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Highlights Archives

Civil War Memories and Mementos


Civil War General Winfield Scott Hancock and staff in 1860
WHI 1992

With the four-year-long commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War just beginning, the Wisconsin Historical Museum is getting ahead of the curve with a special exhibit called Civil War Memories and Mementos. The exhibit showcases objects ranging from battlefield relics to homefront souvenirs through which visitors can explore how people of the Civil War era responded to the war, how they chose to memorialize it, and how the experience of war and remembrance has changed over the past 150 years. "Civil War Memories and Mementos" runs through October 8.

A Historic Event that Shaped the Future of the United States

"From the moment the Civil War began, Americans knew they were living through a historic event, one that touched each citizen and shaped the future of the United States," explains exhibit curator Leslie Bellais. "Keeping their memories was often done with books, photographs and objects, especially uniforms and armament, but some Wisconsinites also chose to commemorate the war with small mementos and relics."

Some of the exhibit's pieces tell of death, hardship and imprisonment while others speak of courage, loyalty and perceived patriotism. Says Bellais, "these tokens of remembrance serve as a way for us to feel the personal hope, pain, despair and excitement experienced by those who lived during that extraordinary event known as the Civil War."

Among the objects on display are a Civil War draft raffle drum, a silver punch bowl presented to a Civil War hero, a feather from Old Abe, the Civil War eagle mascot, and a slave collar.

If You Go

For complete details on hours, admission, location, parking and public bus routes, visit the museum's visitor information page.

:: Posted March 16, 2011

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