Daily News Staff
FRAMINGHAM – A small copper penny tucked inside the breast pocket of Lothrop White’s uniform saved his life in the fury of battle during the Civil War.
Aboard ship in the along the James River in Virginia, the 23-year-old Union sailor was hit in the chest with Confederate gunfire.
Fortunately for White – a Framingham native – the bullet ricocheted off the penny.
The penny is encased under glass in the Framingham History Center and is part of a permanent Civil War exhibit that will open Sunday afternoon. Laura Stagliola, museum assistant and education coordinator, said the exhibit puts a local face on one of the bloodiest wars in American history.
“We decided we should really keep it up because (the Framingham History Center) is a Civil War memorial building,” said Stagliola.
On display are several artifacts from Framingham residents, including Gen. George Henry Gordon, who fought in the war. Gordon, who grew up on Framingham’s Centre Common, commanded the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment during the war. A campaign chest featuring Gordon’s diary, officer’s sash, a Bible and other mementos, is featured along with the coat Gordon wore into battle.
Among the treasures is a bust of Framingham’s general sculpted by Daniel Chester French – carved the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C..
Stories of the town’s other Civil War heroes, including William Thompson, Theodore Russell and Zabdiel Boylston Adams will be shared during Sunday’s opening. A tattered flag flown during battle is also part of the exhibit, said Stagliola.
“It’s a great piece to have,” she said.
Most of the artifacts belonged to the Framingham History Center, however, a Confederate ornament that sat on the desk of Confederate leader Jefferson Davis is on loan from the Massachusetts Historical Society and will be displayed until June. Gordon took the ornament after the Confederates surrendered and brought it back to Massachusetts.
“We’re going to be sad to see it go,” said Stagliola.
A new mobile application will also bring the Civil War to life. The History Center’s new app offers a Gen. Gordon self-guided walking tour that highlights historic spots along the Centre Common area and is narrated by a cast of Framingham residents.
“It’s really cool,” said Stagliola.
The grand opening will be Sunday at 2 p.m. The exhibit will be available for viewing from 1-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
For more information visit www.framinghamhistory.org.