With the 150th anniversary of the town’s Civil War skirmish approaching, Morrisville officials are making plans to commemorate the event.
The Battle at Morrisville Station was fought April 13, 1865, over control of the town’s railroad.
The town will likely hold its celebration this spring on April 19, a Saturday, to allow for the biggest possible turnout, town officials said.
Plans for the commemoration haven’t been finalized. Organizers are working with local historian Ernest Dollar to come up with activities, including reenactors, lecturers and a display on the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
Mayor Mark Stolhman shot down other ideas, including a bounce house and rock climbing wall, at one recent meeting.
“I just want to be sensitive to the true history here and not make it too much,” he said. “I want people to attend and have fun and understand what happened. And I think we can do that without selling ourselves short.”
Instead, the anniversary may have 19th-century music, games and dance lessons to give an idea of what civilian life was like at the time.
The Battle of Morrisville was one of the last official engagements of the war, waged between forces under Union General William T. Sherman and Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.
The day after the battle, Johnston began negotiating surrender with Union officers camped out in Morrisville. He officially surrendered in late April at Bennett’s Place, near Durham.
It was the largest surrender of the war, with nearly 90,000 Southern troops removed from the field. The Civil War was declared officially over a few weeks later, on May 9, 1865.
The battle site has been threatened in recent years by development, although there is a historical display at Town Hall, complete with bullets and other finds from the battlefield.
“This is a very different community than the small crossroads community back then,” said Ben Hitchings, Morrisville’s planning director, at a recent meeting. “But we’ve had our own little slice of history.”