Sesquicentennial News Briefs
(as printed in the)
June 2011 Issue
Civil War News

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June 2011

Balloon Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is hosting a Civil War Family Day in the museum and on the Mall from 10-3 June 11. Union reenactors, balloons, talks and activities are scheduled.

On June 17 at 7 p.m. the museum will host an evening symposium in its Lockheed-Martin IMAX Theater, featuring talks by four leading authorities on Civil War ballooning.

These programs celebrate the 150th anniversary of Thaddeus Lowe’s observation balloon flight of June 18, 1861, which took place on the Mall in front of where the museum is now.

During this flight, Lowe sent the first ever telegraphic message from the air, informing President Lincoln in the White House of what could be seen from an altitude of 500 feet. That flight led directly to the creation of an Aeronautic Corps for the Union Army, the first military aeronautical unit in American history, and marked the beginnings of aerial reconnaissance in the U.S.

Free tickets can be reserved at


Vermont Archives

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Center for Digital Initiatives’ latest collection, “Vermonters in the Civil War,” makes a selection of letters and diaries from the University of Vermont and the Vermont Historical Society available in a searchable database at

Logistical issues involved in launching the war effort come to light in Gen. John W. Phelps’ letters. Officers such as Lt. Roswell Farnham commented on events and personalities in the camps and field. Enlisted men most often wrote about everyday life and concerns.

Eyewitness accounts of 1861 engagements at Big Bethel, Bull Run and Lewinsville reveal the motivations and expectations of the men in arms, and include descriptions of living conditions, drilling, sickness and political intrigue.

The collection includes materials dating from 1861 and will grow with additional materials throughout the years of the sesquicentennial commemoration.


Nurse Exhibit

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Museum of American History recently opened a 150th anniversary display entitled, “‘So Much Need of Service’ — The Diary of a Civil War Nurse.”

The diary belonged to Amanda Akin (1827-1911) from Quaker Hill, N.Y. She was a nurse for 15 months at the Armory Square Hospital on the National Mall where the National Air and Space Museum stands.

Her diary and related materials, on loan from the National Library of Medicine, will be shown until July 29 in the Albert H. Small Documents Gallery.


Frederic Church

HUDSON, N.Y. — “Rally ‘round the Flag: Frederic Edwin Church and the Civil War” opened May 26 and continues to Oct. 30 at Olana, the house and estate of Church, the Hudson River School landscape artist.

Two weeks before the scheduled debut of his masterwork, “The Icebergs,” Fort Sumter was bombarded. Instead of canceling the unveiling at Goupil’s Gallery, Church retitled his work “The North,” to show his support.

Church also pledged exhibition fees to assist families of Union soldiers. Less than a month later Church painted “Our Banner in the Sky,” a sunrise resembling a U.S. flag.

The image became a popular chromolithograph issued by Goupil & Co. and is shown in the exhibition. The show includes oil and pencil sketches by Church, several chromolithographs after Church, and works by Isaac Hayes and John Jameson.

Jameson was a promising young artist who served in the Union army and died of illness in Andersonville Prison in 1864.

Call (518) 828-0135 or visit for information.


History App

NEW YORK, N.Y. — As part of its multi-platform commemoration of the sesquicentennial, History announced its “The Civil War Today” App for iPad on the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter.

Its features include daily anniversary content, a day in the life of 15 individuals, battle maps, “send a telegram” in Morse code using Twitter, rewards and badges through game play and videos, numbers-based facts, quizzes and casualty counts.

First-hand accounts in the form of letters and diary entries, photos, original newspapers and other content are also offered.


Boston Exhibit

BOSTON, Mass. — The Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is showing the exhibition “Torn in Two: 150th Anniversary of the Civil War” through December.

The multimedia display takes a geographic and cartographic approach to the causes of the war, its conduct and how the war was remembered. Fifty historic maps are interwoven with 40 photographs, paintings, prints, diaries, political cartoons, music and press of the period, all from the Boston Public Library’s special collections.


New 150th Commissions

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick issued an Executive Order creating the Massachusetts Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. Its duties include developing programs that commemorate the Civil War, its veterans and the state’s contributions, and creating a Web site and an inventory of related sites. No funds were given.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recently formed a Civil War Commemoration Task Force to conduct educational programs and encourage organizations to participate in and develop programs that help expand appreciation for the Civil War.


Civil War Handbook

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Park Service online store at and some Eastern National book stores are selling The Civil War Remembered, the official National Park Service Handbook for the 150th anniversary.

It includes 16 essays by historians and period illustrations.


Manassas Anniversary

MANASSAS, Va. — The Battle of First Manassas 150th anniversary will be observed with four days of programs.

June 21 observances include battlefield park ceremonies, living history demonstrations, a 3-D photo exhibit, Civil War 150th Anniversary HistoryMobile, battlefield tours and the 100th anniversary of the National Jubilee of Peace at the Old Manassas Courthouse.

On June 22 Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Grouand The Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership will host the premiere of Warner’s new version of Ronald F. Maxwell’s “Gods and Generals Extended Director’s Cut” at the Hylton Center for the Performing Arts in Manassas.

Maxwell will introduce the film, which has an hour of new footage, including a John Wilkes Booth narrative and the Battle of Antietam, and segments on the importance of embracing the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area. He will also lead a panel discussion with the film’s stars and historical advisers. For information on attending, visit

Both the original Director’s Cut and the expanded version are available in a 48-page Blu-ray Book version packaged with photographs, bios, timeline, production notes and maps. In July the films will be offered as a disc package with excerpts from Time’s The Civil War: An Illustrated History.


Hatteras Anniversary

HATTERAS, N.C. — The state’s first sesquicentennial event will commemorate the Aug. 28, 1861, battles at Hatteras. Among its “firsts,” Hatteras was the site of the first combined Army and Navy operation, the first amphibious assault, and the first action in which a black Union gun crew fired on Confederates.

The Flags Over Hatteras Committee and the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum have scheduled exhibits Aug. 22-28; a Blue-Gray Descendants Reunion Aug. 22-24; a Flags Over Hatteras Conference Aug. 25-27 with James McPherson, Craig Symonds and Ed Bearss; and Aug. 27-28 exhibits and living history at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Conference registration is required. For information go to


N.C. Tweet

RALEIGH, N.C. — Over the next four years, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources historian LeRae Umfleet is using new technology to share the words of North Carolina civilians during the Civil War.

The Twitter address is An accompanying blog,, contains the full citation for each Twitter message.


NPS Field Reports

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Park Service is offering a new “Civil War Reporter” feature — daily dispatches from a fictional war correspondent, Beglan O’Brien.

Readers can follow the embedded reporter’s real-time coverage at, Twitter ( or on Facebook by searching Civil War Reporter.