Traveling Civil War exhibit comes to Simpson

The Iowa History Center came to campus on Sept. 8 to educate students, faculty and history lovers about Iowa’s strong involvement in the Civil War.

‘The Fiery Trial’ was organized by Iowa Public Librarian Liz Grimsbo and presented by Nicolas Proctor, associate professor of history and chair of the department of history.

Proctor provided facts about the Civil War through letters written by Iowan soldiers that gave an inside perspective of the war.

His favorite is the “The Crazy Lady from Keokuk” written by Austin Lawrey. This story is about a barefoot woman with no hair who threw rocks at soldiers.

“The letters were my favorite part,” senior Allie Walker said. “Proctor makes history fun.”

“Troops from Iowa made pretty good troops because they are willing to put themselves into harm’s way,” Proctor said.

Half of all Iowa males who were of age joined the service, and 1/3 of them were killed or wounded. This is the highest number of recruits out of any other state.

According to the United States Department of Defense, 40,737 soldiers have been killed or wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Iowans make up 1/10 of these soldiers.

Simpson College was also directly involved with the Civil War.

“The first Simpson president, Elias Grey ran off to join the Civil War in 1861,” Proctor said.

The Iowa History Center’s purpose for this event was to “spread history to the public,” Walker said.

People of all ages were able to attend the event.

Senior Jill Branger attended with her 7-year-old son Ethan Branger.

“I’m a history major and really enjoyed this event,” Jill Branger said.

Ethan Branger wanted to know more about the Civil War after the event was over.

“I wanted to learn about who fought in the war’s history,” Ethan Branger said.

Proctor feels the remembrance of the Civil War is still important because of how it affects today’s society.

“The interest in the Civil War is continuing because we are living in the world that the Civil War brought,” Proctor said.