Common People in Uncommon Times

Common People in Uncommon Times

Common People in Uncommon Times

A Civil War exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary opens at the Delta Heritage Center

The official traveling exhibition of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Common People in Uncommon Times: The Civil War Experience in Tennessee, has been organized by the Tennessee State Museum and will be on display beginning Wednesday, August 13 at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. The exhibit will present Tennesseeís unique story and illuminate the Volunteer Stateís significant role in the manner in which the Civil War was remembered by post-war generations.

The exhibition focuses on how the war impacted the lives of Tennesseans through personal stories of some of the participants. Their tales represent a diverse array of personalities including Confederate soldiers, Union sympathizers, African-Americans, gallant women and others.

This pictorial narrative of personal struggle and endurance during the Civil War is presented on 10 graphic panels taken from the Tennessee State Museumís collection of photographs and artifacts from the era, as well as from other collections across the state. Each panel portrays a different theme.

Visitors will learn about the lives of the common soldier. More than 187,000 Tennesseans served in the Confederate armed forces, while some 50,000-plus served in the Union army, including some 20,000 African-Americans.

Whether Union or Confederate, the soldiersí stories are individual and varied, including men from the mountains, the Delta, aristocrats, farmhands, boys barely out of their teens and former slaves. All were impacted by the Civil War.

The Tennessee home front, especially the rural areas, suffered immensely. Crops and farms were destroyed and livestock confiscated. Towns and cities faced the uneasy and unfamiliar aspect of occupation by Union or Confederate armies. The exhibition explores the home front through the stories of people like John Fielder, a store keeper in Henderson County; Kate Carney a defiant secessionist in Murfreesboro, and C.A. Haun, a noted potter from Greene County.

Photographs and archival materials help highlight several different African-Americans and their experience both on the home front and the battle front. Profiled individuals include Allen James Walker, who escaped slavery and joined the 7th U.S. Heavy Artillery; Samuel Lowry, a free black who returned to Nashville to serve as a chaplain, and Laura Ann Cansler, who worked to educate former slaves in Knoxville.

Common People in Uncommon Times: The Civil War in Tennessee will remain on exhibit at the Center until Tuesday, September 16. For more information about the exhibit, contact the Delta Heritage Center at 731-779-9000 or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *