State Civil War Sesquicentennial Quarterly Review
Updated July 13, 2011
Prepared by the Civil War Trust (www.civilwar150.org)
With the 150th anniversary of the first major battles of the Civil War taking place this summer, many states are taking measures to commemorate the war and to interpret its memory. As of July 1, 2011, twenty-three states have formed commissions or established initiatives to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial (hereafter referred to as CW150); in April, Massachusetts became the most recent state to form a commission. After the flurry of events in the spring commemorating the first shots fired in South Carolina, the bulk of the attention is now shifting to the first battles of the war fought in Missouri, Virginia, and West Virginia. The signature events of the summer will be commemorations of the Battles of First Manassas in Virginia and Wilson's Creek in Missouri. The anniversary of the start of the war has also prompted several national and state groups to focus on creating tools and programs for educators. In June, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association awarded grants to 65 libraries throughout the county to host public reading and discussion programs around the Civil War. Around the nation, state and local organizations are beginning to host events commemorating the specific anniversaries of battles, votes, and other significant milestones that occurred during the summer and early fall of 1861. Many of the details for these events can be found below.
The following states have established commissions or initiatives to commemorate the CW150, often through or in conjunction with the state's historical society.
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Arkansas: The Arkansas CW150 Commission continues to provide a detailed calendar of statewide CW150 events on its website. The commission will hold a meeting on July 27 at the Arkansas State Library. The commission also recently announced its Sesquicentennial Passport Program, which will allow visitors to collect stamps at 23 Civil War sites around Arkansas. Several workshops for teachers will be taking place in July: the Department of Arkansas Heritage has planned Civil War-related events for Teacher Professional Development; and a two-day teacher workshop called "Teaching Teachers about the Civil War" will take place on July 12-13 at the Little Rock Central High School Central Historic Site. On July 23, the Historic Washington State Park will hold its 5th Annual Red River Heritage Symposium, which will focus on "The Gathering Storm" of the Civil War.
Connecticut: A battle reenactment called "On to Richmond" will be held August 13-14 in Woodbury. The Greenwich Historical Society is hosting two Civil War exhibits—"Voices from the Civil War" and "Life in a Union Army Camp Hands-On Gallery for Children and Families"—through July 31. The Gunn Historical Museum will display an exhibit "Letters from the Battlefield: Stories of Washington's Civil War Soldiers"through October 30. The Connecticut CW150 Commission also provides a calendar of statewide events on its website.
Delaware: Delaware kicked off its official CW150 commemoration on April 15, which included the launching of a new website. The website includes digitized records, soldiers' portraits, and a calendar of upcoming events. Many Civil War-related activities will take place this summer at Fort Delaware State Park, including "P.O.W. Weekends" on the second weekend of each month.
District of Columbia: The Washington Posthas ongoing special coverage of the CW150, including local event listings, timelines, photos, book reviews, and videos. The Library of Congress exhibit "The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection" features 379 portraits of enlisted Union and Confederate soldiers and will run through August 13. The Smithsonian Institution has developed a special CW150 website with information on upcoming exhibits, events, and on-line resources. Temporary Smithsonian exhibitions include the diary of a Civil War nurse on display at the National Museum of American History through July 29, and an exhibit on The Death of Ellsworth at the National Portrait Gallery, which runs through March 2012.
Georgia: Georgia has a detailed list of upcoming events on its official CW150 website. The Booth Western Art Museum's exhibit "Mort Künstler's Civil War Art: For Us the Living" will run through September 4. As part of their historical markers program, on July 14 the Georgia Historical Society and Georgia Department of Economic Development are dedicating a marker remembering the proposal made by Confederate General Patrick Cleburne to arm slaves in exchange for freedom. The Atlanta Cyclorama & Civil War Museum is hosting a series of summer events and lectures. Several local communities, including Roswell and Rome, are also planning summer events to commemorate the war's beginnings.
Georgia Historical Society has collaborated with web design firm Smack Dab Studios to develop a new Georgia Historical Marker Application for iPhone. The app uses GPS location to allow users to view historical markers in their area. The app is free and available on the iTunes App Store.
Illinois: The Illinois CW150 website includes a calendar of upcoming events. Many museums and libraries are hosting exhibits on the Civil War and Lincoln's presidency, two of which will be closing this summer: the Chicago Public Library's exhibit "In Service to the Union: Civil War Artifacts" runs through July 17, and the Lake County Discovery Museum's "Civil War High Tech" exhibit, which explores Civil War technology, runs through August 21. Author Michael Weeks is also giving a series of presentations entitled "Finding Hallowed Ground: America's Civil War Sites Today" at various public libraries across the state.
Indiana: The 14th Annual Civil War Symposium at the First Division Museum at Cantigny will be held on October 1, and focus on the first year of the Civil War. The Indiana CW150 website also includes a calendar of events.
Iowa: The Iowa Masonic Library in Cedar Rapids recently opened a display of an 1861 flag carried by Company B of the 28th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. The University of Iowa Libraries exhibit "‘Now Do Not Let Your Courage Fail': Voices from the Civil War" includes letters and diaries from three manuscript collections and will run through July. As part of the exhibit, some documents are available on-line and can be transcribed here. In June, the Muscatine Art Center opened an exhibit "Muscatine and the Civil War".
The exhibit will run through January 2012.
Kansas: A tour "Bleeding Kansas: Where the Civil War Began" begins and ends in Kansas City and will take place October 15-21. The Kansas Historical Society provides educational materials, exhibits, and other resources on its sesquicentennial website.
Kentucky: On September 1-4, musicians will gather in Frankfort for "Cornets and Cannons: The Civil War Sesquicentennial Music Festival" featuring Civil War-era music. An event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the formation of the 9th Kentucky Infantry will take place at the Old Mulkey Meeting House in Tomkinsville on September 23-25. The Highland Museum and Discovery Center in Ashland exhibit "The Civil War: The Gathering Storm, 1861-1862" will run through October 31. The Kentucky CW150 commission website also provides a list of events and exhibits.
Maine: The 20th Maine Civil War Reenactment and Bucksport Bay Festival will take place between July 30th and 31st. It will feature the 20th Maine Company ‘B', 15th Alabama Company ‘G' and other reenacting groups.
Maryland: The "Civil War 150: The Baltimore and Maryland Commemoration" website includes information about upcoming events, sites, and the "Baltimore Civil War Experience Pass"—a three-day pass to four local museums with Civil War exhibits. The Maryland Humanities Council has also put together a website of CW150 resources and the Maryland Office of Tourism provides a list of upcoming Civil War-related events.
Massachusetts: In April, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed an executive order establishing a Massachusetts Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. The Concord Museum's exhibit "When Duty Whispers: Concord and the Civil War"—featuring uniforms, swords, portraits, and other Civil War artifacts—will run through September 18. Two lectures will take place on George Islands: Christian Samito will discuss "Citizenship Through Civil War Service" on August 13 and Jayne Gordon, Elaine Grublin, and Kathleen Barker will discuss "The Trent Affair" on September 17. A walking tour commemorating General George H. Gordon will also take place in Framingham on September 17.
Michigan: In honor of the CW150, the Greenwood Cemetery's 2011 Petosky Stones Speak History Tour will focus on Civil War veterans. The tours will be held on August 19 and 20. Oakland County recently released an "Oakland County in the Civil War" map to be used in libraries, museums, and classrooms. The Michigan CW150 Commission also provides a list of upcoming events on its website.
Mississippi: The 149th Anniversary of the Battle of Farmington will be commemorated with a festival from September 16 to 18. The festival will include a reenactment, arts and crafts, historical displays, period ladies tea, memorial service, night artillery, and church services.
