged, though not required. Please refer to the most up to date re-enactment schedule available at Hillbrook Orchard the weekend of the event or online, for a full listing of special events, times and locations.
Spectator admission and parking are free. Voluntary donations to help offset the cost of the event will be gratefully accepted.
Planned Activities: Please refer to detailed schedule of events.
Saturday — Camps open at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the Groton Historical Society is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Military Drills; Artillery, cavalry, infantry, civilian, and medical demonstrations; Living histories; Afternoon battle; Trip to Groton Cemetery to visit Civil War veteran gravesites; Period dance featuring Camp Lincoln String Band open to re-enactors and spectators (period costumes strongly encouraged, but not required).
Sunday — Camps open at 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the Groton Historical Society open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Field church service; Dress Parade; Artillery, cavalry, infantry, civilian activities, demonstrations and living histories; Afternoon battle; Closing ceremonies.
Hillbrook Orchard, located at 170 Old Ayer Rd. in Groton, is just a short distance from downtown Groton. Road signs will be posted to direct visitors to the area. However, please note: during the daytime, only handicapped parking and bicycles will be allowed at the encampment site itself; parking will also be restricted along Old Ayer Rd. People interested in attending the dance will be allowed to park at Hillbrook in the evening.
During the day, spectators will be asked to park near the Groton School and along Main Street and surrounding roads and parking lots, not marked with temporary No Parking signs. Recommended lots will be marked with road signs. Lawrence Academy Blue Buses will loop regularly between Farmers Row, downtown locations, parking lots and the orchard to transport visitors to the campsite area. Regular stops include Lawrence Academy, Town Hall/Groton Historical Society and Prescott School on Main Street.
The encampment is easily accessible from the Rail Trail, and walkers and bicyclists are strongly encouraged. Signs will lead visitors from the Rail Trail to the Temple Drive access point and over to the encampment. Bicycles may be placed on the left along the brook as you come into the Hillbrook site. Groton School is also providing to areas for parking located at the corner of Farmers Row and Peabody Street, which is about a half-mile walk to the site.
Children and Pets
Parents and/or those that have children/minors accompanying them assume full responsibility for their actions, care and well-being.
No pets of any kind will be allowed at the event. For the safety of all, please leave your pets at home.
An up-to-date schedule of activities will be available at the information table as you come into the encampment site. Be sure to note all living history scenarios, demonstrations and activities. Make sure to pick up a copy of the commemorative newspaper The Hillbrook Orchard Times, to learn more about the Civil War era and the units, events, and people who are showcased during the weekend.
Plan to spend several hours. Take time to visit the camps and speak with Re-enactors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as the Re-enactors welcome the opportunity to teach and demonstrate their impression as a soldier or civilian during the Civil War. Make sure to include a visit to the Groton Historical Society located at 172 Main St. as part of your visit, as there is special living history going on there as well.
During the Battle
The battle will take place on the hillside adjacent to the campsite. Please be considerate of other spectators. Stay within the designated areas and DO NOT go on to the battlefield once the battle has started. If you have small children, try to position yourselves further away from the cannons, as the loud blast can be very frightening. Don’t forget to bring your camera and be considerate of others trying to take pictures.
Food and Beverage
Food and beverage will be available for purchase on site, as well as from downtown businesses. Please use receptacles provided for trash disposal.
* Period related supplies and goods can be purchased from a variety of Sutlers (Civil War Merchants) in the Civilian Camp.
The Civil War period remains a source of intense worldwide historical interest. The 2005 Re-enactment was tremendously popular and well attended. Visitors to Groton’s second Civil War Living History and Re-enactment weekend are guaranteed to come away with a better understanding of what life was like for soldiers as well as civilians during this time period and how the war affected Groton, and other towns like it, even though the battles were fought far from home. It will be a weekend designed for families of all ages.