To commemorate of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, a stage production will take its audience back 150 years, where the setting will be in Garner.
Union troops invaded Raleigh April 12, 1865, and had fights in Garner. Raleigh surrendered the next day and worked out a deal to avoid having the town burned down like previous towns the Union captured.
Most of the battles that happened in Garner were skirmishes, playwright Tim Stevens said.
“But people got killed,” he said.
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Not to mention, they were out numbered. North Carolina was a Confederate state after they succeeded from the Union. The population of Raleigh at the time was about 7,000.
Led by Gen. William Sherman, a group of Union troops traveled through the south picking up areas along the way. When they got to North Carolina they had 89,000 men in their army. Sherman split the army in three pieces.
“One comes around a little north like on 64. Another comes down old highway 70 through Garner and he sends his cavalry around to the left, trying to sneak in behind Wade Hampton’s cavalry,” Stevens explained. “The group that was coming into the back, they got to Swift Creek and that’s where they met the first Confederate forces and they fought all the way to the railroad tracks (in Garner).”
The play is a musical, and it was written from diaries and first-person accounts of what happened on that day. Stevens said he’s read about 26 books and spent hundreds of hours on Internet research to find out as much as he could about the Civil War in Garner.
“It’s kind of an untold story and I just want people to know what happened here,” Stevens said. “I knew there was some history in Garner, and if you’re talking about things that are really significant on a national level, this is probably the biggest thing that happened in Garner.”
The play has 13 characters. Among the actors and singers are Eddie Gray and the Hall sisters.
“Mr. Stevens approached me back in August I think and it was such a neat idea to talk about how the Civil War affected here,” Jessica Hall, the oldest of the Hall Sisters, said. “When you think of the Civil War you think of it as a national thing. I never really thought of it as a local thing.”
The Hall sisters are known for their singing in Garner. Jessica Hall said this will be her first play in a while.
“This is actually my first play since I was in school,” Hall, who is now 20, said. “I haven't been in a play since I was 11 so this will be a new fun experience.”
The play will be performed April 3 and tickets go on sale Thursday. Stevens said he was excited to teach the town a little history and put on a good play.
“I’ve done a lot of plays. I’ve sold some plays,” Stevens said. “I think we’ve done plays in eight states, but this is the first one we’ve done this big.”