Slavic festival gives glimpse of Civil War
SHAMOKIN - "Friends Like Eagles; Polish Officers in America's Civil War," which commemorated the 105th anniversary of the Civil War, was held Monday in the auditorium at the Northumberland County Career and Arts Center as part of the fifth annual Slavic Performing Arts Heritage Festival, a free event organized by Vincent Chesney.
The crowd was treated to a feast of haluski, pierogies and homemade desserts themed for the event, in addition to Civil War-era food.
Chesney opened the performance by thanking everyone for coming then introduced the first speaker, Dr. James Pula. Pula is an award-winning author of more than 15 books and a professor of history at Purdue University North Central, in Westville, Ind. Pula began a slide show presentation starring Brigadier General W. Bodzimierz Krzyanowski, who commanded the 58th New York Volunteer Infantry, known as the "Polish Legion."
Pula explained the importance of the infantry and showed how it moved into battle, including the Battle of Gettysburg He then performed a reenactment of the movement of the Confederate Army and the Union Army at Gettysburg.
After a short intermission, the audience was invited to the stage to take a closer look at the infantry's flags.
The second speaker was Dennis Kubicki, a military reenactor from Frederick, Md., with three decades of experience who holds multiple master's degrees in management. Kubicki portrayed Kaspar/Gasparde Tochman, a confederate soldier from the 14th Louisiana Infantry, nicknamed the "First Polish Brigade," which was part of Confederate Colonel Valery Sulakowski's regiment.
Kubicki led the audience through times of war plagued by starvation, death and sickness and engaged them by asking questions regarding reasons the South was upset with President Lincoln.
Many consider these Polish officers to be war hawks, while others may see them as eagles for liberty and justice.
All three speakers then took the stage for a question-and-answer session with the audience.
An adjunct instructor at Luzerne County Community College, Chesney created this event to illustrate the rich history and ethnic diversity of the area and to connect subjects that students are learning to real-life context. Each year, the event allows the college and community to share in an entertaining and educational experience.