To date, each year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial has been fairly easy to figure out when it comes to events the have been commemorated. In 2011 we had Fort Sumter and First Manassas; for 2012 we had Antietam and emancipation; for 1863 there was Gettysburg followed by Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Several other events got some attention (such as Fredericksburg and the 1863 New York City draft riots), while others were overlooked or underreported (Shiloh and the Seven Days, for example). As expected, Gettysburg was the traditional high point, but it seems unfair to criticize every other event because it did not measure up to Gettysburg. Take Gettysburg away and we have a fairer idea of how the sesquicentennial’s been going.
Now we approach 2014. In Europe they are gearing up for the centennial of World War One (I’m surprised more attention hasn’t been paid to that, because there are some terribly interesting debates going on right now about public memory of that war, especially issues of causation and responsibility). In 2015 we’ll have Waterloo (I am hoping that the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College does not overlap with Waterloo, because I think it would be very interesting to compare Gettysburg 150 with Waterloo 200). Stateside 2015 will feature the fall of Richmond, Appomattox, and Lincoln’s assassination. But how do we approach 1864 in 2014?