Interpretation of Slavery at Civil War Battlefields – Addendum
Thanks to Bryan Cheeseboro, who left the following comment in response to yesterday’s post on the battlefield preservation panel from 2002.
I found out from an episode of Civil War Talk Radio that the NPS was dealing with incorporating cause and civilians and the home front into the battlefield parks (I think it was in the episode linked below). I certainly think mention of these things at any battlefield site is a good thing… especially at a place like Fredericksburg, a battle directly affecting civilians. But for many people who are only interested in battles as military strategy or those who don’t accept that slavery caused Southern secession and Confederate war, such information will often be seen as “PC BS.”
I certainly agree with Bryan that for a certain audience recent expansion of battlefield interpretation at NPS sites might be viewed as troubling for the reasons he alludes to. My question for Bryan and one that I will now pose to all of you is how significant is this population? The reason I ask is because it seems to me that Jerry Russell’s claim that Americans visit battlefields only to learn only about soldiers is nothing more than an assumption and in my experience a poor one at that. It seems to me that visitors approach historic sites with open minds and with few assumptions about what they assume will be learned.
Of course, I have not spent as much time on battlefields as many of you, but I am going to venture that it’s time we put this characterization of the battlefield visitor to rest.