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Gettysburg College

Rudy

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Full-Text Articles in History

Bloody January: Adams County's Own Fall, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

Bloody January: Adams County's Own Fall, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

On a cold 10th of January, in the dark early hours of the morning, more disaster struck. Cole's Cavalry, the 1st Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry had seen nothing but disaster since January began. Cold air stung their noses, snow and freezing rain pelted their stand collars and soaked their saddles. Finally, the found rest in a camp atop Loudon Heights, with vast panoramic views of the Shenandoah and Potomac from the crest of the hill. [excerpt]


Gettysburg's New Dawn, 1864, John M. Rudy Jan 2014

Gettysburg's New Dawn, 1864, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The first few days of January are usually crisp and cold in Gettysburg. Sometimes there is frost or snow, sometimes not. Sometimes there is a bitter wind, sometimes not. Sometimes there is sun bleeding across the horizon and splashing a cloudless sky, sometimes there is not. But the new year here, like everywhere else, stands as a symbol of promise and hope for the future. [excerpt]


Another Real Gettysburg Address, 50 Years On, John M. Rudy Nov 2013

Another Real Gettysburg Address, 50 Years On, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The following address, “100 Years After Lincoln's Gettysburg Address” by E. Washington Rhodes, editor-publisher of the Philadelphia Tribune and president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, was delivered at exercises in the Gettysburg National Cemetery Tuesday afternoon:

“I consider it a great privilege to have been invited as a representative of the American Negro people to participate in an occasion of such national, historic importance, at this time of racial tension and unrest. This, then, is an historic moment of high honor and high drama, which will be forever cherished by the American Negro people, as they march with ...


Scalia: A Real Gettysburg Address, John M. Rudy Nov 2013

Scalia: A Real Gettysburg Address, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas, as he introduced the most potent speaker in Tuesday morning's ceremonies at Gettysburg, called it a, "special day," both in the lives of the handful of men and women raising their hands to take the oath of allegiance and become American citizens, but also, "in the life of our country." [excerpt]


It's Ok To Giggle: Colbert's Gettysburg Address, John M. Rudy Nov 2013

It's Ok To Giggle: Colbert's Gettysburg Address, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There hasn't been all that much righteous indignation from the lands of historians and the historically inclined public. I'd wager they just haven't noticed. I was a little surprised, to be honest. As soon as I hit play on Stephen Colbert's rendition of the Gettysburg Address, part of Ken Burns' Learn the Address marketing initiative for his upcoming documentary, I figured the flame war was inevitable. [excerpt]


Only Hindsight: Where Are The Historian Futurists?, John M. Rudy Oct 2013

Only Hindsight: Where Are The Historian Futurists?, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

A friend who is planning a pie-in-the-sky conference (about which I'm super excited) texted me today with a quick question. "Who would be a good 'Historian of the Future?'" he asked, adding the bonus that I could dream big. "Money no object," the next text read.

I was at a loss for a few minutes. Who is the historian of the future? Who is trying to visualize that skill-set, categorize that life, read the trends of the past and plot the course of history yet to come? [excerpt]


Martin L. Stoever: Moving His Abolition Needle, John M. Rudy Oct 2013

Martin L. Stoever: Moving His Abolition Needle, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Two letters appeared in the Lutheran and Missionary in the late summer of 1864 signed, "M.L.S."

The summer session had ended at Pennsylvania College. The campus was quiet, the classrooms were empty. For professors at the college, the brief breaks between semesters were a much-needed respite from the daily grind of professorial life. Any sane professor would use the few brief moments to unwind. [excerpt]


America's Pastime: Base Ball's Battlefields, John M. Rudy Oct 2013

America's Pastime: Base Ball's Battlefields, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Somewhere in a field just north of the Pennsylvania College campus, a hurler threw a ball to a striker. The air was undoubtedly crisp. Novembers in Gettysburg can be cool. The local papers were already predicting that the winter of 1865-66 would come on early and bitter. Standing on the bases, men readied to run home and score another point for their team. [excerpt]


Echoes On The Gettysburg Battlefield, John M. Rudy Oct 2013

Echoes On The Gettysburg Battlefield, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Back at the beginning of the summer, I was asked by the College to write a piece on the history of the battle and its many resonances for what turned out to be an obscure periodical and not the actual USA Today. That means next to no one got the chance to read the piece, which I was quite happy with. So I wanted to share that piece with all of you.

How does Gettysburg's unique history echo backwards and forwards? [excerpt]


Things Never Change: Piecing Together College Life, John M. Rudy Sep 2013

Things Never Change: Piecing Together College Life, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Sometimes you stumble on something on eBay you just can't pass up. It's that $6 buy that is awkward, odd and just a little out of your scope. But it's only $6. If you'd buy a burger for $6, you shouldn't pass up an original letter from 1835.

