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The Civil War Museum, Kenosha, Wisconsin

Discussion in 'The Civil War Traveler's Companion' started by James N., Jan 23, 2016.

  1. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Part I
    downloadg.jpg
    A Union 12-pounder mountain howitzer, typical artillery used on the western plains and in the mountains.

    Since this weekend blizzard conditions prevail along the East coast, it seems like appropriate weather to stay indoors and keep warm! That of course precludes any tramping about on battlefields as many of us, myself included, are wont to do. So instead I thought it might be proper to find some nice related indoor activity to at least keep in the spirit; one such place appears to be the Civil War Museum of Kenosha, Wisconsin. I've personally never been here, but last summer my usual traveling companion Mike sent me these photos he took while visiting. According to their website,

    The Civil War Museum is like no other Civil War museum in the country. The museum focuses on the Civil War from the perspective of the people of the seven states of the upper middle west: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. These seven states sent over one million men to serve in the Union army while providing much of the food and raw materials necessary for the northern states to carry on the war. Through the use of personal stories and narratives, the Museum also explores how the Civil War impacted the people on the Western home front before, during, and after the war by connecting the prewar causes to the postwar effects.

    For additional information including planning your own visit, please see:

    http://www.kenosha.org/wp-civilwar/

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    Life-size dioramas and exhibits seem to play a large part in the museum's design and layout; below is another scene similar to that above representing a typical Wisconsin frontier street.

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    It appears the Union Home Front is fittingly represented as well, judging from the exhibit above; according to Mike, the dress is that of a child.

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    A good part of the exhibits appear to involve the Midwest's growing railroad network at the time of the war; the diorama above looks like it may represent the interior of a waiting room or railway car, while the baggage truck below is more obvious.

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    President Lincoln visiting General McClellan in his headquarters tent at Antietam is featured in another diorama but I'm not sure why!? The more conventional display of shoulder arms below seems to tell from top-to-bottom the development of U. S. Regulation muskets and rifles typical of those used in the war.

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    This was Mike's take on the museum and its exhibits, as related in his E-mail to me:

    The Saturday after the show we went down to Kenosha to the Civil War museum. It was reasonably well presented. The theater presentation was a 360 degrees view of a skirmish between some Union troops and a Reb battery on a hill. It was entertaining, and the equip and uniforms were OK as near as I could tell, but you are the expert on that. Also numerous exhibits of firearms and the like.

    download8.jpg Regulation artillery shell jacket, one of the most common surviving uniform types from the period. Again according to Mike there's a mix of original and reproduction items in the exhibits.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016

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  3. LoriAnn

    LoriAnn Captain

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    We visited a couple of years ago (and need to go back).

    I believe it is a railway car, and a warning to those who are like me and just wander into things without really reading any pertinent info that might be posted...those dudes talk.
     
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  4. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Part II
    downloadj.jpg

    The diorama above appears to represent a Union camp scene featuring underage-looking soldiery.

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    Above, a nice collection of Union officers' belongings and insignia including a colonel's frock coat, waist sash, and gauntlets; plus shoulder straps of various ranks up to and including colonel and a waist sword belt at lower right. Below are close-ups of the hilts of the three swords - the two at left appear to be post-war M.1860 Swords for Officers of the Staff and Field, the one at right a M.1850 Sword for Foot Officers in a non-regulation steel scabbard. Mike's brief description indicated these were the belongings of a single individual who was unfamiliar to him and whom he didn't name.

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    Of the kepi, Mike wrote, "I WOULD be interested to know if the red cap really belonged to Magruder. In case you can't read it - the owners claimed that "oral tradition" linked it to Magruder."

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    There appears to be a nice collection of original period flags like the State regimental above and the Nationals below; I'll let the included signage describe them further:

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    I hope to get here myself someday; I also hope you enjoyed it!
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  5. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Thanks, LoriAnn; I had overlooked Mike's comment about this particular scene:

    "This is sort of an "interactive" exhibit, representing a rail car rolling through the country.. You can seat in each seat and the character there will "talk" to you for a while. It's a recording, they are not animated."
     
