Question of the Week: Aug. 10, 2015


Keeping in the spirit of this past weekend’s Emerging Civil War Symposium at Stevenson Ridge:

What was your greatest or most poignant memory of the sesquicentennial years of the American Civil War?

10 Responses to Question of the Week: Aug. 10, 2015

  1. Mine was the Perryville re-enactment, as I was close enough to it not only to hear the individuas yelling while charging, but also to smell the gunpowder from all the muskets firing, especially at the cornfield. This was the most “real” (or maybe surreal) moment for me and as a non-re-enactor, the closest I had been to such a scene. The smell of the powder really struck me hard. I have read about such things, of course, but this was a real smell and gave me a small sense of what combat may have been like, more so than any written description ever did. I doubt even my own writing can convey the effects of that smell on me and my perspective on the was so different than anything I had felt before

  2. My best memory of the sesquicentennial was a pre-dawn tour at Chickamauga on September 20, 2013.

  3. Mine would be the dedication of a brand new monument to Minnesota troops on Shy’s hill in Nashville.

  4. Mine was the 150th anniversary of Antietam on 9/17/2012. At dawn, there was a low mist and a line of soldiers emerged from the East Woods and fired a volley and seeing the gun smoke hang in the air made me feel that I was standing in The Cornfield in on 9/17/1862. It was surreal.

  5. Ford’s Theatre at the exact moment of the shot by Boothe and 7:21am on the next morning when the President died. The battlefield events commemorated a day or days, but this event was marked by an exact moment in time in which something occurred. The vigils were poignant and C-Span did a great job.

  6. My favorite memory is quite personal. In 2013, on May 2, I had the privilege to do a real-time talk about the mortal wounding of Stonewall Jackson. It was absolutely thrilling and chilling to be recounting those events 150 years after they happened–as they happened.

    The event, sponsored by the Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields, was held at Stevenson Ridge on the Spotsylvania battlefield. As I was waiting to give my talk, a young woman across the room caught my eye and I caught hers–the first contact between me and the woman who would eventually become my wife. So, what began as one of the true highlights of my Civil War career ended up having double significance for me. It was a remarkable, remarkable day.

  7. The National Portrait Gallery’s first (in a series) of exhibits featuring the Civil War was one centered around Colonel Elmer Ellsworth. I live 3,000 miles away, and it took me a while to decide is that was too far to go to see one show. I decided it was, and my first minutes confronted by all the things I had only seen in pictures was overwhelming. I stayed in Alexandria, walked the path from the wharf to the Marshall House, and spent several hours at Fort Ward. I went back one more time for anther Ellsworth fix, then home. So, yeah–my best of many highlights!

  8. For me, I was grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the opening of the Seminary Ridge Museum in Gettysburg. Some time later, I attended a seminar there and climbed the stairs to the cupola on a wind whipped early spring day. A dream come true. Since then, I have brought family and friends to the site and all came away with a special understanding of the battle and it’s aftermath.

  9. During the Gettysburg Sesquicentennial reenactment, I drove over to Little Round Top just before sunset several evenings. One evening as the sun was going down, a band of Confederate reenactors played period music on period instruments at its summit. As I watched the spectacular sunset, the music played in the background. It was magical.

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