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Home > Exhibitions > Muscatine and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Commemoration

Muscatine and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Commemoration

June 26, 2011 - May 26, 2012

Muscatine and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Commemoration

At the onset of the Civil War in 1861 Muscatine men hurried to enlist, sending more men to the conflict than any other county in the state despite the fact that others had much larger populations. That same year, young Shelby Norman of Muscatine was mortally wounded at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek, the first Iowan to be killed in action on a Civil War battlefield. The recorded history of the county reports that in the Muscatine area in 1862 "the excitement of war continued unabated. Muscatine’s loyalty was kept up to the front. The empty sleeves, the crutch, the widow’s weeds, grew rapidly in numbers."  Thus begins the story of Muscatine’s involvement in the Civil War.

To make history come alive for students and other visitors the Art Center will be re-creating a battlefield campground using Civil War artifacts. As part of this campground there will be a laser projected 3-D image of an actor dressed in Union Army uniform portraying Daniel Parvin and reading portions of his letters to the audience. By pushing a button visitors may experience every-day camp life including: writing and receiving letters, sickness and medical services, army food, pay and discipline, guard and picket duty, and much more. Visitors will also learn of Parvin’s emphatic opinions of contemporary people and events, including his opinions of Abraham Lincoln, General Ulysses S. Grant, the Emancipation Proclamation, the advent Union black regiments, Southern sympathizers in the North and the Confederate cause in general. 

Other original material including Civil War rosters, mustering-in rosters and personal artifacts belonging to half a dozen Muscatine soldiers are included as is a Civil War flag made by the Methodist Church Ladies Aid of Wilton Junction (now Wilton), Iowa. 

The exhibition Muscatine and the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Commemoration was awarded the official endorsement of the Iowa Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee.