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Archives for Civil War

The Unknown Dead

Driving to New York last week, I took a detour to see the Confederate cemetery in Hagerstown, Maryland.  It’s a cemetery within a cemetery, a special section inside the municipal cemetery but with its own gate and boundary markers and monument. The cemetery owes its existence largely to the battle of Antietam, which left thousands [...]

The Roll of Honor

Update July 20, 2014: If you read the post below, you would know that I got my nose bent out of joint by Fold3’s “Honor Wall” and its inclusion of Confederate veterans.  But this was unfair: I had conveniently forgotten that Fold3 was simply following federal policy dating back to 1929.  My apologies (from a [...]

Requiem for a monument

This morning I photographed the final stage of demolition of Richard Neutra’s 1961 visitor center at Gettysburg.  The building was commissioned by the National Park Service to be the flagship structure of its Mission 66 campaign, a hugely ambitious program to expand and modernize its park system and visitor facilities for the 50th anniversary of [...]

“His Bible, knife, fork, and spoon were found upon the field…” Memorial Day, 2012

Yesterday my daughter and I ended up in Frankfort Springs, Pa., in Beaver County, a mostly rural and working-class county in western Pennsylvania that voted for McCain in 2008. In the nineteenth century Frankfort Springs was a thriving resort town known for its mineral waters and its prep school. Today it’s a mostly forgotten place, [...]

Why We Fight, How We Die

Lately I have been reading a very particular 19th-century genre, which has no counterpart today: the memorial volumes published to record the dedication of local soldier monuments after the Civil War.  Everyone of these volumes has its share of pathos, but one stands out as especially gut-wrenching.  The volume produced by Hingham, Massachusetts took six years [...]