May 16, 2008

The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation

Here's a new book that appears to be right up my alley. The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890s and the Establishment of America’s First Five Military Parks by University of Tennessee Professor Dr. Timothy Smith discusses a topic that has not been hashed over to death, will undoubtedly touch on my growing interest in Civil War memory and historiography, and is written and published by well-respected parties.

As this article mentions, Dr. Smith "looks at the impulses behind the veterans’ creation of the battlefields at Chickamauga, Antietam, Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg, impulses that include the sentiments of reconciliation, brotherhood, and reunification and which resulted in arguably what are still today the best preserved of the war’s major battlefields. He also looks at what it took to make these places realities and how while they are similar, each is unique in its own ways individually. The stars of the book are the colorful, driven, and dedicated former soldiers who, sometimes as members of Congress, pushed these battlefield parks into being and who are largely responsible for the legacy from which we benefit today and which we should strive to still carry forward."

As a proud member of the Civil War Preservation Trust, it will be interesting to learn if some of the challenges faced by today's preservationists also existed back then.

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