Local events to mark Civil War’s 150th anniversary

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By John Friedlein

While this area of central Kentucky doesn’t have battlefields on the scale of Gettysburg or Chickamauga, it did play a significant role in the Civil War.

The Union leader was born in Hodgenville, after all. And Elizabethtown is trying to raise awareness of Confederate Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s raid on the town.  

Several local events are planned this year to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, which began in April 1861.

For instance, sometime this spring the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park expects to host a debate between Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davis re-enactors. Born less than a year apart in the same state, the two men never debated in real life.

The war’s sesquicentennial, which will be marked over the next four years, is expected to boost attendance at Lincoln sites, said Scott Shultz, chief of interpretation, visitor services and resource management for the Hodgenville park.

“Without Abraham Lincoln, we don’t have the Civil War,” he said.

Assuming Lincoln immediately would end slavery, the South rebelled after he was elected, Shultz said. But the president said he lacked constitutional authority to do so; it was the war that pushed him and the country into deciding on the issue, he said.

Some of this area’s powerful families owned slaves, which played a role in the president’s lack of local popularity — despite his being born here.

The Hardin County History Museum likely will add to its Civil War offerings this year, but details won’t be announced until its new board is in place next month.

The museum has a Confederate exhibit and a Union exhibit is in the works. Kentucky was a border state during the war, with residents fighting for both sides.

The History Museum applied for an $8,000 federal grant to document the Battle of Elizabethtown, but it wasn’t approved, museum spokeswoman Susan McCrobie said. The museum plans to re-apply for the money, which would fund a comprehensive survey that could lead to an official battlefield designation.

Statewide, the Kentucky Historical Society plans to commemorate the Civil War sesquicentennial through 2015.

The agency developed the theme, “Discovering Together: Kentucky’s Civil War Landscapes” to mark the anniversary. It will “highlight the varying political, military and physical landscapes of Kentucky and its people before and during the war,” according to the KHS website.

Programming will include a HistoryMobile exhibit which will travel the state to illustrate the importance of families during the conflict.

KHS — which administers the Kentucky Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission — received a $1 million federal grant for its anniversary efforts.


  • The Hardin County History Museum is looking for new board members. For more information, e-mail susanmccrobie@gmail.com.

John Friedlein can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or jfriedlein@thenewsenterprise.com.