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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Minnesota and the Civil War


A major new exhibit on Minnesota’s role in the Civil War began this summer at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul.  We decided to take a look with out friends Gary and Rosie. It was more than a decade  ago now, when the multi-millionaire owners of the Twins and the Vikings were threatening to move their franchises unless public  funds were provided to build them new stadiums,  that our legislature chose instead to fund a new history center. I supported that decision not liking to be blackmailed into funding a private enterprise.  Recently new stadiums were built first for our State University and then partially  funding the Twins baseball park.    The beautiful history center remains a point of State pride to me. Looking out from the upper floor of The History Center toward our State Capitol.
It is an interactive museum with both permanent and changing exhibits. It  hosts concerts, lectures, family days and other special events throughout the year. The building is also home to the Minnesota Historical Society library and archives, a research destination for schoolchildren, family historians and academics.

 The intense divide between North and South in the 1850s—an explosive mixture of politics, beliefs, and economics—turned to war in 1861.
From a brand new state flush with patriotism, Minnesotans were the first in the Union to respond to the call to support the Union.  Romantic notions of battle quickly fled, even as perseverance in the face of unforeseen carnage sparked an enduring legacy. In family and friendship circles at home and on the battlefield, people mourned, made sacrifices and weighed every possibility and outcome. Minnesotans’ lives were changed forever.

“I am sick of reading in the papers of “the glory” of war....Is there glory in the shrieks of men torn by bullet or shell? Is there glory in the cry of the mother as she sees her child’s head swept off by a cannonball? Is there glory in the weeping of widows and orphans? Is there glory in the burning cities and the desolated homes that War leaves behind him? Is there glory in the undying hatreds that war creates and nourishes?...Let these newspaper men come down here and see for themselves war in its terrible reality.”
-William Christie, First Battery Minnesota Light Artillery, writing to to his father from Vicksburg, August 6, 1863.

Here Mrs. T. checks out an exhibit on the role of women in the war. There were some 250 who actually fought. And knowing her attitudes on human slavery she could well have been one of them.



Anvilcloud said...

I think those who glory in war would be those who never experienced it. mind you, neither have I -- thankfully.

The funding of sports complexes is quite an issue.

Montanagirl said...

I think there's no glory in war at all. Thankfully, I've never had to experience it either. Don't blame you a bit on the sports complexes issue.

Jo's World said...

I am looking forward to the day I might visit this center. The War Between the States was an unbelievable story, one that we will do well to remember for a long time.


Loree Huebner said...

What a wonderful exhibit! Thanks for sharing it.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm a Civil War junkie. Amazing that Minnesota was an early participant.

uncle steve said...

A horrific example of a presidential "war of choice" in which a leader "killed his own people" and a bunch of them his own wife's family.

While the only life lost at Fort Sumter was when the Union commander, before leaving the Fort, fired a salute to the flag and a cinder detonated the powder magazine killing a Union soldier?

Yet 600,000 Americans had to die to prove a point.

And oh btw, Lincoln was convinced it would be a little war and only a bit of killing. Sound familiar?
Wonder if this museum glorifies war as usual or proscribes it?
Hope the latter.

uncle steve said...

Mr. T,
for an avid reader with interest in TE Lawrence AND civil war, a must read is:
Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, x Scott Anderson, c. 2013.
Chapter 4 opening quote: "Sir, I have the honor to report that conditions are going from bad to worse here." US Consul General, Stanley Hollis, Beirut, to Sec. of State 1914.
One might recall the French proverb: "the more things change the more they remain the same."