Battlefield Restoration Questioned

Let me start out by saying that I’m a supporter of the NPS’s efforts at restoring Civil War battlefield terrain to its appearance just prior to the battle.  Yes, I know it won’t be precisely right: there are monuments that should remain, and there are times when I think some restoration efforts may privilege restoration, strictly defined, over other values (for example, sometimes removing a treeline doesn’t enhance the appearance of anything, and may in some cases expose an eyesore or another modern intrusion that was once concealed). Moreover, some challenges seem to defy such efforts: for example, we know that in some places, wooded areas were in fact more open then they are now (think Herbst Woods at Gettysburg) because the undergrowth was not there (walk Herbst Woods and you’ll see what I mean).

Not everyone agrees.  Recently I came across this article by John Summers of Boston College. Rather than summarize his argument, I invite you to read and respond to it.