Civil War Experience In Sandwich

On the morning of May 18, 1861, in front of Sandwich Town Hall, Major Sylvanus Phinney presented Captain Charles Chipman of Company D, 29th Massachusetts, with a blue flag that read “The Right Arm of Old Massachusetts. God Speed the Right.”

In the flag’s center was an image of a raised arm holding a sword. 

The arm represented the Cape as Massachusetts’s right arm. 

Shortly after the ceremony, Chipman’s unit left Sandwich for Boston and became the first military unit from Cape Cod to fight on the front lines of the Civil War.

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By the end of the war, Sandwich had lost 54 men. By the time President Ulysses S. Grant visited Barnstable in 1876, only fragments of the banner remained.

As part of the Sandwich 375 celebration, that flag they received has been reproduced by William Diedering III and will once again be presented to Captain Chipman (as portrayed by Michael Welch) by Major Phinney (Robert F. Sennott Jr.) in front of town hall on Saturday, July 19. It is a day that will celebrate the 1800s.

Starting at 10 AM, about 46 reenactors will begin the parade from the Henry T. Wing School (which will be renamed Camp Chipman for the day) to the town hall where the Cape Cod Chorale will be singing Civil War-era songs.

Following the flag ceremony, special attention will be given to those soldiers who were killed in the war by means of a bell-ringing ceremony.

According to the director of Sandwich 375 and chairman of Bringing Alive Sandwich History (BASH) William F. Daley, many people are unaware of the significant role Sandwich played in the Civil War.

“If you look at our history, Sandwich was actually the first town on the Cape to send soldiers,” he said. “Sandwich had the most soldiers sign up for the war.”

The reenactors will consist of the Sandwich Guard, the 3rd Massachusetts Light Artillery Battery C, and the US Sanitary Commission. After the town hall ceremony, they will make their way back to Camp Chipman, where Mr. Daley said there will be military drills and demonstrations as well as cannon demonstrations from the 3rd Massachusetts Light Artillery. These activities will be ongoing throughout the day.

In the afternoon, there will be an old time “town ball” game between the Mudville Base Ball Club and the Hingham Coopers. Town ball is a game similar to baseball in that it had varying rules depending on the region the game was played in. According to the Mudville Base Ball Club website, the team generally plays using the Massachusetts rules of 1858.

“They’ll be playing the game the way it was played in the 1860s,” Mr. Daley said. “There will be two teams, no gloves, and authentic uniforms.”

Since a lot of the members of the Sandwich 375 Committee are also members of the Sandwich Historical Commission, a lot of planning and research went into providing historically accurate presentations throughout the day. Maj. Phinney was the owner of the Barnstable Patriot and is being portrayed by Mr. Sennott who is the former owner of the paper and he will be giving the same five-minute address that Maj. Phinney gave at the town hall ceremony in 1861.

Dr. Jonathan Leonard III swore the Sandwich Guard into their three years of military service. He will be portrayed by Jonathan Leonard VI.

A carriage drawn by white horses will be providing rides around town, a 19th-century quilt exhibit will display authentic quilts from the period, a tour of the Grove Street Burial Grounds will be given, and a contra dance will be held in the evening at town hall and will feature musicians and a caller.

The quilt exhibit will be held in Sandwich Town Hall auditorium from noon to 4 PM and will feature the Sandwich Historical Quilt, as well as a quilt made from wedding dresses of Quaker women from Sandwich. The exhibit will also include a working demonstration of quilting techniques. Violin and piano music from the 19th century will be performed by Kristin and Brendan McGillicuddy and there will be light refreshments.

All of the events and rides will be free to the public. 

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