The Civil War in 18 Objects

Mia Harp and Dane Wierman

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Women Working "Manly" Jobs

Topic 4: Women of the North and South


The Civil War focuses greatly on how men were out fighting between the North and South, but what were the women doing? The women during this time began to fill in big shoes as their husbands were out risking their lives for what they believed in. This painting shows the women tending to a field which was very unlikely for you to see before the war. This picture highlights that the women were becoming strong and having to work hard for their family to keep things at home in line, which was a stepping stone for more women's rights. This object was included because I think although it is a simple painting, it shows the point of view of what women were doing during the time of war.

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Slaves Fighting In Civil War

Topic 5: Northern Whites and Blacks


This picture in my opinion is extremely powerful to look at. Black men fighting in the civil war with the white men. It is slightly ironic that slaves were fighting about the issue of slavery, some fighting for the South and some for the North. This picture tells the story of these men having to fight, some for their own freedom, which I think is pretty incredible. It really shows that there were black men ready to fight, and the civil war wasn't just a battle among white men. This picture was included because seeing the black soldiers lined up with guns speaks to you, as you can only imagine how intense this war must have been not just physically but emotionally as well.

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North Blockades South from Essential Imports

Topic 6: Making Do


Can you imagine what life would be like living without your basic essentials? Because of the Northerners smart idea to blockade the South's imports, the southerners were having to be very innovative to replace things such as salt, sugar, cooking grease, and even candle wax. The picture above shows a story of how much these blockades effected the South to a point where they rebelled. The ships burning and the chaotic scene lets us know that the Southerners became serious when it came to war, and that although they were making solutions to their lack of goods, not having imports was having serious effects on their ways of living. This picture was included because it shows the seriousness of the war, and how far each side would go to get what they need. This picture was included also because cutting Southerners goods ultimately helped the North win the civil war.

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Cotton was Really King

Topic 9: Motivation for fighting

This political cartoon from the Civil War time period encompasses the true motivation for fighting. The southern economy was completely one sided due to the fact that a vast majority of their economic power came from their exportation of cotton across the world. This picture also includes the african american being surrounded by what looks like two wealthy white business men. And because of the need to keep the cotton production going, the south also believed that slaves were an absolute must. This picture was included because it is one of the only cartoons of this time where I have seen where a slave was sitting on a box which looks to be labeled "institution" which I found very interesting.

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Family in Battle

Topic 10: Life Between Battle

Although the men of the civil war were by far the most effected on and off the battlefield, families were also directly involved. Many families would rather travel with the man of the house to battle rather than wait at home and live their lives without them. A large portion of these families were casualties of war because of the immense number of diseases running rampant through the camps. This picture was included to show the family unit in camp with all the soldiers, cooking and living like normal.

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The 54th Regiment

Topic 11: Northern Black Soldiers

The Civil War was the first war in which free black men could enlist and be paid to fight for their country. However, these soldiers were not considered as valuable as whites and were often given the most dangerous of assignments. Further more, African Americans were given old and often damaged uniforms, shoes and weapons. This picture was added to show the courage and pride these black soldiers had. Also, when presented with the adversity like charging the confederate army, they never backed down.

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The Butcher of The Battlefield

Topic 13: Injuries/Death/Battlefield Medicine

The injuries during the Civil War were like nothing anyone had ever seen before. The invention of the minie ball and new technology in weapons made the carnage of the Civil War as bad as possible. This picture was added to show the brutal yet effective methods of amputation because of the large percent of injuries to the appendages of many Civil War soldiers.

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Who Owned the Railroads?

Topic 17: Railroads


After looking over this map it's obvious that the North had complete control over the railroads. This map tells us the story of railroads within the Civil War because it shows that because North owned so much railroad, this also meant they could travel and transport important items and people a lot easier. Because of easy transportation, this is just another way the North had the advantage to ultimately win the war. With this kind of power, the North could completely dominate and this picture easily shows us this. This was included in our collection because the difference of railroad control is so significant that it can give us all a better perspective as to how the North had so much control and a huge advantage over the South.

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The Communication Within the Civil War

Topic 19: Telegraph


Although not many people realize this, the telegraph was a huge part of the Civil War but more undercover. This picture tells the simple story of the telegraph, as it wasn't anything difficult as we can see it looks very basic. Although it may look like this, there was a deeper process that the telegraph had. This became a huge way of communication between leaders within the North and South. They began to create secret codes to send for secret attack plans against each other. Also people were hired to be "decoders" to try and read the enemies messages to get a step ahead in the war. This simple item had a huge impact on what team had an advantage in the war, which is why it is included in our gallery. This was an important and secret item within the war, and it is important to remember what the world was like before computers and video cameras were invented.

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The End of Slavery

Topic 20: Emancipation Proclamation

Up until the Emancipation Proclamation, the war was not one over the institution of slavery. However, after the win in Antietam, Lincoln issued this proclamation which stated that states in rebellion of the Union must free their slaves. This of course enraged the southerners will simultaneously turned the Civil War into one over slavery. This picture shows how the proclamation was presented and was included because I think it shows how important this document was.

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A New Birth of Freedom

Topic 21: Gettysburg Address

Over the course of the Civil War, the Union was in desperate need of a morale boost. After the Battle of Gettysburg, which was by far the bloodiest battle in the entire civil war, President Lincoln assembled a large group of people to give an empowering speech. This speech was intended to give the union a renewed sense of freedom and to get people to rededicate themselves to the war effort. This picture show possibly one of Lincoln's best quotes "four score and seven years ago," and was included because it shows through writing the emotion Lincoln has for the war against slavery.

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Lincoln's Unexpected Death

Topic 26: Lincoln's Assassination


This picture tells the story of Lincoln's assassination in a perfect way. It was unexpected, and you almost see it more from the point of view of his killer John Wilkes Booth, which is a way I have never seen before. It was as if no one expected anything to happen, but all of a sudden Lincoln was dead. It shows the play in the background and how he was having a good time at the theatre just moments before his death. This cartoon is sad because you see that Lincoln really had no clue as to what was about to happen to him, which is why this picture portrays a sad story. Seeing what it is like from the perspective of John Wilkes Booth is different and quite interesting which is why it is included in our topic gallery. Lincoln's death was one to remember as he was an extremely effectual president, and I think this picture portrays this heavyhearted story in an impactful way.

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