2011 marks the 150th anniversary of Civil War

13 years ago

The muskets and cannons of the Civil War beat a muffled tattoo in the back of my brain, compelling me to remind everyone that this year marks the 150 anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. The conflict opened on April 12th 1861 when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The first official battle began at Henry Hill in Manassas, Virginia, and while that battle has ended, the battle for the naming of it has not. Southerners maintain the battle is “First Manassas” while northerners call it the “First Battle of Bull Run.” However, the former battlefield may also mark the first formal celebration of peace and reconciliation. Fifty years after the battle, in 1911, hundreds of Union and Confederate veterans gathered and strode toward each other – this time to shake hands. This year on July 21st, in Manassas, there was a reenactment of this gesture of peace.
If you are considering Civil War-related events, I recommend a visit to the website www.hallowedground.org before you go. ”Journey Through Hallowed Ground” is a non-profit organization devoted to an appreciation of the causes and effects of the Civil War on this 180-mile long region between Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and Monticello, Virginia. The website’s offerings are organized by region, and by six interest areas: Civil War, Colonial, Presidential, Historic Buildings, African American Heritage, and Prominent Homes.

Most major Civil War battlefields are national parks now, and each can be a day trip fromthe Washington D. C. area. Most have an interpretive center with a short film that describes what happened there, many have guides, and there are self-guided driving and walking tours.

Back in the 1990s my husband Fred and I visited our son Cameron at an Army base in Virginia. While there we visited the Petersburg National Battlefield, and were surprised to find a monument erected to commemorate the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. Sadly, this regiment sustained the most casualties of any regiment in the entire Civil War.

One of the most important Civil War websites is: http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/ This website has indexed known soldiers and sailors of the Civil War, has links to 364 of the most important battles of the war, as well as links to National Parks related to military history in 18 states. If you are wondering if one of your ancestors participated in the Civil War, this website is a good starting place. Search on your ancestor and the website will bring you a list of service personnel with that name. If listed, you can then see what battles his regiment fought in, flags, and much other data relating to the war and how it may have impacted your ancestor.

Historical societies and Civil War re-enactment societies will be ramping up their activities for the four years of the anniversary period, so keep watch for event listings.

Editor’s note: This regular column is sponsored by the Aroostook County Genealogical Society. The group meets the fourth Monday of the month except in July and December at the Cary Medical Center’s Chan Education Center, 163 Van Buren Road, Caribou, at 6:30 p.m. Guests and prospective members are always welcome. FMI contact Edwin “J” Bullard at 492-5501. Columnist Nina Brawn of Dover-Foxcroft, who has been doing genealogy for over 30 years, is a freelance genealogy researcher, speaker and teacher. Reader e-mails are welcome at ninabrawn@gmail.com.