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Exhibit: The End of Civil War in Louisiana

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A new exhibit in the Main Hallway explores the end of the Civil War in Louisiana.

1865 was a year of transition, as armies surrendered and soldiers and refugees returned to their homes. Four years of fighting had altered the landscape and upended the social order. Presidential policies dominated reconstruction efforts, focusing on restoring the civil rights of former rebels and on giving former slaves the education and employment they needed. The situation was unprecedented, and all parties seemed to have their own strong opinions on what needed to be done.

Highlights of the exhibit include the muster roll of Company K, 1st Regiment of the Louisiana Reserve Corps, organized at Vermilionville to combat the activities of a large number of Jayhawkers in the area, an issue of the Opelousas Courier reporting on the end of the war, and examples of labor contracts between plantation owners and freedmen. Other cases explore the work of organizing the state government while ultimate authority still rested with the military, the reactions of Louisiana women as the war ended, and the activities of the newly authorized Freedmen’s Bureau.

The exhibit was curated by Louisiana Room Librarian Jean Kiesel, and will remain on display through the end of June.

Pictured: “Crevasse on Chim’s Plantation, West Baton Rouge, Louisiana." From Harper’s Weekly, 26 May 1866. Labor shortages and military actions left levees, roads and other infrastructure in disrepair, further hampering recovery after the war.