Thursday, October 10, 2013

How Would You Measure Up?

     A couple of months ago I posted about making some changes to the museum’s Recruiting gallery.  You can read that post here. 
     This week we added the remaining displays to the gallery.  There were no artifacts involved this time, but we did install two new interactive displays for our visitors.

Before we could install the new displays, we had to take out the mannequins and wooden railings which were part of the old display.  Tom did the demolition!

Uh oh, it appears that when the floors were stained, the railings and the mannequins were already in place.  Now it looks like we have footprints in our gallery!  There always seem to be surprises when doing work like this.  After rummaging around in the museum’s basement, I was able to find the old can of stain and to do a touch-up on the bare spots. 
     One of our new displays is titled, “How Do You Measure Up?”  It allows visitors to measure themselves against silhouettes of Civil War soldiers to see how they compare in height.  Both armies had guidelines concerning a soldier's height.  The Union Army had a set minimum height of 5'3" since they believed smaller men would be unable to stand the rigors of the march, and a preferred maximum height of 6'3" since larger men would be more easily fatigued.  These guidelines were not always followed, since there are records of men who didn’t fall within them.
Here you see our exhibit designer, Dennis, installing the image of the tallest known soldier, Henry Clay Thruston of the 4th Missouri Cavalry, who stood at a whopping 7’2” tall! 
Here are all the images, from tallest to shortest.  Mr. Thruston’s image is next to the image of a 6’3” soldier which represents the tallest recommended height for a soldier.  The Zouave in the middle is 5’8 ½” tall and represents the average Civil War soldier.  The image of the bugler is 5’3” tall and represents the shortest recommended height for a soldier.  At the far end is an image which represents the shortest known Civil War soldier, at 3’8”.
     The other new display is “On the March.” It deals with the items which the soldiers carried with them.  A typical Civil War soldier carried over 50 lbs. of equipment while on the march, and an average days' march was 20 miles.  Items which the soldiers typically carried were a gun & ammunition, a knapsack, a haversack, food rations, a canteen, a few personal items, a blanket, an overcoat or rubber blanket, and a tent or shelter half.
This is a model 1833 box knapsack that was issued throughout the Civil War, especially to state militia units.  When filled, it weighs 35-40 lbs. 
This model 1842 U.S. Springfield musket was a typical weapon issued early in the Civil War.  It weighs about 11 lbs.
     Museum visitors can try lifting the knapsack and musket on display here.  The knapsack is much heavier than it appears!
Here’s a look at the finished displays and floor! 
     So, how would you measure up – would you make the cut as a Civil War soldier? 

Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.

*Note – I just wanted to say thank you to all my readers - this is my 100th post!

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