Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spread the Word

As regular Gossips readers know, this year marks the sesquicentennial of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Happening less than two weeks after the fall of Richmond and less than a week after General Robert E. Lee's surrender, the first presidential assassination plunged the country into mourning and gloom, fear and desolation.
For people who lived along its route, the train bearing the body of the slain president was the focal point for demonstrations of mourning. The citizens of Hudson went all out in their preparations for the funeral train, which traveled the New York-to-Albany leg of the journey on April 25, even though they must have known the train would only stop here for a few minutes. What transpired on that night was recorded by Assistant Adjutant General Edward Davis Townsend, the commander of the funeral train:
At Hudson . . . elaborate preparations had been made. Beneath an arch hung with black and white drapery and evergreen wreaths, was a tableau representing a coffin resting upon a dais; a female figure in white, mourning over the coffin; a soldier standing at one end and a sailor at the other. While a band of young women dressed in white sang a dirge, two others in black entered the funeral-car, placed a floral device on the President’s coffin, then knelt for a moment of silence, and quietly withdrew. This whole scene was one of the most weird ever witnessed, its solemnity being intensified by the somber light of the torches at that dead hour of night.
On Saturday, April 25, at the very time that the funeral train arrived in Hudson 150 years ago, the scene described by Townsend will be re-created. Playing a major role in the commemorative event is the "band of young women dressed in white." On Saturday, March 7, Mary Deyerle Hack, of Diamond Opera Theater, who will be rehearsing and conducting the choir of female voices, is holding auditions to find 35 female singers, to represent the 35 states in the Union in 1865, to make up the band.

All those who are part of the band get to wear, for the re-creation, this fabulous costume, inspired by period engravings and designed by Stephanie Monseu of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus.


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