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Public Programs

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.

Grant and the Verdict of History

Grant and the Verdict of History

Friday, February 9  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Frank P. Varney

Speaker will be live-streamed at the Civil War Museum

Ulysses S. Grant has long been viewed as one of the finest generals in American history, the man who won the Civil War. To a point that is true; but he did not win the war all by himself. And it is not unreasonable to examine what all of those other generals who helped win the war have to say.

Only by dispassionately examining the past, and by giving ear to more than one voice, can we come to a balanced understanding of our own history. Grant’s memoirs, no matter how entertaining or well-written, no matter how dramatic the circumstances of their genesis, should not be allowed to stand as the sole arbiter of truth. For the sake of history, and for the sake of the truth itself, we must be willing to set aside preconceptions and consider impartially just what really happened all those years ago. Sometimes the process can be painful. That does not, however, mean that we should turn our back on it. The truth is there, if we are willing to look.

Frank Varney earned his undergraduate degree at William Paterson University and his MA and Ph.D. at Cornell University. He regularly takes student groups to historic sites – especially Civil War battlefields – and makes frequent speaking appearances before Civil War roundtables, historical societies, and other interested groups; he has also been the keynote speaker at several veteran’s memorials. Dr. Varney currently teaches US and Classical History at St.Michael’s College in Vermont. He has written numerous appendices, chapters, and introductions– for books by other historians – and articles, and is the author of General Grant and the Rewriting of History, 2013 and General Grant and the Verdict of History, 2023.

Women Founders of Milwaukee Soldiers Home

The Women Founders and History of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home

Friday, March 8  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Mrs. Terry Arliskas

The Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home was one of the first soldiers’ homes in the country, and the only one where it’s still possible to experience the buildings and designed landscape together in something close to their original form. The 90-acre campus has served veterans continuously since shortly after the Civil War and includes some of the oldest buildings in the entire VA system.   But this special site would not have been possible in the first place without the dedicated efforts of the West Side Soldiers’ Aid Society, a group of Milwaukee women who during the Civil War were committed to creating a place for veterans to heal and recuperate.  Terry Arliskas will discuss who these women were, what they accomplished, and how their legacy lives on the grounds of the Milwaukee VA yet today.


D.L. Moody and the Civil War

Friday, April 12  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Steve Worsham 

Dwight L. Moody moved from Boston to Chicago as a teenager shortly before the start of the Civil War.  Moody achieved financial success in the shoe business but serving a Christian mission became his greater focus as he matured.  To that end, Moody worked to meet the social and spiritual needs of orphaned children living on the streets of Chicago.

When the Civil War started,  Moody became heavily involved in the fledgling YMCA in Chicago. He eventually quit his job in order to minister to the children of Chicago and to support Union troops through the YMCA and the United States Christian Commission (USCC).  According to family records, Moody traveled to nine battlefield sites, arriving with either the YMCA or USCC to serve as a nurse, transporter of supplies, stretcher bearer, substitute letter writer, chaplain…whatever was needed in service of the troops.  

In his talk, Mr. Worsham will discuss the work of D.L. Moody with the YMCA and USCC war efforts, particularly in Chicago and the Western Theater battlefields of the Civil War.

Soldier Boy

The Soldier Boy from Lena

Friday, May 10  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: William Grigg

The Soldier Boy from Lena is based on the book of the same name featuring original content on the life of Henry Eugene Way.  Way served in the Union Army from 1862-1864 in the 72nd Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, also known as the First Chicago Board of Trade Regiment. He was 16 years of age when he ran away from his home in Lena, Illinois and enlisted at Camp Douglas in Chicago using an alias.

Mr. Grigg’s presentation of Way’s story as a member of the 72nd Illinois includes images of maps, photographs and drawings from that era, postal history with images of war time stationery, the history of Civil War locations where his letters were written, and images of his letters completely transcribed with their mailing envelopes shown.

