South Carolina State Museum to Host WWI Exhibit

Source: South Carolina State Museum collection
Source: South Carolina State Museum collection

There is a new WWI exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum. “South Carolina and the Great War” gives a detailed look into how one of the most destructive wars in history affected life in South Carolina. Visitors will see what it was like to live in the state during the war, what led the U.S. to decide to join the war, and what South Carolina did to gather the forces needed for the war effort.

“This exhibit is not so much just the military experience, but also the impact the war had on our country and state,” says JoAnn Zeise, history curator at the museum. “You can make the argument that World War I was the pivotal event of the 20th century, taking us from the 19th century, setting up World War II and the Cold War, and shaping the map in ways still relevant today.”

At the time of WWI, South Carolina was still recovering from the Civil War. Other southern states had rebounded as part of the “New South” but South Carolina was still struggling.

South Carolinians were strong supporters of the war and a surge of patriotism swept the state. Eight soldiers from South Carolina were awarded the Medal of Honor. Lt. James Dozier was one of those recipients. His pistol from the engagement that led to him being awarded the medal will be on display at the museum. Despite his own injuries, he got his men to safety, destroyed an entire German machine-gun unit, and took multiple prisoners.

Guy Lipscomb, Sr. is another soldier to be featured in the exhibit. His uniform will be one of many that will be rotated into the exhibit. He taught at multiple universities both before and after the war, including Clemson University and the University of South Carolina. A Chemistry and Biochemistry lecture center was named after him in 1996.

Soldiers had a terrible time in the trenches of WWI. Some dealt with the boredom and the horror of war by carving artwork into their canteens and shells. This is known as trench art. The exhibit will feature a full-sized recreation of a trench, including weapons and trench art, that visitors can walk through.


Ian Harvey

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