This is one of those weekends when I truly miss living in Virginia. Right now I would be with my fellow Civil War enthusiasts walking the fields along the Orange Turnpike and thinking about the events that took place 150 years ago this weekend. This is the period of the war that I have always found to be the most interesting and challenging. By 1864 it seems as if the entire nation had become unhinged with no clear answers or road forward discernible. The Wilderness as metaphor works so well in thinking about the totality of the war and the challenge that each of us faces if we have any hope of coming to terms with the legacy of the war in 1864.
Crowds will no doubt be smaller than what we’ve seen at earlier commemorations such as Gettysburg, but that does not diminish the importance of remembering what took place at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna River and Cold Harbor.
With that in mind I want to send a quick shout out to all of my friends in the National Park Service in the Fredericksburg area, who have put an incredible amount of work into this 150th commemoration of the 1864 battles in Virginia. They are an incredibly talented and dedicated group of public historians and I have no doubt that they have thought long and hard about any number of interpretive questions that are unique to this crucial period in our civil war. I only wish that I could be there to see it all come together.
There will be a great deal to experience and learn over the course of the next few weeks and I strongly encourage those of you who can to take full advantage of it.