Making Sense of the American Civil War

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Date: January 23, 2013
Contact: James C. Bailey, 410-962-4290 Ext. 206

Engage in the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War by "enlisting" in a special Civil War Discussion series!

The National Park Service at Fort McHenry National Monument & Historic Shrine will host a FREE, eight-part reading and discussion series called "Making Sense of the American Civil War." "They say the pen is mightier than the sword, however, in this case the pen is helping readers to understand why Americans took to the sword in the bloodiest conflict of our history," says Fort McHenry Chief of Interpretation Vincent Vaise.

Fort McHenry NM & HS is one of more than 150 sites nationwide to host the series, developed by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support provided by the Maryland Humanities Council.

"This is a meaningful way to appreciate and more fully understand the American Civil War during is Sesquicentennial," says Park Ranger James Bailey.

Programs will be held at Fort McHenry NM & HS and Hampton National Historic Site with a special free tour at the Maryland Historical Society. Reading materials are loaned free of charge. There are 25 sets on a first-come, first-served basis. If the park runs out, people can still participate as the books are easily obtainable at local libraries and bookstores.

For details or to register for this free program, please contact Ranger Jim Bailey by February 6 at

"This is going to be really out of the box for the participants as the discussions will be held in the park after the park is closed to the general public. We will also give three exclusive tours at night, have a free raffle to add more fun and come summer, all those who participate will get VIP seating at a special ceremony in the fort," says Vaise.

Discussions will be held every other Thursday evening from 6:30 - 8:00 pm beginning February 7 and ending May 16. Participants are expected to attend each session.  Participants receive VIP seating for a special evening Civil War Tattoo Ceremony on August 3.

Discussions will be held on the following works:

- "March" by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, 2006)
- "Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam" by James McPherson (Oxford University Press, 2002)
- "America's War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries", an anthology of historical fiction, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biography, and short stories, edited by national project scholar Edward L. Ayers and co-published by NEH and ALA.

National Park Service Rangers from Fort McHenry NM & HS will lead a discussion of the book at each session.


Session 1
Date: February 7
Location: Hampton NHS
Detail: Pick-up reading material and tour of Hampton

Session 2
Date: February 21
Location: Hampton NHS
Detail: "Imaging War" - "March" by Geraldine Brooks & America's War Anthology, Part One

Session 3
Date: March 7
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: Civil War Tour of Fort McHenry

Session 4
Date: March 21
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: "Choosing Sides" - "America's War Anthology," Part Two

Session 5
Date: April 4
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: "Making Sense of Shiloh" - "America's War Anthology," Part Three

Session 6
Date: April 18
Location: MD Historical Society
Detail: Tour of MdHS Civil War Exhibit

Session 7 (subject to change)
Date: May 2 (subject to change)
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: "The Shape of War" - "Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam" by James McPherson, America's War Anthology, Part Four

Session 8
Date: May 16
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: "War and Freedom" - "America's War Anthology," Part Five

Date: August 3 - Civil War Tattoo Ceremony 6-8 p.m.
Location: Fort McHenry NMHS
Detail: Participants receive VIP seating for special evening Civil War Tattoo Ceremony


Last updated: February 26, 2015

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