Nebraska has a rich Civil War legacy, according to James E. Potter, senior research historian at the Nebraska State Historical Society. Potter and Edith Robbins edited the letters of Nebraska soldier August Scherneckau, published in 2007 by the University of Oklahoma Press as Marching with the First Nebraska: A Civil War Diary. Written by a German immigrant who served with the First Nebraska Volunteers from 1862 through 1865, the diary is the most important firsthand account by a Nebraska Civil War soldier that has yet come to light. The book is available from the NSHS Landmark Stores. Potter is also the author of Standing Firmly by the Flag: Nebraska Territory, the Civil War, and the Coming of Statehood, 1861-1867, to be published in 2012 by the University of Nebraska Press.
Potter will give a free “Brown Bag” lecture, “Nebraska and the Civil War: Why the Story Matters,” beginning at noon on Thursday, July 21, at the Nebraska History Museum, Fifteenth and P streets, in Lincoln. The lecture will stress the ways in which the war significantly affected Nebraska Territory and its transition to statehood, a goal finally achieved March 1, 1867. Although distant from the battlefronts and seats of the warring governments, the territory sent more than three thousand men to the Union army, a remarkable contribution given a prewar population of fewer than thirty thousand. As the territory sought admission to the Union at war’s end, it was caught up in political struggles over Reconstruction, the fate of the freed slaves, and the relationship between the states and federal government.
The lecture will be filmed for Lincoln-area cable channel 5 and posted on YouTube at a later date in case you are not able to attend. Previous “Brown Bag” lectures at the NSHS have already been posted.
Civil War buffs will also be interested in two online articles from Nebraska History magazine relating to Nebraska and the Civil War: “The First Nebraska’s Orphan Detachment and the Skirmish at Grand Prairie, 1864” (Spring 2000), and “‘I Thought it my Duty to Go’: The Civil War Letters of Thomas Edwin Keen, First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry” (Winter 2000) – Patricia C. Gaster, Assistant Editor for Research and Publications