• Photo of cannon at Antietam National Battlefield

    The Civil War

The Civilian Experience

of Gettysburg resident looking at Lutheran Theological Seminary.

After being mere spectators at the war's early battles, civilians in the war zone later would become unwilling participants and victims of the war's expanding scope and horror.

In response to the hardships imposed upon their fellow citizens by the war, governments and civilians on both sides mobilized to provide comfort, encouragement, and materiel goods. On the other hand, the Confederate government failed almost completely to care for the families of its soldiers.

Stories from The Civilian Experience

Showing results 6-10 of 16

  • No Time for Games

    Photograph of a Union family at a military camp

    An entire generation was shaped by this critical chapter of American history and the weight of war was borne on little shoulders as well as large. Whether they snuck into the army, served as drummer boys, helped tend the wounded, or faced an every-day struggle to stay alive, the perspectives of children offer unique insight into the effects of the Civil War. Read more

  • Wilson's Creek National Battlefield

    Slaves, Unionists, and Secessionists

    Print of General Nathaniel Lyon falling from horse after being shot during the Battle of  Wilson's Creek

    Local residents of the Wilson's Creek, Missouri area in 1861 were a microcosm of the divided nation, bringing with them different backgrounds and beliefs about slavery and Union. For example, John Ray and his wife, Roxanna, whose farm would be in the midst of the battle, were slave owning Southerners, though they supported the Union. Read more

  • Shiloh National Military Park

    The Battle of Shiloh: Dividing the Heart of Tennessee

    Photo of Robert E. Lee

    The Battle of Shiloh is remembered as a decisive moment in the Civil War - a brutal 2-day engagement that shocked the nation into facing the horrors of war. But there's another story that's less often told, about the battle's terrible toll on the local community in Tennessee. Read more

  • The Civilian Experience in the Civil War

    Painting of civilians under fire during the Siege of Vicksburg

    After being mere spectators at the war's early battles, civilians both near and far from the battlefields became unwilling participants and victims of the war as its toll of blood and treasure grew year after year. In response to the hardships imposed upon their fellow citizens by the war, civilians on both sides mobilized to provide comfort, encouragement, and material, and began to expect that their government should do the same. Read more

  • The Freedmen's Colony on Roanoke Island

    Photo of African American refugee family

    Roanoke Island is most famous for its "Lost Colony" of the 1580s, but 280 years later was the scene of another bold experiment on a new frontier. Following its capture by Union forces in 1862, Roanoke Island became the site of a Freedmen's Colony for newly freed African Americans, where education and a new way of living could be experienced. Read more