State Civil War Sesquicentennial Quarterly Review
Updated October 12, 2010
Prepared by the Civil War Preservation Trust
As 2010 enters its last quarter, many states have already launched commemoration efforts for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. As of September 30, 2010, twenty-one states have formed commissions or established initiatives to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial (hereafter referred to as CW150). On August 12, Vermont became the most recent state to establish a sesquicentennial commission, and intends to have a website available in October. Though many of the CW150 events will not begin in earnest until next spring, several states are focusing commemoration efforts on the election of 1860 and secession crisis. Many states are also holding annual or semi-annual conferences, with a few beginning this year—in late fall, Tennessee and South Carolina are each hosting the first of several conferences on the war, and Virginia recently held the second of its annual signature conferences. Local and private organizations have also created a wide array of events, exhibits, and resources for commemorating the war. Many of the details for events prepared by state and local communities can be found below.
The following states have established official commissions to commemorate the CW150, often through or in conjunction with the state’s historical society.
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Alabama: Along with Georgia and Tennessee, Alabama continues to participate in the Tri-State Civil War 150th Commemoration Association, which lists events occurring in all three states. On October 14, the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library will hold a talk on “Huntsville, the Occupied City” using library resources.
Arkansas: The Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission is holding informational meetings around the state in order to familiarize citizens with the events occurring in their area and around the state; several of these meetings will take place in October. Heritage Trail Partners will sponsor two lectures at Pea Ridge National Military Park on October 2. The White County Historical Society will dedicate a historic marker commemorating the action at Whitney’s Lane on October 24 and will hold a meeting on the county’s Civil War history on October 25. Dr. William Shea will speak to the Civil War Roundtable of Arkansas on the subject of the Trans-Mississippi Army on October 27. Historic Washington State Park will host a Civil War weekend in November, and the Central Arkansas Library System will feature an exhibit on Lincoln and the Constitution beginning in December. The Old State House Museum will showcase five Civil War-themed exhibits beginning in 2011. The Arkansas CW150 Commission will hold its kick-off event on April 30, 2011.
Connecticut: On August 13, Central Connecticut State University received a $50,000 gift from the Travelers Companies, Inc. to fund a living history event in the state. The nature and the date of the event remain to be determined. Connecticut will kick off its commemoration of the CW150 with an event at CCSU on April 15, 2011.
District of Columbia: The National Archives will open the second part of its exhibit “Discovering the Civil War” on November 10, focusing on the consequences of the war. The two parts will tour the country together beginning in 2011.
Georgia: In September, Georgia released a book entitled Crossroads of Conflict: A Guide for Touring Civil War Sites in Georgia as part of its strategy for promoting the CW150. The state also intends to release a map of Georgia’s Civil War sites and to have a CW150 website operational in the coming months. Whitfield County has planned a weekend of events for November 12-14, including the reopening of the historic Hamilton House, walks through historic sites, and a talk on the election of 1860. Beginning in November, the Columbus Museum will feature an exhibit on the impact of the Civil War on the lives of the town’s citizens. Public-private partnerships with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) are developing a variety of interactive ways for people to explore Georgia’s Civil War history. The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) has collaborated with the GDEcD to refurbish Civil War historical markers around the state and create new markers that tell previously untold stories, such as the role of women, African Americans and the home front. Additional public-private partnership projects include the Civil War 150 Historical Marker Project micro website at georgiahistory.com, which allows visitors to use Google maps to plan and implement custom driving tours based on their personal interests, and a mobile phone application for the GHS historical marker program.
Illinois: Several groups have recently announced CW150 events to be held in Illinois. The Norris Cultural Arts Center plans to hold several events under the title “The Civil War at 150 Years: A Cultural Arts Retrospective” beginning in April 2011. In May 2011, the Ulysses S. Grant Association will hold its annual meeting in Galena, Illinois. In October and November 2010, the traveling library exhibition “Abraham Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” will be at Western Illinois University; lectures related to the exhibit will also be presented during these months. The 13th Civil War Symposium and Reenactment will take place in Wheaton on October 13, featuring reenactments and lectures on the beginning of the Civil War.
Maine: The Maine CW150 committee has a new website providing a calendar of events, book recommendations, and pictures and information about 148 Civil War monuments located throughout the state. The 5th Maine Museum on Peaks Island also offers a list of upcoming local and statewide CW150 events on their website.
Maryland: The Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area, encompassing Frederick, Washington, and Carroll Counties provides many opportunities to commemorate the CW150, including battlefield tours and expert sessions. The city of Hagerstown has developed a plan for commemorating CW150, including installation of historic markers and publication of a book about the city during the Civil War. The book is designed to be a companion to the marker program.
