DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, July 13, 2014

150 Years Later, the Civil War Is Still in Focus at the Smithsonian

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most visited and treasured places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry either about the Smithsonian or that 1st appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.

It’s only one weapon among the 5,700 in the firearms collection of the American History 
Museum, but it speaks to the Civil War in a very personal way. 

Under the watchful eye of curator David Miller, I hoist the 1863 Springfield rifle musket to my shoulder and feel its weight, with deepening respect for those who used these muskets with deadly results. This particular weapon was owned by Pvt. Elisha Stockwell Jr., who lied about his age to sign up, at age 15, with the Union Army. He took canister shot in his arm (and a bullet in his shoulder) at Shiloh, marched with General Sherman toward Atlanta, and, at 81 and nearly blind, finally put pen to paper to write about his experience.
“I thought my arm was gone,” he wrote of the moment the grapeshot struck him, “but I rolled on my right side and...couldn’t see anything wrong with it.” Spotting ripped flesh, a lieutenant had Stockwell sit out a charge against the “Rebs,” possibly saving his life.
The musket young Elisha used also speaks volumes about the technology of the day. In a Smithsonian symposium last fall, Merritt Roe Smith of MIT argued that the creation of the technical know-how that could produce precisely tooled, interchangeable parts for hundreds of thousands of rifles, a feat the South couldn’t match, set the stage for explosive industrial growth after the war.
The Smithsonian’s observation of the Civil War’s sesquicentennial encompasses exhibitions at many of our 19 museums. For an overview of exhibitions and events and a curated collection of articles and multimedia presentations, check out Smithsonian.com/civilwar
To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Smithsonian.com, click here.

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