Smithsonian Civil War 150

Smithsonian Civil War 150 Explore the Civil War 150th anniversary with the Smithsonian Institution Explore the 150th anniversary of the Civil War through the collections of the Smithsonian Institution.
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Both sides envisioned easy victories after eleven Southern states seceded and war broke out in 1861. But the bitter, ruthless fight lasted four years. More than three million Americans saw battle. The Smithsonian was not yet fifteen years old when the Civil War began. Since then, the Smithsonian has been actively collecting, preserving, and remembering America’s bloodiest and most divisive conflic

Both sides envisioned easy victories after eleven Southern states seceded and war broke out in 1861. But the bitter, ruthless fight lasted four years. More than three million Americans saw battle. The Smithsonian was not yet fifteen years old when the Civil War began. Since then, the Smithsonian has been actively collecting, preserving, and remembering America’s bloodiest and most divisive conflic

Operating as usual

Because of Lincoln's iconic status today, it is sometimes easy to forget that he had to run for re-election in the midst...
02/10/2017
The election of 1864 as seen through the Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Collection

Because of Lincoln's iconic status today, it is sometimes easy to forget that he had to run for re-election in the midst of the Civil War.

Via National Museum of American History

One contentious election of the 19th century that produced a significant output of political prints was the 1864 wartime contest between Republican incumbent Abraham Lincoln and his Northern Democratic opponent, George B. McClellan.

These images lightly lampooned current events. Can they still make us chuckle?Via National Museum of American History
02/09/2017
4 fascinating examples of Civil War humor

These images lightly lampooned current events. Can they still make us chuckle?

Via National Museum of American History

While today's memes and political cartoons spread through posts on Facebook and Twitter, these images spread through the mail.

For his 197th birthday, a few interesting things you might not know about William Tecumseh Sherman: http://s.si.edu/Sher...
02/08/2017

For his 197th birthday, a few interesting things you might not know about William Tecumseh Sherman: http://s.si.edu/ShermanFacts

Via National Museum of American History

via National Museum of American History: What did this Civil War soldier find on his Thanksgiving plate? http://s.si.edu...
11/25/2015
Baked beans, coffee, and bread: A Civil War Thanksgiving

via National Museum of American History:

What did this Civil War soldier find on his Thanksgiving plate? http://s.si.edu/CWTurkeyDay

Just in time for Thanksgiving, Project Manager Nanci Edwards shares a family letter from the Civil War, providing a glimpse into what the holiday was like for one Union soldier.Vidal Thom was my great-great uncle. On Christmas Day, 1861, the 19-year-old enlisted in the Union army in Nashua, New Hamp…

Today in 1861: President Lincoln names George McClellan general in chief of the Union armies. McClellan wore this coat a...
11/01/2015

Today in 1861: President Lincoln names George McClellan general in chief of the Union armies. McClellan wore this coat at Antietam. More soldiers were killed or wounded at Antietam than all the American dead in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

via National Museum of American History

Today in 1861: President Lincoln names George McClellan general in chief of the Union armies. McClellan wore this coat at Antietam. More soldiers were killed or wounded at Antietam than all the American dead in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined.

McClellan's well-tailored kepi hat, also known as a chasseur cap, was a taller type than most Civil War kepis and popular with soldiers of all ranks. They sometimes placed a wet sponge or handkerchief under the crown to keep cool.

See McClellan's drafting kit from West Point, also in our collection: http://s.si.edu/1jWQbl7

Smithsonian Channel
10/16/2015

Smithsonian Channel

On this day in 1859, abolitionist John Brown raided Harpers Ferry, seizing the federal armory and arsenal in an attempt to start a slave revolt.

Aerial America: West Virginia covers the raid, tonight at 8PM. http://bit.ly/AerialAmerica_WestVirginia

National Museum of American History
10/15/2015

National Museum of American History

Today in 1860: 11-yr-old Grace Bedell writes Abraham Lincoln and suggests he improve his appearance by growing a beard. Lincoln wrote back and said, "As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of sill affection if I were to begin it now?"

Do you prefer Abe with or without a beard? These presidential campaign badges were made by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut around 1860. Each includes a tintype portrait of Lincoln.

Fun activity to do with kids about Grace's letter: http://s.si.edu/1PT605U

New from Civil War Trust
09/14/2015

New from Civil War Trust

Many of you joined us last week to view the complete Ken Burns series over the course of 11 hours. Now you can watch the entire war unfold in 27 minutes! We’re excited to launch our newest animated map on our website. “The Civil War” covers everything from Fort Sumter to Appomattox and beyond. Take a look! http://www.civilwar.org/maps/animated-maps/civil-war-animated-map/

Antietam National Battlefield
09/14/2015

Antietam National Battlefield

Today is the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of South Mountain. This Union victory had R.E.Lee planning his early escape back into Virginia. But the following day, after receiving word from Stonewall Jackson that the Federal garrison at Harpers Ferry was about to surrender, Lee decided to reform his army and make a stand along the banks of the Antietam Creek. Join us, starting this Wednesday, to commemorate the 153rd anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. #ANTI153 #findyourpark
http://www.nps.gov/anti/planyourvisit/upload/2015-Battle-Anniversary-Schedule.pdf

USS Monitor Turret revealed after three years in alkaline bath
07/28/2015
USS Monitor Turret revealed after three years in alkaline bath

USS Monitor Turret revealed after three years in alkaline bath

The Monitor turret treatment tank on Monday, July 27, 2015 was exposed from beneath an alkaline solution for the first time in three years. It takes 4 1/2 hours to drain 90,000 gallons from the treatment tank. 

National Museum of American History
07/21/2015

National Museum of American History

Today in 1861: The Battle of Bull Run, the first major clash in the Civil War, is fought, ending in Confederate victory.

Bull Run shattered illusions that either side would win quickly or easily. The battle came about when President Lincoln ordered General Irvin McDowell to strike Confederate forces at Manassas Junction, as a step toward taking Richmond. He wanted to move quickly against the enemy, hoping a decisive victory would quell the rebellion.

Attacking early in the morning, Union forces first seemed to be winning, but the Confederates checked their advance. Confederate general Thomas Jackson earned the nickname "Stonewall" for his stout defensive stance.

Late in the day, the Confederates counterattacked. Weary Union troops retreated, then panicked and fled helter-skelter back to Washington.

Image: "Stonewall Jackson, Bull Run, July 21, 1861" print by H.A. Ogden, copyrighted 1900 by Jones Brothers Publishing Co. Warshaw Collection of Business Americana. Archives Center, National Museum of American History."

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park
07/18/2015

Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park

152 years ago today the Union launched a second frontal assault against Battery Wagner.

At about 9:00 AM Union ships began bombarding Wagner as Confederate troops hid out in bombproofs. There wasn't enough room for the entire garrison of 1,700 men (from the Charleston Battalion, 51st and 31st North Carolina, 63rd Georgia Heavy Artillery, and First South Carolina Regular Artillery) inside the bombproofs. To free up space, some of the men were stationed outside the battery in rice casks sunk in the sand as makeshift ratholes. These men tried to defend against Union sharpshooters and artillery.

The Union assault was led by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment--one of the first African American units to be recruited in the North. Behind them in the first brigade were the 6th Connecticut, 48th New York, 3rd New Hampshire, 9th Maine, and 76th Pennsylvania. They were followed by two more brigades--the third was to be used as reserves.

At 7:45 the attack began. As they marched up the narrow neck of land toward Morris Island, many of the Union soldiers had to slosh through water up to their knees. Some members of the 6th C.T. and 48th N.Y. were able to push up the parapet and into Battery Wagner, however, they were pushed back in fierce hand-to-hand combat. Finally, without support from the third brigade, Major Butler gave the order to retreat. The Confederates had successfully defended Battery Wagner.

The ramifications of the battle stretched beyond Charleston Harbor. As word of the 54th Massachusetts' hard fight spread, recruitment of African Americans in the Union army accelerated rapidly, and as Frederick Douglass said, "Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship."

From 150 years ago today... Holiday in Camp--Soldiers Playing "Football", from Harper's Weekly, July 15, 1865, part of t...
07/16/2015

From 150 years ago today...

Holiday in Camp--Soldiers Playing "Football", from Harper's Weekly, July 15, 1865, part of the collections of Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery.

