Local historians and community leaders of Decatur are pleased to announce events and activities for the city’s commemoration of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial. Six days of events beginning October 24, 2104, are planned to commemorate the four-day battle, which took place in October 1864 in Decatur. The living history event will tell the story of Decatur’s small, but significant role in the War Between the States through fun, interactive activities in and around downtown Decatur including walking tours, daily living demonstrations and encampments, movies, period entertainment, and more.
Thunder in the Valley kicks off on Friday, October 24th with a ribbon cutting and grand opening of a new permanent exhibit on the Civil War at the Morgan County Archives (located at 681 Bank Street). The exhibit is the culmination of three years work researching Morgan County’s role in the Civil War. The exhibit includes photos and artifacts never before seen in public.
On Saturday, October 25th, the celebration gets underway at 9 a.m. with an encampment on the grounds of the Dancy-Polk House until 4 p.m. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., living historians will offer tours of the Dancy-Polk House, Old State Bank, Morgan County Archives, grounds of the Burleson House, and The Blue and Gray: North Alabama Civil War Museum (admission charged). Free guided walking tours of the Civil War Walking Trail will be offered at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. All tours begin and end at the Old State Bank. Festival goers will also want to hang around for a free movie at 6 p.m. “Red Badge of Courage” will be shown at the Daikin Amphitheater located in Founder’s Park in downtown Decatur.
On Sunday, October 26th, a free community period church service will be held at the Daikin Amphitheater beginning at 8 a.m.
The Madison Community Band will perform a free Civil War music concert at 6 p.m. on Monday, October 27th followed by “Meeting at Appomattox”, an original play by Chuck Puckett to be performed at the Daikin Amphitheater.
The public is invited to the 14th United States Colored Infantry reception at Rhodes Ferry Park on Tuesday, October 28th at 11:45 a.m. Special guests are descendants of the 14th USCT. At 6 p.m., there will be a reception for the 14th United States Colored Troop Guests at the Princess Theatre. Guest speaker is Asa Gordon, author and United States Colored Troop descendant. The evening concludes with a free showing of “Glory” at the Princess Theatre.
The six-day commemoration culminates with a special lunch-and-learn presentation on “How Black Civil War Veterans Reconstructed the Union and Established Democracy in America” by Asa Gordon on Wednesday, October 29th at the Turner-Surles Senior Resource Center. The hour-long presentation gets underway at noon and attendees are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. Doors will open early for a meet-and-greet or attendees may remain after the presentation to talk one-on-one with Gordon.
Thunder in the Valley commemorates the historic battle event that took place 150 years ago on the east side of Decatur near the Old State Bank. The City of Decatur was an important transportation site for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War due to the Memphis and Charleston’s railroad bridge crossing the Tennessee River. During the 1864 battle at Decatur, Confederate General Hood attempted to break Union supply lines at the crucial railroad crossing at Decatur. He was not successful and had to cross the river at Florence.
For more information on Thunder in the Valley, visit www.civilwardecatur.com.