Honoring the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War -
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.