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

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May 2011

Maryland Exhibit

BALTIMORE, Md. — The Maryland Historical Society Museum recently opened the state’s largest and most comprehensive Civil War exhibit, “Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War.”  It will run for the next four years with annual updates.

The largest Civil War exhibit in the museum’s 167-year history occupies more than 5,000 square feet and tells the story of a tragedy in three acts: the romantic war, the real war and the long reunion. 

The exhibit uses 3-D videos, interactive exhibits and storyteller guides. On Saturdays and Sundays the Maryland Historical Society Players will perform short vignettes of major events that took place in Maryland.

For information call (410) 685-3750 or go to

Dickinson Project

CARLISLE, Pa. — Dickinson College recently launched its House Divided Project, something faculty, staff and undergraduate students have been building and testing for the last five years to teach 19th-century topics in grades K-12.

Nearly two dozen Web sites offering public domain historical content and free digital tools on a variety of subjects from the period 1840 to 1880 have been created.  

Dickinson was one of the few institutions of higher education in the country with a student body that was evenly split between Northerners and Southerners at the time of the Civil War. Its graduates included President James Buchanan, class of 1809 (1857-1861), and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, class of 1795 (1835-1864).  

 The House Divided Project database at includes more than 10,000 images and hundreds of thousands of individual records connected in an easy-to-use interface designed to help teach the difference between “search” and “research.”

For information contact co-director Matthew Pinsker, an associate professor of history and holder of The Brian C. Pohanka ‘77 Faculty Chair in American Civil War History and author of Lincoln’s Sanctuary (Oxford, 2003), at (717) 333-1515 or

Eastern National Books

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The National Park Service and Eastern National are cooperating to present the Eastern National Civil War Series of publications.

Eastern National is celebrating the Civil War 150th anniversary with electronic editions of eParks’ National Park Civil War Series of books which can be read online at

Eastman Exhibits

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film commemorates the war’s 150th anniversary with photography and motion picture exhibitions on view through June 12.

The “Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War” exhibition  presents more than 130 historical photographs, including rare and never-before-seen images.

“Still Here: Contemporary Artists and the Civil War,” in an adjoining gallery, features historic sites photographed by Oscar Palacio; contemporary views of sites relevant to blacks’ participation in the war, photographed by William Earle Williams; and Willie Anne Wright’s pinhole camera photographs of Civil War reenactments.

The museum’s motion picture collection will be showcased with showings of early silent examples and screen tests for “Gone With the Wind” that Eastman House recently restored and numerous film stills and posters, from “Birth of a Nation” (1915) to “Gods and Generals” (2003).

For information, contact (585) 271-3361,

Richmond Park Plans

RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond National Battlefield Park will observe the 150th with expanded interpretive programs, continued efforts with others to acquire core battlefield land, upgrading of facilities and interpretive media and cooperation with other 150th observances.

The park’s sites include Gaines’ Mill, Glendale, Malvern Hill, Cold Harbor, Drewry’s Bluff, Fort Harrison and Chimborazo Hospital.

Last year nearly 100 wayside exhibits were replaced. This spring work will begin to repave a number of roads and parking areas. Construction will also begin on a new Route 156 state bridge over Western Run at Malvern Hill.

Updates on 150th program are available at the park’s Web site,, Facebook page and Twitter.

N.H. Programs

Several New Hampshire communities have scheduled sesquicentennial programs and exhibits this year.

The Peterborough Historical Society ( has an exhibit           through Oct. 29. Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth ( will offer a variety of Civil War-related programs and the exhibit “Fitz John Porter: Civil War Hero or Coward?” from May 1-Oct. 31.

Portsmouth Athenaeum ( will have an exhibit on the USS Kearsarge, built at Portsmouth Navy Yard. Free self-guided tour maps will show visitors the city’s Civil War sites.

The “Real History is Told in Private Letters: Civil War Diary and Letters of John Hay” exhibit opens June 26 at The Fells in Newbury with a lecture by Michael Burlingame. The exhibit closes Oct. 10 (

On Aug. 6 Portsmouth will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Gen. Fitz John Porter’s pardon with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Porter statue.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has added a September 1861 U.S. Coast Survey map that President Abraham Lincoln used to coordinate military operations with his emancipation policies to NOAA’s “Charting a More Perfect Union” collection of more than 400 documents.

The “Map showing the Distribution of the Slave Population of the Southern States” was based on statistics from the eighth Census. The map was among the first to use shading to represent populations and illustrated that the first states to secede were those with the most slaves.

