2013 is the 150th anniversary of one of the most important events in United States history: the Union victory at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I like military history because it is filled with interesting stories. The great writers – Shelby Foote, Bruce Catton, John Keegan, James McPherson – can spin a yarn around what would otherwise be boring details. The stories are useful in talking about the other things that are going on in a country: why did the Civil War occur, what was behind the American Revolution, etc. They are also excellent examples of the success and failure of individuals, of leaders, of the influence of technology, and much more. War is a thread that runs through modern history and can be a jumping off point for learning about other aspects of history.
We made our way south this year to be in Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary. On the way, we visited another great Civil War battlefield – Antietam – and visited a variety of sites, including Boston, related to the American War of Independence.