What better day to visit the country’s newest civil war museum than July 4th?
The tldr; version is that this is a very well done museum. The focus is on telling the story of the civil war through the suffering of the people involved. And by people I mean all the people; civilians, soldiers, and the enslaved populations that the war was fought over.
Yes, there is no nonsense here about States rights. One of the first exhibits shows the states that seceded on Lincoln’s election, before anything had really changed. The final exhibit addresses the Lost Cause, the KKK, and how white America, mostly in the South, conspired to limit blacks ability to live their newly won freedoms.
Make that “is conspiring,” because we are still doing it today.
The museum sits on the grounds of the Tredegar Iron Works, an important iron foundry in Richmond from pre-Civil War days though the 1950s.
As always, the defense contractors never lose in a war.
Enslaved people get top billing in the museum, as they should. There is very little about battle tactics to be found.
Civilians, particularly in the South, suffered greatly throughout the war.
I've always heard how close Lincoln's 1864 election was. I don't think I've seen the actual electoral vote before. That doesn't seem that close to me.
White nationalist politics really haven't changed much.
The famous painting of the last meeting between Jackson and Lee. Jackson would get shot by his own troops shortly after this. (Thank you North Carolina!). Also, I've visited the spot where that meeting allegedly took place. This is an important piece of art in Lost Cause mythology. It's in the last room of the exhibits, with a KKK uniform.
It's exactly where it should be.