Emerging Civil War (ECW) has chosen historian Gregory A. Mertz as the recipient of this year’s Thomas Greeley Stevenson Award.
ECW presents the Thomas Greeley Stevenson Award to a person or organization that has made a significant contribution to Emerging Civil War’s success.
Mertz has worked for the National Park Service for more than 37 years, holding positions at Gettysburg National Military Park, Eisenhower National Historic Site, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. As the supervisory historian for more than two decades at Fredericksburg, he has trained hundreds of seasonal employees, interns, and volunteers in informal interpretation and the conducting of interpretive programs.
“Of those of us who originally founded Emerging Civil War, Greg profoundly impacted and shaped nearly all of us,” said ECW Editor-in-Chief Chris Mackowski, himself a beneficiary of Mertz’s training. “The hundreds of historians he has trained have, in turn, influenced millions of battlefield visitors. In that way, he has had a monumental impact on the Civil War community and most people don’t even realize it.”
ECW historian Edward Alexander, who went on to work at Pamplin Historical Park and Richmond National Battlefield, said, “Mertz has made the single largest impact on the organization of anyone outside ECW. I learned more about historical interpretation from Greg’s intensive training program than I did in four years of college and eight years of experience afterward.”
Ryan Quint, who has gone on to positions at Kenmore and Colonial Williamsburg, described Mertz as “the best boss I’ve ever had, and it isn’t even a close competition. His love of history and the Civil War is infectious.”
Phill Greenwalt, now a supervisory ranger in the Everglades, said Mertz “definitely helped mold me as a historian. . . . He taught me the basics of being a great interpreter and a historian—that one can be both.”
Other current ECW historians who have had Mertz as a mentor include James Broomall, Caroline Davis, Daniel T. Davis, Steward Henderson, Christopher Kolakowski, Matthew Stanley, and ECW co-founders Kristopher D. White and Jake Struhelka.
Mertz is a native of what is now Wildwood, Missouri. He is an Eagle Scout, belonging to Boy Scout Troop 782, which visited Shiloh National Military Park to hike and camp each spring. Mertz hiked each of the six scout trails at Shiloh, totaling 88 miles and completing the requirements to earn the Shiloh Veteran Hiker Award.
He graduated from the University of Missouri with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Park Administration and from Shippensburg University with a master’s degree in Public Administration.
Mertz was the charter president of the Rappahannock Valley Civil War Round Table and was the vice president of the Brandy Station Foundation preservation group. He frequently speaks to Civil War roundtables on a variety of Civil War subjects. He has written four feature articles for Blue and Gray Magazine on the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.
During the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War, he gave anniversary tours at First Manassas, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cedar Creek. On other occasions, he has also given tours of Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, Bristoe Station, Rappahannock Station, and Mine Run.
“Greg Mertz,” said ECW’s Chief Historian, Christopher Kolakowski, “is an outstanding interpreter of the American Civil War.”
Emerging Civil War’s Thomas Greeley Stevenson Award is named after Brig. Gen. Thomas Greeley Stevenson, a Union IX Corps division commander killed at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May 1864. Emerging Civil War holds its annual Symposium at Stevenson Ridge, located on the battlefield in the area where Stevenson was killed.