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COLUMBIA — A new exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum features a Manning native who was one of six South Carolina governors with ties to the Clarendon County area.
South Carolina and the Great War, which opened Aug. 13, travels back to the early 20th century, a time when South Carolina was still recovering from the Civil War and got involved in World War I. Guests will get an in-depth look at how one of the world's most devastating wars impacted life in South Carolina.
They will discover what life was like in the state on the eve of war, why America decided to join the war and the efforts and the efforts South Carolina took to build-up forces.
The exhibit will also give guests an up-close experience of what life was like for the 3, 000 South Carolina soldiers who served overseas as well as what life was like for South Carolinians back at home.
“This exhibit is not so much just the military experience, but also the impact the war had on our country and state,” says State Museum history curator JoAnn Zeise. “You can make the argument that World War I was the pivotal event of the 20th century, taking us from the 19th century, setting up World War II and the Cold War, and shaping the map in ways still relevant today.”
The exhibit featured photos of Gov. Richard Manning at his Columbia home in 1918. Six of his sons served, and one was killed in the trenches near Verdun just before the war ended.
The exhibit features other areas of the South rebounding with the rise of a “New South,” but still struggling despite some bright spots of progress.
"South Carolinians strongly supported the war and a renewed sense of patriotism swept across the state," Ziese said. "Eight South Carolinians who joined the military earned the Medal of Honor."
One of those soldiers was Lt. James Dozier. The exhibit will display the pistol Dozier used during the engagement where he earned his Medal of Honor.
"Despite being wounded, he led his men to safety, killed an entire German machine-gun unit, and took several prisoners," Ziese said. "Another soldier, whose name might sound familiar, is Guy Lipscomb Sr. Lipscomb’s uniform, along with others will be rotated into the display during the exhibit."
The soldier’s experience, including life in the trenches, was dreadful, Ziese noted. Some fought their terror and boredom by etching designs into shells and canteens known as trench art.
"Guests will be able to experience what it would have been like for soldiers by walking through a life-sized recreated trench, complete with weapons and trench art brought back from the war," Ziese said.
Life on the homefront wasn’t easy during the war; guests will see how South Carolina helped out with the war effort in South Carolina, from planting war gardens, voluntarily rationing items such as coal and manufacturing items needed for war. As if the war wasn’t hard enough on life in South Carolina, the Great Pandemic of the Flu of 1918 struck, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans. Guests will learn how nurses at Camp Jackson and the Charleston Naval Base tried to curtail one of the deadliest epidemics in our nation’s history.
The exhibit runs through the fall. The musuem is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays; and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.