A century and a half ago, Tennesseans were divided by something far more important than their college football loyalties or their barbecue preferences: More than 187,000 citizens served in the Confederate Army while about 51,000 fought for the Union Army.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) begins a year-by-year examination of the Civil War in a new exhibit that opened this week. TSLA will chronicle each year of the war in its corresponding 150th anniversary year. The first of the exhibits, which will be available for viewing through early August, will focus on the events leading up to the war and the first year of conflict in 1861. Next year’s exhibit will highlight 1862.
The free exhibit will illustrate the impact of slavery on the Union, the divisive election of 1860, beginnings of southern secession and Tennessee's gradual shift toward becoming a Confederate state. Major military actions in 1861 include the shelling of Fort Sumter, the Battle of Bull Run and the implementation of the Union blockade.
Highlights from the archives include orders from Confederate generals, a collection of letters from Civil War soldiers and a special section explaining the role of women during the war.
The exhibit is in the lobby of the State Library and Archives building, which is located at 403 7th Avenue North in Nashville, next to the State Capitol building. TSLA is open Mondays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. through June 30, then Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. after that date.
Limited parking is available in front, beside and behind the building.
TSLA is a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.
“TSLA’s new project will be a great way to take an annual look at the Civil War, showing how long the country endured war on its own soil,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “While much of the material about the Civil War covers the entire conflict from start to finish, it may be helpful for many history buffs to learn about the war as it unfolded, year by year.”
For questions about the exhibit or TSLA, call (615) 741-2764 or visit http://www.tn.gov/tsla/.