The Soldier’s National Museum has a history steeped in both the good and the bad. And, like all good stories, it has a happy ending. Do you have your cup of coffee? Great, now settle in and let us tell you all about this national landmark.
The Soldier’s National Museum was originally the headquarters for Major General Oliver O. Howard, the commander of the Union Army’s 11th Corps. Additionally, it contained a unit of sharp shooters firing on the Confederates hiding on the south side of town. After the Civil War ended, the loss of over 51,000 lives resulted in a large number of orphans. In response, a board was created and the Soldier’s Orphanage was established in 1866. The doors officially opened on November 20th accepting 22 children.
The first few years went well as there was adequate funding. The children were well taken care of and each year, to commemorate the lives lost, they would lay flowers on the graves of the soldiers. This tradition continues to the present day. By 1869 the facility was overcrowded so an expansion of the facility took place to accommodate the growth. One year later Rosa J. Carmichael was hired as a teacher and disciplinarian much to the chagrin of the orphans. The next few years proved to be horrible as allegations of child abuse, at the hand of Rosa, surfaced. While she was arrested and fined, the abuse continued until the Sheriff closed down the facility.
In the 1950’s Cliff Arquette, aka, Charlie Weaver, purchased the building and established Cliff Arquette’s Soldiers Museum. The museum features hand carved wooden soldiers in battle dress. In 1997 more than 40 Dioramas were added featuring over 5,000 military miniatures, actual headgear, and weapons. All of these additions took over 35 years to accumulate from all over the world. The dioramas highlight many wars including Custer’s Massacre, The Revolutionary War, WW1 and WW2.
The Soldier’s National Museum has seen many different types of days, both happy and sad, however, it ultimately succeeded by becoming a goldmine of historically accurate information through spectacular Dioramas. We invite you to visit us so we can share more information and stories surrounding this national landmark.