Tag Archives: Elmira

Book Features Confederates at Elmira Prison Camp


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Michel Fortlouis, a young Confederate soldier, weary of war, was captured by Union troops at Clinton, Louisiana, thirty miles from his home of New Roads. It was August 1864, in the last year of the Civil War. Corporal Fortlouis was shipped north to the Union Prison Camp at Elmira, New York, where he died of pneumonia within ten days of his arrival. More than 12,000 young Southern men passed through the camp. Many suffered the harsh winter. Nearly 3,000 died.

In their Honor – Soldiers of the Confederacy – The Elmira Prison Camp (2009, New York History Review) remembers these men and boys, and tells their stories. Research by author Diane Janowski, who lives in Elmira, brings an  awareness of the soldiers’ relationships – brothers, fathers and sons, cousins and friends. Descendants of the soldiers have contributed harrowing stories of survival or despair. They were captured together. Some made it home.

“This is a different kind of book about the Elmira Prison Camp,” Janowski says. “Many writers and scholars in recent years have done a fine job researching and publishing information about the prison camp’s horrors. I decided to ask the families of some of the prisoners. With 21st century technology I found some families that were willing to talk about this difficult subject.”

The book is not about war strategy, nor conditions inside the camp, the first 40 pages or so offers personal accounts of how the men and boys ended up in Elmira. The rest of In their Honor’s 218 pages  includes photos and diagrams of the camp and a complete revised list of the Confederate dead at Woodlawn National Cemetery.

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Chemung County Celebrates Mark Twain in 2010


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The year 2010 will mark the 175th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), the Centennial of his death, and the 125th anniversary of the release of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Elmira, New York, also known as Mark Twain Country, will be celebrating his life with a year of Twain themed events and special promotions. During this celebration year of Twain, one thousand copies of Twain’s iconic American novel will be distributed, courtesy of the Community Foundation.

The following events will take place from April 21, the death date, through April 24, the day he was laid to rest at Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery:

* Wednesday, April 21, (Death Centennial) Hal Holbrook to perform his Emmy & Tony award-winning performance of Mark Twain Tonight at Clemens Center for the Performing Arts.

* Saturday, April 24, Re-enactment of Twain’s gravesite service and burial at Woodlawn Cemetery. The event will use details provided by articles from the New York Post and New York Times along with other historical sources, and will include a horse drawn carriage transporting the casket.

* Wednesday, April 21 – Saturday, April 24, Trolley into Twain Country Tours Centennial Excursions, One hour guided tours that will include a stop to go inside the Mark Twain Study (where Twain penned such classics as Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while summering in Elmira with his in-laws for 22 years) and the Clemens family burial site at Woodlawn Cemetery.

* Wednesday, April 21 – Friday, April 23, Dine like Twain dinners to be offered at Hill Top Restaurant. Feast on Twain’s favorite foods while overlooking the exact same view of the Chemung River Valley that inspired him while writing his classics.

* April 22 & 24, Twain Notes, A theatrical reading of the personal correspondence of Samuel Clemens and those closest to him. Held at The Park Church, of which Twain was a member.

* Saturday April 24, Tom Sawyer & Becky Thatcher Day at Harris Hill, Harris Hill, the Soaring Capital of America, welcomes Twain enthusiasts to take a glider ride over Mark Twain Country and view the Twain Exhibit at the National Soaring Museum, or join in a Tom Sawyer & Becky Thatcher in a game of putt-putt at Harris Hill Amusement Park.

Other events during in Mark Twain Country during 2010 include scenic glider, vintage plane and helicopter rides over the spectacular views that inspired the author; the dedication of a Twain hiking trail overlooking the Chemung River and complete with Twain quotes; Trolley into Twain Country Tours throughout July and August, the release of a commemorative Twain-labeled Riesling from award-winning Glenora Wine Cellars, and more. Visitors are also encouraged to pay their respects to this American Classic at Woodlawn Cemetery, enjoy a tour of the Mark Twain Study, or visit the permanent display a the Chemung Valley History Museum. A complete calendar of events can be found at www.MarkTwainCountry.com//Twain2010.asp.

For more details on this event or Twain-themed events throughout the year, visit www.MarkTwainCountry.com or contact Cynthia Raj at the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce at cynthia@chemungchamber.org or 800.627.5892.

Illustration: Commemorative Mark Twain poster designed by Finger Lakes artist Brandi Smith.