Tennessee’s 2013 Civil War Sesquicentennial signature event “Occupation and Liberation” Symposium opened at the Chattanooga Convention Center on Wednesday.
The event is free to the public and will run through Saturday, Oct. 12. It includes a variety of educational programs, living history demonstrations and exhibits featuring rare and unique artifacts from the Battles for Chattanooga.
An early draw for the event offered a rare opportunity for owners of Civil War artifacts, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia to have their items authenticated and digitally preserved free of charge.
Archivists with the the Tennessee State Library and Archives are calling the project Looking Back at the Civil War. The team will be available for digitizing through Thursday, Oct. 10 at the symposium.
TSLA will turn the project into a virtual archive to be used by the general public and educators. Before it’s conclusion, archivists hope to visit all of Tennessee’s 95 counties.
Before the symposium, Hamilton County residents had provided 43 items. Items include photographic tintypes, priceless letters, and even a bugle carried by William B. Morgan, a Rhea County native, who served with Co. B, 6th Tennessee Mounted Infantry.
Click here for a look at more from the Hamilton County archive.
Lines began forming early on Wednesday for the digital archiving.
David Wykoff brought what he hoped was a cannonball—more specifically, a Smoothbore Artillery Shot— used by General Joseph Wheeler during his Cavalry attack on Fort McPherson and Fort Sedwick on August 17, 1864.
Wykoff found the shot in Cleveland, Tenn.
After a careful inspection, archivists believed the artillery shot is an authentic relic with “95 percent” certainty.
Ellen Simak, who recently retired from her position as chief curator at the Hunter Museum of American Art, also brought a few items to have archived that had been with the family for years.
One item was a circa 1840 dragoon cavalry saber, passed down to Simak through generations of owners as a family heirloom. These sabers were issued to Union Cavalry during the latter part of the Civil War due to their availability.
The other item Simak had archived had the entire room excited. As carefully as possible, Simak and archivists unfurled a brittle, but perfectly preserved, Guidon Cavalry Flag. These flags, often called “swallow-tailed” for their triangular shape, were used to represent the unit and commanding officer.
Only one other Guidon Cavalry Flag has been preserved in the archive thus far, near Greeneville, Tenn. Simak’s flag was in better condition.
Symposium events—including more archiving—continue through the weekend. A complete list of events can be found here.
Updated @ 9:18 a.m. on 10/11/13 to correct a date.
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