  6. LoriAnn

    LoriAnn Captain

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    I was trying to be cute and make my husband laugh, so I slid into the spot next to the Union guy and said, "Hey Soldier".

    When he "replied", I jumped about a mile. (And did indeed make Tom laugh, though not as originally planned.)
     
  7. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    It sounds like you "learned" more than you bargained for!
     
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  8. 7th Texas Mounted Rifles

    7th Texas Mounted Rifles Sergeant Forum Host Trivia Game Winner

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    @James N.,

    Yet again another perfect thread!
    Thanks for taking the time to post it up.

    Love that Mountain Howitzer!

    And perhaps the "oral tradition" came around to soften up the reality that Magruder's REAL kepi was probably lost in a drunken stagger on the beaches of Texas, haha.
     
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  9. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    Thanks! As for the kepi, it has the four strands of gold braid appropriate to the rank of Confederate General; the non-regulation red color may come from Magruder's original branch-of-service, the artillery. In fact, it was the battery he commanded as a captain in the campaign to capture Mexico City that included the young Thomas J. Jackson among its lieutenants!
     
  10. Legion Para

    Legion Para Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The Kenosha Civil War Museum is worth a visit.


     
  11. MRB1863

    MRB1863 Captain Forum Host

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    In a word "WOW"! Thank you for sharing the photos of the museum. They have certainly done a nice job at the presentation of these historical items and scenes!
     
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  12. jackt62

    jackt62 First Sergeant

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    Speaking of Wisconsin and Civil War museums and exhibits, there is an excellent Veterans Museum in Madison (across the street from the state capital), that is heavily based on the Civil War. In addition to many fine artifacts and dioramas (see my avatar), they have an interesting collection of battle flags P5252853.JPG P5252855.JPG P5252856.JPG .
     
  13. Legion Para

    Legion Para Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a must see if you are ever in Madison.

     
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  14. TinCan

    TinCan Captain Forum Host

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    I agree with MRB....wow!
     
  15. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

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    Both the Kenosha & Madison Veterans museums are stellar but I would also be quick to add the Civil War Museum at the base of the Obelisk in downtown Indianapolis (I forget the name) is superb and free to visit.
     
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  16. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    I recall this Museum being recommended in another thread and me "watching" the thread for future reference. Good stuff. You get around. :D
     
  17. Keiri

    Keiri Corporal

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    For what it's worth, I'm in Madison and the day is sunny, bright, and a comparatively warm 30 degrees. Might be better weather in Kenosha than where most of you are!
     
  18. James N.

    James N. Captain Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    In all fairness, this time it was my friend Mike who was getting around - he and another friend of his from the Minneapolis area had gone to Wisconsin to attend a concert plus do a little sightseeing. I plan to post a few more of his photos in another thread at a more appropriate time. My own travels in the Old Northwest/Midwest have been pretty spotty.
     
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  19. bdtex

    bdtex Brigadier General Moderator

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    Magruder's Kepi from the Peninsula Campaign at the MOC-downtown Richmond:

    2016-01-08 12.10.13.jpg 2016-01-08 12.08.32.jpg
     
  20. chubachus

    chubachus Sergeant

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    Photos of the exhibits remind me a bit of the layout of the Pamplin Park museum at Petersburg which I really enjoy.
     
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  21. Legion Para

    Legion Para Brigadier General Moderator Forum Host

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    The Wisconsin Veterans Museum has an incredible collection. This is perhaps one of the most iconic items in the collection.

    Read more about it:

    http://blog.wisvetsmuseum.com/iron-brigade-black-hat/

    Sergeant Philander B. Wright, Color Sergeant, Company C, 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, wore this hat as he led the charge of the Iron Brigade on the morning of July 1, 1863 outside the town of Gettysburg, PA.

    hardee-hat-2nd-wisconsin.jpg
     
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