150 years ago today, Mary Surratt and other conspirators are hanged for their crimes in connection with the assassinatio...
07/07/2015
The Family Plot to Kill Lincoln

150 years ago today, Mary Surratt and other conspirators are hanged for their crimes in connection with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Learn more about the roles played by she and John Surratt in this article from Smithsonian Magazine.

Mary and John Surratt helped John Wilkes Booth assassinate Abraham Lincoln and then paid the ultimate penalty for their actions

From 150 years ago today: Discharge papers for Augustus Peters on July 4, 1865 issued by Company G, Regiment 23, Wiscons...
07/04/2015

From 150 years ago today: Discharge papers for Augustus Peters on July 4, 1865 issued by Company G, Regiment 23, Wisconsin Infantry.

From the Archives Center at National Museum of American History.

Find resources about Lincoln's assassination and the aftermath by visiting Smithsonian Magazine. Articles include topics...
07/02/2015
The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Find resources about Lincoln's assassination and the aftermath by visiting Smithsonian Magazine. Articles include topics such as the FBI's investigation of booth, Lincoln's missing bodyguard and newspaper records of the aftermath.

A look back at the fateful night 150 years ago that changed American history forever

It may be 152 years since the Battle of #Gettysburg instead of the 150 we usually commemorate, but in case you weren't f...
07/01/2015
A Cutting-Edge Second Look at the Battle of Gettysburg

It may be 152 years since the Battle of #Gettysburg instead of the 150 we usually commemorate, but in case you weren't following us for that anniversary, we wanted to share some resources you may have missed.

New technology has given us the chance to re-examine how the Civil War battle was won and lost

150 years ago tomorrow, he last Confederate general surrendered his arms at Doaksville, Oklahoma, near Fort Towson. Lear...
06/22/2015

150 years ago tomorrow, he last Confederate general surrendered his arms at Doaksville, Oklahoma, near Fort Towson. Learn more about Confederate Brigadier General Chief Stand Watie (his Cherokee name was De-ga-ta-ga): http://bit.ly/SWatie

Image credit: Brig. Gen. Stand Watie. National Archives Identifier 529026.

via National Museum of American History - 150 years ago today, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas,...
06/19/2015
Depicting the business of slavery

via National Museum of American History - 150 years ago today, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and issued General Orders, Number 3. It proclaimed that all slaves in the state were free, and that there now existed "an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves."

What exactly was the "Business of Slavery," and how does it fit into the larger history of business in America?

UVA Announces New Center for Civil War History
06/15/2015
UVA Announces New Center for Civil War History

UVA Announces New Center for Civil War History

A new center for Civil War history will build on the University of Virginia's distinction as a widely recognized leader in the research and teaching of 19th-century American history.

Did you know that yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of the last surrender of a Confederate general to Unionists? Th...
06/04/2015
Slavery, Famine And The Politics of Pie: What Civil War Recipes Reveal

Did you know that yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of the last surrender of a Confederate general to Unionists? This recent blog from NPR, posted to commemorate that event, discusses how the Civil War was a "war in which food played a powerful role in determining the outcome."

From recipes for apple pie without apples to advice on how to treat servants, the era's cookbooks hint at the turbulence outside the kitchen window. Indeed, food helped decide the war's outcome.

"The first Memorial Day observances were notable for having been organized by those Americans who were unable to fully p...
05/25/2015
You asked, we answered: Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?

"The first Memorial Day observances were notable for having been organized by those Americans who were unable to fully participate in the conflict that defined their era: women and African Americans."

Learn more about the history of #MemorialDay in this blog from the National Museum of American History.

We know you're curious. A Civil War military history researcher explains where Memorial Day celebrations came from.

National Museum of American History
05/12/2015

National Museum of American History

Today in 1864, during the Civil War, this Flag, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Army Corps flag flies for last time.

The trefoil (shamrock) design was selected due to the Irish origin of many of the soldiers.

The Second Army Corps has a prestigious history; it has been called "the corps with the longer continuous service, a larger organization, hardest fighting and greatest number of casualties than any other in the eastern armies....Of the hundred Union regiments which lost the most men in battle, thirty-five belonged to the Second Corps." By reputation, "until the battle of Spotsylvania, on May 10, 1864, it never lost a gun or color."

