Thursday, December 30, 2010

Events planned in Ohio despite state’s money crunch

Marietta Times:

Many of the same states that contributed troops, supplies and money to the Civil War aren't providing funding for exhibits, reenactments and events for the 150th anniversary of the conflict between the North and South, just a few months away.

Ohio is in that category, with no state funding allocated, but anniversary events will still go on, say local and state historians.

"For us this will truly be on a grassroots level, but I think we'll rise to the occasion," said Kim Schuette, communications and media relations manager for the Ohio Historical Society, which is helping coordinate events across the state. "It's a challenge, of course, in today's economy, but it's something we feel very strongly needs to be acknowledged. People often say the Civil War left scars, but it also left a legacy that influences our lives today."

Virginia and Pennsylvania have millions apprpriated for anniversary events, but many other states are in the same boat as Ohio.

The Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Act, which would have established a national, federally funded committee to organize commemorative events, was introduced to Congress in 2009 and again last March, but was never passed.

Jackie Barton, director of education and outreach for the Ohio Historical Society, said if Ohio had provided funding it would have been used to help individual community activities.

Many areas across the state are planning events but will have to fund them on their own.

"We're providing support by helping to coordinate these and to get the word out, but if we had funding we would be able to give financial support and grants for these programs," Barton said. "Right now, communities are even having to pay us mileage if they want us to come there and we just don't have the staff and cash to be everywhere."

Several entities have helped plug that gap, with the Ohio Community Service Council awarding a grant to fund AmeriCorps volunteers to help communities plan events. American Electric Power has also given a grant and the Ohio Humanities Council is funding a traveling Civil War exhibit.

There is a special exhibit planned in Marietta, but it will take all of 2011 to raise funds and get it to the Campus Martius Museum, said museum historian Bill Reynolds.

The kickoff to the 150th anniversary is officially in April, since that's when the war's first shots were fired upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina in 1861, but celebrations are going on throughout 2011 and beyond.

It will be 2012 when an extensive Civil War anniversary exhibit, borrowed from a private collection in Dayton, opens in Marietta, but it will remain on display for at least three years, said Reynolds.

"It's the largest collection of local Civil War items I know of, and most, if not all of it, has never been seen by the public," he said.

The exhibit consists of several hundred pieces, including photos and personal objects that belonged to Civil War soldiers.

"The focus of the exhibit is going to be non-political, with a focus on the individuals," Reynolds said. "We had many local soldiers killed in the war, and this will include some of the community reaction at the time as well. Everybody here was on the edge of their seats, living in fear, for four years."

The museum currently displays only a small section of Civil War memorabilia.

Many Ohio towns, and the state as a whole, have more direct links to the war than most people realize, said Barton.

"Ohio sent as many soldiers off to war per capita as any other state ... the vast majority of communities saw men go off to war and women were left here running the crops and businesses," she said.

More than 50 Washington County-area soldiers died in Tennessee's Battle of Shiloh alone.

Some of the best-known people of that era had Ohio ties, including Gen. George Custer, who grew up in Ohio, and Harriett Beecher Stowe, who based her famous writings on her time in the state. Don Carlos Buell, the longtime highest-ranking officer of the western Army, was born in Lowell.

There were other ties as well, from the local Underground Railroad participation to Buckeye Furnace, the southeastern Ohio company that made most of the iron used in the war.

Anniversary events will begin in Ohio on April 10 at the Statehouse in Columbus, but there will be lasting projects that go beyond events as well, said Schuette.

That includes an AmeriCorps effort to digitize documents and preserve collections from that era for Ohio Memory, an online database.

"That's something that may not have been done in commemorations before," said Schuette. "It's not flashy, but in the end it's going to help historians and help save history."

Another long-term project is the marking of the 560-mile Morgan's Raid Heritage Trail through southern Ohio, including Meigs County. The trail marks the path Confederate soldiers made in 1863 when they came from Tennessee to cross enemy lines into Indiana and Ohio.

The raid, during which Confederate soldiers destroyed bridges, railroads and government stores, struck fear into Ohioans and led to the only Civil War military action in Ohio: The Battle of Buffington Island, where 750 of Confederate commander John Hunt Morgan's men were captured. The rest surrendered in northern Ohio.

Informational panels will be added to the trail, telling the story, by 2013.

Though there was little fighting in Ohio during the war, the upcoming milestone is a way to show how much impact there was, said Barton.

