Re-enactors bring Contraband Camp story to life
CORINTH — A different mix of Civil War re-enactors will present two days of Corinth Civil War history this week during the Corinth Contraband Camp Symposium on Thursday evening and Friday.
The National Park Service, in conjunction with the Ulysses S. Grant Association and the Mississippi State University U.S. Grant Presidential Library, will offer programs and discussions with actors portraying President Abraham Lincoln, escaped slave and abolition activist Frederick Douglass and Union General Ulysses S. Grant. Corinth Contraband Camp and Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center are units of Shiloh National Military Park.
Some individuals from the Corinth community who portrayed roles in the orientation film at the interpretive center also will don their re-enactment attire for a Friday morning tour at the contraband camp.
The three re-enactors – George Buss as Lincoln, Dr. Curt Fields as Grant and Michael Crutcher as Douglass – will participate in a Thursday evening public event as well as a Friday afternoon panel discussion with M. Scott Morris of the Daily Journal as moderator.
The event was originally planned for last year, the 150th anniversary of the Corinth Contraband Camp, said supervising Ranger Ashley Berry, who administers the interpretive center and contraband camp. However, the 2013 federal government sequestration delayed the event.
During the Federal army’s occupation after the Battle of Corinth in October 1862, many slaves escaped to find safety behind Union lines. The National Park Service recounts the camp’s history as follows:
“The Corinth Contraband Camp was established by Union General Grenville M. Dodge to accommodate these refugees, and the camp featured numerous homes, a church, school and hospital. The freedmen cultivated and sold cotton and vegetables in a progressive cooperative farm program.
“By May 1863, the camp was making a clear profit of $4,000 to $5,000 from it enterprises. It became a model camp and allowed for approximately 6,000 ex-slaves to establish their own individual identities.”