The 150th commemoration of the end of the Civil War will happen on April 12, 2015, and the Wild Rose Kiwanis Club has planned a stellar, one-of-a-kind event with a performance by the 1st Brigade Band, which is comprised of 35 brass and percussion musicians who will perform on stage at the Wild Rose High School Auditorium at 2:00 pm on the exact date of the Stacking of Arms at Appomattox Court House.
Visitors will also be treated to a special performance by Max and Donna Daniels, the nation’s finest Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln re-enactors. The entire band, plus additional vocalists and narrators will be dressed in full period costumes.
The 1st Brigade band is modeled after a band formed in Southern Wisconsin as part of a Volunteer Infantry. In 1864, a group of 18 young men from the Brodhead Brass Band enlisted in the Union Army as the band of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 15th Army Corps. The Brodhead Band had earlier played at the famed 1858 debate on slavery between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in Freeport, Illinois.
The enlisted members of the band left their rural Wisconsin homes to participate, under the command of General William T. Sherman, in the campaigns of Northern Georgia and the Carolinas. The musicians played marches and various pieces known as “quick steps” to move soldiers forward. They serenaded at campfires and performed at ceremonies and worship services.
At the end of the war, the original 1st Brigade band was invited to play at the Galena, Ill., Homecoming for General Ulysses S. Grant. They also performed at the Grand Review in Washington D.C., where they received praise as excellent musicians and gentlemen. The tradition of excellence that these men established 150 years ago lives on today with the members of Wisconsin’s 1st Brigade Band.
The band makes history come to life by presenting period brass band music, performed on antique instruments. Attired in uniforms and gowns, the Band’s musicians, color guard and costumed ladies take you back to the turbulent era of the Civil War. A nostalgic portrayal of the atmosphere of days gone by is generated by a unique form of showmanship that blends the sights and sounds of the period with historical anecdotes.
More than 80 volunteers make up the 1st Brigade Band. Widely varied in age and occupation, these men and women come from many communities, bringing with them a common interest in our musical heritage. While the abundant written and pictorial materials remain, the mellow sounds of the brass bands of the Civil War days were lost until the 1st Brigade Band, starting in 1964, began to locate and restore the dented and broken instruments and to retrieve and reconstruct the yellowed and torn music. Through their work, you will hear what Presidents Lincoln and Davis, Generals Lee and Grant experienced.
Tickets are available at Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose, Waushara Argus in Wautoma, and Office Outfitters in Waupaca, or they can be ordered by phoning 920-622-3088.