Archive for July, 2011

Trace Adkins helps announce $40 million Civil War Trust campaign

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The president of the Civil War Trust (formerly the Civil War Preservation Trust), Jim Lighthizer, recently addressed the 2011 Annual Conference in Manassas, Virginia, in which he spoke of the achievements of the Trust’s past and the challenges in the future. In the last year, the Civil War Trust has raised more than $22 million in federal and matching funds. This amount exceeded all previous years. Additionally, this past year saw victories for preserving the Wilderness battlefield against Wal-Mart development and Gettysburg fought off a casino after long fights in both causes.

Lighthizer discussed the technological developments designed to bring a wider audience to the Trust and the cause of battlefield preservation. Their website has been exponentially growing in visitors in the last three years. He also discussed the new smartphone apps designed to provide virtual tours of several battlefields. Utilizing technology will be vital in educating future generations.

Additionally, Lighthizer outlined two major goals of the Civil War Trust during the sesquicentennial of the war: to save an additional 20,000 acres of battlefield from development, and to become the primier Civil War education organization in the world. Preserving another 20,000 acres will concentrate “primarily but not exclusively on finishing the major battles that make up the Civil War.” Becoming the primier education organization in the world will be largely focused on technology development and content. Estimated costs for accomplishing these goals during the sesquicentennial of the war is $40 million, divided into $35 million for the land and $5 million for the educational development.

“It’s now or never,” Lighthizer said. “We’re running out of time when it comes to saving battlefield land.”

The campaign was announced and outlined recently at a press conference in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with speakers that included James McPherson and Trace Adkins. This has been called Campaign 150, designed to coincide with the commemorations, reenactments, and exhibitions of the sesquicentennial of the war.

“More than 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War,” McPherson pointed out at the conference. “If the same percentage of our tenfold population were to die in the war fought today, the number of American war dead would be more than six million. This terrible national trauma that took place a hundred fifty years ago is hardly a matter for celebration, but it is a matter for remembrance.”

The central theme of McPherson’s speech reflected the need to preserve individual battlefields in order to fully understand the Civil War. He pointed out that simply reading about the war is not enough. Key components of the war involving the topography and tangibility of where American and Confederate soldiers fought could not be fully understood without the historical landscape remaining in tact. McPherson cited the Civil War Trust’s recent acquisition of more land surrounding Gettysburg to be preserved for tourists to explore and learn more about the battle than they had before. He then described the difficulty to understand the battles of Nashville and Atlanta due to urban sprawl swallowing those battlefields whole.

McPherson also referenced General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s 1888 speech at the dedication of Maine monuments at Gettysburg in which he said, “In great deeds, something abides. On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls.”

Careful to point out that the Civil War Trust’s mission is not to romanticize war but, “… quite the contrary, it is a matter of comprehending it’s grim reality.”

With the addition of country singer and actor, Trace Adkins, to the Civil War Trust board, the celebrity boost will help reach the $40 million goal.

“When I was a 13-year-old boy my grandfather sat me down one day. I guess he thought it was time for him to tell me what his grandfather had told him,” Adkins began. “His name was Henry T. Morgan and he was a private in the 31st Louisiana Infantry. He was wounded and taken prisoner at Vicksburg.”

“The first time I ever went to Vicksburg, I got to stand where I knew I was within 100 feet or so of where my great-great-grandfather was positioned in that battle. I knew because there’s a monument there and the trench is still there,” he told the crowd gathered at the press conference. “And you can look across that battlefield — it’s been preserved, it’s one of the success stories – and it still looks the way it looked when my great-great-grandfather was there. I can’t explain to you what a spiritual moment that was for me.”

Please visit www.civilwar.org for more information on battlefield preservation and how to make a donation.

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A diagram of me freaking out. With nifty arrows.

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>Have you ever seen an author become a fangirl? Now you have ………

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Videos from the 150th Bull Run/Manassas reenactment

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If you missed the 150th anniversary reenactment of the battle of Manassas/Bull Run last week, fear not! I have arrived with the best of the best in the way of YouTube videos to help you feel like you were there.

There were about ten thousand reenactors there this year from what I heard despite the oppressive heat. I heard the heat index was around 115 degrees all weekend.

Unfortunately, I also heard that two people died this year as well. It seems like almost every major reenactment has some kind of casualty whether it’s from the heat or injury on the battlefield. Most tourists think we’re just play acting and the guns aren’t real or aren’t dangerous but it is in fact a dangerous hobby. Our guns and cannons don’t fire ammunition but there are still gunpowder, fire, and projectiles made of anything that might be caught up in the weapons. I could tell stories about reenactors getting hands shot off or severely maimed from not paying attention to where weapons are being fired. My point is, to those who make fun of Civil War reenactors, you can stop now. It takes guts and intelligence to do what we do.

A few things to keep in mind: whenever you see cavalry, those horses have been trained to cope with gunfire and chaos. You can’t take just any horse to a reenactment and expect it to perform well. Also, there appeared to be more women on the battlefield than I’m used to seeing at smaller reenactments. I’m not sure why. You would not see a woman in hoops wandering around a battle like that unless she was an extra brave nurse or a local, and even then, the likelihood that they’d be wearing hoops is very small. You’re going to see General Lee too. To my knowledge, he was not actually at Manassas as his first field assignment was two months after the fact. I may be wrong on this one though. Lee is the star of the war, so you’ll see some guy walking around portraying him at every reenactment whether he was actually there or not. I think I counted five Lees at the Gettysburg reenactment in 2009. Tourists eat it up and we do what we can to keep attracting them to our events.

So here are some videos from the reenactment.

150th Battle Of Bull Run Reenactment – Manassas, Virginia

Marching off to Manassas

150th Anniversary Reenactment of the First Battle of Manassas (Photos and Video)

A view of the battle from a “wounded soldier”

First Bull Run 150th – U.S. Marine Battle Marker Dedicated July 21, 2011

150th First Bull Run Event – Civil War Music

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