Who Else but President Lincoln to Provide Some Perspective?





Carlos provided an inspiring commemorative reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address in the Gettysburg National Cemetery. Stove pipe hat atop his head, Carlos read from a written copy of Lincoln’s address and it really put the trip into perspective for me…


“…The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Our group of adventurers took note of two soldiers in particular and learned a lot about them. They are excellent templates to use to analyze other soldiers we come across in future studies. The soldiers also provided an excellent context to understand the war and how, when and why it was fought. Furthermore, it is interesting that both were heavily invested in how the war would be remembered.  For example, Mitchell fought to preserve the memory of his actions before his death in 1868. Watrous, who lived to 1922,  fought to preserve his comrade’s memory through monuments and printed stories.

But there are lingering questions to be asked, discussed and debated in class and our next Adventure:
  • Did Watrous concentrate his efforts on those who fought the war and why it was fought? Does it matter?
  • Can we say affirmatively what was “the Cause” the north fought for? Was it union or slavery? We found out Mitchell was an abolitionist, as were the Rankin boys and many generals generals such as Dan Sickles.
  • Were these Abolitionist Yankees in the minority and did they gain converts after the Emancipation Proclamation made the war about slavery? Or was their position all the more difficult to maintain?
  • What about the South and their causes for fighting. What role did slavery play for a “typical” southern soldier.
  • How did the Lost Cause play a role in how the war was remembered in the south and the nation as a whole? What are examples of reconciliation and retribution after the war?
  • How is slavery interpreted at southern historic sites such as a plantation? How does it compare to what we learned at the Rankin House?

Thank you for an excellent trip and I am already planning next year’s adventure!


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