Every letter has a story. And each of those stories has its own drama, its own meaning, its own power. The mundanities of human life can be just as powerful as the battles and charges. [excerpt]


Birthday Party, Cheesecake, Jelly Bean, Boom: The Easy Sesquicentennial Ends, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

Birthday Party, Cheesecake, Jelly Bean, Boom: The Easy Sesquicentennial Ends, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

There's been a good deal of digital ink spilled recently over whether the sesquicentennial is over. A provocative question can erupt into a torrent of thought.

But those thoughts have been brewing in my mind for a while now, since the whirlwind here in Gettysburg died down to a dull roar from the fever pitch of a few weeks ago. The tourist tide has subsided. The streets are easier to drive.

But most importantly, the press inquiries have died away. Nearly every day of the anniversary week, I had an e-mail or a voice-mail asking me to help a ...


Finding The Good: An Emotional Anniversary, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

Finding The Good: An Emotional Anniversary, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I am an exacting judge of interpretive product. I realize this. My boss and I have had a few discussions about how both of our standards, sometimes, might be just a bit too high.

I still am not convinced that pure and utter excellence is not too much to ask for on every interpretive program. All too often, though, I don't find it.

When I do see amazing moments, it thrills me. I get outrageously excited. Through my entire experience as a visitor at the sesquicentennial celebration at Gettysburg, two programs stand out as verging on that sort of ...


Hopkins And Anthony: A Struggle Over Freedom, John M. Rudy Jul 2013

Hopkins And Anthony: A Struggle Over Freedom, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

This piece is the original draft of a piece I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer, which appeared last week as part of the paper's Gettysburg sesquicentennial coverage. Here's the full, uncut piece for your perusal.


There Is Still Time: Contingency And History, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

There Is Still Time: Contingency And History, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"...and it's all in the balance, it hasn't happened yet, it hasn't even begun yet, it not only hasn't begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstances which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave..."

William Faulkner's Intruder in the Dust has that beautifully evocative passage that anyone worth their salt contemplating a Pickett's Charge program has considered including in their ebb and flow. Faulkner was a master of language, and his passage about, "every Southern boy fourteen ...


George C. Wallace: Schoolhouse Door To Gettysburg, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

George C. Wallace: Schoolhouse Door To Gettysburg, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

In the days after his famed stand in the schoolhouse door, Alabama Governor George C. Wallace attended to the business at hand on his desk in Montgomery. Wallace served as chief executive in an office in the first home of the Confederacy. One of the things awaiting Wallace on his return from Tuscaloosa was a letter from Paul L. Roy of Gettysburg. [excerpt]


Inside The Resource: Interpreting Is Pointing At Things, John M. Rudy Jun 2013

Inside The Resource: Interpreting Is Pointing At Things, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

We preserve the places of the past for a very specific reason: they are places. They are physical manifestations of the past, either landscapes where that past was played out or the remnants of the people who made that past happen.

That was clear to me last week as I watched David Fox, one of Harpers Ferry's premier interpreters, twiddle a shaving mirror in the sunlight and shine a twinkling beam on the gravestone of Rev. Alexander Morrell in the cemetery at the end of Fillmore Street. [excerpt]


Sockdologizing: Finally Laughing At The Lincoln Assassination, John M. Rudy May 2013

Sockdologizing: Finally Laughing At The Lincoln Assassination, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I've taken solace in the fact that Abraham Lincoln died laughing. Sarah Vowell, in her riveting and powerful Assassination Vacation, speaks about how, "it is a comfort of sorts to know that the bullet hit Lincoln mid-guffaw. Considering how the war had weighed on him, at least his last conscious moment was a hoot." [excerpt]


The Semester Ends, The Semester Begins, John M. Rudy May 2013

The Semester Ends, The Semester Begins, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

It's finals week at Gettysburg College, but in another time, it was just the beginning of the oddest session of college just over 100 students would ever experience. Some would join the 26th PEMR, some would run home from the oncoming rebel hordes, and others would remain in Gettysburg, sitting in the cross-hairs of the war as the slowly rested on Adams County. [excerpt]


Virtual Sesquicentennial: #Invasion63 Goes Live, John M. Rudy May 2013

Virtual Sesquicentennial: #Invasion63 Goes Live, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I teased this project a short while ago, and now that May has arrived history has begun coming back to life. Over the next three months, the men and women who walked Gettysburg's streets and crossed the Pennsylvania College campus will reenact their lives in the last few moments before Gettysburg changed irrevocably. As May creeps along, more characters will rise from the grave and begin reliving the past. [excerpt]


Pennsylvania At Chancellorsville, But Headed Back Home, John M. Rudy May 2013

Pennsylvania At Chancellorsville, But Headed Back Home, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

With the anniversary of the battles around Fredericksburg this week, the Civil War world's eyes seem to be turned toward Chancellorsville and the battles there. Almost as a reflex, my mind has gone there too. I've been thinking about Simon Stein Wolf, the Gettysburgian who faced death at Chancellorsville only to find it terribly displayed in the days after. So today another excerpt from my manuscript, to start re-conceptualizing Chancellorsville through the eyes of a Pennsylvania College dropout. [excerpt]


Gettysburg's Other Unknown Soldier, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Gettysburg's Other Unknown Soldier, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

We all know the name Amos Humiston. We know he was found on the first day's field. We know he clutched the image of his three children, an unknown soldier until his wife Philinda Humiston saw her children peering back at her from a copy of that picture. We know his drama and the agony of Philinda, we know the heartbreak and horror.

