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The Other Side of War: The Civil War on the Home Front Exhibit

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 45 Macculloch Ave Morristown NJ 07960  See map

Contact: Ryan Hyman, Curator / rhyman@maccullochhall.org / (973) 538-2404 ext 12

The Other Side of War: The Civil War on the Home Front

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum presents a different side of the Civil War in The Other Side of War: The Civil War on the Home Front. The exhibit is featured in the museum’s upstairs gallery through November 11th.

Life on the home front was not easy for loved ones whom the soldiers left behind. Women played an important role in the Union war effort; starting the U.S. Sanitary Commission, serving as nurses, gathering goods and raising money for the soldiers, which all contributed to the Union victory. The exhibit includes letters from soldiers writing home asking for supplies that they needed in camp, Civil War poetry by Walt Whitman and others, and describes Whitman’s lesser known job as a Civil War nurse.  A nurse’s lamp is featured in the section that illustrates the importance of nurses and the Sanitary Commission during the war. Photographs of the women and children left at home are featured, as are the stories of the Macculloch grandsons who served while their families remained in Morristown doing their part for the war effort.  Engravings by Thomas Nast and Winslow Homer help to illustrate the importance of the home front and the roles women played to help the soldiers at the war front.


The stories of the men and women on both fronts are heroic and moving. Local Morris County men wrote home asking for various supplies unavailable through traditional army supply channels. One of these men, Lindley Hoffman Miller who lived at Macculloch Hall, wrote letters and poems home describing his experiences as a white officer of a regiment of black troops. Robert Gould Shaw, who led one of the first black regiments (upon whom the movie Glorywas based), his sister Josephine Shaw Lowell and her husband Charles Russell Lowell shared intriguing stories of heroism on the battlefield and taking place at home with one another. The exhibit features a letterbook written by Josephine talking about her newborn daughter’s life after her husband Charles was killed in the war. Robert Gould Shaw served in the 7th NY State Militia along with the Macculloch’s grandson Lindley Hoffman Miller. 


Winslow Homer and Thomas Nast created drawings forHarper’s Weekly during the early 1860s; their illustrations of the hardships felt by the soldiers and those they left behind help document the home front during the war. A common theme in both letters and images of the home front is the importance of letters between families and friends, which told whether loved ones were alive or dead. One soldier signed every letter home, “please write soon.”


James Russell Lowell (Charles’ uncle), Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson wrote poetry during and after the war that inspired loyalty, captured some of its pathos, and celebrated acts of heroism. In addition to his work as a poet, Whitman served as a nurse during the war. Although not medically trained as they are today, nurses performed an important and necessary service during the war. Many women became nurses and helped to win better conditions and secure supplies for the soldiers. Without their efforts the war may have turned out differently.


The President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, led the North through the war and was assassinated just before the conflict ended. The death of the President was felt throughout the Union. Mourning and memorial badges were worn and memorial images were created to celebrate the President. The exhibit features Lincoln memorabilia from the Museum’s collection including a plate from his White House china, and a document signed by Lincoln as President and by the Secretary of War.


Macculloch Hall Historical Museum preserves the history of the Macculloch-Miller families, the Morris area community, and the legacy of its founder W. Parsons Todd through its historic site, collections, exhibits, and educational and cultural programs. The Museum is open to tour the house and view exhibits on Wednesdays, Thursdays & Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. Adults $8; Seniors & Students $6; Children 6 – 12 $4. Members and children under 5 are free. The last tickets for admission are sold at 3 p.m. School tours, adult/senior tours and rentals may be scheduled by appointment. Call (973) 538-2404 ext. 10, visit our website www.maccullochhall.org or find us on Facebook. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, 45 Macculloch Ave., Morristown, NJ 07960. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is a nonprofit educational affiliate of the W. Parsons Todd Foundation.


Image attached: Macculloch Hall Historical Museum_The Other Side of War_Josephine and Charles Russell Lowell 1863


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