Missouri: As host to many 1861 battles and skirmishes, Missouri has an array of anniversary reenactments and related events planned for 2011. The Missouri CW150 Commission's signature event of the summer is the sesquicentennial reenactment of the Battle of Wilson's Creek, which will take place on August 12-14. Other upcoming sesquicentennial reenactments include the Battle of Wentzville on July 16-17, the Battle of Athens on August 6-7, and the Battle of Lexington on September 16-18. A list of other upcoming reenactments can be found here. The Missouri State Archives will host a talk on "General Sterling Price and the Confederacy" on July 14. On July 30, a ceremonial event in Ironton will commemorate the 150th anniversary of Colonel Ulysses S. Grant becoming a general. Several local communities are planning CW150 commemoration weekends: on July 8-9, Carthage is hosting a CW150 festival that will include an "official commemoration ceremony" and Hermann will hold a commemorative event featuring an authentic Civil War-era wedding on September 24-25. In honor of the CW150, the 2011 Missouri Literary Festival will focus on the Civil War and take place September 23-25. The festival headliners are novelist Jeff Shaara and historian William C. Davis. The Missouri CW150 Commission website also continues to be an invaluable resource for information on upcoming events.
Nebraska: The Knight Museum and Sandhills Center in Alliance will be holding a conference entitled "Remembering the Civil War" on July 8-9.
New Hampshire: The Strawberry Banke Museum in Portsmouth is hosting an exhibit entitled "Fitz John Porter—Civil War Hero or Coward?" through October 31. The museum will also have a Civil War encampment on August 20-21 and a lecture and music series related to the Civil War.
New York: In April, the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls opened an exhibit "The Great Work Before Us" to commemorate the CW150. The Slate Valley Museum in Granville opened their exhibit "Rivals in Slate, Brothers in War: The Slate Valley Unites for the Union Cause" in June. Both exhibits will run through the end of the year. New York State will mark the CW150 with an exhibit of newly-restored battle flags, the first of which will be displayed at the State Capitol on July 12. New York's CW150 volunteer committee continues to provide an excellent listing of events on its website. The New York Times' "Disunion: The Civil War" blog also offers an on-line timeline, interactive maps, and slideshows.
North Carolina: The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources has organized the "Freedom, Sacrifice, Memory: Civil War sesquicentennial Photography Exhibit" to travel the state through 2013. In May, the North Carolina Museum of History opened "North Carolina and the Civil War: The Breaking Storm, 1861-1862", the first exhibit in a three-part series on the Civil War. The "Flags Over Hatteras" committee, organized to commemorate events that occurred on Hatteras Island, has a series of events planned for the end of August, including a conference on August 25-27 featuring authors James McPherson, Ed Bearss, and Craig Symonds. Information regarding other CW150 events are available on the Department of Cultural Resources' calendar.
Ohio: In May, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center opened an exhibit "Civil War: Battlefield & Homefront" that uses personal letters and artifacts to relay the experiences of both soldiers and civilians. The exhibit will run through January 2012. The Historic Roscoe Village is hosting a Civil War lecture series, with several talks taking place this summer and early fall. On August 13, the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum will open an exhibit "The American Civil War: A 150th Anniversary Exhibit of Military Memorabilia". The exhibit will run through October 9. Many other museums, historical societies, and local communities have planned a variety of events and exhibits throughout the state, which can be found on the Ohio CW150 Initiative's calendar.
The Ohio Historical Society Ohio CW150 initiative has completed development of the first of a series of "micro exhibits," which are small prepackaged object exhibits that travel with a curator to events and programs. The traveling panel exhibit, Ohio and the Civil War 150 Years Later, went to its first site in July and is still taking applications for future dates.
Oklahoma: On September 23-24, Fort Washita will hold a "Civil War Battle Reenactment," which will include a demonstration of the fort's surrender to Confederate forces in 1861.
