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Ron

The orginial military parks

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Presently, a great amount of attention has been placed in the battlefields in the eastern states, battlefields such as Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Chancellorsville, Bull Run and Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign.  The battlefields of the western theater don't get a similiar amount of attention.  Vicksburg, Shiloh and Chickamauga are the most popular of the western battlefields but even they don't get the attention they should.  I believe that since the majority of readers concerning the civil war are fixated on the eastern battlefields, most authors write about this area of the war because of their need to have a commerical success in their books.  I really don't blame authors for doing so because of their needs but the readers don't have this need.  Readers are free to explore other fields, many of which are further afield such as the Trans-Mississippi.  Yet, this does not happen. This fixation with the eastern battlefields continues on center stage, while the rich history and record of many accomplishments in the west continues isolated in the wings.  The same commerical needs for commerical success apply to the groups that organize tours of battlefields, the same needs as the authors writing books.  Most tours of CW battlefields go the Gettysburg, Antietam and Virginia, most by far. Yet, the best looking and preserved civil war battlefield, Shiloh is in the west.  An example of a neglected battlefield is Perrysville KY.  This battle was a hard fought battle that ended confederate moves to the north same as Antietam.  Yet, even today it is a state park getting no federal support.     

I have long believed to let those who participted in the civil war to tell the later generatiuons where the important events of the civil war were. Consider that when the federal government began the establishment of national military parks, they and the veterans choose six battlefields to be commenorated as being the most important of the many many civil war battleields.  These six were and still are, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Antietam and Gettysburg.  The veterans of the civil war picked four of the western battlefields and only two of the eastern battlefields to be honored.  Please note that none of these are in Virginia. I believe that is proper since the war was fought as a war of maneuver over a very large area in several states, fewer battles but more marching with grevious results for the confederacy.  The war in the east was basically a static war, limited to a very small area, many battles but less marching.  In April 1865, the war in Virginia ended less than 100 miles from Bull Run where it began. Im trying to illustrate a difference between the east and west theaters and the importance and results of the west that should receive greater attention. Certainly there are many reasons why all of this came about but the present placement of the majority of attention appears to be misguided, to the wrong areas of the war and this does bother me to some degree.   

I am speaking of the confederate western theater, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia,

kentucky, and Alabama.  This area deserves better attention, study and analysis.  etc.  As to the Trans-Mississippi and other areas, I can hardly mention the deplorable attention given to these areas. They get no attention.  We are in danger in losing their rich history for all time. The parks at Pea Ridge in Arkansas and Wilson's Creek in Missouri are calling out for your support.   

Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my mad ravings.

Ron

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Ron.....

You make some good points.  A number of years ago, I was one of those Easterners who didn't have the time of day for the Western Theater.  All I needed to know about the Civil War was right here in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.  However, I soon had some Western friends show me the error of my ways.  (The nagging and bragging wore me down! :))  Not totally convinced that the Western Theater had much to offer, I made my first trip to a Western Theater battlefield........Shiloh.  I guess the rest is history.  It took a little while but I finally realized how much the Western Theater was an integral part of the larger picture.  Soon I was visiting Vicksburg, Perryville, Pea Ridge, Wilson's Creek, Resaca, Kennesaw, Pickett's Mill, Peachtree Creek, and Atlanta.  Maybe eventually, I will even get to Honey Springs and places in the Trans-Mississippi. 

My respect for the Western Theater and the men who fought there has deepened with each visit to each battlefield.  I've found myself reading more Western Theater books now than Eastern Theater.

I guess there's hope for people like me.  You just have to be opened minded and see for yourself.  (Having pesky Western friends help, too!) :)

I've learned a great deal from my battlefield wanderings and know that despite North or South or East or West, these are sacred grounds and we need to preserve them and share our knowledge of them with future generations.

THE MANASSAS BELLE

 

 

 

 

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Hi  Just to let you all know that Tim Smith's next book is going to be about the developement of the first areas preserved and eventually turn into what we all ttreasure today as NPS military parks.I dont know when but I beleive it wont be too long.   mona

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Good post, Ron. To borrow from Barbara Mandrell, I was Western Theater when Western Theater wasn't cool. So I don't usually argue with anyone who argues the importance of the West.

Several years back I wrote a three-part series about the different theaters when I was still on Suite101. The idea was to compare and contrast the importance of each theater, and try to decide which one was the most important theater of the war. I think anyone who's ever heard me rant on the subject would expect me to say, "The West," but that wasn't my conclusion. I've never argued that the West was the "most" important theater, so much as to say that to overlook its importance is a serious mistake. And I think a lot of folks still do that, although I also think the West gets more attention these days than in it used to. And Belle has come over to the Dark Side with us. Now if she'd just see the light about the Celtics.

