Why I Will Not Sign the Civil War Trust’s Petition

The Civil War Trust is asking members and others to sign a “Citizens’ Petition in Support of War Memorial Preservation,” which will eventually be sent to Congressional leaders. I will not be signing it. It is certainly not because I don’t support the spirit of the petition. Let me explain.

The petition asks the public to reduce all American wars and all soldiers as worthy of continued honor. All soldiers, including Confederates , according to CWT ought to be remembered as “young soldiers who defended freedom.” How we remember the freedoms that Confederates fought so hard to achieve is exactly what is currently being debated. It is a legitimate debate/discussion that relates directly to the meaning attached to many Civil War monuments from Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis to the standard soldier monument on the courthouse lawn. Continue reading “Why I Will Not Sign the Civil War Trust’s Petition”

Report From the Field: Interpreting Civil War Battlefields

Last night I returned from five days of battlefield stomping with thirteen wonderful students. I was hoping to write a few more blog posts, but I simply didn’t have enough time between the driving, walking and just trying to enjoy those few moments of downtime. All in all the trip reminded me of why I love working with high school students and teaching Civil War history. It goes without saying that there is no better way to convey the richness of this history than by doing it on site.

Thanks to Garry Adelman of the Civil War Trust and Peter Carmichael of Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute for spending time with my students. I didn’t anticipate this, but watching these two fine historians and battlefield interpreters reminded me of the ways that we approach these sites. This was something that I discussed with the group during one of our final reflections. Continue reading “Report From the Field: Interpreting Civil War Battlefields”

Why Do We Preserve So Much Civil War Battlefield Land?

In a couple of days I head out with thirteen students to follow the 20th Massachusetts Infantry from Antietam to Gettysburg. It’s going to be an incredible experience for my kids. We have a great deal of ground to cover both literally and figuratively. I want my students to grapple with the central questions that frame our civil war, including why men fought and endured, the importance of Union and the unraveling of slavery.

My trip also has a “social action” component. As we travel from site to site I am going to ask my students to think about why and whether we should preserve Civil War battlefields. Garry Adelman of the Civil War Trust is going to help us with this when he accompanies the group at Antietam. Continue reading “Why Do We Preserve So Much Civil War Battlefield Land?”

Upcoming Talks

This morning I signed on to give a presentation at the Civil War Trust’s National Teacher Institute, which will take place in Charleston, South Carolina between July 12-15.  This is my third year working with Nicole Osier and Garry Adelman and I couldn’t be more excited.  If you are a k-12 history teacher, who has a particular interest in the Civil War you should attend.  This year I am going to talk about how to introduce students to the study of Civil War monuments.

For those of you who live in upstate New York I will speaking at Genessee Community College on March 6 about the battle of the Crater and historical memory.  Finally, although it’s not a public talk I can’t tell you how excited I was yesterday to receive an invitation to join David Blight and Brian Jordan in their Civil War Memory seminar at Yale at the end of March.

My summer speaking schedule is beginning to fill up, but please feel free to contact me to set up a talk, book signing or teacher workshop.