Christmas Program at Richland Church
Revisits Civil War Era

Reprinted by permission
Karen Young, Editor Twiggs Times New Era

The Christian message of a savior born along with a recognition of Southern heritage and family were all blended in a performance of celebration at “Keeping Christmas at Richland Church” this weekend in Twiggs County.
Songs, sung a-cappella or with light accompaniment with electronic harpsichord and harmonica at times, ranged from “When Johnny Comes March'in Home” and “Dixie” to Christmas standards from “Silent Night,” “O, Holy Night,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful” to “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”

May Faulk Spearman (left) and Candice Shugart pose in mid-1800s dress before
performing at the annual “Keeping Christmas at Richland” event.

Twiggs County native, Susan Burford, remembered those Confederate soldiers “buried in unknown places” and “others” who returned from the Civil War and back to the South beaten and torn.
Burford is also president of the non-profit Historic Richland League, which is designed to maintain the facility. Although the church no longer holds regular church services, it is open for special events, including weddings.
The service included music, readings, and commentary on the years before the war, during the war, and after the war. According to the performances, even Civil War soldiers in the midst of war tried to recognize and remember the Christmas message, with some decorating evergreen trees with whatever they had, while some others had perks such as being excused from military drills on Christmas Day – although they all “still had to forage for wood...not matter which day of the week it was”.
Some even sipped a coffee substitute brewed from corn, acorns and grits – and sometimes sweet potatoes, according to one reading. One Civil War soldier wrote home from Virginia on Christmas to his family “You have no idea how I feel...,” based on one reading. The Logan E. Bleckley Civil War 16th Georgia Re-enactment Unit also performed, at one point carrying a wooden coffin as a regiment through the church to recognize the many men who died during the Civil War.
“Keeping Christmas at Richland Church” performers also noted the passing of the 13th Amendment at the end of the war, which meant the abolishment of slavery.
In all the event was a nod to the season and to the family and other ties that bind.

(L-R) Chris Gustin, Jeff White, Bobby Duskin, Cody Duskin, Alan Richards and Charles Whitehead of the Logan E. Bleckley Georgia Reenactment Group in Cochran participated in the event
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