More: http://bit.ly/1chNPcN

Another #FunFact from National Museum of American History...
05/03/2015

Another #FunFact from National Museum of American History...

Today in 1863: General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson is wounded by his own men at Chancellorsville. Sheet music from the BMI Archives Confederate Music Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.

Did the End of the Civil War Mean the End of Slavery? : What It Means to Be American
05/02/2015
Did the End of the Civil War Mean the End of Slavery? : What It Means to Be American

Did the End of the Civil War Mean the End of Slavery? : What It Means to Be American

On the same morning that Abraham Lincoln died from an assassin’s bullet, noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was quietly gloating by the Charleston, South Carolina graveside of John C. Calhoun. Garrison, approaching his 60th birthday, had trave

Going through Civil War 150 withdrawals? Why not take part in an upcoming event from The Smithsonian Associates?Jeff Sha...
04/29/2015
Jeff Shaara on Sherman’s March to the Sea

Going through Civil War 150 withdrawals? Why not take part in an upcoming event from The Smithsonian Associates?

Jeff Shaara on Sherman’s March to the Sea
Evening Lecture with Book Signing
Thursday, June 4, 2015 - 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Following his successful campaign into Georgia, which results in the Union capture of Atlanta, Gen. William T. Sherman embarked on his next great mission in November 1864: to sweep across the breadbasket of Georgia, inflicting serious damage on the state’s ability to feed the Southern armies.

04/27/2015
Washington's Wily Women

Washington's Wily Women

As flirtatious and cunning as they were respected and refined, many doyennes of Washington society operated as spies for the Confederacy.

National Museum of American History
04/27/2015

National Museum of American History

Today in 1822: Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States and Union general is born. This was Grant's U.S. Military Academy cadet coatee, worn circa 1839. Grant was a member of the class of 1843.

According to American National Biography, "Grant's four years at West Point were distinguished mainly by his horsemanship. He could tame the most obstreperous beast; he set a jumping record that stood for decades. Yet when he graduated in June 1843 (ranking 21st in a class of 39) the army in its wisdom assigned him to the Fourth Infantry."

Final issue of The Smithsonian Associates Civil War 150th commemorative eNewsletter. For information on upcoming lecture...
04/26/2015
Civil War eNewsletter: Final 150th Anniversary Issue

Final issue of The Smithsonian Associates Civil War 150th commemorative eNewsletter. For information on upcoming lectures, seminars, tours, and other Smithsonian Civil War special events, please visit: http://smithsonianassociates.org/ticketing/tickets/search_civil-war.aspx?keyword=C-Civil_War

With the close of the Civil War 150th Anniversary Celebration, this will be our final issue of the Civil War Newsletter for now. Thank you for your support!___________________________________

After Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston considered the war to be a lost cause and so...
04/26/2015

After Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston considered the war to be a lost cause and sought terms of peace with his nemesis-in-blue, General William T. Sherman. This print celebrates the formal surrender of Johnston’s army on April 26, 1865, near Greensboro, North Carolina.

Currier & Ives Lithography Company, 1865, part of the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The Final Hours of John Wilkes Booth
04/25/2015
The Final Hours of John Wilkes Booth

The Final Hours of John Wilkes Booth

The dogs heard it first, rising from the southwest. Distant sounds, yet inaudible to human ears, of metal touching metal; of a hundred hoofs sending vibrations through the earth; of labored breathing from tired horses; of faint human voices. These early warning signs alerted the dogs sleeping under…

Today in 1865: This black silk cloth was draped over Lincoln's casket while his body lay in state in Cleveland, Ohio. It...
04/25/2015

Today in 1865: This black silk cloth was draped over Lincoln's casket while his body lay in state in Cleveland, Ohio. It later covered the coffin of President James A. Garfield, the second president to be assassinated. (National Museum of American History)

When the Soldiers Went Home
04/24/2015
When the Soldiers Went Home

When the Soldiers Went Home

On June 11, 1865, an Iowa adjutant named Taylor Peirce wrote a letter to his wife, Catharine, and their three children in Des Moines. At the age of 42, Peirce was ancient by Army standards ...

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