Civil War Stories: Introduction

The Civil War represents a brutal and by definition deeply divisive chapter in American history. The historiography of the Civil War has evolved over time as Americans struggle to understand its meanings and incorporate its lessons. Embedded from the start in labels for this internecine conflict — known as “The War of the Southern Rebellion” in the North and “The War of Northern Aggression” in the South — the issues and aftermath of The War Between the States continue to reverberate more than a century and a half later. The iterative process of interpreting and reinterpreting history can obscure the personal stories and direct experiences of historical actors.

The holdings of the Madison County Historical Society reflect the fact that Illinois fought on the Union side of the Civil War. The six sections of this exhibition present writings by Union soldiers, artifacts used by Union troops, and original Federal military records. The exhibition includes ideas for using these primary sources as a teaching resource in the classroom.

Please send your feedback and/or any questions about this exhibition, written and designed by Mary Z. Rose, Assistant Curator at the Madison County Historical Museum and Archival Library, to