Weatherford Democrat


November 6, 2009

Civil War Sesquicentennial: Details beyond the battles

By Christine Tibbetts

CNHI News Service

RICHMOND, Va. — My way or the highway is not the attitude Virginia intends to bring to the Civil War’s 150th anniversary parties starting in 2010.

Your way gets the honors. That means many new perspectives gleaned from letters, diaries, historians and the land itself form the foundation for four upcoming years of Civil War sesquicentennial special events.

Virginia’s the place where 60 percent of the war was fought, according to Rich Bauman who heads up the state’s 428 Civil War trails.

“With 270 battlefields and engagements, we can present engaging interpretations about what happened exactly where someone is standing,” he says. “Tennessee had 80 engagements and other states had 30 or fewer.”

Battles and their fields will not be the Virginia 150th anniversary experience as much as the people who lived nearby.

Stunned what people have not heard about this Civil War – that’s what Christy Coleman, president of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in Richmond, says, and she aims to change that.

Stories in this museum housed in the brick iron works where cannons were made for the Confederacy are told in three voices: north, south and slave.

“For 150 years we’ve had competing monologues, not conversations. At Tredegar we’re using the words people said at the time, considering what each thought about justice and taking a personal look at the legacies as well as the causes and course of the war,” Coleman says.

Plan to enter into the conversation because Think About This is asked a lot throughout the two-story building.

Outside too along Canal Walk, a 1.25-mile pedestrian walkway with exhibits, history medallions and water views.

Step on signage in the footpath across from Tredegar and stop to read personal statements about the three days in April 1865 when the Confederates left Richmond, Union troops marched in and slaves became free.

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