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Lanier Days

Real ‘Civil War’ style wedding
among events at Lanier Days

Activities to include period music, Blue and Gray Ball

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(June 2008) – Madison, Ind., architect Mike Totten dreamed about one day getting married at Lanier Mansion State Historic Site. An avid history buff with a passion for re-enactments, Totten will get the chance to make his dream come true and combine his passion at the annual Lanier Days historic event.

Mike Totten & Brigite Fasciotto

Photo provided

Re-enactors Mike
Totten and Brigitte
Fasciotto met during
a re-enactment last
year at the Preston Plantation in Milton, Ky.

Totten will wed his sweetheart, Brigitte Fasciotto, in a Civil War-style ceremony, complete with period dress and a Civil War sword arch, during “Thundering Cannons on the Ohio River: Lanier Days.”
This year, the annual event will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 21-22 on the grounds of the Lanier Mansion. The Totten wedding, open to the public, will be held at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.
Fasciotto, 50, met Totten, 54, last year during a re-enactment at Milton, Ky.’s Preston Plantation. She was simply a bystander in the crowd during the event, while Totten was a re-enactor who portrayed Maj. Owen Walsh, a staff member of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan. Morgan’s Raid was a highly publicized incursion by Confederate cavalry into the northern states of Indiana and Ohio during the American Civil War.
“She was in the crowd, and I offered to let her shoot my weapon,” said Totten. “I was surprised when she agreed to try.” One of the organizers of the Preston event later arranged an introduction. “The rest is history,” said Totten.
While he has been actively involved in Civil War re-enactments in the area for almost six years, this past year has been the first year for Fasciotto, a research scientist at the University of Louisville.
“I love doing this,” she said. Currently, she is doing research about medical units of the 19th Virginia Company C and hopes to do some future re-enactments as a nurse.
Totten came up with the idea to get married in a Civil War ceremony at Lanier Mansion, and Site Manager Gerry Reilly thought it would be a wonderful idea. “Oh, we just think the public will love it,” he said.
During their wedding ceremony at Lanier Days, the couple and the wedding attendees will be decked out in Civil War finery. Fasciotto will be wearing a copy of an 1861 hoop dress. The dress will be made of blue silk with a gold silk panel. “The dress is stunning,” said Fasciotto. “The bodice back will be very sophisticated as was the tradition during that time.”
Apparently, the back of the bodice was made quite elaborate to attract the attention of males standing behind the ladies.
Although Totten normally sews many of the costumes he and Fasciotto wear, he traded one of his antique sewing machines to a seamstress in Indianapolis in exchange for the dress. Totten has more than 78 antique treadle machines ranging from the 1850s-1880s.
Totten will be wearing a Confederate colonel’s uniform for the ceremony. “The dress is so fancy, a mere private or corporal’s uniform wouldn’t really match,” he said.
Instead of a modern bouquet of flowers, Fasciotto will be carrying what is called a “Tussie-Mussie,” a traditional Victorian bouquet that includes a special holder. “The Tussie-Mussie was used so a bride wouldn’t soil her dress,” said Fasciotto.
Even Fasciotto’s brother, a retired French military man, will visit from France and will attend the wedding ceremony bedecked in the uniform of a Confederate captain in the medical corps.
In addition to the wedding ceremony, several re-enactor groups, including the 32nd Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry Company G and the First Wisconsin Artillery, will be camped out on the Lanier grounds. They will hold mock battles on both days, present cooking demonstrations, conduct military boot camps for children and fire artillery on the hour each day. Admission for the event is $2 for adults and $1 for children.
A Blue and Gray Ball will be held Saturday evening and will include an authentic Virginia Civil War era meal provided by the Thomas Family Winery. Admission for the ball is $15. Louisville, Ky.’s Fort Hill String Band will play period music and a caller will be provided to instruct guests in dance steps to period favorites such as “The Virginia Reel.”
From 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the Interlude String Quartet from Louisville will play popular riverboat tunes and 19th century music from songwriters such as Stephen Foster, Scott Joplin, John Phillip Sousa and Johan Strauss.
At 1 p.m. Sunday, Charlotte Battin, of Columbus, Ind., will perform “I Love America,” a patriotic musical show full of U.S. history, including Abraham Lincoln’s Gettsyburg Address, the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution and the story of the National Anthem.
“This will be a real treat for all ages,” said Reilly.
There will be numerous artisans giving period demonstrations, such as soap making. There will also be family activities such as Victorian stories and craft projects, and Bob Harsaw will be on hand to take tintype photographs of visitors in period clothing.
Two historical talks will also be presented that weekend. At 11 a.m. each day, Ron Volbert, of Wapakoneta, Ohio, will portray Brig. Gen. John Buford, who fought at the battle of Gettysburg. At 2 p.m. Saturday, Lester Horowitz will discuss his book, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War,” the story of Morgan’s Raid.
Reilly said, “This year’s Lanier Days has shaped up to be bigger and better than before.” Last year, more than 700 people attended the two-day event.

• For more information about Lanier Days, call (812) 265-3526. To make reservations for the Blue and Gray Ball, call the mansion by June 15.

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