Civil War Santa first became popular when he was depicted in a cartoon by Thomas Nast in 1863. The cartoon was done at a time when the nation faced internal difficulties and struggled with war. In fact, during the Civil War, Santa Clause was an abolitionist. The fat, jolly old man who was seen in Nast’s cartoon giving out gifts to children back then, comes to life at several venues this year. Many will feature famed re-enactor Kevin Rawlings. Here is a preview of Civil War Santa at Surratt House Museum as well as other places the yuletide figure may be seen during this holiday season.
Surratts House Museum
9118 Brandywine Road
Clinton, MD 20735
Hours: noon to 4 p.m.
Price: $3 adults/$2 senior citizens/$1 children 5 to 18/free ages 4 and younger
The Surratts House was built in 1852 and has a historical connection to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Enjoy the 20-years-running, one-man show “Legend of Civil War Santa” by actor Kevin Rawlings. Civil War Santa will meet and greet children and share exciting stories with them. The one-man show will include tales that children should enjoy, including when and where Santa Claus was born. Visitors should also expect to learn a lot more about those famous reindeer and how they got their very unique names. Families may take a tour of the historic house and learn more about its fabled history as well. For parking, follow the fence line to the visitors parking lot.
Fort Ward Museum
4301 W. Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
Hours: Dec 8 – noon to 4 p.m.
Price: $2 for adults/$1 for children (suggested donation)
Enjoy this family oriented holiday event that takes a look at how Christmas was celebrated as the Civil War raged in the country. Don’t miss the living-history interpreters, a Christmas tree fashioned after the era, and enjoy music that fits the period. A very patriotic Civil War Santa Claus will be on hand for children. Light refreshments and a reading of the famous “The Night Before Christmas” will also be part of the festivities. There will also be opportunities to take advantage of a guided tour of the fort.
Lord Nelson’s Gallery
27 Chambersburg St.
Gettysburg, PA 17325
Hours: Dec 7 – 5 to 8 p.m.
A short drive to Gettysburg, Pa. will bring the look and feel of the Civil War to life. Re-enactor Kevin Rawlings will take his role as Civil War Santa on the road. The activity promises to be fun for all ages. Rawlings will also sign his book, “We Were Marching on Christmas Day: A History and Chronicle of Christmas during the Civil War” for true Civil War-era aficionados to take home.
half mile south of the Wilderness Intersection at routes 3 and 20
Locust Grove, VA 22508
Hours: Dec. 15 – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The historic manor area is about an hour’s drive from Washington, D.C. Ellwood was built in the 1790s by William Jones and remains a working farm. As part of the National Park Service property, it is located at Chancellorsville Battlefield. Visitors here actually see the living history of the Civil War. Families may also enjoy the holiday decorations and visit with Civil War Santa.
Leesylvania State Park
2001 Daniel K. Ludwig Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22191
Hours: Dec 17 to 18 – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Price: $2 per person/$6 per family/additional fee for parking
Leesylvania is celebrating its 20th year of operation. This holiday-themed event shares the living history of the yuletide during the Civil War. The park will be filled with the sounds of period music, and refreshments will be served for the whole family to enjoy. A Civil War Santa will be on hand to join in the holiday fun, so don’t forget the cameras.
Related: Christmas in Camp Open House