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  • Visiting Battlefields

    I visited the Gettysburg battlefield last month and was taken aback by how poorly it is interpreted. The War Department tablets are haphazardly placed, with one tablet per brigade, located somewhere near the unit might have been located. The regimental monuments are kinda placed near where the regiment had its most significant action (but, hey, we need to be near a road so that the touristas can see our memorial).

    I was interested in following the actions of Archer's brigade on July 1, but the tablets / markers did not lend even the slightest clue.

    Now, I live less than 3-1/2 hours from the Gettysburg battlefield, but this visit was my first in twenty years. In contrast, I visit the Shiloh National Military Park (about a 12-hour journey) at least once a year (on the anniversary of the battle). It is extremely well marked, with the War Department tablets located so that one can follow the progress of a brigade throughout the battle. The regimental monuments (with one notable exception) are placed at the center of the regiment's most significant action. At locations such as Water Oaks Pond, the regimental monuments make it easy to discern the Federal battle line, for instance.

    So, I am a Shiloh NMP fan. I would also argue that poor little Perryville Battlefield State Historical Site is better interpreted than Gettysburg, if you discount the museums at each location (the Federal government commands substantially greater resources than the impecunious Kentucky state park system).

    I know now why I visit Shiloh frequently and why visits to Gettysburg aren't worth my time.

    What's your favorite battlefield to visit?


    Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

  • #2
    I have been to Mansfield a number of times. The people I talked to in the town of Mansfield seem to prefer Pleasant Hill. I have stood where an ancestor charged the Yankee line. The main problem is the park is small and surrounded by privately held property. There is even a coal fired power station close by! I tried to go to the Sabine Pass battlefield, but it is now underwater as they decided a dredging project for ships was more important. They did have a nice picnic area. I did go to Antietam and had a good time. There is a place in Alexandria my Cub Scout pack visited in the early 60's. The Trenches were still there. Now I can't find a battle that was fought there. The closest battle was fought down river a bit at old Fort Humbug (not actual name). The Yankees only had to approach it from the land side to take it.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Gettysburg is still my favorite and has been since I first went there in 1961 when I was in the 2d grade.

      My son and I went to Antietam in June and walked part of it. It is a pristine battlefield and we drove to Harper's Ferry afterwards. It was a great day and we had a great time.
      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

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      • #4
        I started visiting battlefields way back in the 60s starting with ECW battles but in later years , when my career took me to the USA on many occasions I made time to visit some . ACW ones - Fredricksburg, Gettysburg, first and second Manassas (Bull Run) and the Valley Campaign. (I also took in some AWI sites). Much later I visited WW1 battlefields in France and Flanders, Salonika and Mesopotamia. I've also pottered around Normandy. Sadly advancing arthritis has curtailed my perambulations. Can I say that whatever problems there may be with signage you guys in the US have got it easy compared to some countries. At least locating your battlefields is relatively easy. Even some of the major ECW ones are difficult as although there are some memorials they are sometimes in the wrong place and as for the minor (and often more interesting) ones there are no markers at all and salient parts of the landscape have changed (eg streams diverted).
        Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
        Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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        • #5
          Gettysburg is always a classic. I don't follow the exact locations of regiments as precisely as you do, but it is a very good park. The observation towers by the FDR memorial and where Longstreet made his "flank" attack are top-notch. Even the tower at Antietam can't compete, IMO. I've nicknamed the town "The Disney World of Civil War sites" because the whole town is full of hotels, gift shops, reenactor shops, and the visitor center, battlefield. You can see park rangers eating at the restaurants in their uniforms. Confederate flags fly freely. I love Gettysburg haha.

          Lexington is good. I don't see myself moving to the South, but if I did...

