Historic Downtown eNews  |  Archive

History Hits The Highways: Civil War 150 HistoryMobile Returns To Bristol April 20 & 21

April 16, 2012

The Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with the City of Bristol, Virginia, Celebrate Bristol, The Virginia Tourism Corporation and Department of Motor Vehicles will bring The Civil War 150 HistoryMobile to the lower parking lot of the Bristol Public Library, Bristol, VA April 20 and 21 from 10 am to 6 pm. School groups and history buffs of all ages are welcome, and there is no charge for admission. When the HistoryMobile pulled into Bristol last October, it shattered attendance records from throughout the Commonwealth.
The Civil War 150 HistoryMobile is an interactive “museum on wheels” housed in a 53’ expandable tractor-trailer. An initiative of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, the HistoryMobile launched its four-year tour on July 21, 2011, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary commemoration of the First Battle of Manassas (also called Bull Run). The HistoryMobile visits museums, parks, fairs, schools, and other sites throughout the Commonwealth and beyond.

The HistoryMobile draws together stories from all over Virginia and uses state-of-the-art technology and immersive exhibit spaces to present individual stories of the Civil War from the perspectives of those who experienced it—young and old, enslaved and free, soldiers and civilians. The imprint of the Civil War can be found on almost every inch of Virginia, and visitors are inspired and encouraged to explore this abundance of history.
From the heart-rending letter written by a dying son to his father after sustaining a mortal wound at Spotsylvania in 1864, to an overheard conversation between husband and wife considering the great risks and rewards of fleeing to freedom, the HistoryMobile presents the stories of real people whose lives were shaped by the historic events of the 1860s. A touchscreen computer invites visitors to imagine and consider “What Would You Do?”

The HistoryMobile exhibit includes:
• The Whirlwind: Virginia in the Civil War—A film that examines Virginia’s decision to secede and poses the question “Why War?”
• Battlefront Immersion: Conveys the experience of battle in its intensity, confusion, and suffering.
• Home Interrupted: Offers a first-person view of real-life dilemmas faced by civilians, soldiers, and slaves in Virginia during the Civil War. Visitors see how people “made do” during shortages at home and read the letters of eight-year-old Sophia Downman, who experienced the war outside of Fredericksburg.
• Journey to Freedom: Visitors learn about the overall experience of slavery amid war—the people who stayed and those who fought for freedom.
• Loss-Gain-Legacy: Explores the profound impact of the war on Virginia, the end of slavery, and the reunification of the nation. Stories of well-known and lesser-known personalities reflect the enduring legacy of the Civil War, and visitors see where they can delve into this history at Civil War sites and battlefields across Virginia.

Led by Speaker of the House of Delegates, William J. Howell, the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission has organized a series of sesquicentennial events from 2009 through 2015, including annual Signature Conferences, a major gallery exhibition at the Virginia Historical Society, a document digitization project with the Library of Virginia, and an Emmy-nominated DVD produced by Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr. for use in classrooms. For more information: VirginiaCivilWar.org/historymobile or contact Tim Buchanan, Celebrate Bristol, buchanan03@bvunet.net.