“New Jersey during the Civil War: An American Story” Exhibition

It’s easy to forget that a war is fought not by armies, but by the people who make up those armies. Wars affect not only those soldiers, but their families as well. These were men and women with thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams. What did the war mean to them? What was their perspective, their experience? Put yourself in their shoes while looking at their belongings and artifacts in this exhibition.

This exhibition features New Jersey stories that encourage a deeper understanding of the effects of the war on Americans. It consists of a series of photographs, mostly of individual soldiers, paintings, personal gear, uniforms, artifacts from life at home, broadsides and letters of New Jersey soldiers and their families.

Letters from New Jersey soldiers provide a unique perspective on events of the war. While these soldiers’ letters may be difficult to find, letters from soldiers to their loved ones were sometimes kept and cherished for generations and passed on to museums or historical societies. Writing material was sometimes difficult to come by and mail delivery could be quite slow, so news was not always current by the time it reached the recipient. Sometimes letters reached the recipients too late because of casualties from battle and diseases such as Dysentery, Typhoid, Pneumonia, Measles, Tuberculosis, Malaria and even Chronic Diarrhea. Letters provided recipients with both war news and personal information to understand another side of the human perspective to the Civil War.

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