Illinois Ancestors: Civil War commemoration continues

Illinois Ancestors: Civil War commemoration continues

As we continue to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Civil War it seems appropriate to be reminded of some of the events of that war. According to an online chronology (, it was 150 years ago this month that the three-day Battle of Gettysburg was fought, July 1-3, followed by the retreat of the Confederates. Later that year, on Nov. 19, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address.

The Bits of Blue and Gray website also provides links to other Civil War pages worth noting. The Civil War Trivia page includes the question, "What military command was given Ulysses S. Grant at the start of the Civil War?" (Answer: Colonel of the 21st Illinois Infantry.")

The link to "Favorite Civil War Sites" provides a most helpful list of websites having Civil War records, letters, rosters, and resources. There are also links to Civil War ghost stories, poetry, songs, and suggested offline reading. Whether or not your family had a Civil War veteran, take time to remember all those who fought and be sure to share such information with today's youth!

Visit Civil War sites

A vacation trip including visits to various Civil War sites would be especially appropriate this year. The National Park Service has provided a website with links to the states that have chosen to establish an official commemorative website at

A click on "Illinois" will take one to an Illinois page with a calendar of events, a timeline, and information on Lincoln and Grant. For example, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library opened a free exhibit in January, "Boys in Blue. When Will This Cruel War Be Over?" It will continue to run seven days a week through March 2014.

For information on this and other special events in Illinois visit

The Civil War Trust (organized to preserve and protect Civil War battlefields) has an interesting website at, which provides links to events, news, history, and websites.

For example, a click on "history" provides links to biographies, primary sources, battles, home front, logistics, and an overview.

While at this website, be sure to click on the links pertaining to Gary Adelman's new book, "The Civil War 150 To-Do List."

"There's nothing more powerful than the authenticity of the real thing," Adelman writes. "You can stand awestruck at these places, as we try to learn what happened there, and we are moved in some way — whether saddened, angered, confused, uplifted, passionate, or enriched. ... Call it a history lesson, call it time travel. In the end, doing, as opposed to simply learning, is deeply meaningful."

From this website one can explore the online version of Adelman's book and also click on the link to the full list of 450 activities to learn about each location/event. We Americans need to have a greater appreciation of Civil War events. Adelman's list is sure to enhance our understanding.

Battle apps

A visit to a Civil War battlefield can be better appreciated when a National Park Service ranger or guide can accompany visitors. Technology has introduced battlefield apps, which have become popular as well. The Civil War Trust has several battle apps and they are available for Gettysburg, Vicksburg, Appomattox, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, and others at

According to this website, "The Civil War Trust has partnered with leading historians to produce a wealth of historical content for each Battle App. Click on any of our 'Virtual Signs' and you will be able to access accounts and videos from true battlefield experts. You can also click on our audio links to hear the voices of those who fought at the very places where you are standing."

Vermont's sesquicentennial

For some unknown reason, a link to sesquicentennial activities planned by the state of Vermont does not appear on the websites mentioned above, but an interesting 10-page illustrated visitor's guide to that state's Civil War history can be found at

It should also be noted that Vermont's state archives genealogy resources are listed at Be sure to click on the link, Guide to Civil War Resources at the Vermont State Archives as well as the link to the Civil War Digital Collection.

Queries, genealogical questions from researchers and genealogical materials readers would like to share will be printed in this column free. Joan Griffis may be reached via email at or by sending a letter to Illinois Ancestors, c/o The News-Gazette, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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Catherine Brooks wrote on July 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

The Vermont Civil War Sesquicentennial website is . In addition to events and resources, you can download the visitor guide mentioned above, and also sign up to receive the Civil War Book of Days, a weekly email capturing events of 150 years ago that week. The National Endowment for the Humanities has said this publicaton is on par or better than some from nationally prestigious newspapers. You can also search online for Vermonters in the Civil War at .


Catherine Brooks

Vermont Cultural Heritage Tourism Coordinator