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania CW150 Planning Committee's website continues to be an invaluable resource for information on the vast number of events taking place in the state. The Committee's "Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show", which will visit all 67 counties by the end of 2014, is bringing its interactive exhibits to several counties this summer and fall. Gettysburg National Military Park's exhibit "Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War" will be on display through July 31. In June, the Packwood House Museum in Lewisburg opened an exhibit "The Central Susquehanna River Valley Goes to War, 1861". The exhibit will run through September 17. In June, the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia opened an exhibit "Presbyterians and the Civil War: Witnesses to a Great Moral Earthquake" which will run through January 2012. On August 6, a demonstration commemorating the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Camp Crossman will take place at Tyrone Reservoir Park. The U. S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle will have a living history event called "Civil War 150: Entering Winter Camp" on September 30-October 2.
Rhode Island: The Rhode Island State Archives' exhibit "A Battle Hard Fought-Rhode Island and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Observance" will run through August 31.
South Carolina: Summer and fall will be the last chance to see two CW150 exhibits in Charleston: the Gibbes Museum of Art's exhibit "A Soldier's View of Civil War Charleston" will run through July 10, and the Charleston Museum's exhibit "Threads of War: Clothing and Textiles of the Civil War" will be on display through October 30.
Tennessee: The Tennessee CW150 Commission recently announced that the state's 2011 Sesquicentennial Signature Event will be held September 6-7 at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville. The theme for the event is "Civil War in the Borderland" and will feature discussions, musical performances, and living history demonstrations.
Virginia: The Virginia CW150 Commission's website has an extensive list of Civil War events taking place in the coming months, as well as a list of local sesquicentennial committees. A major event taking place in the Commonwealth this summer is the commemoration of the Battle of First Manassas to be held on July 21, 2011; the keynote speaker will be Edward Ayers, and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been invited to speak. The sesquicentennial of the battle will be accompanied by other events from July 22-24, including a two-day reenactment of the battle, a Civil War baseball game, inter-faith services, and the launch of the Commission's HistoryMobile; Ron Maxwell will also be screening a director's cut of "Gods and Generals" in Prince William County. Beginning July 16, the Manassas Museum will have an exhibit entitled "Virginia's Civil War" that will run through September 4. There are also events commemorating smaller battles such as Blackburn's Ford; Ed Bearss will give a lecture on this battle on July 15. The Commission and the Library of Virginia continue to participate in their "Civil War 150 Legacy Project", sending teams of archivists to local communities to locate and scan letters, photographs, diaries, maps, and other Civil War-era materials; these teams will visit numerous communities in the coming months. The Virginia Historical Society has opened an exhibition entitled "An American Turning Point: The Civil War in Virginia" that will remain open through December 2011. On September 24-25, a commemoration of the Potomac River blockade will take place in Woodbridge.
West Virginia: Some of the first land battles of the war were fought on what is now West Virginia soil. To commemorate these early fights, a series of tours called "The First Campaign of the Civil War" will be held on July 6-8 in Elkins. In conjunction with the "First Campaign of the Civil War," in June, the Randolph County Community Arts Center opened an exhibit "Echoes of the Past: The Civil War 150 Years Later". The exhibit features contemporary Civil War artists and runs through August 17. To commemorate the CW150, on June 1, the West Virginia Division of Tourism released a new Civil War Trails brochure that lists 150 Civil War sites and points of interest. The 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Rich Mountain will take place on July 9-10. A commemorative memorial service of the battle will take place on July 11. The 150th anniversary reenactment of the Battle of Laurel Hill will occur August 5-7. Other events can be found on the West Virginia CW150 Commission's website.
Wisconsin: On July 2, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum will open an exhibit "From Paper to Iron: Wisconsin Joins the Civil War, 1861-1862", which will run through September 2012. The Wisconsin Historical Museum's exhibit "Civil War Memories and Mementos" runs through October 8. Special talks and tours associated with this exhibit (as well as other statewide events) are detailed on the Wisconsin CW150 website's list of events.
For more information, please visit the Civil War Trust sesquicentennial commemoration website at www.civilwar150.org