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The history, the people and the stories of the Upper Midwest


Friday Lecture Series

Sponsored by the Milwaukee Civil War Round Table and Iron Brigade Association.

Railroad Defense in the Atlanta Campaign
Friday, February 14 | 12-1pm | Presented by Robert Girardi

In May of 1864, William T. Sherman advanced upon the city of Atlanta. His campaign forced him to rely upon a vulnerable 473 miles supply line along the route of the railroads. this is an in depth examination of the means Sherman used to protect his communications deep within enemy lines.

Michigan’s Anishinaabe Sharpshooters
Friday, March 13 | 12-1pm | Presented by Sally Walker

Company K of the 1st Michigan Sharpshooters was the only all Native American company East of the Mississippi River.  These Odawa, Ojibwe, and Potawatomi soldiers served as guards at Camp Douglas and fought at the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and the Crater. Author Sally M. Walker will present information about the history of the company and the lives of its soldiers.

The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: A History of the 12th Virginia Infantry From John Brown’s Hanging to Appomattox, 1859-1865
Friday, April 17 | 12-1pm | Presented by John Horn

The 12th Virginia has an amazing history. John Wilkes Booth stood in the ranks of one of its future companies at John Brown’s hanging. The regiment refused to have Stonewall Jackson appointed its first colonel. Its men first saw combat in naval battles, including Hampton Roads and First Drewry’s Bluff, before embarrassing themselves at Seven Pines. Thereafter, the 12th’s record is one of hard-fighting from the Even Days’ Battles to Appomattox. Its remarkable story is told here in full.

Illinois Regiments at Gettysburg: July 1863
Friday, May 8 | 12-1pm | Presented by Dennis Doyle

Illinois contributed three regiments to the combat operations during the Summer, 1863 Gettysburg Campaign: The 8th and 12th Illinois Cavalry Regiments, and the 82nd Illinois Infantry Regiment. This program will show how the three Illinois Regiments provided many over-looked but essential military roles during the Gettysburg Campaign. From the firing of the first shot of the battle, to establishing the first hospital at the Gettysburg Train Depot, to one of the first occurrences of house to house combat during the Civil War, Illinois soldiers played a critical role in the battle.


I’ve Heard of Her

3rd Thursdays, Noon

Bring a lunch and join Museum staff in a discussion of the remarkable and often unknown parts of the lives and roles of women in history. You might know their names but not all the details. Explore the good, the bad, and the in between. This free monthly program is held in conjunction with Suffrage 100.


February 20: Frida Kahlo – Using art as a mirror, Frida Kahlo’s canvas’s display pain, conflict and her passion for life. Although you may know some of her famous self-portraits, who was Frida, really? There is more to this Mexican artist than meets the eye.

March 19: Queen Liliuokalani – Queen Liliuokalani was the last monarch of Hawaii; however, she was in exile for most of her reign. Learn about her life on the islands before she became Queen, how she wrote “Aloha Oe,” and why sugar and a U.S. backed coup led to her nation becoming a U.S. territory.

April 16: Belle Boyd – Maria “Belle” Boyd was a Confederate spy during the Civil War. So why is she buried near Wisconsin Dells? And how did she get the nickname Belle? Hear stories about growing up in a wealthy family in Virginia, why she felt forced to action in support of the Confederacy, and how she avoided prosecution for her crimes.

May 21: Margaret Mead – At the time of her death, Margaret Mead was the most famous anthropologist in the world. Learn how her work in Oceania revolutionized the field, about her strong opinions on domestic issues, and how all of this affected her relationships with others. How do her findings and methods hold up almost 100 years later?



Civil War Museum Tour & Tea

Thursday, February 13 | 4-5:30pm | $25 ($15 FOM members) | Register Here

Learn about Victorian manners while sipping tea and sampling small treats. Then join museum staff for a highlight tour, stopping at some favorite artifacts to learn more about life during the 1860s.


President’s Day Family Game Day

Sunday, February 16 | 12-3pm

Celebrate President’s Day with games the presidents loved. Play mini-golf in the museum. Be like John Adams and challenge friends to a game of marbles. Throw horseshoes like George W. Bush, and play scrabble like Barack Obama.


