HOLDEN, Mass. — In 1861, Holden resident Ira Kelton answered President Abraham Lincoln's call for troops and raised a company of Massachusetts sharpshooters known as The Holden Rifles who fought in the Civil War.
Like many of the volunteers who took up arms, Capt. Kelton was injured in battle in 1862 and later died of his wounds. He is buried with other Holden veterans in Grove Cemetery, and his portrait hangs in the Holden Town Hall.
In commemoration of the fallen hero, a group of re-enactors that make up the 25th Massachusetts Infantry will dedicate their camp to Kelton at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, as part of Holden Days.
The infantry will set up camp once again in the Kid's Court on Bubar Field by the Holden Senior Center, giving residents an opportunity to get an up-close idea of what life was like for soldiers and families 150 years ago.
"This year, the group is stepping up what they did last year, making it bigger and better, and more interactive," said Rhonda Hamer, coordinator of Holden Days. Activities will include cooking demonstrations, infantry demonstrations and skirmishes.
Last year, the infantry made a resounding impression on visitors when it took off on an impromptu Color Guard parade from the senior center, down Main Street, through the middle of the food court and the Damon House tent and back.
Spectators were taken off guard by that and by the loud crack of rifles firing, said Hamer.
"We had to say, 'It's OK, it was just a civil war musket,'" said Hamer. "They were my favorite part last year, I had a blast with them. They're fun to work with, they love what they're doing, and it's a great visual — and auditory — event."
After the 9:30 a.m. dedication, the infantry will hold skirmishes at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., as well as an infantry demonstration at 1:30 p.m.