This year commemorates the 150th anniversary of three important Civil War events: the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Vicksburg, and the Gettysburg Address. As evidenced by the large number of books and movies that continue to be released about the subject, this devastating conflict continues to fascinate Americans and resonate in American culture. Perhaps this is because despite the casualties and property damage, the war was a transformational event, including the abomination of slavery, the disruption of our government, and the difficult aftermath of Reconstruction.
At the Chadds Ford Historical Society, a new exhibit entitled “The Civil War Comes to Chadds Ford” depicts this tragic story through letters, historical documents, memorabilia and relics directly from the battlefield. The display covers all four important years, from the initial cannonade against Fort Sumter to the final surrender at Appomattox. Chris Sanderson, the unofficial “village historian” of Chadds Ford, had a deep interest in history and his mementos used in the exhibit give us helpful insights into the past.
The exhibit, which runs through Sept. 8, begins with a letter written to Chris by W.S. Hammer, the soldier who took down the Union flag at Fort Sumter. It also includes such artifacts as bullets, mortar shells, other remnants from Antietam to Chancellorsville, commemorative plates of both General Ulysses S. Grant and General Robert E. Lee, a portion of a fencepost that witnessed Pickett’s charge on the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and a photograph of Abraham Lincoln just eight days before he gave the most important oration in American history. A representation of the Gettysburg Address sits underneath the image.
The exhibit also includes an oversized print titled “First At Vicksburg” depicting the battle, which ended a day after Gettysburg, giving the Union control of much of the Mississippi River and sealed the fate of the Confederacy.
Along with Sanderson Museum Curator Chuck Ulmann, I assisted curating the exhibit, which will be on view at Chadds Ford Historical Society through early September 2013. For more information, please call the Society at 610-388-7376, visit their website at www.chaddsfordhistory.org, or visit The Sanderson Museum website at www.sandersonmuseum.org.
Gene Pisasale is an author and lecturer based in Kennett Square, Pa. He’s written five books and conducts an ongoing lecture series highlighting topics of historical and local interest in the Philadelphia/Chester County area. His new historical novel “The Forgotten Star” delves into the War of 1812 and true life mysteries surrounding an American icon- The Star Spangled Banner. It is dedicated to all of our Veterans. His new lecture series is titled “The Civil War- A 150 Year Retrospective”. Gene welcomes inquiries for lectures and book signings. He can be contacted by e-mail at Gene@GenePisasale.com; visit his website at www.GenePisasale.com.