I’m going to go up to Gettysburg tomorrow in preparation for a staff ride that we’ll be leading for our students next month. This will be my third trip there. I’ve been on two staff rides up there before, on led by the great Jay Luvaas. I was too young and ignorant at the time to appreciate what a remarkable experience I was having, but now it is a cherished memory. I find that visiting Gettysburg is somewhat like reading Clausewitz: each time I get something more out of it.
Anyway, in the course of my preparation for this trip, I ran across a short essay by Mark Grimsley entitled “How to Read a Civil War Battlefield.” I recommend it to those who are interested in visiting Civil War battlefields but who aren’t particularly expert in the Civil War. Aspects of it should be useful, too, for those lucky enough to visit Napoleonic battlefields, I imagine. Make sure to follow the links at the bottom of the essay to see the photographs that illustrate particular ideas such as “dead ground.”