And the War Came

Honoring the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War -

1864: This Mighty Scourge of War

On February 9, 2014, The Lincoln Memorial Shrine will unveil the new exhibit “1864: This Mighty Scourge of War” in the east wing.  The exhibit is the fourth installment in the Shrine’s series commemorating the sesquicentennial the Civil War.

Original manuscripts from figures such as Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, and General William Tecumseh Sherman will be combined with contemporary and current illustrations to convey the important developments of the fourth year of the war.  These include the presidential election of 1864, Sherman’s March to the Sea, the Battle of the Crater, Mobile Bay, and the Wilderness. “1864 was the bloodiest year of the Civil War.  Siege and trench warfare became important tactics for the North.  African-Americans experienced the first full year of service in the US Army, making important contributions,” said Shrine curator Nathan Gonzales.  “It was an important year for the Union.”

1861

August 8, 1861 letter from Abraham Lincoln in which the President promises to intercede for a recently-discharged Union Army officer who lost his job as a result of politics. Click to enlarge.

Whether it is called the War of the Rebellion, the War between the States, or the more common “compromise” name, the American Civil War has been aptly described as the cross-roads of American history, the period when American transformed from a rural, predominantly loose confederation of disunited states, to an industrialized, more federal nation that would soon assume a greater role on the world stage. The conflict itself was by far the most sanguine in our history, with 626,000 soldiers losing their lives – almost as many as all other American wars combined.

As judged by the popularity of the numerous books which are published every year on the battles and campaigns of the conflict, the war and Abraham Lincoln’s role as Commander in Cheif continue to fascinate many Americans.

And the War Came focuses on the dramatic events of 1861. The exhibit features manuscripts, artowrk, and artifacts that examine the causes of the war, and an 1861 timeline with quotes about the events surrounding the Shrine’s west wing.

Some of the major themes included in the timeline:

  • The Secession Crisis – The election of Abraham Lincoln as our first Republican president convinced seven slave-holding southern states to secede from the Union. Why did they perceive him to be such a threat?
  • Fort Sumter – After Lincoln’s election, the South demanded that the Federal fort in Charleston Harbor be evacuated. By refusing, Lincoln maneuvered the South into firing the first shot, thereby rallying previously lukewarm Northern support for war.
  • The Border States – Despite being slave-holding states, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky stayed loyal to the Union. How did Lincoln manage to prevent their secession?
  • The Battle of Bull Run – The politicians and newspapers in the North were convinced that one big battle would end the Southern rebellion. The sharp defeat at Bull Run / Manassas would shatter that illusion.
  • The Battle of Ball’s Bluff – This little known Union defeat in Viginia would have significant repercussions as it would lead to the creation of the meddling congressional committee on the conduct of the war, a major thorn in Loncolkn’s side during the remainder of the conflict.
  • The Mason-Slidell Affair – Also known as the Trent Affair, the Union seizure of two Confederate diplomats from a British vessel threatened to lead to war between the United Sattes and Great Britain. Could Lincoln afford more than one war at a time?

As the year ended, how much progress had Lincoln made towards his goal of ending the Southern rebellion and restoring the Union? Discover these answers at the exhibit And the War Came now featured at the Lincoln Memorial Shrine.

  • The Lincoln Memorial Shrine is a unit of the Special Collections Division of A.K. Smiley Public Library. The Watchorn Lincoln Memorial Association, a 501 (c)3 tax deductible organization oversees the WLMA endowment.