The year was 1863, and it was a doozy. The Emancipation Proclamation was delivered, the Gettysburg Address was composed, the draft was established, and breakfast cereal was invented—all seminal moments in the shaping of America. The Cincinnati History Museum’s new exhibit, Cincinnati and the Civil War: 1863, revisits the city’s often-overlooked role in the northern war effort. “People might be surprised to know that there was fighting in Ohio,” says Scott Gampfer, director of history collections at the History Museum, “some of which was around Cincinnati.” The gallery features an original letter detailing the pursuit of Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and items that belonged to General William Lytle of the 10th Ohio Voluntary Infantry Regiment. Visitors can also examine artifacts from Cincinnati’s Great Western Sanitary Fair, one of the first instances of local women getting involved in the war, raising funds to operate hospitals for wounded soldiers. As the needs of the Union infantry increased, Cincinnati became a “vital center of production,” notes Gampfer, while also preparing for the cultural changes on the horizon. “Cincinnati is a northern city, but it’s a rather ‘Southern’ northern city. It was very economically tied to the South. The beginning of the war had a devastating effect—the city had to reinvent itself.”
FYI: Free (parking $6). July 6–Oct 27, Cincinnati History Museum, 1301 Western Ave., Queensgate, (513) 287-7000, cincy museum.org
Originally published in the August 2013 issue.