Sycamore Public Library honors 150th anniversary of American Civil War


Civil War expert Tom Oestreicher speaks at the Sycamore Public Library Monday night.

By Ryan Felgenhauer

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, the Sycamore Public Library hosted a guest speaker who discussed the early days of the Civil War.

The event featured local Civil War expert Tom Oestreicher, as well as a display containing many items from his personal Civil War collection.

The theme of the presentation was “Reflections on the Civil War.”

Oestreicher discussed a variety of topics, including the economic advantages the North had over the South, the reason no large battles were fought in Texas and the origins of some of the items in his large Civil War collection.

Additionally, he spoke about how there were 91 battles and 600 casualties before the Battle of Fort Sumter, which is commonly believed to be the first battle of the war.

Oestreicher is a teacher who often works with the library for history events, said Larry Zevnik, head of adult services with the Sycamore Public Library, 103 E. State St. in Sycamore.

Oestreicher has lectured on various topics regarding the Civil War for over 35 years.

“I’ve given all sorts of different lectures,” Oestreicher said. “I’ve spoken on battles, women in the war and other things too. This is my 405th public lecture.”

Oestreicher also said he has written three books about the Civil War and briefly spoke about them during the presentation.

His lecture touched on several topics not often discussed in history lessons.

“I enjoyed the variety of topics,” said DeKalb resident Jo Schulz. “I have a lot of respect for the speaker.”

Oestreicher spoke on the causes and beginning of the war, then opened the floor to questions from the audience.

“We heard a lot of good facts,” said DeKalb resident John Craig. “The kind of stuff they don’t teach you in history class.”

This event was the start of what Zevnik hopes will be a long series of 150th anniversary presentations to be held during the next few years.

“We hope to do more over the next four years,” Zevnik said. “This seemed like the best way to kick it off.”