New exhibit shares the story of the Civil War period at Vancouver Barracks

3rd artillery for press releaseNARA
Soldiers from Battery C of the Third U.S. Artillery, in formation at Vancouver Barracks (then known as Fort Vancouver) in 1860.


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News Release Date: November 13, 2013

Contact: Meagan Huff, (360) 816-6255

On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will launch a new exhibit: A New Birth of Freedom: Vancouver Barracks During the Civil War. This exhibit will explore the role of Vancouver's military post in the 1860s, as well as some of the larger themes of the conflict. Artifacts from Gettysburg National Military Park and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site will be on display, along with costumes of the period and information about other national park units tied to the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration.

The exhibit is presented in partnership with Clark College, complementing the school's Mature Learning course on the Gettysburg Address, also happening on November 19th, the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's famous speech. There will be a FREE opening reception for the exhibit that evening, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The Pacific Northwest, "neither north nor south," was nonetheless involved in the political and social upheaval that surrounded the Civil War. Residents held strong views on the national debate over slavery and states' rights. There were other pressing issues here as well, however, such as efforts to remove Native peoples from their traditional homelands and continue American settlement to the Pacific Coast.

During the Civil War, Army troops from Vancouver Barracks were sent East or to California, and the post became a regional headquarters for volunteer regiments. These volunteer soldiers mapped new territory, guarded roads, and built forts. Vancouver was also home to the Vancouver Arsenal, an important munitions manufactory and storehouse that was the target of an unsuccessful sabotage plot by a pro-Confederacy group. "The history of the Civil War is much more than the eastern battlefields. Though they are an important part of the story, the conflict affected every corner of the young nation, in different ways," said Fort Vancouver NHS Curator Theresa Langford, "We are so pleased to offer an opportunity to explore this era of Vancouver's history, and reflect on the meaning of the words Lincoln offered that day."

Featured in the exhibit are a number of artifacts on loan from Gettysburg National Military Park, including a canteen, a belt buckle, and a percussion cap box found on the Gettysburg battlefield. Said Fort Vancouver NHS Museum Technician Meagan Huff, "It is so powerful to see these artifacts that were left behind on the battlefield by the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg. It's an honor for us to display them, and to share with the public the diversity and importance of National Park Service museum collections."

What: A new exhibit at Fort Vancouver NHS, titled A New Birth of Freedom: Vancouver Barracks During the Civil War

When: The exhibit will run November 19, 2013-March 30, 2014. A FREE opening reception for the exhibit will take place November 19, 2013, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site Visitor Center

Cost: Free


Background: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service, is at the heart of Vancouver National Historic Reserve. The Vancouver National Historic Reserve brings together a national park, a premier archaeological site, the region's first military post, an international fur trade emporium, one of the oldest operating airfields, the first national historic site west of the Mississippi River, and a waterfront trail and environmental center on the banks of the Columbia River. The partners of the Reserve teach visitors about the fur trade, early military life, natural history, and pioneers in aviation, all within the context of Vancouver's role in regional and national development. The Reserve's vast array of public programs - including living history events, cultural demonstrations, exhibits, active archaeology, and other special events and activities - create a dynamic, fun, and unique tourist destination for people of all ages.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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