A Gettysburg Battlefield Guide with a Penn State Connection

June 21, 2013 at 4:00 pm Leave a comment

19780807835258About 10 minutes after I returned home from last year’s Alumni Association’s Civil War Study Tour to Gettysburg, I began suggesting to my husband how nice it would be to return. “You’d love it!” I said. (Read: “I really want to go back, and I don’t think you’ll hate it. You did minor in history.”)

We’ve not made it there yet, but he did promise. I’m confident that when our schedules line up for a weekend away and the crowds dissipate after the 150th anniversary of the battle, July 1-3, it’ll happen. (Although there are cool programs for the anniversary; check them out here.)

When we go, we’re going to take a new book by Penn State professor Carol Reardon and retired Army colonel Tom Vossler: A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the battlefield through its history, places, and people. Reardon, George Winfree professor of American history, is probably best known for her book on Pickett’s Charge (which is on my reading list), and she’s led tons of Gettysburg tours. So has Vosser, who’s a licensed battlefield guide and former director of the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

I’ve been reading the book off and on over the past couple of weeks, and even with my limited Gettysburg experience, I can tell it’s really useful. It’s divided into 35 stops (the official auto tour has 16), and for each stop, Reardon and Vossler answer six questions: What happened here? Who fought here? Who commanded here? Who fell here? Who lived here? What did they say about it later?

Their philosophy, articulated on page 7, comes across on every page: “The best way to explore Gettysburg’s rich battle history is to spend time out on the battlefield itself.”

Absolutely. That’s why as much as I’m enjoying my Civil War-heavy summer reading, I can’t wait to go back to Gettysburg and walk it again.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

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