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Civil War Museum

Second Friday Lecture Series

The Second Friday Lecture Series is a monthly Civil War lecture program organized by the Civil War Museum of Kenosha, Wisconsin. All programs are held for an in-person audience at the museum. The lectures are recorded and posted to the museum’s YouTube channel.

The Second Friday Lectures begin at 12:00pm and there is no cost to attend. The Civil War Museum graciously thanks the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table and Iron Brigade Association for sponsoring this series of lectures.

Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s Dressmaker

Cordelia Harvey – Wisconsin Angel

Friday, March 17  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Performer: Mary Kababik

After Wisconsin governor Louis Harvey’s untimely death, his wife Cordelia was appointed Wisconsin’s representative to the Western Sanitary Commission. She traveled up and down the Mississippi River visiting Union hospitals and helping thousands of soldiers from Wisconsin and other Northern states. During the performance, Harvey explains her travels and a dramatic meeting with a skeptical President Lincoln.

Our previously scheduled program, “Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Todd Lincoln’s Dressmaker” is canceled per the presenter Kathryn Harris. 

Shaking Loose the Facts: Or, How I Came to Resent Herman Melville

Shaking Loose the Facts: Or, How I Came to Resent Herman Melville

Friday, April 14  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Linda Stevens

Before Google, there was real research – places you had to go, things you had to do, confirmations you had to get, to work to what really happened and describe it accurately. One journalist decides to write a novel about the Shakers (those most mysterious and misunderstood earthly angels), and write it right.

Because, by an almost unbelievable coincidence, a Shaker community was sited at the very crossroads of Western Kentucky’s little-known theatre of the Civil War: two roads north-to-south, east-to-west, traveled daily and ceaselessly by troops of both sides. Steadfast in their pacifism, the Shakers drew the wrath of both sides in the conflict – even as the combatants depended absolutely on the tireless generosity these gentle people accorded anyone who asked for it. In a novel described as “stunning” and “mesmerizing,” Kindly Welcome weds groundbreaking research and extraordinary characters to prove, once again, that the Civil War had the power to destroy anything it touched.

Linda Stevens is the author of the book Kindly Welcome, a historical novel that explores the precarious position of pacifist Shakers during the American Civil War. At this program, she will describe the process of research and writing that she used to write the book, as well as the challenges of writing historical fiction.

From Kirkus Book reviews:

Shakers were apparently known for their painstaking record-keeping, and most of the plot within Kindly Welcome is based closely on the real-life journals of Eldress Nancy E. Moore and elder Harvey Eades. The author’s historical research is impressively rigorous, and she nimbly brings to life the moral struggle of an intriguing, little-understood group of Americans. Furthermore, she ably dramatizes the plight of Kentucky–a state with no deficit of supporters for either side of the war–as its government also tried desperately to remain neutral…Stevens is at her best when painting the big picture–the grand drama of the war and the specific tribulations of the Shakers, who loved their country but remained culturally separate from it. It’s hard to recall a fictional exploration of the Shakers that’s more historically searching or sensitive.

Vicksburg After the Fall

Vicksburg After the Fall

Friday, May 12  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Gene Eric Salecker

With the capture of Vicksburg in July 1863, the Bluff City became a Union citadel within the Confederacy, accessible only via the Mississippi River. Turned into a major Union supply base, Vicksburg was the main starting point for a number of Union expeditions or raids throughout the rest of the war. At the same time, the city became a haven for thousands of liberated enslaved people. And at the very end of the war, Vicksburg became a way station for Union ex-prisoners-of-war being sent back home from Andersonville and other Confederate prisons. on May 12, you will hear “the rest of the story” concerning the city Abraham Lincoln famously called “the Key” to the Confederacy.

Public Programs

Public programs are free to attend and pre-registration is not required unless otherwise noted.

Documenting History: The Process and Importance of Military History Books, A Panel Discussion with Blue House Books

Sunday, March 5  |  2:00pm – 3:30pm 

Join Blue House Books and the Civil War Museum as five authors of military history gather to discuss their careers documenting historical events, led by Civil War Museum Curator Doug Dammann.

The focus of the discussion will include the American Revolution, Civil War, and both World Wars. Following the discussion will be a question-and-answer session with the audience, and time at the end to meet with the panelists, purchase books, and get them signed by the authors.

Participating authors and a selection of their works include:

K.M. Waldvogel – Spies, Soldiers, Couriers, and Saboteurs: Women of the American Revolution

Allen J. Ottens – John A. Rawlins: No Ordinary Man

David a. Powell The Chickamauga Campaign: A Mad Irregular Battle

Robert J. Laplander  Finding the Lost Battalion

Julia Gimbel – Student, Sailer, Skipper, Survivor: How WWII Transformed the Lives of Ordinary Americans 

Johnson’s Island Prison Uncovered: An Archaeological Exploration of a Civil War Prison Lake Erie

Johnson’s Island Prison Uncovered: An Archaeological Exploration of a Civil War Prison Lake Erie

Saturday, April 8  |  1:30pm-2:30pm  |  Presented by Amanda Manahan and Brandi Oswald, Co-Chairs of the friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island

In-person, presenters via Zoom

Presented by Amanda Manahan and Brandi Oswald, Co-Chairs of the Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island

Presented in conjunction with the Kenosha County Archaeological Society’s regular April meeting.

