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Uniformed Confederate and Union soldiers set up camp on a grassy lawn on a late fall evening. Campfires crackled and guns glinted in the autumn light. But this was no invasion— the uniformed soldiers were in fact re-enactors at a benefit dinner hosted by the Maryland Historical Society.

This April will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. To mark this milestone, the Historical Society will be hosting an exhibit titled “Divided Voices: The Civil War in Maryland.” Contributions raised by this dinner will go toward funding this exhibit.

The dinner was hosted at Tyrconnell, the private Baltimore home of Paul and Karen Winicki. The house itself dates from the 19th century, adding the perfect historic backdrop to the evening. A tent was erected in the back, allowing guests to watch re-enactors skirmish outside.

Guests were invited to attend either in black-tie attire or Civil War-era garb, and to talk to actors portraying a Northern sympathizer, a Secessionist supporter and Frederick Douglass. The scene was designed to be evocative of pre-war tensions surrounding the fall of 1860.

The 70 guests dined on crab cakes, filet, squash soup and cornbread provided by Carlton and Co. caterers. As the diners feasted, they were able to watch the poignant performance of a tableau vivant— a traditional performance of the time. Women in historic dresses representing various states in the Union took the stage for the silent piece where they bound a black-clad figure representing Maryland.

Guests were given a copy of the book “Maryland Voices in the Civil War” by Charles Mitchell at the conclusion of the evening, and the party raised more than $30,000 for the Historical Society.

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