The Civil War was fought by people from your hometown. Despite the fact that no battles were fought in Michigan, Genesee county’s fathers, sons, husbands, brothers, and even some mothers and daughters sacrificed plenty to save the Union.
When the eleven southern states that banded together as the new Confederate States of America formally withdrew from the Union, many Northerners thought the war to end the rebellion would be both short and glorious. As a group, the Southern states had fewer soldiers, fewer factories to make war goods, and less railroad track to quickly move supplies. Knowing these facts, the Union Army offered its volunteers a short six-month enlistment term. Predicting a quick and easy road to victory, the U.S. Army even recruited young men to join and “Take a Tour of the Sunny South” on the government’s dime.
The initial excitement for the war to preserve the Union led young men with romantic visions of doing their patriotic duty from all over Flint, Genesee County, and Michigan to flood the state’s militia ranks. In fact, so many volunteered that some were turned away and forced to join the armies of Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois.
It was only as the months dragged into years and Genesee County men marched into tremendous bloody battles like Antietam and Gettysburg that the nation realized the terrific toll reuniting the country would take. The new exhibit “The Brave and the Faithful: Michigan in the Civil War” contains the real stories of our hometown hero’s selfless adoption of the Union cause, conspicuous bravery on the battlefield, daring escapes from prison camps and tales of astounding loss in a time not so different from our own. Genesee County natives were on the scene of the war’s first battle on 1861 and fought admirably through the Confederacy’s surrender at Appomattox Court House in 1865.
As the war ended and soldiers returned to Genesee County they brought with them relics of battle ranging from tree limbs to belt buckles, to canteens and drums; many of which are now part of Sloan Museum’s collection. Visitors will be able to see priceless battlefield relics like soldier’s weapons, personal correspondence and photographs. The exhibit will also include information and artifacts relating to the region’s African American soldier’s contribution to the war effort after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It will also highlight legendary Confederate General James Longstreet, a man Robert E. Lee called “His Old War Horse,” and his connection to Flint.
For more information on the hours and ticket prices for the Sloan Museum.