Westport and the Civil War

Betty and Ralph Sheffer Gallery
150th Civil War Anniversay Project
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Fort Sumter Garrison Flag flown on April 12,1861

How did Westport, Connecticut react, on April 12, 1861 when Confederate troops fired shots on Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina, and the long-dreaded Civil War began? The Westport Historical Society will mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War by launching a very unique 5-year long, documentary web journal project, within the WHS website. Curated by WHS Exhibits historian, Brian O’Leary, and Westport Civil War historian, Dave Press, the website’s goal will be to trace the Civil War experience as if it were breaking news in Westport, using actual local artifacts and documents. The initial focus will be April 12, 1861. Events and local profiles for the days, weeks and months that follow will be published as those anniversaries occur, click on the blue button to the left of our homepage “Westport’s Eye on the Civil War”.

Says Dorothy E. Curran, WHS president, “Through the content of this website, and through related speakers and programs over the next 5 years, our goal will be to encourage learning and reflection on the hometown impact of the bloodiest war in U.S. history. 225 Westport men answered the call to serve in the Union Army, and we will follow their experience, but no battles were fought in Connecticut, and we plan no re-enactments. Instead, we seek to explore the political, social and economic fabric of Westport in 1861, and how the townspeople responded and adapted to the War, right through the assassination of Lincoln in April, 1865. Notes Dave Press, “Initial response from Westport was slow. Only 27 of the 225 Westporters who enlisted did so in 1861. Some of the homes where they lived are still standing, and our local cemeteries have gravestones marking the Civil War service.” Adds Brian O’Leary, “The launch of our Westport Civil War website is timely, and anticipates the opening of our summer-long “Back to Our Roots” farm history exhibit on Memorial weekend.

Westport’s contribution to the War was as a major supplier of onions to Gen. Grant’s Army. It’s said that Grant would not move his army without his onions.” To support this website project, the Westport Historical Society welcomes any Westport Civil War-era letters, maps, journals, logs, images, documents, garments, tools, weapons–or photographs of same–that will illuminate the lives of our town’s families, 1861 to 1865. If you have an item for the Westport Civil War website, please contact the WHS at 203.222.1424 or visit us at 25 Avery Place, across from Town Hall.

For more information please visit: Westport’s Eye on the Civil War