The Civil War In 1863 Featured In Gettysburg National Military Park Winter Lecture Series

Learn "the real story" about Col. Robert G. Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the talk on February 9th.
NPS photo.

The sesquicentennial of the Civil War continues in 2013, and a series of free lectures at Gettysburg National Military Park will explore some interesting topics. Among the subjects: Separating fact and legend concerning Pickett's Charge and Hollywood vs. history in the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as told in the 1989 film Glory.

Each program will focus on some aspect of the Civil War in 1863, and although events at Gettysburg receive special attention, the subjects cover a broad range of subjects with some intriguing content.

A Tale of Two Generals

Following the Battle of Gettysburg, two key generals—from both the North and the South—tendered their resignations...and both offers were rejected. Can you identify the generals, and what impact those decisions had on the outcome of the War? The answers will be included in the talk on Sunday, February 24.

Vicksburg, Mississippi, is a long way from Gettysburg, but the outcome of the nearly seven-week Siege of Vicksburg played a key role in the outcome of the Civil War. Two talks, on January 5 and February 17, explore different aspects of the Vicksburg Campaign, including "assaults, siege warfare, mining operations, naval actions, and yes, rats."

On Saturday, January 19 visitors will have a glimpse at the stories behind some original objects from the park’s museum collection. "If These Things Could Talk” will examined the larger stories these artifacts tell about the Battle of Gettysburg.

Separating History and Hollywood

The story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first documented African- American regiment formed in the North during the Civil War, is one of " courage, determination and sacrifice." The story was brought to the big screen by the 1989 film Glory, which won several Academy Awards. The talk on Saturday, February 9 will "separate history from Hollywood and discover the real story of Robert Gould Shaw [the unit's commander] and the men of the 54th Massachusetts."

Even casual history buffs have likely heard of Pickett's Charge, a story " so steeped in mythology that a logical rendering of what happened on July 3, 1863 is difficult to comprehend." The lecture on March 9 "will engage in the tricky task of separating symbolic truth from real time events; of demystifying and de-fanging the allegorical other-world of high water mark in favor of rational revelation."

There are plenty of other topics in the series, which are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays beginning January 5 through March 10, except January 13. The programs will be held at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center Programs, begin at 1:30 p.m. and last approximately one hour. You'll find the complete schedule, and a short description of each talk, at this link.

The key anniversary at the park occurs in the summer of 2013, and the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg will be a focus during coming months, culminating in special events in late June and early July. You'll find details on those activities here.

Looking for driving directions or other information to help plan a visit to Gettysburg National Military Park. You'll find those details on the park website.