The upper floor of Campus Martius Museum is currently host to Civil War artifacts obtained from all across Ohio, including a cot where a field surgeon died and the pike that John Brown used on his raid at Harper's Ferry.
The exhibition, titled "Touched By Conflict: Southeastern Ohio & the Civil War," opened Saturday and showcases hundreds of items grouped in a loose chronological order, with the purpose of telling the individual stories of southeastern Ohioans and their impact on the war.
Historian and Marietta resident Bill Reynolds has worked at Campus Martius for about 40 years, and worked with the Ohio Historical Society to set up the exhibition.
CONOR MORRIS Special to the Times
Historian Bill Reynolds displays an exhibit of Civil War artifacts originally displayed by the fraternal organization Grand Army of the Republic a little less than 125 years ago at Marietta’s centennial celebration.
"The Civil War was the worst conflict that ever occurred on American soil," Reynolds said. "Millions of people's lives were affected. Even here locally, the contributions of people were enormous."
According to Reynolds, southeastern Ohio contributed much more than 2,000 troops to the war effort, including Rufus Dawes, father of the U.S. vice president Charles Dawes.
"We were looking for something different for people to see, and that would be timely...something that would resonate with the local area," said Reynolds of the exhibition, which coincides with the Civil War's sesquicentennial anniversary.
If you go
What: A new Civil War exhibition at Campus Martius Museum, "Touched by Conflict: Southeastern Ohio & the Civil War."
Where: Campus Martius Museum, 601 Second St., Marietta, Ohio.
When: Open during normal museum hours, Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Cost: Admission prices are $7 for adults and $4 for students.
For information: 373-3750.
Part of the collection came from Dayton resident Larry Strayer, who collects Civil War artifacts. His pieces make up roughly three-fourths of the items at the "Touched by Conflict" exhibition.
"I think the exhibition brings an immediacy to this time period and brings it alive for people," Strayer said. "People do need to be aware of our country's history, if for no other reason than to become better voting citizens... without the sacrifice of these men back then, we wouldn't have the unified country we have today."
Both Strayer and Reynolds said the exhibition has pieces in it that simply cannot be found anywhere else.
For example, a display case features Civil War artifacts that were included in an entirely different exhibition, presented in 1888 for Marietta's centennial celebrations by actual Civil War veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic.
Strayer said another very rare grouping includes the belongings of Union Army volunteer and musician William T. Peyton.
"There's a set of equipment brought home by a man (Peyton) from Aberdeen, Ohio... and his family saved it and left it untouched, including his ration bag still filled with ground coffee," Strayer said.
Peyton's belongings are so rare because normally such possessions are never kept together, usually being divided up among surviving family members upon the person's death.
While the collection is almost entirely based around the lives of Union members, Reynolds said one particularly interesting artifact is the remnant of a confederate flag that flew outside General Lee's headquarters at the battle of Appamatox Courthouse.
"We think that if anybody has a passing interest in the Civil War, they'll find something here to see. This tells snippets of a much larger story," he said.
As such, multiple groupings in the gallery focus on the contributions of the rest of the populous, not just those involved in direct combat. That includes women, gunmakers, doctors, fraternal veteran organizations and many others.
The "Touched by Conflict" exhibition will continue on for three years, and every other month the gallery will play host to a new program. Reynolds said the programs planned for the future range from letter and diary readings to music programs to a Civil War camp event for children.
The next program, in which Reynolds and other local historians host a Civil War roundtable and discussion, is planned for 7 p.m. July 19.
The "Touched by Conflict" exhibition is currently open for visitors on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Admission prices are $7 for adults and $4 for students.