During the American Civil War, nearly 400,00 soldiers from the Union and the Confederacy were captured and held at dozens of prisoner-of-war camps. One such site was the johnson’s Island Civil War Military Prison in Ohio’s Sandusky Bay, which held over 10,000 Confederate officers during the course of the war.

Beginning in 1988 and continuing until 2017, archaeological investigations led by Dr. David R. Bush unearthed hundreds of thousands of artifacts that illustrate the Johnson’s Island prison conditions and the activities that those who were imprisoned there engaged in to survive, escape, or assimilate. Join Amanda Manahan and Brandi Oswald for an illustrated virtual presentation exploring the history of the site through primary records and the archaeological evidence left behind.

The Friends and Descendents of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison was formed in 2001 as a 502(c)(3) organization dedicated to the preservation of the Johnson’s Island Prisoner of War Depot. Its mission is to preserve and maintain this National Historic Landmark for present and future research, education, and interpretative uses.

Caroline Quarlls: My Independence Day

Caroline Quarlls: My Independence Day

Tuesday, April 18  |  6:00pm – 7:00pm  |  Presented by Dr. Shannon Sloan-Spice

Presented in conjunction with the Kenosha Public Library’s Big Read Program.

During this powerful first-person performance, the audience meets Ms. Caroline Quarlls thirty-eight years after she successfully liberated herself from slavery by traveling from St. Louis to Canada via the Underground Railroad. The play begins with Caroline receiving a letter from Lyman Goodnow, one of the people that helped her make the journey in 1842. In the dialog of the play, she recounts the harrowing experiences she and Lyman encountered as they traveled from Waukesha, Wisconsin to Sandwich, Ontario. The script is based on Caroline’s letters which are held as part of the Civil War Museum’s permanent collection.

Exhibition programs are free to attend and pre-registration is not required unless otherwise noted.

In God’s Presence: The Bible and Faith in the Civil War Era Seminar

In God’s Presence: The Bible and Faith in the Civil War Era Seminar

Saturday, April 22  |  1:00pm – 3:30pm  |  Presented by: Dr. Mark Noll and Reverend Robert Miller

At this afternoon seminar, presentations by Dr. Mark Noll and Rev. Robert Miller explore the religious and biblical themes present in the Civil War. Each scholar will present on different topics relating to the role religion played in the coming of the Civil War and how it sustained the soldiers during the conflict. Question and answer periods will follow each presentation.

How the Bible Helped Cause the Civil War

1:00pm  |  Presented by Dr. Mark Noll

During this presentation, Dr. Noll will discuss the significance of the Bible in the American ethos prior to the Civil War as well as American Protestants’ “commonsense” interpreting of Scripture. Within this topic, Noll will also identify religion as the most important factor at work in pre-Civil War America and the theological and personal crises that occurred from different readings of “America’s Book” in the decades prior to the War.

Dr. Noll is a leading scholar on the history of Christianity in the United States. He recently retired as the Francis A. McAnaney Profesor of History at the University of Notre Dame, having previously served as Professor of History and Theological Studies at Wheaton College.

Dr. Noll is also the author of more than thirty books on the subject of religion including The Civil War as a Theological Crisis; In the Beginning Was the Word: the Bible in American Public Lie, 1492-1783, and America’s Book: The Rise and Decline of a Bible Civilization, 1794-1911.

Religion is what makes Soldiers Brave

2:30pm  |  Presented by: Reverend Robert Miller

Reverend Miller’s program explores why religions and faith are the most ignored topic in Civil War studies. Within that topic, he will introduce the “religious professionals” who “made God present” during the Civil War through religious revivals, services in camp, Bible study, and countless other works. Reverend Miller will also consider the response of soldiers to this work.

Rev. Robert Miller is a retired pastor and frequent speaker on religion in the Civil War. He served as President of the Chicago Civil War Round Table and is the author of Both Prayed to the Same God, and the forthcoming Faith of the Fathers – Catholic Civil War Chaplains. 

Gettysburg in Color, Volume 1: Brandy Station to the Peach Orchard

Gettysburg in Color, Volume 1: Brandy Station to the Peach Orchard

Friday, June 2  |  12:00pm  – 1:00pm  |  Presented by: Pat and Dylan Brennan

Patrick Brennan, a long-time student of the Civil War, published author, and an editorial advisor for The Civil War Monitor magazine, has teamed up with his technology-astute daughter Dylan Brennan to bring the largest Civil War battle to life in the remarkable 2-volume study: Gettysburg in Color. Volume 1 covers Brandy Station to the Peach Orchard, and Volume 2 covers The Wheatfield to Falling Waters.

Rather than guess or dabble with the colors, the Brennans used an artificial intelligence-based computerized color identifier to determine the precise color of uniforms, flesh, hair, equipment, terrain, houses, and much more. The result is a monumental full-color study of the important three-day battle that brings the men, the landscape, and the action into the 21st century.

Pat Brennan is the author of Secessionville: Assault on Charleston (1996), To Die Game: General J.E.B. Stuart, CSA (1998), and more than twenty articles for a variety of Civil War magazines and journals. Pat is on the Editorial Advisory Board for The Civil War Monitor and his work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and The Reader. He has lectured around the country on the Civil War and Bob Dylan.

Special Exhibition Programs

Special Exhibition programs are free to attend and pre-registration is not required unless otherwise noted.

Check back for upcoming programs on special exhibitions.

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