Posts tagged ‘Gettysburg’

Gettysburg Day One: Lessons in Leadership

The statues of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock (left) and Gen. Oliver Howard tell a story, as we learned on Day One of the tour. (file photo by Tina Hay)

Day One of the Alumni Association’s Civil War Battlefield Study Tour to Gettysburg was, of course, Day One of the battle. Our faculty leaders, Terry Winschel ’77 and Parker Hills, started by giving us the political and military context for the years leading up to Gettysburg. They’re a terrific team.

Parker, the retired general, wears a watch that tells military time, reels off one-liners and what I’m assuming are Southern aphorisms (if they’re not, they should be), and punctuates his PowerPoints with snappy sound effects, everything from typewriter keys to explosions to snippets of Beethoven.

Terry’s picked up a trace of a southern accent after decades in Mississippi as the historian at Vicksburg National Military Park, but his native Pittsburgh still occasionally comes through. He tells stories so smoothly that despite my notoriously bad handwriting, my notes from his sessions are pristine. I can’t remember the last time I stayed in the notebook’s lines. (Not when Parker was speaking.) Terry isn’t wearing a watch, and if he needs a PowerPoint, Parker pushes the buttons.

The combination is fantastic; it’s obvious they’ve known each other since Parker was a mere Army captain. They met at Vicksburg, where Terry was giving tours of the battlefield and Parker was bringing soldiers to learn. Part of the reason the country has national battlefields is (more…)

August 24, 2012 at 9:24 am 3 comments

Cramming for a Civil War Weekend

Have you ever judged someone simply by a book? By something on her shelf, by something he’s recommended you read? It’s not foolproof, of course, but I think it can be a pretty effective way to, well, get a read on a person, too.

So before I arrived in Gettysburg on Wednesday for the Alumni Association’s Penn State Civil War Battlefield Study Tour, I had a mental picture of the two faculty leaders, Terrence Winschel ’77, who just retired as the chief historian at Vicksburg Military Park, and Parker Hills, a retired brigadier general who’s been giving battlefield tours since 2001.

I’ve spent the past week or so tackling the trip’s reading list, which, I admit, I assumed would be a little dry. I love history, but military history? The little I’ve read was difficult; despite hearing my dad and my brother, both Army veterans, talk about that stuff, I just could never picture what was going on. Often, honestly, I tuned out.

Well, all of the books on the reading list for Gettysburg were terrific. I found myself reading paragraphs out loud to my husband over the breakfast table and marking particularly eloquent or interesting passages with a Post-It note. Each of the authors is a true storyteller … and as a writer myself, that’s pretty much my highest compliment.

So I figured anyone who chose those books would be storytellers, too, and boy, was I right. Terry and Parker had my colleagues from the Alumni Association’s travel and education staff cracking up Wednesday night at dinner, and afterward, they told me they didn’t want anyone to feel as though they were slogging through homework as they prepared for the trip. Mission accomplished.

I’ve read five of the six books (I skipped Edwin Coddington’s The Gettysburg Campaign only because it was billed as “for those who have already mastered the basics”), and I’ve loved all five. (more…)

August 23, 2012 at 8:49 am 10 comments

Praise for Carol Reardon’s Book

While trolling around the Internet recently, I came across a blog for amateur Civil War historians with a great name –The Order of Civil War Obsessively Compulsed, or TOCWOC. As a summer project, the bloggers wrote about their favorite books about the Battle of Gettysburg and compiled the overall top 10.

Checking in at No. 7 was Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory by Carol Reardon, Penn State professor of military history. The book, which was published in 1997, examined why and how the Battle of Gettysburg and Pickett’s Charge, in particular, became known as the turning points of the war. The Atlantic Monthly called it “a splendidly lively study of the manipulation, not necessarily deliberate or malign, of public opinion.”

So if you’re looking for some non-fluffy summer reading, this might fit the bill. I just added it to my own “books to read” list.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

July 21, 2009 at 5:53 pm 1 comment

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