On Commemorating Charges

On July 3, 2013, I was present near the Brian Farm when I watched thousands of people cross the fields from Seminary Ridge to Cemetery Ridge in an observance I’m still not quite sure how to characterize … and I don’t yet know what to make of it, perhaps because there are several ways to view the event. Maybe I’ll share my mixed feelings (and some confusion) at a later time, but for now I want to ask a different question:

How should we commemorate the actions of May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania; June 3, 1864, at Cold Harbor; and November 30, 1864, at Franklin?

Would one follow the model provided at Gettysburg? What about the model offered at Fredericksburg the previous December? Or what would you suggest?

After all, the men who participated in these actions were just as courageous as the ones who fought on July 3, 1863.

7 thoughts on “On Commemorating Charges

  1. Michael Confoy July 29, 2013 / 9:43 pm

    For Spotsylvania, closing the tour road to a walking commemoration, or at night with candles like at Antietam?

  2. Rob Bakerob July 30, 2013 / 6:24 am

    I’d imagine a long march at Franklin would be difficult, given the numerous objects there now.

      • Rob Bakerob July 30, 2013 / 6:43 am

        That’s true. But battle lines, and things of that nature would be out the window. It looks like the NPS had help from the town in closing down the streets which is the sort of thing Franklin might do. It appears that the Fredericksburg Rangers hosted a timeline type event much like what Chickamauga-Chattanooga is doing on Sept. 14-15. I think that would be a good idea in Franklin as well.

  3. Patrick Young July 30, 2013 / 7:16 am

    How about a way of recalling the experience of the wounded pinned down on the field til night? I wonder how that could be done?

  4. Al Mackey July 30, 2013 / 11:02 am

    The “Pettigrew-Trimble-Pickett Charge” [:)] is an iconic part of Civil War lore, and the Gettysburg battlefield is well enough preserved that a re-creation (of sorts) was the thing to do. The other charges should be commemorated, but in some cases a re-creation may not be practical. Perhaps a series of walking tours would do the trick, or maybe something as simple as a wreath-laying with a presentation going over the history of the event. Maybe a series of lectures as part of the day going over not only what happened but also how it has been remembered.

  5. John Hennessy July 30, 2013 / 3:30 pm

    Timely question, interesting responses. I spent today in a meeting with staff looking at the alternatives for the major Spotsylania commemorative event. Key ideas: participtory, connected to the ground, multi-sensory, visual, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and memorable. As Michael suggests, Spotsylvania offers a more controlled environment, which frees us to be more creative. The plan is still evolving (details will come as soon as we unwrinkle some things), so ideas are welcome.

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