Twitter will help the world track Harrisburg’s National Civil War Museum curator’s picket duty

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Brett Kelley, curator of Collections at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, is set to weather two weeks of the cold while living the life of a Civil War soldier on the picket line. But technology will allow people to communicate with him via social networking. (See additional photo below.) Also of interest: Poster highlights the life of a Civil War soldier and Hanover Civil War story stop: ‘Mother Loses Two Sons to War’ and ‘Tweeting’ helps disseminate neat stuff on the regional, York County history front.

Starting Feb. 6, Brett Kelley will start living the life of a Civil War soldier on the picket line for two full weeks.
“Utilizing only Civil War era reproduction uniforms, equipment and food rations,” a news release from The National Civil War Museum states, “Kelley will be residing in a Civil War tent on the Museum grounds in an effort to raise funds for The National Civil War Museum’s education department.”
Among other things, he will walk his post, construct a rail fence, embark on several 10-mile marches to area historical destinations and speak to visitors about his task.
But unlike the average Union private on picket duty, he will be in touch with the world… .


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A billboard, in this York Daily Record/Sunday News file photo, was located along I-83 and advertised the Harrisburg Civil War Museum.
He will not personally use technology to do so. Consider this from the release:

Kelley will keep a daily journal to document his experiences for the world, which will be incorporated into a blog created and maintained by local students from Hershey High School, as well as students from the Hershey High School History and Technology Club. Bloggers can find this information at: http://civilwarsoldier247.wordpress.com, follow him on Twitter (@cwsoldier24_7) and fan The National Civil War Museum on Facebook. Museum staff and volunteers will also videotape Kelley’s tasks, marches and interactions with visitors and will post the videos on YouTube.

Imagine if those on picket duty in blue and gray kept in touch with their girlfriends back home via such technology. The war would not have seemed so long and lonely.
The museum is filled with neat stuff for enthusiasts and offers patrons of all levels of Civil War interests an intriguing visit.
Other interesting details excerpted from the release:

– During the Civil War, soldiers who stood picket duty were posted on line in advance of their regiment while it was in camp. Each soldier was responsible for a section of the line, alerting the regiment in case of enemy attack. Because the safety of the regiment was at stake, the penalty for sleeping on post was very severe, including imprisonment, or even death.
– Donations are being accepted to sponsor Kelley for a day, the entire two-week period, or in any amount. Funds raised will go directly to the NCWM education department to be utilized for projects such as the development of a distance learning system and a summer speaking program, as well as acquiring reproduction equipment for educational presentations for the public and school groups. To make a donation towards this project or to view a schedule of Kelley’s activities, please visit www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org.
– About The National Civil War Museum: It is the largest Civil War museum that addresses the war from both the Northern and Southern perspective, and from both a military and civilian perspective. The Museum protects some of the nation’s treasures, including General Robert E. Lee’s personal Bible, and more than 24,000 artifacts, documents and photos, worth an estimated $20 million. For admission details, hours of operation: www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org.

For more on the Civil War in Central Pennsylvania, visit this blog’s Civil War category or fellow Yorkblogger Scott Mingus’ Cannonball.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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