Buford’s Brigade at Gettysburg: A Study in the Maturity of the Federal Cavalry

Friday, February 28 | 12-1pm | Presented by Dr. Laurence D. Schiller

Actions of Buford’s First Cavalry Division on July 1st, 1863, at Gettysburg are used to illustrate how the Federal cavalry had matured over the preceding two years into competent American Dragoons who could fight equally well mounted or dismounted and could use both tactics in a combined arms doctrine. After a short discussion of what Federal cavalry had evolved into, Dr. Schiller will examine the progress of the First Cavalry Division as it moved from Brandy Station to its encounter with Heth and Pender’s divisions on July 1st. Although often not given enough credit, Buford not only selected the ‘good ground’ for Meade to fight on, but though his actions on that first day helped keep the Confederates from occupying it both before the Federal infantry arrived and afterwards.


Civil War Medical Weekend

Saturday, March 21; 10am-4pm | Sunday, March 22; 12-4pm

Commemorate the role of physicians, nurses, and caregivers during the Civil War.

Surgeons and nurses of the 17th Corps Medical Staff will set up camp inside the museum where visitors can participate in a medical inspection for new recruits and role play as a sick soldier during a the camp’s sick call demo. The Corps will also demonstrate a variety of surgical techniques including bullet removal, brain surgery, and amputation. Fun for the whole family!

Native Healing

From 1-2pm Heather Bruegl will share insights into the ceremonies, plants and herbs that were historically used by Native Nations to heal the body and cleanse the soul.


An Evening of Horror at Ford’s Theatre: President Lincoln is Assassinated!

Wednesday, April 15 | 12pm | Presented by Rich Schimenti

Listen as an eyewitness gives his account of the assassination of President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. This first-person account will tell us of the heinous crime as well as the many efforts made to save the President’s life. We will also learn of the nationwide manhunt to bring the killers to justice.


The Great Camel Experiment

Friday, April 24 | 12pm | Presented by David Noe

On paper it seemed like a good idea. Beginning in 1856 and continuing in the years leading up to the Civil War, the U.S. Army conducted successful experiments using camels to transport supplies in the arid regions of the west. Unfortunately with the beginning of the Civil War the army lost all interest in continuing the experiment.

This program traces the experiment from its beginnings in acquiring the animals, some of the tests or tasks they performed, why the experiment failed, and what became of the animals after the war. It continues with an examination of a number of private ventures that attempted to utilize the camel’s virtues and concludes with a discussion of some of the myths and legends concerning the animals.


Beyond the Battlefield: The Civil War Social History Forum

Saturday, April 25 | 8:30am Check In | 9:30am Programs Begin |
$50 ($40 FOM members) | Register Here

Join the museum for a day filled with programs related to the social aspects of the war.

Click here for full list of presentations

From Band Stand to Battlefield and Back : The Epic Journey of the American Band Presented by Ed Pierce

Mr. Pierce’s program is a look at how the small town brass band carried the hopes and dreams of home to the carnage of war and back.. The band was USO, morale booster and elegant entertainment all rolled into one. It was portable: it could play in doors as well as out of doors. It was loud and could be easily heard by all: AND IT WAS FUN! When the boys on both sides came home they remembered what they heard and took decisive action to bring the beauty and grace of music  back to their home towns. As the town parks grew, so did the number of music gazebos and band stands. One Kansas newspaper said that “…..a town without a band is like a church without a choir! It is something to be pitied!”. Many municipalities put a tax on their communities to fund a public municipal band! Clearly this was one of the few positives brought home from military service. It was a grass roots movement that changed the cultural face of America!

Such Anxious Hours: Wisconsin Women’s Voices from the Civil War Presented by Jo Ann Daly Carr

From the first days of the Civil War, letters of Wisconsin soldiers written to loved ones at home have been shared in newspapers and books. But the voices of Wisconsin women at the home front have remained largely hidden in libraries and archives. Speaker Jo Ann Daly Carr will reveal the voices of eight Wisconsin women whose letters and diaries provide a narrative of the war from the fall of Fort Sumter to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.   These writings not only reflect the everyday lives but also unmask the ways they changed and were changed by the Civil War.