          Chancellorsville is also good. The clearing by the Chancellor House is unforgetable. If you're read up on the battle, you can just imagine the Confederate columns converging on the position, the bullets, shells, smoke, soldiers, the Chancellor Home in flames (it's there no more). Yeah I've read about it, but being there is worth the trip if you can stomach a Confederate victory. The site where Jackson got shot was disappointing. It's mostly cleared out, with the visitor center there. But the site where he formed his troops for the attack is good. Also the site where he and Lee sat on the cracker? boxes and devised the flank attack. Good battlefield.
          "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

          "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

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          • #6
            Pruitt

            The Fort in Alexandria was called Fort Buhlow named after an engineer it I recall correctly. There was a smaller earthen fort nearby called Fort Randolph I think. They were constructed after the Red River Campaign in 1864 and never fired a shot in the war. These were formidable structures due to their height allowed plunging firing on a ship decking which was very deadly. This has a small park site recently built. You cited a Fort Humbug which I believe you are referring to Fort DeRussy. It had a small naval encounter of interest involving Adm. Porter little reported. The second battle was a major land assault by Federal Commander Mower which captured a large amount of war supplies and guns. It has a small park site. There exist Fort Beauregard at Harrisonburg, Louisiana which had a small naval battle and a later year a land battle whereupon it was captured. It has a small park site present. It's history is little known.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
              I visited the Gettysburg battlefield last month and was taken aback by how poorly it is interpreted. The War Department tablets are haphazardly placed, with one tablet per brigade, located somewhere near the unit might have been located. The regimental monuments are kinda placed near where the regiment had its most significant action (but, hey, we need to be near a road so that the touristas can see our memorial).

              I was interested in following the actions of Archer's brigade on July 1, but the tablets / markers did not lend even the slightest clue.

              Now, I live less than 3-1/2 hours from the Gettysburg battlefield, but this visit was my first in twenty years. In contrast, I visit the Shiloh National Military Park (about a 12-hour journey) at least once a year (on the anniversary of the battle). It is extremely well marked, with the War Department tablets located so that one can follow the progress of a brigade throughout the battle. The regimental monuments (with one notable exception) are placed at the center of the regiment's most significant action. At locations such as Water Oaks Pond, the regimental monuments make it easy to discern the Federal battle line, for instance.

              So, I am a Shiloh NMP fan. I would also argue that poor little Perryville Battlefield State Historical Site is better interpreted than Gettysburg, if you discount the museums at each location (the Federal government commands substantially greater resources than the impecunious Kentucky state park system).

              I know now why I visit Shiloh frequently and why visits to Gettysburg aren't worth my time.

              What's your favorite battlefield to visit?

              Shiloh, Pea Ridge, and Vicksburg are all excellent sites. I do Gettysburg probably 10 or more times a year; it is a real favorite of mine. Cedar Creek is beautiful and off the tourist path. I also enjoy Manassas and ​​​​​​​Antietam, but don't visit them as often.
              My worst jump story:
              My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
              As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
              No lie.

              ~
              "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
              -2 Commando Jumpmaster

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              • #8
                I have been to Antietam, Vicksburg, Fort Pulaski and Fort McAllister, I have been to Gettysburg twice but the last time was in 1984 when the big steel tower was still there and one got a better overview of the entire battlefield.
                Trying hard to be the Man, that my Dog believes I am!

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                • #9
                  Walk and go alone. Stop and look, feel!!! If needed a map of the times and location. A bunch of jappering loons around spoils the whole thing, imo. Spent at least a half hour sitting at the angel at Gburg and the same at Brunsides Bridge (both sides) Still hard to imagine the courage that was there and the blood spiled
                  "Ask not what your country can do for you"

                  Left wing, Right Wing same bird that they are killing.

                  you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Half Pint John View Post
                    Walk and go alone. Stop and look, feel!!! If needed a map of the times and location. A bunch of jappering loons around spoils the whole thing, imo. Spent at least a half hour sitting at the angel at Gburg and the same at Brunsides Bridge (both sides) Still hard to imagine the courage that was there and the blood spiled
                    I made a quick stop at Gettysburg on my way home from Virginia last summer. It was dusk and I smoked a cigar at the angle.
                    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

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                    • #11
                      Been to a few ACW battlefields. At the time I went I really enjoyed the Petersburg National Battlefield Park where the Battle of the Crater really spiked my interest when I was a teenager.

                      “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” -- Albert Einstein

                      The US Constitution doesn't need to be rewritten it needs to be reread

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