Gettysburg National Military Park Offers Special Winter Talks to Mark Civil War's 150th Anniversary

Artists drawing of the recently completed Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center

Was the Civil War avoidable? What was the role of the Medical Corps in the Civil War? What weapons were available—and used—by both armies in 1861?

Answers to these and other questions will be offered during a winter lecture series at Gettysburg National Military Park to mark the 150th anniversary of the first year of the Civil War.

Many people think about Gettysburg's role in the war only in terms of the key battles that occurred in early July 1863, or perhaps they primarily remember Lincoln's address later that year. The park staff, historians and students of the Civil War realize the importance of exploring events earlier in the War as a key to understanding what occurred at Gettysburg, and the park is offering a wide-ranging series of talks during the next three months.

1861 – The Civil War Begins & Gettysburg: Perspectives on the Battle and Campaign will "explore events and personalities who figured prominently in 1861, and also return to the popular 'Perspectives on the Gettysburg Campaign and Battle.'" The programs will cover a wide range of topics, from Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, to Dan Sickles at Gettysburg and the July 3 experience of Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing’s battery.

The programs will be offered on weekends beginning Saturday, January 8, 2011, and running through Sunday, March 13, 2011. They are free of charge and will be held at the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center; they'll be held in one of the film theaters through February 27 and in the Ford Motor Company Fund Education Center on March 6, 12, and 13. Programs begin at 1:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour.

Titles of several of the talks offer a sample of the subject matter: "The Young Napoleon – George McClellan and First Year of the War," "The Medical Corps Goes to War" and "Equipping the Armies – The Weapons of 1861." You can download a complete schedule of the programs at this link.

The Museum and Visitor Center is located at 1195 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and open daily throughout the year except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. The park website includes driving directions and other details to help you plan a visit to Gettysburg.