We Are Marching Along: Martha's Vineyard and the Civil War
On exhibit through April 12, 2012
Using the museum's collections and contemporary newspaper accounts, letters, and diaries, visitors will discover how the Civil War affected life on the Island and see the war through the eyes of some of the men who fought, and some who stayed home: Elisha Smith, the only Vineyarder to fight at Gettysburg; Alfred Rose, a Wampanoag boy who enlisted only to die two months later in battle at Petersburg, Virginia; Edgar Marchant, the fiery editor of the Vineyard Gazette who urged readers to "fight until every rebel is exterminated;" Charles Macreading Vincent, who described his wartime experiences in letters home; and Thomas M. Peakes, witness to the bombardment of a Confederate ship that was flying the flag of surrender.
One hundred and fifty years ago, when the Civil war began, many of the Island's men were already away from home, working at sea. This did not exempt the towns from their quotas once the draft was instituted. Islanders' changing attitudes toward the war, the struggle to fill quotas, and to count the men already serving in the Navy toward the draft quotas, are all recorded in the Vineyard Gazette from 1861 through 1865. The paper also chronicles daily life, making it clear that war was not always uppermost in the minds of the people who lived here. Gazette reports from the Agricultural Fair and photographs of Methodist camp meetings can be seen in the exhibit alongside rosters of enlisted men, a petition to the Commonwealth asking for fairer treatment in the draft, and a brilliantly-colored boy's uniform.