Gettysburg: A Media Blitz on the 150th Anniversary
This week is a good time to be a history buff, specifically one with an interest in the Civil War. The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is in full swing. Even if I didn’t know the dates—the battle raged July 1, 2, and 3, 1863—it would be obvious from a quick scan of my Twitter feed, where many of the people I follow are linking to some really interesting stories.
I’m a newbie, I’ll admit it. I didn’t get interested in the battle until August 2012, when I attended the Penn State Alumni Association’s Civil War Study Tour, which toured Gettysburg for three days. I figured plenty of other media outlets would be writing about the battle when the anniversary came, so for my magazine story, I focused on the people who are regulars on the tour. I wanted to know why they keep returning to Gettysburg and what they could possibly still be learning about it after all this time, and I wrote a piece for our May/June issue called “The Visitors.” You can download a PDF of my story by clicking here.
Among the Gettysburg pieces I’ve read over the weekend, these stand out:
My former employer and hometown newspaper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has published an interactive piece, “Gettysburg: Panic in Pittsburgh, Then a Nation Saved,” that has a lot of the characteristics of the New York Times’ Snowfall feature. This will take a substantial amount of time, but it’s worth it.
Donald Gilliand of The Patriot-News in Harrisburg also focused on why people keep returning to Gettysburg—but he took a different approach than I did. His piece focuses on the town, and it contains this great line, which one of my former students, Anna Orso, quoted on Twitter: “Gettysburg still resonates with Americans—despite, and sometimes because of, its roadside tackiness.” That pulled me in, and it was worth it.
My Centre Daily Times this morning featured this piece about the “Centre County Regiment,” the 148th Pennsylvania, that I’ve heard some people call the Penn State regiment (although it really wasn’t, of course). The 148th fought in The Wheatfield, one of the best-known and bloody parts of the three-day battle. For more about Penn Staters and Gettysburg, this piece by Matthew Swayne, a writer/editor at Penn State, tells the story of how Evan Pugh was trying to keep the school alive at the same time the soldiers were fighting for the union.
I also really enjoyed this Washington Post profile of William A. Frassanito, a historian who focuses on the photos of Gettysburg, and who is a true character. (Jim Roberts of Reuters (@nycjim) linked the story this morning; he’s got a wide range of interests and is a great person to follow on Twitter if you’re similarly inclined.)
If you’ve come across any others, please let us know in the comments. My reading list is long, but I’ve always got room for another Gettysburg story.
Lori Shontz, senior editor