Tag Archives: Civil War Sesquicentennial

That’s how they roll in the Old Dominion

Virginia will debut its 18-wheel rolling Civil War exhibit at the Bull Run sesquicentennial.  It’s a “high-tech immersive experience” that will “convey the bewildering sense of chaos experienced by soldiers.”  That’s the plan, anyway.  I’m more skeptical of that sort of thing than I used to be.

Maybe they should’ve bought a normal 18-wheeler, piled people into the back, and then driven the thing over an embankment.  I guarantee that’ll convey a bewildering sense of chaos.


Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War

Take a Civil War walking tour

…of Knoxville, with Jack Neely as your virtual guide.  His “Secret History” column in the Metro Pulse is always an intriguing read.  Any city that hosted both Union and Confederate rallies on the same street and at the same time is bound to have some notable stories to tell.

If you’ve got an appetite for more, there are a couple of books worth recommending.  Robert Tracy McKenzie’s Lincolnites and Rebels explores the political struggles in Knoxville during the Civil War era.  Digby Seymour’s Divided Loyalties provides a detailed account of the fighting in and around town, particularly the dramatic Confederate assault on Fort Sanders in 1863.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War, Tennessee History

Floridians attempt to claim war’s first shot

They’ve already got great weather, oranges, and Mickey Mouse.  Do they have to have this, too?


Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

Yesterday’s festivities in Charleston

…are the subject of this report from the AP.  Along with a brief description of the events, it includes the standard sound bites, along with a few invocations of the always-handy “nation-still-divided” theme.  Pretty much what you’d expect.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

An African-American politician says we should stop bickering and start commemorating

Read all about it.  Here’s a sample:

Ford said senators should get involved in anniversary commemorations to encourage understanding, to prevent misinformation and the spread of hatred.

“If people died, and we’re going to have this celebration, I want everybody in South Carolina to be united on it, to understand each other, to talk to each other,” said the 62-year-old New Orleans native. “Don’t be just mean-spirited. Be willing to talk to your white colleagues. Be willing to talk to your black colleagues. Be willing to go to the schools and talk to students, say, listen, we’ve got to move forward from what you think happened between 1861 and 1865.”

 An NAACP spokesman is calling him a “Confederate apologist.”  I think that’s quite an overstatement, but maybe that’s just me.  Anyway, check out the news story and see what you think.


Filed under Civil War, History and Memory

Tweeting the home front

LeRae Umfleet of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources has set up a Twitter account and accompanying blog that will run throughout the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Each tweet will be a snippet of first-person testimony from a Tar Heel State civilian who experienced the war on the home front, with a fuller excerpt in the matching blog entry.  Looks interesting.

Leave a comment

Filed under Civil War, History on the Web

Planting trees for the dead

I have mixed feelings about this:

More than 100 miles of Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania roadway is about to get a little more green thanks to funding from the Commonwealth and a vision by Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership officials who created a program to honor soldiers who died in the Civil War.

Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton, along with journey officials said Friday that the Commonwealth Transportation Board will provide a $300,000 grant to begin the Living Legacy Tree Planting program. Through the program, one tree for every soldier killed in the war will get planted along the journey’s 180-mile National Scenic Byway, which stretches from Gettysburg to Monticello.

Honoring soldiers is a worthy cause, and so is making America a little more green.  Still, three hundred grand is a lot of money.  I realize that for the Commonwealth Transportation Board to shell out dollars the project probably needs to be transportation-related, but every time I see dollars like that getting shelled out I can’t help but think about all the endangered battlefield land and deteriorating artifacts out there.

Wyatt said over the course of about four years, they will plant 620,000 trees – at about $100 each — for the soldiers who perished during the Civil War. The number killed, journey officials said, represented about 10 percent of the nation’s population at the time.

Perhaps you’re wondering where they got that 10% figure.  I’m wondering that myself.  I think it was actually closer to two percent, which is still (as Melanie Griffith reportedly said of the Holocaust) “a lot of people.”

The idea to plant trees developed after each community along the journey’s scenic byway was asked to create a legacy project in preparation for the upcoming sesquicentennial of the First Battle of Manassas. Community officials decided to work collectively with the journey Wyatt said, and they wanted to see something different to honor those who fought .

“The mayors and chairmans [of the communities] said ‘we don’t need another flagpole’…and asked what can we do that would be bigger than any of us,” Wyatt said.

Connaughton said the state really supported this project because it brings together three major issues in Virginia- education, economic development and transportation. This project will be something schools can get involved in and it has the potential to bring more tourists to the Commonwealth.

This “will help future generations of history buffs, students and tourists visualize the sheer scale of the Civil War in this region and remind all of the courage and blood that was shed along this hallowed road and the surrounding landscape,” Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va) said

I’m not so sure that this will be enough to draw tourists; I hope it does.  Anyway, trying to help people get their heads around the concept of 620,000 dead is a good idea.  It’s too easy for numbers of that scale to become meaningless abstractions.

I once worked on a temporary exhibit about the Gettysburg Address.  Knowing that it would be difficult for visitors to visualize 51,000 casualties, I briefly flirted with the idea of constructing an acrylic case and filling it with that number of some small object.  I abandoned that plan pretty quickly, simply because assembling 51,000 items of any size in a museum gallery is all but impossible. Even one for each of the dead, leaving out the wounded and captured, would have been highly impractical.  It was a pretty sobering realization.


Filed under Civil War