“Mr. Levin…I Don’t Get It…”

Today my AP class read and discussed the Gettysburg Address.  I gave them a little background about the battle and showed a couple photographs of the battlefield.  As I was describing the action – specifically the difficulties of attacking uphill – a bright and colorful female student stated the following in apparent frustration: "Mr. Levin, I’ve been to Gettysburg and I’ve walked the battlefield.  I don’t understand what the problem was…I mean that field is as flat as a pancake.  I don’t get it."  She was referring to the area specifically around the center of the battlefield.

Now that was a precious moment.

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2 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Dec 12, 2006 @ 13:59

    I couldn’t agree more. I have an opportunity to take my Civil War class on field trips, but it is difficult to take 2 sections of students out for the day. Her comment does point to the wide gulf between reading and experiencing the past.

  • GreenmanTim Dec 12, 2006 @ 13:15

    Take her and your class up the road a piece from Charlottesville to Saunder’s Field in the Wilderness, where Ayre’s brigade made a dash across that little clearing, and let them imagine running at the double quick across those few hundred yards and up that gradual incline to the treeline in baggy pants and fez. Now see if they can imagine doing that not as single regiments but in staggered divisions from Seminary ridge to the fabled copse of trees with that gradual rise over extended run, plus a turnpike fence, July heat and shot and shell to contend with.

    Sometimes, the broad panorama of the modern Gettysburg battlefield conveys less about conditions in 1863 than the close confines of that deadly opening in the Wilderness.

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