Mona mentioned Tim Smith's new book. I did a quick search on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and B&N shows it with a release date of May 28th. The title is Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890's and the Establishment of America's First Five Military Parks. Looks like a good book.

Perry

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Mona.....

I'm really looking forward to reading Tim Smith's book, Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation.  Did you know there are two Tim Smiths associated with battlefield parks and they are both authors?  :shock:  There's Shiloh's Tim Smith and Gettysburg's Tim Smith. I've never met Shiloh's Tim Smith but I've known Gettysburg's Tim Smith for a number of years.  He's a good source of information for me at the Adams County (PA) Historical Society and at the GNMP.  We also share a common interest in collecting old Gettysburg post cards. 

One of these days I'll have to meet the Western Theater Tim Smith.  Maybe he'll sign my copies of This Great Battlefield of Shiloh. and Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862.

(Sorry,  I wasn't on-line last night, Perry.  I was watching another Celtics victory on TV!!!  Just like most of America.....I'm going "Green". :cool:)

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Dr. Richard McMurry calls it VD -- Virginia Disease. There is a definite bias. The war was won in the West. We know that. But we are taught in school that the war ended at Appomattox. And that's not true. I suppose the Lost Causers had somehting to do with that.

Last year we had a RT discusion about which battle was the "turning point" of the war. Militarily, cases were made for Vicksburg, Shiloh, Fts Henry & Donnelson, etc. Politically, there was talk of Antietam & possibly Stones River. But I chose a different path. I went with the Wilderness. This was the first bout of Lee vs. Grant. And, in my mind, you had to beat RE Lee & his vaunted Army of Northen VA in VA to win in the court of public opinion.

Respectfully,

Mike Peters

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Hi  I didnt know that there was another Tim Smith but I dare say that they know of each other.I'm hoping he'll have a book signing at the park as he has had with all his other books.iof release date holds maybe he'll have it on Confederate Memorial day.I'll let you know The guys at the Park are doing "School days " this week but I dont know how mucj as it's rained perobably 2" this am but I'm not compaining.so after they get this week behind them they'll begin to really get down to the Memorial Day's schedule.   mona

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Perry,  We made it fine there were significant winds and 3" rain but after last years drought I'm not complaining one bit as the streams and ponds have just now returned to normal levels.Just an update on the eaglets-They (I definately have seen the both ofv them)are about big hawk size and have lost their greyish down and have dark brown feathering.they are still being fed in the nest but do come out and sit on the nest's edge it wont be long that they''ll get out on a limb and then to the park staff's dread get down to the ground and walk around.I'll keep you all up on eagle watch   mona

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That's funny, I'm not that interested in the Eastern battlefields as I am about the Western right now. My wife and I stayed at a B&B in Vicksburg last month for an alone weekend without the kids and toured the battlefield. Maybe it's because it is in my backyard that the Western battlefields are drawing my attention.

So far this past Spring/Summer I've visited:

Battle of Corinth Interpretive Center and tour of the city

Shiloh (participated in Memorial Day event)

Fort Pillow/Fort Wright ammo bunker (tour)

Parkers Crossroads (participated in battle reenactment)

Vicksburg (tour)

Battle of Collierville is planned for November

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What did you think of Parker's Crossroads? I was disappointed with my experience because of all the noise from the interstate.

Another good site to visit is Brice's Crossroads. I want to get back there & document the graves in the Confederate Cemetery.

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Well considering I-40 runs right through the middle of the battlefield, you can't get into character and try to forget everything around you. I had to fight Union and almost laughed as I was firing from the split rail fence at a group of Rebs with tractor trailers going by in the distance behind them.........

 

It's close so I guess I can't complain too much. It's all privately owned by the Parkers Crossroads Battlefield Association so in the end we're lucky to even have it available to experience. Considering it wasn't really started to be preserved until 2001 and that there is over 295 acres now is something to be proud of.

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Those who study this great struggle but ignore the western war do so at their own peril.  Dyer's Compendium, Part 2, Tabular totals, is a total of all Battles, Engagements, Actions, Skirmishes, etc. in each state during the war:  1st Virginia 2154, 2nd Tenn. 1462, 3rd Missouri 1162, 4th Mississippi 772 and 5th Ark 771.

Jim

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