According to NOAA, the successor agency to the U.S. Coast Survey, the 1860 Census was supervised by Joseph Camp Griffith Kennedy who had wanted to include slaves by name in the U.S. Census Report, but Congress refused. A cartographer with U.S. Coast Survey’s drawing division created the map.

The “General Map of Charleston Harbor” prepared after the Confederate evacuation of Charleston in 1865, guided efforts to remove obstructions to the harbor.

NOAA The documents are at

Gettysburg Blogs

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — Gettysburg National Military Park recently launched blogs for history and current events and for teachers and students at

Park rangers and historians explore a wide variety of history topics and park news in the “Fields of Gettysburg” weekly blog.

“The Gettysburg School Bus” is a monthly blog by education specialist Barbara Sanders that includes ideas for teaching units, bulletin boards, projects and cross-curricular efforts.

The park is planning for the 2013 anniversary year when it will host commemorative programs for the July battle anniversary and the  November anniversary of the Gettysburg Address and two special seminars in cooperation with Gettysburg College and others.

The Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Web site has comprehensive events listings and  visitor information. 

Civil War Plays

WILSON, N.C. — Theater of the American South, a festival of Southern plays, food and culture, will feature the Civil War during its May 12-29 season in recognition of the war’s sesquicentennial. 

The festival will present two plays in repertory:  “The Civil War in Song & Legend,” featuring troubadour Bill Schustik with an entertaining musical reconstruction of the war, and “Shiloh Rules” by Doris Baizley, a comedy/drama featuring reenactors at Shiloh battlefield who discover that some conflicts of the War Between the States weren’t left behind in 1862. 

Other Civil War programs include presentations on the Battle of Shiloh by Professor Timothy Smith, May 14; Civil War medicine, marking reconstruction of the former Confederate hospital in Wilson, by Dr. Matthew Farina, May 21; Civil War quilting by Connie Walker, May 21; and African American involvement in espionage by Hari Jones, May 28. 

Festival information is at Tickets may also be ordered at (252) 291-4329 x10

Maryland Secession

FREDERICK, Md. — The 150th commemoration of the meeting of the Maryland Assembly in Frederick will be held the weekend of April 29-May 1.

Monocacy National Battlefield with several Frederick organizations, including the Frederick County Historical Society, Cultural Arts Center, Frederick County Fire and Rescue Museum and Frederick County Tourism, is hosting the events.

“Debate: Union or Disunion!” featuring legislative debate about secession will be held Saturday at 11 and 3:30 and Sunday at 1 at City Hall. A display with additional information about Maryland’s possible secession will be shown at the Monocacy National Battlefield visitor center.

For information, visit or call (301) 662-3515.

1961 Map Reprinted

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The April 1961 National Geographic magazine map that located and described every battle, campaign and major event of the war has been reprinted.

The two-sided “Battlefields of the Civil War” map, which includes insets of several battles, was published by Bella Terra Publishing and is available at historic sites, shops and online.

Ellsworth 150th

MECHANICVILLE, N.Y. — The Department of New York, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, is planning a Civil War Sesquicentennial ceremony commemorating Col. Elmer E. Ellsworth’s funeral on May 15.

Participants in the procession and funeral reenactment are asked to meet at the Mechanicville High School parking lot between 8:30 and 9 a.m. The 9:30 ceremony will be followed with a tour of the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga Springs and its Ellsworth exhibit.

Ellsworth raised the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Fire Zouaves. He was shot May 24, 1861, by the owner of an Alexandria, Va., hotel when he took the Confederate flag flying from its roof. Ellsworth’s body lay in state in the White House.

For more go to

Pa. Commemorations

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show, a 53-foot tractor-trailer exhibit that will take the story of the Civil War in Pennsylvania to all 67 counties from 2011-2014, will debut in May.

The road show begins May 6-8 in Pittsburgh, hosted by the Senator John Heinz History Center. The tour schedule can be seen at

The Civil War 150th anniversary was kicked off in April in  Philadelphia, Gettysburg and Harrisburg. The Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science & Art in Scranton, which was founded by Dr. Isaiah Fawkes Everhart, a field surgeon with the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry, shows “‘With bullets singing all around me’: Regional Stories of the Civil War” through July 17.

Vermont Observance

MONTPELIER, Vt. — State officials in period dress helped reenact the April 23, 1861, extra session of the Vermont legislature at which Gov. Erastus Fairbanks sought funds to answer President Lincoln’s call to put down the rebellion.

