Common People in Uncommon Times opens at the Museum Center at 5ive Points

John McCline, began serving with the Union Army as a 10 year-old. Collection of New Mexico State University.

John McCline, began serving with the Union Army as a 10 year-old. Collection of New Mexico State University.

Isham G. Harris. Secessionist Governor of Tennessee at the time of the Civil War. Collection of Library of Congress.

Isham G. Harris. Secessionist Governor of Tennessee at the time of the Civil War. Collection of Library of Congress.

CLEVELAND, Tenn.  (March 12, 2014) — The official traveling exhibition of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, Common People in Uncommon Times: The Civil War Experience in Tennessee, organized by the Tennessee State Museum opens at the Museum Center at 5ive Points in Cleveland, Tennessee on Thursday, March 13, 2014 with a Members Only Preview Party starting at 6 p.m. The exhibition focuses on how the war impacted the lives of Tennesseans through personal stories of some of the participants. Their tales represent a diverse array of personalities — Confederate soldiers, Union sympathizers, African-Americans, gallant women — whose sagas illustrate a land divided.

This pictorial narrative of personal struggle and endurance during the Civil War is presented on 10 graphic panels taken from the State Museum’s collection of photographs and artifacts from the era, as well as from other collections across the state. Each panel portrays a different theme: Confederate leaders, Union leaders, African-Americans, civilian homefront, common soldiers, war on the water, reconstruction and commemoration.

“Our goal is to educate the public, promote the commemoration, and highlight the legacies of the Civil War by engaging individuals and communities in an accurate and inclusive portrayal of Tennessee's involvement in the Civil War,” said Lois Riggins-Ezzell, executive director of the Tennessee State Museum.

“Tennessee, being geographically centered between the North and the Deep South, was destined to be the focal point of the Civil War,” explained Myers Brown, the exhibition curator. “The state became a major battlefield, supply center, transportation hub, and invasion route for both Union and Confederate armies. The war disrupted and impacted the people of Tennessee in ways that are almost unimaginable.”

Visitors will learn about the lives of the common soldier. Almost 187,000 Tennesseans served in the Confederate armed forces, while more than 50,000 served in the Union army, including some 20,000 African-Americans. Confederate Tennesseans fought in every major battle east of the Mississippi River, from Gettysburg to New Orleans, forming the backbone of the largest army in the western theater, the Army of Tennessee. Whether Union or Confederate, the soldiers’ stories are individual and varied, including boys from the mountains and from the Delta. Aristocrats, farm boys, or former slaves were all impacted by the Civil War.

The Tennessee home front, especially the rural areas, suffered immensely during the war. Crops and farms were destroyed and livestock confiscated. Towns and cities faced the uneasy and unfamiliar aspect of occupation by Union or Confederate armies. The exhibition explores the home front through the stories of people like John Fielder, a storekeeper in Henderson County; Kate Carney a defiant secessionist in Murfreesboro, and C.A. Haun, a noted potter from Greene County.

Photographs and archival materials help highlight several different African-Americans and their experience both on the home front and the battle front. Profiled individuals include Allen James Walker, who escaped slavery and joined the 7th U.S. Heavy Artillery; Samuel Lowry, a free black who returned to Nashville to serve as a chaplain, and Laura Ann Cansler, who worked to educate former slaves in Knoxville. 

The exhibit will present Tennessee’s unique story among former Confederate states during Reconstruction and illuminate the Volunteer State’s significant role in the manner in which the Civil War was remembered by post-war generations.

The exhibition will be on display at the Museum Center from Friday, March 14, 2014 through Saturday, May, 17, 2014. The Member’s Only Preview Party will be on Thursday, March 13 at 6 p.m. Common People in Uncommon Times: The Civil War Experience in Tennessee is sponsored locally by Cooke's Food Stores. 

The Museum Center at 5ive Points tells the story of the Ocoee region through compelling exhibitions and dynamic educational programming that promotes history, culture, and preservation. The Museum Store features arts, crafts, and books from select artists, craftsman, and authors from within a 200-mile radius. Hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The museum is closed Sunday, Monday, and on select holidays. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students, and free for children under 5. Members of the Museum receive free admission. Group rates are available and the Museum’s facilities can be rented year-round for weddings and special events.

For further information call 423-339-5745, or visit www.museumcenter.org.