Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Boys In Blue III

When will this Cruel War Be Over?

They expected the war to be over in months, but the bloodiest war in American history reached its midpoint in 1863. To those living through it, both on the battlefield and the home front, it simply seemed interminable, with astounding casualties and huge economic consequences.

African American slaves and freedmen were beginning to question what effect the war would eventually have on their lives, especially since the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in January. Battles continued to be fought on both the Eastern and Western fronts; the Union Army and the Army of the Confederate States of America slogged on. The armies faced each other on more than 90 battlefields in 1863 and suffered thousands of casualties.

Soldiers of all faiths participated in the Civil War. Immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Eastern Europe and beyond swelled the combatant ranks as these new Americans fought for both sides of their adopted nation. The battles of Vicksburg, Milliken's Bend, Gettysburg, Chickamauga, and Fort Wagner resulted in more deaths, destruction, and sadness. Formerly enslaved African-Americans continued to leave plantations and join Union forces and to simply seek refuge behind Union Army lines. 

The tide of the War was turning.

Yes, the War continued to plod along...

This exhibition was displayed at the Abraham Lincoln Presidental Library in 2013. The exhibit you are now entering was placed online as a record of that physical exhibition by The Center for Digital Initiatives at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. With the exception of a few artifacts that were too delicate to scan, this online exhibition follows the original exhibition closely. 


The Exhibit Committee wishes to thank those who assisted in the creation of this exhibit. The list of individuals is so great that this appreciation is broadly given to the various departments of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Historical accuracy, creativity, and diligent efforts have come together from the staff to create this exhibition based on the Library's collections. This has truly been a pleasurable team effort, and each person's contribution is greatly appreciated.

All items featured in Boys in Blue: When will this Cruel War be Over? are from the collections of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, formerly the Illinois State Historical Library.

Many thanks are extended to Eileen Mackevich, Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation for enthusiastically supporting our efforts and cheering us onward.

We would certainly be remiss if we did not remember the men and boys without whose wise stories and images there would be no exhibit.

Boys in Blue Exhibit Committee:
Mary Michals, Curator Kathryn Harris
Judy Everhart
Debbie Hamm

Special Thanks to:
Mike Burglin. Mike Casey, Kirk Davidsmeyer, Jill Elesman, Roberta Fairburn, Ginny Lex, John Malinak, Shannon Murphy, Bonnie Parr, Gwen Podeschi, Jenny Sawyer, Carla Smith, and Julie Stewart




Letters from the Caribbean

The Caribbean area watched the American Civil War with particular interest.  Many former slaves in the Caribbean wondered what the war would mean for the future of slavery.  If the Confederacy triumphed, they feared an expansionist Confederacy that would seek to annex Caribbean islands in a slaveholding empire.

These letters reflect the attitude of the Caribbean region toward Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865 and his legacy in the region 150 years later.

Then and Now: Condolences and Reflections


A comparison of letters of condolence on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and reflections on the legacy of Abraham Lincoln from international leaders in 2015 from the same communities.