Legislators doubled the governor’s request for $500,000. Fairbanks telegraphed Lincoln, “Vermont will do its full duty,” as it did, sending 34,000 men to war.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, House Speaker Shap Smith and Senate President John Campbell donned facial hair and period dress for their reenactment of what Campbell called the most important session any Vermont legislature has held.

The Vermont Humanities Council Web site at lists lectures, speakers, reading and discussion programs and the weekly Civil War Book of Days.

Virginia Conference

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission’s Signature Conference, ”Military Strategy in the American Civil War,” will be May 21 at Virginia Tech.

This third annual Signature Conference will feature noted historians highlighting military strategy and tactics in Virginia and the Eastern and Western Theaters.

Speakers include James M. Bowen, Gary W. Gallagher, James I. Robertson Jr., William C. Davis, Joseph T. Glatthaar, Richard J. Sommers, Dennis E. Frye, Richard M. McMurry and Steven E. Woodworth.

Before May 1 the conference cost is $15, with lunch $10 extra. Later registration is $25 excluding lunch at the door. Students are $5. For information go to

Animated  Sumter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Civil War Trust is showing an explanatory narration, animated battle sequences and a variety of period photographs and illustrations at its Fort Sumter Animated Map, viewable at

Trust present James Lighthizer says they hope the map will “inspire a deeper understanding of and appreciation for American history.”

He said the Fort Sumter map adds a narration track to the presentation, improving the flow of information with a more seamless audio presentation, rather than a text-based one.

The Trust’s earlier animated maps are for the battles of Cedar Creek, Chancellorsville, Chantilly, Franklin and Fredericksburg. 

Additional sesquicentennial information and events can be found at

Flag Exhibit

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Military Museum’s “Bold Banners: Early Civil War Flags of South Carolina” exhibit will be open May 6 through Sept. 29.

It will feature some of the state’s earliest Civil War flags — hand-crafted works of art with hand-painted silk and dyed embroidered wool. This is the museum’s first major exhibit for the Civil War 150th anniversary.

For information call (803) 737-8095 or go to

N.C. 150th Programs

RALEIGH, N.C. — A conference, “Contested Past: Memories and Legacies of the Civil War,” will be held May 20 on the 150th anniversary of North Carolina’s secession from the Union. The following day is a living history program commemorating the secession vote and a look at the state’s early wartime preparations.

The keynote address, “Race and Reunion: Has Civil War Memory United or Divided America?,” by David Blight of Yale University, will kick off an all-day conference at the North Carolina Museum of History.

Sessions topics include literature, historiography, statuary, monuments, race, women, heritage organizations and other legacies. This is the first of three sesquicentennial symposiums to be held between 2011 and 2015.

Registration of $25 payable to the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association is due by May 10 to Parker Backstrom, 4610 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4610. For more information, call (919) 807-7280 or go to

The free May 21 program will be 10-4 at the State Capitol. The re-enactment of the Secession Convention’s vote will take place in the historic House Chamber at 11 a.m. Reenactors from the 26th North Carolina Regiment will portray Stephen Dodson Ramseur’s battery that was on the grounds and fired after the vote.

Afternoon activities include a drill and dress parade, field music concert and lectures on the state’s military organization, war flags, and the early uniforms and equipment of both North Carolina and Union soldiers.

 The 26th will present Confederate camp life, “Preparing for War: The 26th NC in 1861,” at Historic Oak View County Park on Sunday, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit for details.

Mass. Exhibits

GRAFTON, Mass. — The Grafton Historical Society observed the Civil War 150th anniversary with an April exhibit that will next go to the Worcester Public Library and Worcester Senior Center.

The exhibit features artifacts organized by the Worcester Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) Memorial Board of Trustees, including one of four flags captured at New Bern, N.C., on March 14, 1862, and brought back to Worcester. For exhibit information contact Daniel McAuliffe at

Manassas Information

Bull Runnings is the name of the digital history project about First Manassas maintained by Harry Smeltzer, who blogs about the war at

He discussed his work to create a repository for first-person accounts of the battle with Civil War Trust in the spring issue of Hallowed Ground magazine.


N.Y. Timeline

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — The New York State Military Museum and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Office have a “New York in the Civil War Timeline” on the museum’s Web site at

The timeline will chronologically track the state’s involvement in the Civil War and highlight events, units and notable New Yorkers in the state’s Civil War history.

In addition, the Division of Military and Naval Affairs is commemorating the state’s participation in the war with a series of New York-related news releases. A recent one recounted how the Civil War’s first prisoner of war was Lt. John L. Worden of Fishkill, who later was captain of the USS Monitor.