William E. Grigg is an accountant by profession with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and a Master’s degree in finance. He worked in public accounting for over 50 years managing his own firm specializing in corporation executive relocation tax complications, as well as auditing, accounting, and financial consulting for 32 public libraries in Illinois.  He taught at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, the Chicago Public school system, and at Illinois Institute of Technology, the latter his alma mater.

His writing and publishing experience includes tax quick reference guides prepared and printed annually for tax preparers published for over 27 years. Other writing includes serving as a reporter and managing editor of the college newspaper at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Veteran Mental Health

Post Civil War Veteran Mental Health

Friday, June 14  |  12:00pm – 1:00pm  |  Speaker: Dr. Gregory Burek

Dr. Gregory Burek’s presentation will focus on post-Civil War diagnosis and treatment of PTSD or other mental illnesses that were seen in Civil War veterans. 

Dr. Gregory Burek is the Medical Director of BRAVE (Building Resilience through Action in Veterans and First Responders) at Medical College of Wisconsin. The program is focused on testing Traumatic Brain Injury Post-traumatic Stress and other invisible wounds of service. 

Dr. Burek served in the United States Marine Corps between 1999-2003 and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 for Operation Iraq Freedom. After his service he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Biological Science, then went on to earn a Medical Doctorate from Drexel University College of Medicine in 2014. He completed residency in Psychiatry with the Medical College of Wisconsin in 2018.

Public Programs

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


Civil War Medical Weekend with the 17th Corps Field Hospital Group

Saturday, February 24  |  10:00am – 4:00pm  

Sunday, February 25  |  12:00pm – 4:00pm  

Find out more about the special programs scheduled for Medical Weekend here.

First Michigan Engineers

The First Michigan Engineers

Saturday, March 23  |  10:00am – 4:00pm

The 1st Michigan Engineers will be discussing the regiment’s role as combat engineers, while displaying the many tools and equipment that would have been used in surveying and construction duties such as cheveaux de fris and transit/level. The living history group will also display items used in combat roles.

The present-day 1st Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, Company E, has been in the Chicago area since 1987.  Over the years, the regiment has participated in combat and engineering roles at reenactments throughout the Midwest and national events at 1st Bull Run, Shiloh, Perryville (KY), and Bentonville (NC).  Some of the items constructed at events include hand drawn field maps, bridges, a 33-foot signal tower, and plank roads.

Lady Elgin

The Lady Elgin Disaster and Its Role in Wisconsin’s Civil War Politics

Saturday, April 13  |   1:30pm – 3:00pm  |   Speaker: Brendon Baillod

The Lady Elgin is infamous as one of the worst disasters in the history of the Great Lakes.  The sidewheel steamship was lost in a collision off Winnetka, Illinois, taking over 300 lives and decimating Milwaukee’s Irish community.  Join maritime historian Brendon Baillod as he explores the history of the vessel and the disaster as well as the personal stories of heroism and tragedy.  Brendon will also explore the role the disaster played in Wisconsin’s Civil War politics before discussing the discovery of the wreck site in 1989 and the archeology of the remains.

Brendon Baillod is an award winning maritime historian based in Madison, Wisconsin.  He is the current president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archeology Association and the author of Fathoms Deep But Not Forgotten: Wisconsin’s Lost Ships, a compendium of over 400 Wisconsin shipwrecks.  Brendon is an avid collector of antiquarian Great Lakes books, maps, ephemera and photos with one of the largest private collections in existence.  He continues to look for lost ships on the Great Lakes and conducts regular fieldwork using side scan sonar.  He has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and Travel Channel discussing Great Lakes maritime history and shipwrecks. 

Special Exhibition Programs

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

Faith in the Fight Film

Faith in the Fight Documentary Screening

Tuesday, October 17  |  6:30pm – 8:00pm  |  Speaker: Rev. Robert Miller

Join the Civil War Museum as Rev. Robert Miller discusses the documentary film Faith in the Fight. The film discusses the roles played by the nearly 120 Catholic priests who ministered to the spiritual needs of both armies during the Civil War, focusing particularly on those who served in the Union Army of the Cumberland. This evening event will include introductory remarks, a showing of the documentary film, and a question and answer session.

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