John Hennessy Leads the Way

I so wish I could be in Fredericksburg, Virginia this weekend to take part in events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the famous battle and the war in 1862.  I’ve been following events through my preferred social networks, but this video captures what remembering the war should be all about.  John Hennessy is the chief historian at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  No one that I know personally thinks more deeply about what it means to do public history and how best to steer the general public through the many landmines of Civil War memory.  Even through video John’s passion for history and commitment to engaging the entire community is palpable.

No doubt, we all glean something different from such a message, but I am reminded that how we remember as a community often reflects boundaries that we would do well to overcome.

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation if you are so inclined. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

7 comments… add one

  • bummer Dec 10, 2012

    Bummer’s take on the video is not defined, Mr. Hennessey, as a public servant, has guide lines that he has to follow. No doubt his presentation is sincere and impressive, however several of his remarks are contrary to the reality of Civil War memory and could be misleading to the uninformed. Good view, Kevin, thanks,


    • Kevin Levin Dec 10, 2012

      Which remarks specifically do you take issue with? Thanks.

      • bummer Dec 10, 2012

        Bummer isn’t taking issue with any specific comments, rather Mr. Hennessey addressing everyone’s take on history. Following Levin’s path on the truth, rather than trying to please everyone, Bummer has learned that the truth follows a straight and narrow road. Some folks have a hard time changing their attitudes on the History that they have perceived as true and righteous for an entire lifetime.


        • Jazzeum Dec 10, 2012

          I don’t think he’s saying there are many truths but many ways in which events are perceived. Lincoln had a story about liberty and the wolf and how each sees liberty which seems apropos here.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro Dec 12, 2012

    My family and I were in Fredericksburg this past weekend. Actually, we never made it to Fredericksburg, proper; instead, we got as far as Falmouth and the Union encampment. This was actually a real treat for me. I’ve been to Fredericksburg a couple of times before but never saw things from the Union perspective.

    While in the Union Camp, I met the reenactors of Company A, US Engineer Battalion. !st Sergeant Raymond Ball was very informative and told me that to be in the Army of the Potomac’s Engineers, a man had to be able to read and write to demonstrate competence or else they were not needed. Hearing this made me think of the claim made by Hari Jones about the 54th Massachusetts… that the 54th was the most literate regiment in the Union army. I know the real 54th was much more like the character of Thomas Searles than Trip but were they more literate than the Engineers?

  • Veritas Dec 12, 2012

    Blah blah blah blah blah. . . . Kevin please don’t bother the South no more desires your presence than Mr. Hennessy’s utopian rant of what makes this a great nation.

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