This book presents 150 artifacts (or groups of artifacts) connected with the American Civil War. The items are held by the Smithsonian. Each item has roughly a page of text occupied with it. The items were selected by members of the various museums, including the African-American museum that will open in 2016.
It is an awesome book. There is everything from saddles and guns, to a violin brought by an African-American union solider that has the list of battles he front in on the back. While some of the artifacts are famous – such as Lincoln’s hat or the famous picture of the slave Gordon with the heavily scarred back – others are not – such as the canteen with a picture or the hard tack used as a frame. Some items are on displayed at the various Smithsonian buildings, some are not.
The book covers not only the Civil War, but events leading up to it – including John Quincy Adams’ stance on slavery – as well as the Reconstruction era. Despite the relatively short amount of text, there is wealth of information here, including some unknown stories that bring greater feeling to the Civil War.
The book is the type where you will say, “just one more” and then two hours later you are finished.
Note: The edition I read was brought directly from the Smithsonian. According to the book, this includes an additional 16 pages of interviews with various people who helped select items. These interviews contain further details and pictures. Some of the stories are interesting, including the one about an overseer’s wife and her reaction to the slaves’ freedom.
Grant and Lee's chairs