"We're also hoping this anniversary will help define Civil War history in a much broader way," she said. "Not just by the battles and military action but by the consequences. When you talk about democracy, freedom, race relations ... you're really looking at the Civil War being a pivotal point in American history."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Looking for assistance in Marysville

July 4th weekend, the Union County Historical Society is looking for reenactors to help kick off Civil War 150th Anniversary activities in Marrysville, Ohio, with a living history display in 2011. They also are looking for a unit to help lead the Marysville 4th of July Parade.

If any unit or reenactors are interested, please contact Lt Col Chris Smith from 2d Battalion at He will put you in touch with the museum director.

Monday, December 06, 2010

No Gettysburg Casino Interview with Ken Burns

Debate on controversial Gettysburg casino goes national

Yahoo News

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will soon decide whether to greenlight a controversial casino project a half mile from Gettysburg National Military Park. Ahead of the decision, leaders of the local grassroots opposition to the project have roped in some big-name history buffs to star in videos that argue the casino will be a blight on the memory of the Civil War soldiers who died there in 1863.

"Placing a casino proximate to this battlefield is profane," documentary filmmaker Ken Burns says in one of the videos against the project, below. "It would be just a horrible thing to in any way detract from the experience of Gettysburg."

President Dwight Eisenhower's granddaughter, Susan Eisenhower, Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer David McCullough, and Medal of Honor recipient Paul Bucha also appeared in video interviews laying out the reasons they oppose the casino. Actor Sam Waterston urges residents "not to sell out" in an ad that appeared on local TV stations, and ads on bus stations around the Pennsylvania state capitol carried messages like "They died here to build a country, not a casino." An anonymous donation to the Civil War Preservation Trust and volunteer work have helped pay for the videos and ads, according to No Casino Gettysburg spokesman Jeff Griffith.

Casino developer and motorcycle dealer David LeVan argues the project will create jobs and will go up on a site that is already developed, The Eisenhower Hotel. "I'm happy to report the vast majority of Adams County residents stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this effort," LeVan said at the latest hearing, based on polls he commissioned, according to The Gettysburg Times. Opponents argued his polling question did not mention the distance of the casino from the park, the main point of dispute.

The head of the No Casino Gettysburg group Susan Paddock tells The Lookout she is worried the casino will not attract many new tourists to the town and will "turn off" the heritage tourists Gettysburg attracts now. If the casino were moved farther from the site, most of her fears would disappear, she says.

"I would personally like to see a buffer zone around the national military park," she said. "If this casino had been proposed 10 miles away probably two-thirds of the opposition would disappear."

One local paper, the Harrisburg Patriot News, editorialized in favor of the casino this weekend, dismissing concerns that the gaming operation will change the character of Gettysburg. The Philadelphia Enquirer and the York Daily Record have taken stands against the project, while the Hanover Evening Sun declined to endorse either side in the argument, according to a round-up by the No Casino Gettysburg group.

"The plan is not to construct a casino on the battlefield but at the existing Eisenhower Hotel and Convention Center," the Patriot-News argued. "It is about two miles from the main entrance of the battlefield to the main entrance of the Eisenhower. Visitors on the battlefield likely won't even see it."

LeVan proposed a casino a bit farther away from Gettysburg national park in 2005. But that project was shelved, due in part to the activism of local residents such as Paddock, a social worker who is again leading the charge against the casino. Griffith from the No Casino groups notes that the economy has worsened since 2006, so they are facing a more difficult battle this time around. A local pro-casino group outnumbered the opposition at a recent gaming board hearing.

In response, Griffith and Paddock have sought to make the opposition more national this time, bringing in Burns and other public figures to argue the park is hallowed national ground. The Civil War Preservation Trust has collected more than 30,000 signatures opposing the project, and commissioned a report that concluded the casino would not be good for the local economy based on the experience of Vicksburg, Mississippi, another town adjoining a famous Civil War battlefield.

LeVan disagrees, and his group released a report claiming the casino would create more than a thousand jobs and boost local businesses. The Gaming board makes it decision Dec. 16.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Reenacting Channel

Lt Col Smith from our 2d Battalion has put together a YouTube channel just for video clips from reenactors, their family and friends. This includes clips from all living history time periods. We want to feature videos taken at the events where the Division and units participate.

To watch the videos, go to To submit your videos, email a link to your YouTube upload to