Question of the Week: 9/5-9/11/16


What is your favorite museum artifact from the Civil War? Why is it special to you?

13 Responses to Question of the Week: 9/5-9/11/16

  1. Favorite? I can only pick just one?

    I traveled to Joliet IL recently, to see the flag of the 100th Illinois. I am sort of attached to that regiment and its commander, Fred Bartleson, who lost an arm at Shiloh, returned to be captured at Chickamauga, and left a detailed journal of his time in Libby Prison during the famous breakout of Feb 1864.

    And some years ago, a friend and I traveled to Columbus Georgia to view the (then) Infantry Museum at Fort Benning – since become a much different and more expansive place. At the time, as we walked through, my friend Dan pointed out a square leather case, holding 12 bottles, which was ID’ed as General Grant’s traveling liquor case.

    The bottles were labeled, Gin, Whiskey, etc. There were no mixers in General Grant’s liquor case. That has stayed with Dan and I for many years – we still joke about it.

  2. I’m with Dave – it’s hard to pick just one. Two that made the biggest impressions on me as a kid were Lee’s HQ tent and Lew Armistead’s sword, both at the Museum of the Confederacy. I had been reading about these guys, and that was the first time I realized (I was 11 or so) that stuff from that era was still around. The connection was very powerful. I can still picture them in my mind right now.

    As an adult, two in particular stand out. About a year ago I got to look at Fort Sumter through Beauregard’s telescope from the room and spot where he observed the bombardment. The MONITOR’s turret is another great one. Both gave a sense of place and authenticity (“being in their shoes”) it is impossible to replicate.

  3. Civil War battle flags hanging from the lobby ceiling of the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus. Talk about impressive.

  4. Having spent years with the men of the CSS Shenandoah and their wonderful journals, I was rather awed by viewing the Confederate banner they flew on their odyssey around the globe, the last to be lowered, and without defeat or surrender. It is at the Museum of the Confederacy.

  5. While usually I would agree that it is hard to pick just one, for personal reasons I can easily do so here: my favorite piece is a large pencil sketch of the 1863/64 winter camp of the 4th North Carolina Infantry. It is part of the permanent exhibition in the NC Museum of History in Raliegh. When I first came across it rather accidentally, I almost keeled over backwards: it was drawn by the regiment’s adjutant, William Sharpe Barnes, originally of Co. F out of Wilson County. At the time I had been researching William and his older brother Jesse for some time already, so finding this was just awesome. It was donated to the museum by one of William’s descendants from the branch of the family that had since the war moved to Florida. I love the details in any case, but to have it be by a young man whose life story I know better than those of my own family members at that time adds so much to it!

  6. I’ve recovered many MiniĆ© balls from a battlefield (on private property, with permission of course) while metal detecting where one of my great-great grandfathers was wounded while fighting for the Confederacy. Most of those were recovered from the very line where he was wounded. Any one of those would be my favorite.

  7. It is not a museum artifact, per se, but in a way it is.

    The Augusta Power Works Chimney monument, in Augusta, Georgia. It is very impressive.

    Without that facility and the man who envisioned it, built it, and ran it (George W. Rains), none of us would have ever heard of William T. Sherman or Lew Armistead, and U.S. Grant would never have become a great general, let alone president. The war would have ended in middle-62 at the latest.

  8. Fewer artifacts had a greater impact on me than the table purportedly used during the surgery to amputate Stonewall Jackson’s arm. It caught my daughter’s imagination many, many years ago, which in turned helped draw both of us into Civil War studies. The table is on display at the Gettysburg Visitor Center museum, along with the stretcher said to have been used to evacuate Jackson from the field.

    And of course there’s the bed Jackson died in, on display at the Jackson Shrine in Guiney Station. And the clock on the mantel, still ticking. It is, I daresay, one of the most profound sounds one can hear at any NPS site.

  9. The jacket worn by Elmer Ellsworth when he was shot in Alexandria. It is at the New York State Military Museum in Saratoga, New York. The huge hole is, indeed, right over where his heart would have been, and even though the shot also hit his brass breast pin, it is clearly a death wound. I just gasped when I saw it, went all sort of cold, and felt a little dizzy. I am pretty sure, after seeing it, that my colonel died instantly, but there was no doubt–he was dead!

    1. Meg, I have seen that jacket, and I agree, it is pretty striking (if I may be so bold.) In fact, that whole museum is pretty cool.

  10. After 28 years bringing the 36 VA. INF. REGT back alive in reenacting, finally seeing her Regt flag at the museum of the Confederacy was my best. WISHING IF IT COULD ONLY TALK AND CLOSING MY EYES AND SEEING WHERE IT HAS BEEN

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