New Philadelphia Gerald McWorter and Kate Williams-McWorter

This program, by the authors of the book New Philadelphia, details the life of “Free Frank” McWorter, an ex-slave from Kentucky who created the Illinois town of New Philadelphia in 1839 near Hannibal, Missouri. New Philadelphia was an integrated community that became a key stop on the Underground Railroad. The book sets the stage by placing New Philadelphia in the context of the Blackhawk Wars and the Potawatomi Trail of Death, Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain and the travels of European visitors. It also tells the story of the McWorters, the integrated community they built in Pike County and the ongoing work to find out more of its history.

Growing Up Abolitionist: How the Children of Boston’s Most Prominent Abolitionists Grew Up to Change the World – Presented by Claire Herhold

In the early nineteenth century, Boston was home to many prominent activists who worked tirelessly for abolition and other causes.  The children of these activists, including the Shaws, Garrisons, and Douglasses, faced difficult challenges as they grew older – whether to join with their parents’ causes, whether to embrace the same tactics, whether to start their own movements – made even more challenging by the great war which shaped their adulthood.  This talk will examine the major reform movements these children grew up in and how they became activists in their own right – or didn’t.

Civics 101

Wednesday, April 29 | 12-1pm

Test your knowledge of the United States Civics Test in a fun trivia competition and learn about the American government and history that inspired the questions. Each person should bring their own smartphone, ipad or laptop to compete in the trivia challenge. Free but reservations recommended.


The War That Made Beer Famous

Saturday, May 16 | 1pm | Presented by Lance Herdegen

Historian Lance Herdegen will explore how the love of beer spread throughout the Union Army during the Civil War.


Eternal Bivouac: Stories of Milwaukee’s Forest Home Cemetery

Saturday, May 23 | 1pm | Presented by Tom Ludka and Margaret Berres

After the Civil War ended, Union veterans set aside May 30 as a day to remember their fallen comrades and decorate their graves with flags and flowers. They called the event Decoration Day. As time passed, the name of the day changed to Memorial Day. In commemoration of these Civil War veterans and Decoration Day, hear stories of the Civil War veterans who are buried in Milwaukee’s Forest Home Cemetery.


Victorian Ice Cream Social

Saturday, June 13 | 10am-4pm

More details coming soon!


Great Lakes Civil War Forum: Command Decisions

Saturday, September 12 | Check-In 8:30am | Program Begins 9:30am | Register

During this annual forum, four renowned Civil War historians will consider decisions made by Union and Confederate military leaders at several of the most important campaigns of the Civil War: Antietam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Petersburg.

Click here for presentations and speakers


SPARK! at the Civil War Museum

SPARK! is a monthly program for individuals in early to mid-stages of memory loss and their caregivers. Participants are engaged in lively conversations, storytelling, interactive exhibit experiences, object handling, and other multi-sensory activities. Space is limited, so reservations are required. 262-653-4423 or

Upcoming SPARK! schedule

February 21: Hold Your Horses!

Kenosha was home to a Civil War training camp for the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry. Doug Dammann, from the Civil War Museum, will give a short tour of the temporary exhibit, Hold Your Horses!

March 20: Women’s History

SPARK! is celebrating women’s history month. Hear stories of famous Midwestern women who lived during the Civil War, including Cordelia Harvey and Caroline Quarlls, learn about clothing from the 1860s.

April 17: Civil War Science

The Civil War saw an increase in technology and innovation. Learn about Morse Code, try to build a water purification system, and explore how submarines float.

May 15: Flowers

April showers bring May flowers. Learn about the language of the flowers, make a print with flowers, and plant a flower to take home with you.


Campaign Tour: Corinth and Shiloh

October 18-21, 2020

Join the Civil War Museum this fall for a tour of the sites of Corinth and Shiloh.

Click here for itinerary and details.