William L. Clements Library

Past Exhibit

Opening Guns: The First Year of Civil War

February 28, 2011 — June 3, 2011

Curated by Barbara DeWolfe

Open Guns

This exhibit presents the year 1861 through the written word of the soldiers and civilians who experienced the war between the Union and Confederate states, whether as soldier, commanding officer, Sanitary Commission worker, politician, or family member at home.  Entitled "Opening Guns," it could as well be called "Opening Pens," reflecting the huge outpouring of letters and personal accounts written during the entire four years of the war.  These are especially valuable to historians because they were not censored as they were in later wars fought by United States troops.  These letters, found in numerous repositories in the United States, provide a remarkable record of just about every aspect of the war.  This exhibit for the year 1861 was put together with materials from all five divisions of the William L. Clements Library.