Civil War

Library of Congress

As Cincinnati slept in the early morning hours of April 27, 1865, the SS Sultana, a steamboat that had been built in the shipyards here two years before, was slowly chugging up the Mississippi River near Memphis.

Cincinnati, like every city and village in the Union, was simultaneously relieved that the bloody Civil War was ending and mourning the death of President Abraham Lincoln, assassinated only 13 days before.

Bill Rinehart / WVXU

Rearranging historical artifacts is nothing new at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  Temporary exhibits come and go.  But rarely is the move a big production as it was Tuesday morning.

Three employees of a rigging company set up a trestle overhead as they prepared to move 3,500 pounds of iron in the form of a 150-year-old cannon.  They placed blankets around the barrel; and connected straps to a chain pulley system.  They were as careful as they could be.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Visitors at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center rang bells Thursday afternoon marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Staff and historical reenactors participated as well.

On or about April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House.

Jon Hughes/photopresse

Throughout the Civil War, on the bloody battlefields and in the hospitals overflowing with the wounded, many a mortally wounded young soldier left this life looking into the kindly face of a nun from Cincinnati.

“Lord have mercy on his soul,’’ were the last words he heard, and a promise from the woman dressed in black that she would tell his mother that he died bravely.

She was Sister Anthony O’Connell, known throughout the Union Army as “the Angel of the Battlefield.”

Many Americans, argues Michael C. C. Adams, tend to think of the Civil War as more glorious, less awful, than the reality. Millions of tourists flock to battlefields each year as vacation destinations, their perceptions of the war often shaped by reenactors who work hard for verisimilitude but who cannot ultimately simulate mutilation, madness, chronic disease, advanced physical decay.

In Living Hell: the Dark Side of the Civil War, Adams tries a different tack, clustering the voices of myriad actual participants on the firing line or in the hospital ward to create a virtual historical reenactment.

Michael C.C. Adams will be discussing and signing his book at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Rookwood Pavilion on Saturday, December 6 at 2pm.

From the cavemen to the hipsters of today, beards have been the hallmark of brave and manly men. For some reason, the popularity of beards skyrocketed during the late 19th century, when men became more willing to experiment with never-before-seen facial hair styles. Abraham Lincoln even grew his beard because a little girl wrote him and said he'd look more presidential with one.

A little over two years ago, sisters Anna and Julia Hider were discussing why all Civil War soldiers seemed to sport crazy beards. Their conversation quickly became the Tumblr blog "Badass Civil War Beards" which they cowrote between classes at two separate universities. The concept touched a funny bone, and Badass Civil War Beards, the book, was born.

  Later this month, Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park is presenting the world premiere of Safe House, by playwright Keith Josef Adkins.


Many Americans tend to think of the Civil War as more glorious and less awful than its reality. In Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War, Northern Kentucky University Regents Professor of History Emeritus Dr. Michael C. C. Adams gathers the voices of those who were on the firing line or in the hospital ward to create a far more realistic, and brutal, picture of the war. Dr. Adams is presenting a lecture on his work at 3 PM, April 10, in the Griffin Hall George and Ellen Rieveschl Digitorium on the NKU campus. For more information, call the NKU Department of History and Geography at (859) 572-5461.

Michael E. Keating

Union Baptist Cemetery is tucked away in a quiet spot off Cleves-Warsaw Road in Covedale. It’s the oldest Baptist African-American cemetery in Cincinnati, run by the oldest black Baptist congregation in the city.

It’s also a monument to about 120 free black men. During the Civil War, they took up arms and fought as soldiers against a Confederate army that would have kept their people in bondage.

Wounded Home exhibit at the Lloyd Library and Museum

Jul 26, 2013

Downtown Cincinnati’s Lloyd Library and Museum is currently featuring Wounded Home, an art and book exhibit commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Jane Durrell learns about how this exhibit was assembled and what visitors can expect to find in a conversation with the library’s Anna Heran and the exhibit’s guest curator, Kate Kern.