On a Lazy Day, an Interest in Civil War Battles

It’s a lovely day in Flagstaff. It’s not lovely due to the weather, though watching the clouds skuttle by overhead and the breeze blow through the open windows is nice. It’s lovely because I can be as lazy as I want today. I’ve no place to go, have nothing to do, and have books to read.

My vacation to Maryland, where I visited Baltimore and Washington, DC, made me ready for a day to do nothing. My visits to the Civil War battlefields Antietam and Gettysburg has me wanting to learn more. This morning I read James McPherson’s Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, a book that covers a lot of territory (prior battles, politics in Washington, and mini-biographies of the various generals involved).

As someone who detested the Civil War and the stupidity shown on both sides, it’s funny that a visit to two battlefields has me now interested in what happened. Seeing the cornfield and the sunken road at Antietam now gives me a mental picture of what it was like. But I think what really got me was the view from the visitor center at Antietam. Off to the left and down the road was a little white building. I didn’t think anything of it until seeing this photograph:

That building, the Dunkard Church, still exists. Somehow this image and walking the actual location fired off a desire to learn more. And I certainly needed to learn more. The poor Park Ranger must have been used to visitors who know every aspect of the battle, but he had to hear me ask, “So, who won this one? North? South?” Yes, I was that clueless.

I rented the movie Gettysburg to learn more about what happened there. I think I may finally find the willingness to rent Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War.

So, from something that I hated to read about, I’m now obsessing over. I do believe travel makes a difference. Seeing the places where well-known history occurred gives you a better sense of place, and reading about it gives you a better sense of the time.

I’m glad to have this lazy day to do my reading. I’m glad to be home. I’m especially glad that I didn’t live during the Civil War. It’s still miserable history, but I’m glad to learn about it all.

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3 Responses to “On a Lazy Day, an Interest in Civil War Battles”

  1. newmaldon Says:

    I find the Civil War era a fascinating time in our history. “Gettysburg” really sparked my interest in the period. Prior to that I was a history person, but not of the Civil War in particular.
    It was a bloody, terrible time, and I too am glad to not have lived through it, though I am still in awe of what many of those men and women did.

  2. Wendy Says:

    You have such a way with words… it makes me want to go read up on the Civil War as well. I’ll add that to “the list” 😉

  3. dilettanteville Says:

    newmaldon — The Civil War really is fascinating, and sad. I’m thinking of reading Michael Shaara’s “The Killer Angels” which the movie “Gettysburg” was based on.

    Wendy — Thanks!


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