Video Feature: Civil War Celebration Features Food, Carols and Reflection

In 1861, Christmas in Clarke County, Virginia was overshadowed by an increasingly bloody and bitter struggle that would come to be known as the American Civil War. On Saturday evening, over 75 people gathered to celebrate the joy of the holiday season and to remember a conflict that freed over four million enslaved Americans and continues to affect Clarke County even today.

Cheryl Ash provided Civil War style food prepared from authentic recipes including "hoe cakes", corn meal cakes that were baked by slaves on hoes held over an open fire - Photo Edward Leonard

“The American Civil War: A Community at the Crossroads,” written and produced by Clarke County resident Jesse Russell,  is the first in a series of County events planned to coincide with a four-year long sesquicentennial recognition of the War-Between-the-States being sponsored state-wide by the Commonwealth of Virginia.


Last night’s event included music, dramatic reading, Civil War artifacts and period food.

View video of the event here:

Michael Buckner – “The Agony of Secession” – watch?v=YyNRJMd8Pwg

Clifford Reynolds – “Sixty Two Clarke County Soldiers” – watch?v=MNl9QbrMLHw

Gary McGraw and Jim Buckner – “Ashokan Farewell” – watch?v=0w93n0Diy40

Adeela Al-Khalili – “Heart and Soul – The story of African Americans and America” – watch?v=wZtiw1rissA

Zion Baptist Sanctuary Choir – “Jesus, the Light of the World” – watch?v=ADj0EIgzQTw

Clarke County, Virginia – “Joy to the World” – watch?v=XH4aWy8E9uc


Civil War display assembled by Jesse Russell featured artifacts loaned by Holy Cross Abbey, the site of the Battle of Cool Spring, and family items owned by Russell's ancestors who fought in the Civil War - Photo Edward Leonard


  1. Jesse Russell says:

    Thanks to all the people that helped with this. Just too many of them to list but I don’t think there was one facet of the community that didn’t get involved in some way or the other. It was fun!
    Jesse Russell

  2. Dang…wish I had’nt missed this event! Looks like it was fun. Would have put some of my Civil War collection on display as well!

  3. It was a wonderful thought reflecting community event. My grandfather, Robert Henry Renshaw, Jr. grew up in Clarke County and lived from 1886-1973. Grandaddy Renshaw heard a lot about the “War Between The States”. His father, Robert Henry Renshaw, faught in the Battle of Hanover Court House. His mother, Ann Carter Wickham, grew up at Hickory Hill near Ashland, Virginia. Ann’s father was Confederate Brigadier General, Williams Carter Wickham. He had been a delegate to the Seccession Convention in Richmond and voted to stay in the Union. Williams Carter Wickham had family and relatives in Connecticut and eastern Long Island. Jesse Russell told us that the Clarke County representative voted twice to stay in the Union. Many people had conflicted loyalties during the American Civil War. I appreciate Adeela sharing tthe story about African Americans. The horror and injustice of slavery was made very clear. As we investigate history as detectiive, we learn many narratives and different perspectives.