Our Country's Fiery Ordeal
A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)
Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.
"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Rangering at Gettysburg
I have some big news that I have been holding off on sharing for quite some time. Now, because the summer sesaon is fast approaching, this seems like as good a time as any to post about it on here. Starting on May 19, I will be working as a park ranger at Gettysburg National Military Park for the 2013 season!
For most of the winter, I was uncertain whether I would have any NPS work this year at all. In fact, for awhile it appeared as though I was done with the Park Service due to sequestration. Then, in late March, I found out I would be coming back to Antietam, and the next day I was offered a seasonal position at Gettysburg for the summer. Thankfully, because I work for some great people, I was able to arrange things so that I am working at both parks this year. Lots of prayers were answered, to be sure.
Needless to say, I am very excited about this. I will be at Gettysburg from May 19 to mid-August, when I will be returning to Antietam for the fall. Thus, I will be able to work at Gettysburg for their 150th anniversary and be back in time for Antietam's 151st!
Working at Gettysburg has long been a dream of mine, along with working at Antietam. This year, I am blessed to say I will be working at both parks. When I was younger I went on many, many trips to the Gettysburg battlefield, more trips there in fact than I made to Antietam. I still remember how excited I was every time we drove into Gettysburg on Route 30, seeing the First Day battlefield when coming in from the west, seeing the statues of Reynolds and Buford along the road, knowing that in just a few minutes I would be out of the car and on the battlefield. My blue Union kepi hat saw lots of use on many of those trips. I would always try to pick up a cool new book or a cool new Union uniform piece every time as a souvenir of the trip. I remember one trip where Dad and I packed up the van to go camping near the battlefield, only to have the van break down on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on our way there. Dad was not deterred, though; he got a rental car, we continued on, and spent the weekend camping, cooking out, and hiking all around Gettysburg. I'm sure it wasn't fun for Dad having to deal with a non functioning car, but I still remember it fondly today.
Several years ago, in 2008, Dad and I made a trip to Gettysburg during the summer between my Junior and Senior year at Hillsdale. That summer, I was trying to make some big decisions about my future. I had recently read David McCullough's biography of John Adams for the first time, and was so moved and inspired that I decided that some day I wanted to write a book about American history as well. During that trip in 2008, I decided that I was going to try to be a professional historian. I told Dad on that trip that no matter what, I wanted to go back to Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary of the battle to at least be there for the events. Now, not only will I be there, but I will be working as a Park Ranger. A dream come true.
I also remember going to Gettysburg (with a side trip to Antietam) in 2009 with my Mom. My grandpa had recently taken a turn for the worse with his lymphoma, and the trip Mom and I took to Gettysburg that summer was the bright spot of our year. The rest of the year we spent at Grandpa's house caring for him every day until he passed in late October, but for a few days we got to spend some quality Mom and son time together in Gettysburg, enjoying Civil War history the way we have done since I was a kid.
Thus, you see, I have some very special memories of going to Gettysburg throughout the years, and those memories only make it so much more special that I will be able to work there as a park ranger this summer. I am incredibly blessed.
Gettysburg starts one week from tomorrow, so I am spending all my spare time either working on my Kennesaw Mountain book or reading up on Gettysburg. There will hopefully be many new blog posts and topics on here relating to Gettysburg and the 150th commemorations there this year. I am thoroughly thrilled at this new opportunity. Antietam has been my home for the past few years, and I am very glad I am here now and will be back in the fall, but I am also very excited to be branching out to Gettysburg in the year of their sesquicentennial.