Fayetteville exhibition marks 150 years since Civil War troop march

A new Civil War exhibition in Fayetteville, North Carolina had been opened at the town’s Museum of the Cape Fear.

The Civil War Living History Exhibit is a display of original artefacts from the Civil War. Weapons, clothes, personal belongings and other Civil War-era memorabilia from the 1860s are all on public display.

Bren Woodard is a Civil-War re-enactor from Greenville, and acts a Confederate soldier in the re-enactments. He wears original shoes from the Civil War with holes in, marching long distances to understand and show the reality of being a Civil War soldier. He says the holes were made in the shoes by troops to relieve some of the pain caused by the uncomfortable footwear.

Bren is taking part in the exhibit and showing visitors his attire and discussing the various items on display.

An outdoor re-enactment will also form part of the exhibition as long as the weather is good. Re-enactors will be using rifles to fire during the show, and a Civil War cannon will be on display.

The exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of Union troops marching through North Carolina under the leadership of General William Tecumseh Sherman.

A current US Army Lieutenant attended the exhibition and said that there were many similarities but also differences between the items used by Civil War soldiers and modern day troops. He said that soldiers during the Civil War did not have a great deal of kit at all.

Woodard said that soldiers had to learn how to travel light, since they were constantly on the move. Those with heavy loads would get left behind.

Woodard’s kit includes a rifle, blankets for bedding, a fork and spoon, matches, sewing needles and thread, a pipe for smoking, toothbrush, a water carrier, money and a few other small items. Food provisions such as coffee, crackers, and salted pork would be carried by the men.

It was well-known that Union soldiers found it difficult to get hold of tobacco, while Confederate soldiers found it hard to find coffee. So there was a lot of trading between the two sides, even though they were fighting at the same time, the Fayobserver.com reports.

Union soldiers had similar kit to that of Confederates.

The exhibition also includes some civilian re-enactors including women posing as family members and even a pastor who would serve the soldiers. The women would sing songs, knit and sew, and create clothing for the troops.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE