Falcon Rest to celebrate anniversary

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Falcon Rest Mansion & Gardens in McMinnville, Tenn., will kick off a year long celebration of its 20th anniversary as a historic tourist attraction on Saturday, April 20, with a special performance of its Civil War show, "The Honeymoon Ball of Gen. John Hunt Morgan."

Since opening in 1993, Falcon Rest has developed a unique form of interactive entertainment that makes stars of the people in the audience.

"The Honeymoon Ball" continues the tradition of making history fun with a lighthearted retelling of what Morgan called "the happiest time of my life."

"The show is an appropriate beginning for an anniversary celebration," said Falcon Rest's George McGlothin, who portrays Morgan in the show. "April 20 will be the 150th anniversary of the day 6,600 Union troops invaded McMinnville to capture Morgan - and they went away empty handed."

The dashing Confederate general from Kentucky was famous on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line for lightning raids against Union supplies and forces that earned him the nickname "Swamp Fox of the South." In mid-1863, he began a raid that would take his troops farther north than any other Confederate force would advance during the Civil War.

 In early 1863, the 37-year-old Morgan spent an extended honeymoon in McMinnville with his 21-year-old bride Mattie. During an idyllic three months of relative calm, the young couple enjoyed riding in the mountains and visiting with the locals, most notably poetess Lucy Virginia French and her husband John. Virginia even threw a ball that winter to welcome the Morgans to town. 

The honeymoon ended when the Union troops arrived. Morgan and Mattie managed to escape, and the general started a sweep through Union territory that was conceived during his stay in McMinnville. In 24 days, Morgan's Raiders passed through 52 towns in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, captured nearly 6,000 prisoners, and damaged 10 million dollars worth of public property before being captured.

The show combines the ball given by Lucy Virginia French welcoming the Morgans to McMinnville with the Federal invasion. McGlothin and his wife Charlien portray Morgan and Mrs. French, while audience members take on the characters of actual people living in McMinnville, soldiers who were involved with Morgan, and even the general's young bride. Among the guests will be a young Clay Faulkner, "the secret soldier of the Civil War" who later would build Falcon Rest Mansion. A delicious meal is included, based on Virginia French's menus in her famous Civil War diary, an amazing record of civilian life in rural Tennessee from 1861-1865.

For details or reservations, go to www.falconrest.com, call 931-668-4444 or e-mail falconrest@falconrest.com.

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