Written from camp in Tennessee, James M. Tanner’s letter to his sister Permeliann in July 1863 begs her to write to him. “I wuld like to here from all my relashuns.” He died a few days later. James fought for the Confederacy. His brother Lewis served in a Union regiment.
For the “Civil War in North Louisiana” exhibit, Dr. Gary Joiner, Chair and Professor of History at LSU-Shreveport, has provided more than 40 historic maps and images that help us understand our region’s place in the national conflict. Twenty-four individuals have contributed other historic treasures such as minie balls, guns, swords, family photographs, and a New York newspaper announcing President Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865. Several re-enactors have contributed accurate replicas of Confederate and Union uniforms and accoutrements. A special feature is the series of seven talks by regional experts: "Civil War-era Floral Traditions" by Alan Futch, "The 31st Louisiana Infantry Regiment" by Kevin Adkins, "The Vicksburg Campaign" by Terry Winschel, "The Red River Campaign" by Gary Joiner, "Civil War Medicine" by Dr. Tom Pressly, and "The Louisiana Tigers,” by Terry L. Jones.
The American Civil War took the lives of some 630,000 soldiers, mostly through disease and infection. When guns fell silent in May 1865, two percent of the American population had been sacrificed. Throughout the South and the North, regiments were raised in specific locales, so that brothers and friends marched off to war together. Those same comrades often died together, too, devastating families and communities with sometimes overwhelming loss. North Louisiana contributed thousands of men to the Civil War, serving in regiments such as the 31st Louisiana Infantry which fought at Vicksburg.
From the Red River valley to the Mississippi River, significant events took place that impacted the course of the war. War developments in North Louisiana also altered the careers of several military leaders, and ended presidential aspirations of U.S. General Nathaniel P. Banks. Documentary film maker Ken Burns once said, “If you want to know about this thing called the United States of America you have to know about the Civil War.” Likewise, understanding Louisiana’s unique story surely requires a study of its Civil War experiences.