My first stop today was the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. I had no trouble getting to the museum except for determining the entrance to it which looks like a service road. I had to back track but I did find it and the signs were better going west then east. I immediately climbed a hill and circled around to the parking lot. The museum is situated on a hill overlooking the city.
The building is very new and stands proud on this hill. I entered and went into the Museum shop to purchase my ticket for $7.00. I asked about the research center and was informed that it was not yet ready for the public to use. I could however, make an appointment. I told him I was interested in pictures from the Grand Review at the end of the war. This was a parade that took place in Washington D.C. and my great uncle Alexander was said to have participated.
A young man with the museum came to greet me and told me that they could not take pictures with motion in them at that time so there were very little photographs of that parade. Grant’s men were cleaned and pressed and looked wonderful but Sherman’s were ragtag and he was embarrassed. He suggested I try Harper’s for drawings of the war. Knowing what I know about photography I should have realized that the technology was not good enough at the time. I was hoping for at least a view of Alexander’s regiment or company but I guess not.
I proceeded to take the tour of the museum. They had dioramas, artifacts, guns, sabers, uniformed, stories and a lot more. They also had movies about the battles by an battle expert, a movie about the reactions on both sides to the end of the war. There was a lot about the African-American participation in the war in the infantry and navy and of course, slavery. There was a picture of a man with the shackles they used to restrain them from running away. Sigh! The loss of life in the Civil War is too awful to comprehend. The aftermath is also difficult to understand. I my opinion Reconstruction was not what it should have been. It may have even been more damaging or added to the damage already done. One of my clients calls it the “War of North Aggression” and it is 2008. He was born in the South and lives in Virginia at this time.
This is a good museum to visit and I recommend that if you are in the Harrisburg area set aside more than 1 hour. I know a lot about the Civil War with the research that I have done my my great grandfather George Angus Barclay and his brother Alexander Barclay. Alexander marched with Sherman. George was a wagoner. They both served ffrom Minnesota. I was at Gettysburg several years back and that was a sad business. I think Gettysburg is haunted.