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MUSEUM TRAILER: "The Fiery Trial" tells story of Iowans in the Civil War. | News

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MUSEUM TRAILER: "The Fiery Trial" tells story of Iowans in the Civil War.

When we think of the Civil War, do we think of Iowa? Maybe not, but maybe we should.

"Military-age men in 1860, over half of them served in the Civil War," says Michael Smith, chief curator of the State Historical Society Museum. "A little over 13,000 died--either from wounds or from disease. Actually, more died of disease than died of wounds, during the war."

The war only got as close as the Missouri border, but our state's 75,000 volunteers took part in major campaigns elsewhere.

"Iowa contributed," says Smith, "Iowa was a major part of the western armies in the western theater of war, and that's not something that's very well known."

Within these walls, that story gets told. The State Historical Society's new exhibit packs a lot of information into a small space--those who fought, those who came home--why it was worth it.

"They fought for many different reasons and we've encorporated a number of quotations from Iowans about why they went."

The catch to this exhibit is it's really a trailer, which means once it's done in Des Moines, they pack it up and roll it on out to the rest of the state, and that'll start after this weekend.

"It'll go to serve Iowans in their communities," says Museum communications director, Jeff Morgan, "it'll go to schools, libraries, local museums and other venues where Iowans can come and see the exhibit."

It won't take long to take it all in--the space is about 20 feet long. But it's sufficient to provide a link that often goes missing.

"Iowans tend to be very self-effacing," Smith says through a smile. "'Nothing important ever happens in Iowa!' sort of thing. And we want to tell them that Iowans over the years have made major contributions to United States history."

And the proof will soon be rolling toward a town near you.


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