Battlefield Interpretation

Last week John Hennessy retired from the National Park Service. His career spanned 40 years, beginning at the Manassas National Battlefield Park and ending as the Chief Historian/Chief of Interpretation at the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. It is hard to think of anyone who has had more of an influence on how I Read more

In the late 1990s Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. toured our Civil War battlefields. He was disappointed both by what he saw and especially by what he read and heard at various interpretive stops. Rather than call for the removal of Confederate monuments, he demanded a more inclusive interpretation that ultimately pushed the National Park Service Read more

A Turning Point at Gettysburg

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is best remembered as the site where Union and Confederate armies fought between July 1-3, 1863. When it was all said and done the Army of the Potomac could claim a decisive victory. Tourists and history buffs travel each year to the battlefield to mark its anniversary, but this year the COVID19 pandemic Read more

I planned to spend most of today writing, but the weather is so nice here in Gettysburg that I decided to spend a couple of hours on the battlefield. I spent most of my time along Confederate Avenue. Our first stop is the North Carolina Monument: Would be nice to see a reference on this Read more

A good friend of mine who is a historian with the National Park Service offered this observation the other day: The present debate over Confederate iconography will, over time, fundamentally alter the place battlefields hold in America’s historic and cultural landscapes. He’s absolutely right. It’s hard to believe that the question of whether the National Read more

Over the past few days I’ve been going over student reflections from last week’s Civil War battlefields trip. There is simply no substitute for taking students to historic sites. The learning that can be accomplished and the connections to the past that can be forged at such places trumps all of the bells and whistles Read more

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 Read more

At the beginning of the Civil War neither side was willing to accept volunteers and/or draft African Americans into their respective armies. For the United States that process only began in fits and starts in 1862 before it commenced in earnest following the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. For the Confederacy Read more

My first visit to Gettysburg came after the destruction of the National Tower on July 3, 2000. I was reminded of it earlier today while reading Jen Murray’s, On a Great Battlefield: The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933-2012. Jen does a fabulous job of exploring the controversy surrounding the construction Read more