Civil War Voices brings true stories to the stage

Hearing Voices


On April 8, the Memminger Auditorium will host Barter Theatre’s production of their musical Civil War Voices, which tells the true stories of five individuals, including a pair of separated lovers, a freed slave employed by Mary Todd Lincoln, and a Northern teacher who decides to fight for his country. The show, written by James R. Harris and featuring musical arrangements by Mark Hayes, chronicles the effect that the war had on their lives.

Virginia-based Barter Theatre first staged Civil War Voices in March and they have been touring the show since then. “I have tried to capture the real people, the real songs, and ultimately the real heart of a country divided,” Harris says in a press release. “These are stories you will not find in history books.” Harris started working on the project when he found a diary from his great-great uncle, who wrote about the war.

The play takes an even look at both sides of the historic conflict, and Hayes has taken notable hymns and patriotic songs and given them new arrangements to serve the storytelling of the piece. Audiences can look forward to renditions of “Amazing Grace,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Dixie.” —Michael Smallwood

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We need to remember and learn from the Civil War, not celebrate it

Daniel L. Gidick

Sectional pressure and the unresolved issue of slavery had existed even before the construction of Fort Sumter had begun in the 1820s. A growing sense of identity to a certain section of the nation, a commitment to or defense of differing economic systems, an abhorrence or devotion to slavery, the question of expanding slavery westward, the position of state versus federal authority, the eloquent debates and fiery rhetoric expressed upon the floor of the United States Congress, the effusion of blood in Kansas, the beating of a United States senator by a South Carolina congressman, and John Brown’s failed attempt to instigate a servile insurrection escalated the tensions in the United States just as Fort Sumter was constructed, brick by brick, and slowly rose some 60 feet above Charleston Harbor.


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