The “Hoofbeats in the Heartland: Civil War Cavalry in Tennessee” exhibit will open to the public Saturday. The traveling exhibit comes from the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, and Unicoi museum curator Martha Erwin said her museum will be the last to display the exhibit in east Tennessee.
The exhibit, funded in part by a grant from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, opened in 2007 and has since continued to travel across the state.
The Tennessee State Museum said the exhibit explores seven thematic areas, with each section including photographs, graphics and artifacts “explaining the role of mounted warfare during the Civil War era.” The seven areas explored are leaders; troopers; horses and mules; occupation and the home front; spies, scouts, partisans and guerillas; battles in Tennessee; and the war’s legacy.
“Due to mounted warfare, the homefront often became the battlefield as mounted soldiers skirmished on the streets of Memphis, Murfreesboro, Greeneville and hundreds of towns and communities across the state,” a news release from the Tennessee State Museum said. “Indeed, every county of the state felt the impact of Union and Confederate calvary thundering across the state as part of a raiding party, occupation force or guerilla band.”
Erwin said the exhibit’s purpose is to educate students and visitors about the important role Tennessee played in the Civil War.
“The display will provide insights and a rare glimpse of what war was like and for the Tennesseans who lived through it,” she said. “Also, it will give an overview of events and movements that will take you beyond a textbook understanding.”
To coincide with the exhibit’s display at the museum, Earl and Betty Fletcher, Civil War re-enactors from Greeneville, will be at the museum Saturday. Chris Tipton, local author and president of the Unicoi County Historical Society, will also be on hand for the exhibit’s opening to sell and sign copies of her book, “Civil War in the Mountains — Battle of Red Banks.” Dr. Edgar Cunningham’s Civil War artifacts and memorabilia will be on display at the museum, as will quilter Jo Starnes’ handcrafted Civil War reproduction quilts.
Erwin said the event was made possible through sponsorships from Cunningham, Gen. Alfred E. Jackson Camp 2159, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County, the Unicoi County Historical Society, the town of Erwin, the town of Unicoi, the Unicoi County mayor and Unicoi County Commission, Kevin Horton and Clinchfield Federal Credit Union Unicoi.
The exhibit will be open to the public from 1-5 p.m. daily from Saturday to June 16. The admission fee is $2 for children, $4 for adults and $10 for a large family. For more information or to schedule tours, call the museum at 743-9449 or 743-8923.