Michigan: The Great Lakes History Conference, which will be held on October 8 and 9 at Grand Valley State University, features a special focus on the Civil War, with many lectures devoted to the topic.
Mississippi: Mississippi State University library staff are designing a website for the Mississippi Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission free of charge. The website will provide information about commemoration activities across the state. The commission is working with a thin budget, provided by the Mississippi Development Authority, and therefore is not sponsoring commemoration events. The commission instead will advertise and promote events held in the state’s five tourism regions.
Missouri: In September and October, the Powers Museum in Carthage will host a traveling exhibition on Lee and Grant. The Mary Whitney Phelps Tent No. 22 Tent (Chapter), Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865, based in Springfield, published a guide to historical markers in the state entitled “Marking Civil War History in the Ozarks: A Guide to Civil War Markers and Monuments in Twenty-Four Southwest Missouri Counties.” Volunteers in Clay County are collecting the stories of soldiers buried in the county.
New Jersey: The New Jersey CW150 Committee has a list of upcoming events on its website.
North Carolina: The North Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the Department of Cultural Resources are coordinating to catalogue the state’s Civil War markers and sites in a database in preparation for the CW150.
Ohio: Licking County has published a commemoration event schedule for 2011. The Ohio Historical Society recently acquired 534 pay and muster rolls for Ohio troops. On October 2, the Steubenville-Jefferson County Public Library system will hold an event featuring speakers on Ohio’s role in the Civil War. The Western Reserve Historical Society features an exhibit on Abraham Lincoln to commemorate the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth and the beginning of the Civil War.
Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania CW150 Planning Committee’s website lists many events taking place in the state, ranging from battlefield and historical site tours to lectures. There are several events focusing on the election of 1860, including a dinner lecture by Harold Holzer on November 4.
South Carolina: The South Carolina Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board is hosting a series of meetings throughout September and October to give citizens a chance to share their views on how the Civil War’s anniversary should be celebrated. The Low Country Sesquicentennial Coordinating Committee will host a major conference on December 3-4 at the Citadel in Charleston. The conference, entitled “A House Divided,” will focus on the secession crisis. Another seminar is to be held in April commemorating the firing on Fort Sumter and will include James McPherson and Edward Ayers. The Confederate Heritage Trust is hosting a secession ball on December 20.
Tennessee: The Tennessee CW 150 Commission will sponsor a series of annual conferences from 2010-2015, the first of which occurs on November 12-13 in Nashville. The conference will focus on “The Coming of the Civil War” and will feature multiple speakers and guests, as well as living history demonstrations and other activities. The U.S. House of Representatives recently allotted funds for the improvement of the Stones River Battlefield. A Civil War dinner featuring historian Jim Ogden will take place at the 212 Market Restaurant on October 21.
Texas: Texas’s commemoration of the CW150 will begin in December with an event entitled “The Road to Secession,” which will feature an academic symposium and a living history event. The event will take place on December 1-5 at Camp Gilmont in Upshur County.
Vermont: In August, Vermont formed a Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission to commemorate its Civil War heritage. The commission will be planning a variety of programs over the next five years and developing annual themes for the commemoration. Mark Hudson, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society, will serve as the chairman of the commission.
Virginia: The Virginia CW150 Commission’s website has an extensive list of Civil War events taking place in the coming months. Several local sesquicentennial committees are sponsoring Civil War material digitization sessions. The National Park Service has awarded several grants to Virginia battlefields to improve and promote the sites. Arlington has created a website that lists events taking place in the county related to CW150. On October 16, the National Park Service is hosting an event at the Arlington House entitled “Would You Vote For Abraham Lincoln?” The Loudon County Museum will offer self-guided walking tours of Civil War sites in Leesburg beginning in October. Pamplin Historical Park and The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier are sponsoring a symposium entitled “The 1860 Presidential Election and the Coming of the Civil War.” The symposium will take place on October 15-17. In late September, the Museum of the Confederacy broke ground on a new facility located in Appomattox. One of three intended facilities, the Appomattox location will focus on the end of the war and on the reunification of the country. The Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau has developed a new website designed to promote the city and its Civil War heritage. The website contains a calendar listing many events taking place in the state. On November 20, Fredericksburg Baptist Church will host a debate between William Freehling and Charles Dew on the election of 1860.
Governor McDonnell attended the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission’s 2010 signature conference on "Race, Slavery, and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory" at Norfolk University on September 24. In his speech, the Governor announced that instead of marking Confederate History Month in April, he would proclaim a month to commemorate the Civil War as a whole.
West Virginia: West Virginia’s CW150 efforts in the coming months include a battlefield reenactment at Droop Mountain, a series of events on October 13-16 in Berkeley and Jefferson Counties, and a set of Civil War Days in Guyandotte.
For more information about the Sesquicentennial, please visit Civilwar150.org »