The Civil War spurred an age of prosperity and political power for Ohio. Its story touches nearly every community in our state.
In an announcement, the Ohio Historical Society said, "The Civil War sesquicecentennial (2011-15) provides an opportunity to discover ways in which citizens of Ohio had a deep and lasting influence on the war."
Rachel Doddato is working with OHS as a leader in the "Civil War 150" commemoration She has a master's degree in American history from Youngstown State University and teaches American history part time at Thiel College in Pennsylvania. She has taught part time at YSU and was assistant curator at the Sutliff Museum in Warren for a year and a half. Doddato can help as a source of information and a facilitator for those planning and working on commemorations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The American Civil War started 150 years ago with the attack of Confederate forces on April 12, 1861, upon Fort Sumter, a U.S. military installation in the harbor of Charleston, S.C. The war ended four years later with the surrender of General Robert E. Lee to General U.S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va., on April 9, 1865. It is estimated that 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died of wounds, infections and disease. The number of civilian casualties is unknown. The horror of that time is to be remembered as an inability of the people of our democratic nation to resolve peaceably issues of civil liberties, politics and economics.
While many Americans have little awareness of what social, economic, political, technological and military events caused the war, what took place during the war and the events that followed it, many others have a wealth of knowledge that has come down to them through their families. Some have packets of letters and diaries written during the conflict. Historical societies have collections of stamps, flags, uniforms, remnants of uniforms, guns, swords, cannons and wide variety of artifacts from those days. There are Union and Confederate reenactment organizations that have encampments and mock maneuvers. There is a Mahoning Valley Civil War Roundtable, which meets monthly to hear and discuss scholarly papers about events of that time. Groups may want to participate with an innovative, creative, informative public event one or more times over the next four years.
Awareness of Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg Address is essential to any understanding of the Civil War. Knowledge of the greater and lesser military conflicts is important. There was, however, so much more.
Photography, which was in its infancy at the outset of the war, became a major means of communication for newspapers. Mathew Brady sent men into the battle zones to take photographs which were brought to Washington, D.C., for developing and distribution. Artists like Winslow Homer went into the battlefields to sketch and paint. One of his best-known Civil War paintings is "The Army of the Potomac ? a Sharp Shooter on Picket Duty."
Music and marches were very much a part of the time. Think of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Aura Lee" and "Taps." Maybe you have copies of these historic documents to share.
Field hospitals and prison camps are a study of their own and a contrast to modern times.
According to Wendell F. Lauth, a noted Trumbull County historian from Bristolville, "Trumbull County men participated in major military operations in practically every sector where Union forces fought. Trumbull County, in the heart of the Western Reserve, had a long history of anti-slavery sentiment and the Underground Railroad flourished here in the decades before the outbreak of the war. John Brown and his family were well known in Trumbull County. John Kagy (Kagi) from Bristol Township was killed in the unsuccessful raid at Harper's Ferry on Oct. 17, 1859."
We have much to teach those who have meager awareness, and much to commemorate.
For more information on the OHS and the 150th anniversary, visit www.ohiocivilwar150.org.