Traveling to the battlefields | News, Sports, Jobs

Robert Roffulo

Submitted photo Battlefield sites feature cannons, monuments and extensive collections of reading material. They’ve been preserved for many years by the National Park Service. MARSHALL — The American Civil War is more than just a chapter of history for Sam Pauley. Together with her parents, Jerry […]


Submitted photo
Battlefield sites feature cannons, monuments and extensive collections of reading material. They’ve been preserved for many years by the National Park Service.

MARSHALL — The American Civil War is more than just a chapter of history for Sam Pauley.

Together with her parents, Jerry and Marla Pauley, she enjoys vacation trips to Civil War battlefields and historic sites. She’s been to almost every major site in the past decade.

Her interest in the Civil War dates back to a visit to the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania when she was 9 years old. Since then, she’s read many history books and biographies that feature the war’s people, places and ideas.

“I want to learn as much as I can about it,” Sam said. “In the past few years that’s included traveling to the battlefields. I’ve gone back to some of them more than once because I’ve learned new things every time.”

In 2015, she and her father attended the 150th anniversary re-enactment of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in Virginia. A planned visit to Fort Sumter in South Carolina in 2018 was stopped by a hurricane but was completed the following year.

This summer they took a trip to Vicksburg, Mississippi, where they saw many preserved locations that commemorate the historic 1863 siege.

“Vicksburg is different from most of the sites,” Jerry said. “It’s a city with houses and trees. It was a siege rather than a battle.”

They said most of the battle sites have extensive reading material that explains details of the days in which Union and Confederate armies met on the battlefield.

They all reflect how armies of the time period “marched into battle” by marching forward until the front lines met up. They also have observances from individual soldiers who were part of each battle.

Visiting a battlefield, even more than 150 years later, leads to a sense of what soldiers and civilians experienced on the days they took center stage in the Civil War.

“It’s very interesting to read about their perspectives,” Sam said. “Being at the historic sites creates a connection. It gives me a sense of what it must have been like for them.”

She said some of the most prolific diary and letter writers of the Civil War era are quoted at several or more locations. Their accounts add up to first-person views of the war’s front lines.

Along with the battle itself, information points to suffering that occurred afterward, as many wounded soldiers died of infections, pneumonia, internal bleeding and other complications.

“Only a small share of them died during the battle,” Jerry said. “Many of their wounds were in the arms and legs. A lot of the deaths were from the lack of doctors. With the best medical treatment, many of them would have lived.”

Sam plans to continue taking Civil War vacations every several years, and hopes that they continue to be family activities. At some point she’d like to introduce her nephews and niece to her interest in the Civil War time period.

They’re thankful for the many years of historic preservation coordinated by the National Park Service. They said it’s helped to ensure that details of Civil War history will remain accessible to future generations of Americans.

“It’s important that it’s accurately remembered,” Jerry said. “It’s still part of our identity, especially for people in the South. There’s still a strong public interest.”



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