Monday, January 23, 2017

Chickamauga, Shiloh, Vicksburg: Seminar to look at park histories and their roles today

Missouri monument at Vicksburg (NPS photo)

Ever-evolving views on monuments, battlefield preservation and Civil War memory will be covered in this year’s seminar held in conjunction with the Chickamauga Civil War Show.

"Written in Blood and Carved in Stone: Remembering the Civil War at Chickamauga, Shiloh and Vicksburg" is the title of the Feb. 4 Western Theater colloquium put on by the Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia. It’s set for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Dalton Convention Center, 2211 Dug Gap Battle Road.

There’s a lot to tackle at the program, with three scholars looking at “how the nation's earliest military parks came into existence, how each contributed to the memory of the war, and how their commemoration of the historic landscape changed over time.”

First up (9:15 a.m.) will be Jim Ogden, chief historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. He will speak about that site in northwest Georgia and Chattanooga, Tenn.

Author Timothy B. Smith, who teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin, will focus on Shiloh (10 a.m.). Part of his talk will be about 150 years of battlefield preservation since the Civil War, he told the Picket.

His upcoming book, “Altogether Fitting and Proper: Civil War Battlefield Preservation in History, Memory, and Policy, 1861–2015” (University of Tennessee Press), according to one review, “combines a detailed accounting of federal, state, and private activity with an instructive critique of the role post-Civil War racism played in affecting and influencing various preservation efforts. Tim Smith reminds us, in very concrete ways, of the malleable nature of Civil War memory.”

Smith also writes about the conflict between preservationists and commercial developers, the evolution of public policy on the management of parks and the ways the conflict has been remembered over the years.

At 11 a.m., historian and curator Michael Panhorst will speak on '"Vicksburg National Military Park: The Art Park of the South."

“I plan to address how and why Vicksburg National Military Park was created, what it contributes to the memory of the war and how the park and its meaning have changed over time,” Panhorst said.

The author has written about the evolution of battlefield monuments. In an article for Essential Civil War Curriculum, Panhorst showed their emphasis went from remembering the fallen and survivors to, in many cases, reconciliation. He discusses how Southern states eventually began funding monuments. He notes the first battlefield monument to African-Americans was erected at Vicksburg in 2004.

Panhorst also has interest in the design, architecture and artistry of Civil War monuments. His 2015 work, “The Memorial Art and Architecture of Vicksburg National Military Park” (Kent State University Press) says most dedicated at the park by 1920 were built in the classical revival Beaux-Arts style.

The lectures will be followed by a discussion panel from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The talks in the lecture hall on the upper level of the trade center are free. To learn more about the colloquium or other Bandy Heritage Center programs, contact project director Brian Hilliard at or at (706) 272-4452.

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