A Clinton librarian is organizing events to recognize the 150th anniversary of the Civil War this year.

Cheryl Dickey-Witish, director of the Brown Memorial Library and a member of the Clinton Historical Society, is hopeful local residents will come forward with ideas, photos and stories to recognize the anniversary.

“Because the more people you get involved, the more people will get into this,” she said.

Dickey-Witish and others at the library are organizing a weekend of events that she hopes will include a visit from the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment re-enactment group.

If all goes as planned, she said, about a dozen members of the group will make camp at Clinton Lions Club Fairgrounds to demonstrate how Union soldiers lived during the Civil War.

Dickey-Witish and other organizers plan to wear period clothing for the weekend that has not been scheduled yet. They’re hopeful live Civil War music will be featured during the event.

“In my lifetime, there’s not going to be another major Civil War anniversary,” Dickey-Witish said.

As part of the weekend, Dickey-Witish hopes to host a ceremony in the Riverview Cemetery at the grave of Capt. Charles W. Billings, a Clinton resident who served with the 20th Maine during the war.

Billings was the highest ranking officer of the regiment to be mortally wounded in its defense of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.

When the regiment ran low on ammo during heavy assaults from Confederate forces, it made a desperate bayonet attack that drove them back, preventing them from flanking the extreme left of the Union lines.

The move is considered by some historians to be the turning point in the battle as well as the turning point in the Civil War.

In advance of the anniversary, the library has obtained copies of three letters written by Billings to his father in Clinton during the war.

“Who would not jump to serve his country now that everything is promising. It must and will be done. The cause of God and humanity demand it,” Billings wrote less than two months before the battle. “Shall we subdue the Rebels and secure liberty to our country? Or shall we give up this contest and let the sword of despotism and ignorance sweep over our fair country?”

Billings was shot in the leg during the battle. While his wife and brother traveled to Gettysburg as he lay wounded, they arrived the same day he died, too late to see him.

About 250 residents from Clinton served in the war. About 70,000 residents statewide, more than 10 percent of the overall population and about 60 percent of eligible men ages 18 to 45, served in the struggle.

Dicky-Witish said she is hopeful locals will come forward with photographs, artifacts, stories and ideas for recognizing the anniversary and the sacrifice of those who served.

Her great-great grandfather, Pvt. Oliver W. Dickey, fought with the 24th Maine during the war.

Evan Belanger — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @evanbelanger

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