Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Commemorating The American Civil War

As I wrote in my previous post, today is of course the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War. On April 12, 1861 the war began when Confederate troops began bombarding Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The war which took slightly more than four years to end, resulted in the deaths of 620,000 American soldiers, many of whom died not from battle wounds, but from horrendous disease acquired on the fields or in the hospitals. That total represents roughly two percent of the nation's population (including the South) in 1861. That would be over 6 million soldiers if the War would be fought today.

The American Civil War remains the nation's deadliest by far, and still accounts for more deaths than all other wars this nation has fought in combined. Fifty years ago, the nation seemed to celebrate the war, at least from most accounts I have read. I was born during the centennial of the Civil War, but cannot remember it.

This time, thankfully, the nation has seemed to be approaching this sesquicentennial more somberly, choosing to commemorate rather than celebrate. That is more fitting and proper, because how can a nation celebrate the deaths of 620,000 men while fighting, in some cases, brother against brother?

Unfortunately, our current Federal Government has not formed an official sesquicentennial commission to commemorate the war. That has been left to the individual states, cities, towns, and villages across the country. Still, there are some noteworthy happenings which I'd like to share with you.

Earlier today, beginning before dawn, there was a re-enactment of the bombardment of Ft. Sumter. It seems as if it must have been a very moving ceremony. You can read about it courtesy of this report from the Associated Press. I believe there will be an "encampment" this weekend at the fort as well, should you be in the area.

The Library Of Congress in Washington, D.C. is staging an important exhibition of tintypes and other photographs from the Civil War from April 12 through August 13, 2011. Titled "The Last Full Measure: Civil War Photographs from the Liljenquist Family Collection" features soldiers and sailors from each side, along with their families, possessions, and so on. Click here to read more about the exhibition.

The United States Postal Service today released two new stamps, one featuring the bombardment of Fort Sumter, the other featuring the First Battle Of Bull Run, which was of course the first major land battle of the Civil War. Information and images of the stamps may be found here.

Over the next four years, until 2015, there will be countless state and local commemoration ceremonies. My own state of Ohio had its official kickoff this past Sunday, April 10, at the statehouse in Columbus. Check your own state or community to see how it will commemorate the American Civil War sesquicentennial. USA Today has recently run a page which lists many such events from across the country. Click here to see the list.

I will continue to do my part to help commemorate the war, by continuing this blog about Abraham Lincoln. Rather than focus on the battles, generals, and soldiers, I will examine Lincoln and the actions he took during the war. I strongly feel that Lincoln himself is being overlooked in the commemorative events which have already taken place and those which have yet to happen. It's important that his role be discussed.

In addition, I operate a Facebook page in which "Lincoln" himself is providing real-time updates from the year 1861. I write in character as President Lincoln, interact with fans of the page, and give any important news. I began the page to commemorate his Inauguration Journey, and will continue it throughout his presidency. Why don't you drop by? Over 460 people have already become fans and I would love to have you join the experience. It's my way to help keep Lincoln's legacy alive. http://facebook.com/HonestAbrahamLincoln

4 comments:

Carol Tiffin James said...

I'm really appreciating your Facebook posts, but I just have a minor question. On FB "Abe" spells Ft. Sumter as Ft. Sumpter (adding a P). I was just wondering if those were typos or if Mr. Lincoln actually spelled it that way.

Thanks,
Carol

Geoffrey M. Elliott said...

Hi Carol,

Thanks for the comment. Yes, on Facebook "President Lincoln" spells Sumter with a "p" in the name. Mr. Lincoln actually did spell it that way (as did others). Spelling wasn't as standardized in his time as it is in ours. Also, Lincoln and a lot of his cabinet had not heard of the fort until he took office. Thus the spelling.

I try to be historically accurate on the Facebook page. That's why I choose to spell "Sumter" as he did, even though it's incorrect.

Carol Tiffin James said...

I'm impressed! Of course, I'm always impressed with the high quality of your research and historical accuracy... Thanks for the explanation, and thanks for the effort you put into this. I, among many, really appreciate it.

Carol

Geoffrey M. Elliott said...

Carol,

Thank you for your compliments. I do strive for historical accuracy in my posts, and it's kind of you to notice it. Of course, I am only human, and no doubt I do have inaccuracies in some of my posts. I catch them myself from time to time and will correct them, even if no one else has noticed.

As always, I thank you for reading!

Geoff

 
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