The following video was produced by the National Park Service and offers some scenes from yesterday’s opening ceremony marking the sesquicentennial of the Overland Campaign. It features excerpts from addresses by Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell, Park Superintendent Lucy Lawliss, FRSP Chief Historian John Hennessy, RNBP Ranger Alshley Whitehead Luskey, and Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr. Well done. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
I’ve said it before, but I find most Civil War battle reenactments to be disrespectful to the memory of Civil War soldiers. The following reenactment, which will take place as part of the 150th anniversary of the Wilderness, takes the cake.
Carolinian Grief Mason, 21, will be beaten to death – again – in a field near Spotsylvania, Va., by Pennsylvanian Stephen Rought, 22, the Union soldier who was determined to get the regimental flag Mason carried at any cost on May 5, 1864.
Modern-day Charlottean Rex Hovey, a Civil War historian and re-enactor, is behind the event, which calls for about 20 local men and 50 or so re-enactors from around the state to play the part of the 13th NC Troops. The group will take on descendants of the original Pennsylvania soldiers who made up the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry.
Is there really no other way to honor these men?
I think all of you are well aware that I greatly appreciate the time you take out of your day to comment on my posts. In many cases you spend a significant amount of time to insure that your comments are clear and to the point. By far my favorite comments are those that challenge me to rethink specific issues or to work harder to clarify my position. In response to yesterday’s post on the Wilderness and WalMart, however, I can’t tell whether my readers are having difficulty following my thinking on this issue over time or my commitment to battlefield preservation itself. I am getting the sense that it more of the latter.
It’s difficult to know what more I could say to satisfy some of you. If I woke up yesterday morning and had posted a simple condemnation of WalMart, like everyone else in the Civil War blogosphere, all would be fine, but because I fail to toe the party line there is a lingering doubt. Dimitri Rotov’s recent post also deviates from the standard line of thought, but I don’t doubt for a minute his commitment to preserving our Civil War battlefields.
Let me remind all of you of a few things that have apparently been so easily forgotten. From the beginning of the life of this blog I have maintained a strong commitment to the mission of the National Park Service. While others condemned Gettysburg Superintendent, John Latschar for every problem under the sun, I made it a point to remind my readers of his commitment to restoring some of the battlefield’s most important view sheds. In addition, I can’t think of anyone else in the blogosphere or elsewhere for that matter who has gone further in supporting the NPS’s commitment to properly interpreting Civil War battlefields. This past December I was asked by Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Superintendent, John Hennessy, to deliver the keynote address for the 146th anniversary of the battle. In my talk I discussed the importance of these battlefields to our civic life as well as their importance as educational tools. Every year I bring students to one of Virginia’s battlefields. All of them walk away with a unique and invaluable perspective and a few of them are truly moved by what they experienced. Finally, I signed the CWPT’s petition that was sent to WalMart back in October. What more can I say about my position on battlefield preservation?
May I be so bold as to suggest that compared to many of you who are having difficulty with my position, I’ve done much more to insure the continued life of these important historic sites.
I can’t say that I am surprised by the decision to give Walmart permission to build a store just off of the Wilderness battlefield along Rt. 3 in Orange County. As I’ve said before, this is a preservation battle that was lost a long time ago. It was a decision to be made by the residents of Orange County and they made it. Nothing was rushed, all sides were heard, and it looks like the decision of the board of supervisors reflected the will of the people living in the community. Let’s hope that organizations such as the Civil War Preservation Trust have learned some valuable lessons and move on.