This April marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. In recognition of the efforts of Minnesotans at home and in the field, a number of programs are being offered beginning with the presentation of recently preserved battle flags from the Civil and Spanish-American Wars.
WHAT: Civil War Flag Day at the Capitol
* Short Program: 19th-century music and a color guard procession of Civil War re-enactors representing each of the units whose flags will be on display, followed by special guest speakers, 1 p.m.
* Tours: Civil War and general tours of the State Capitol, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Display: Civil War artifacts from the Society's collection, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Demonstrations: Flag conservators will demonstrate their work and answer questions, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Activities: Children can make a miniature battle flag, try on reproduction Civil War uniforms and go on a scavenger hunt, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
* Gifts/Souvenirs: Civil War trading cards and books, including the new title "Brother of Mine: Civil War Letters of Thomas & William Christie" by Hampton Smith, will be for sale.
WHERE: Minnesota State Capitol Rotunda
WHEN: Saturday, April 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHY: Society textile conservators are currently working to stabilize 58 battle flags, 21 of which have been on display in the Capitol rotunda since Flag Day in 1905 when the building was dedicated.
The first four flags to be returned to the Capitol rotunda for display include: the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Third Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment and the First Minnesota Light Artillery, all from the Civil War, and the Thirteenth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment from the Spanish-American War.
Additional flags will be displayed on a rotating basis, with flags being changed every 6 to 8 months.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: The Society holds many items in its collection relating to the Civil War including artifacts, military records, letters, diaries and photographs. To help the public navigate these resources and to showcase events at historic sites a new website has launched at www.mnhs.org/civilwar. Highlights include:
* Civil War Daybook: Daily posts about Civil War events accompanied by visuals drawn from the Society's collection.
* "War for the West" Podcast: Learn about three of Minnesota’s lesser known units who fought in the Civil War. Check the Collections UpClose podcast often for new posts on the Civil War or sign up for an RSS feed.
* "76 Faces of the First": View 76 portraits of members of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment painted by local artist Jay Wittenberg, on display at the James J. Hill House from April 30 to October 2, 2011.
The battle flag conservation project is funded by a Save America's Treasures grant in partnership with the Institute of Museums and Library Services and the National Park Service, the Tawani Foundation and citizens from the State of Minnesota. Selected Civil War commemoration programs and events are supported by the Legacy Amendment.
For more information on the Minnesota Historical Society, call 651-259-3000 or visit www.mnhs.org.