Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Remembering Lincoln

Ford's Theater 1865
On April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin, at Ford's Theatre President Abraham Lincoln was shot.  The Ford's Theater Society commemorated Lincoln's legacy with an all night vigil from the 14th through today April 15th, with  a moment of silence at 7:22am the moment Lincoln was pronounced dead.  The assasination occured five days after the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, Gen. Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Lt. Gen Ulysses S. Grant and the Army of the Potomac at Appomatox Court House.

Scene of Lincoln's Funeral Procession.

Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms.  Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere."
- Lincoln September 11, 1858

Lincoln's most noted speech is the Gettysburg Address, but his presidency is marked by many historic moments including signing the Emancipation Proclamation.  His death deeply affected many Americans including the African American community, as he played a very important role in ending slavery in the United States.  Just days after his death thousands of people could be seen waiting to pay their respects at his funeral.  A New York World coorespondent wrote that the occasion was strange because it was a very significant parade but it was also very sad.  The soldiers of the 22nd United States Colored Troops, a regiment from Pennsylvania, led Lincoln's funeral procession to the train that would take his body to Springfield, Illinois were he was buried.

The nation at large was in mourning, responses can be seen in communities around the country to Lincoln's death.  The Ford's Theater Society has established a digital archive of responses to Lincoln's death, The African American Civil War Museum will post some responses to Lincoln's death, from the African American community on our Facebook page throughout the day on today April 15th.

-Briana Welch, Eastern Senior High School

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Grand Review Coming Soon

Army coming down Pennsylvania Ave
The African American Civil War Museum is delighted to be a key organizer of a huge event taking place this upcoming spring 2015, marking the 150th anniversary of one of the most important parades in the nation's history.  The Grand Review Parade will assemble 6 to 10,000 marchers and spectators in Washington, DC on Sunday, May 17, 2015.  The event will commemorate the Grand Review of the Armies, which took place on May 23, 2015.  The original event took place in a much smaller Washington, but its sense of healing and unity resonates powerfully in our own time.  At the time the nation was still recovering not just from the Civil War itself, but from President Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theater the previous month.

Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson, made plans for a formal review of the Union troops in part to mark the end of the war and the Union victory, but also to try to lift the spirits of citizens in the capital and across the nation.  On May 18, 1865 the army issued Special Order No. 239, calling for a Grand Review, a two day parade in Washington, DC of the main Union armies.  In all, more than 150,000 soldiers would parade through the nation's capital, filing past the president and his cabinet, as well as Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant positioned on a special reviewing stand in front of the White House.

Army filing past Presidential Review Stand, 1865
At 9:00am on May 23, a signal gun fired a single shot and Major Gen. George Meade, the victor of Gettysburg, led an estimated 80,000 men of the Army of the Potomac down the streets of Washington past thousands in the crowds.  On the following day at 10:00am, General William T. Sherman led the 65,000 men of the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of Georgia past the admiring crowds and celebrities, most of whom had never seen him before.  Within a week of the celebrations, the two armies were disbanded and many of the volunteer regiments and batteries were sent home to be mustered out of the army.

Army filing past crowd 
This parade is the culmination of a weekend of events to commemorate the end of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War.  The original Grand Review Parade held in May, 1865, marked the end of the war and the dismissal of many of the troops.  No African American regiments were allowed to march in 1865 but the 2015 march will correct a great wrong in history as the USCT, Volunteer and Regular Union Regiments will march down Pennsylvania Ave together.  We invite you to participate in this Sesquicentennial Commemoration and celebrate our event theme a "New Birth of Freedom and Union," inspired by one of President Abraham Lincoln's most noted speeches The Gettysburg Address.  To learn more about the Grand Review Weekend please visit the event website  Hope to see you there.

How do you plan to commemorate the closing days of the Civil War?

Briana Welch, Eastern Senior High School