But who's buried next to him? [excerpt]


Loyalty: Democracy And Gettysburg's Union League, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

Loyalty: Democracy And Gettysburg's Union League, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"The ball is rolling," the Sentinel crowed, "and it is no time now to faint or falter in the good and noble work of crushing rebels and traitors abroad and at home, and bringing back to its original glory our time-honored Union."

The Union would be saved, the Sentinel was sure, by the pure and sustained love and loyalty of her people. Gettysburg was showing her mettle in that department in the waning days of April 1863, as citizens gathered to follow the lead of others to the east in forming a Loyal Union League in the Adams county seat ...


On The Battleground At Gettysburg: A Journey To Remember, John M. Rudy Apr 2013

On The Battleground At Gettysburg: A Journey To Remember, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

I was very pleased to be one of the two speakers at Sunday night's inaugural "Journey to Remember" event sponsored by Gettysburg College. A group of students and community members trekked up the hill from the campus, resting on Oak Hill at the base of the Eternal Light Peace Memorial to hear myself and Janet Riggs, the college's President and a fellow alum. The student organizers asked me to place that place into historical context. [excerpt]


Tool Of Revolution, Piece Of The True Cross, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Tool Of Revolution, Piece Of The True Cross, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

One of my former students, brilliant researcher and Gettysburg College Senior Lauren Roedner has been pulling together an exhibit from the private collection of Angelo Scarlato, displayed in the display cases in Gettysburg College's Special Collections. The exhibit,Slaves, Soldiers, Citizens: African American Artifacts of the Civil War Era opens officially on Monday. But I was able to sneak a quick peak on Wednesday night of the exhibit-in-progress. [excerpt]


Choice Poetry: Valiant Manhood's Flinch, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Choice Poetry: Valiant Manhood's Flinch, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Throughout the war, the front page of Gettysburg's newspapers, regardless of your political stripe, had an evergreen column. Poetry graced the upper left corner each week. Sometimes raucous, often love-lorn, chiefly patriotic, the poems must have buoyed many a Pennsylvanian spirit as America floundered in the depth of Civil War.

Most of the poems were mainstream schmaltz, passed from paper to paper as each editor read a line or two he liked and thought his readers might appreciate. The poems spread like a particularly odd malignant cancer from organ to organ. [excerpt]


Loading Chekhov’S Gun In 9-Times: The Fundamental Disconnect In Historical Interpretation, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Loading Chekhov’S Gun In 9-Times: The Fundamental Disconnect In Historical Interpretation, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

Thursday night brings into Gettysburg an avalanche of historians (both public and academic) to discuss the Future of Civil War History for a whole weekend. That means I'll be taking some annual leave from work and participating in a working-group investigating "Training Seasonal Historians in the Age of Holding the High Ground." It's still unclear who will be able to attend our panel thanks to sequestration and a moratorium on NPS travel. Still, those of us who can make it will soldier on. [excerpt]


Shattered By War: The Huber Family, John M. Rudy Mar 2013

Shattered By War: The Huber Family, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

The tale of Sergent Frederick Huber is relatively well known. The young man, fighting at the battle of Fair Oaks, was struck by three rounds, the final a bullet through his breast that quickly sapped him of his life. The Adams Sentinel reported the incident in the early summer days of 1862, underlining Frederick's bravery in the face of the great beyond. "Tell Father," he reportedly said with his dying breath, according to the Sentinel, "I have died for my country." [excerpt]


“A Time To Be Born, And A Time To Die.”, John M. Rudy Feb 2013

“A Time To Be Born, And A Time To Die.”, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"While surgeons were well acquainted with the horrors of a field hospital in the aftermath of a grand battle like Gettysburg, the civilians of the North were woefully unprepared for the carnage at play in the halls of their local institutions and homes until it presented itself in full-colored glory in front of their very eyes. Senior Michael Colver finally picked his way down the long slope of Cemetery Hill, across the borough and onto the campus of his alma mater on Monday the 6th of July. “On our arrival,” he recalled, “we found in and around the building, according ...


Consumptive Use History, John M. Rudy Feb 2013

Consumptive Use History, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

It's been five years since I was living in DC and working at the Lincoln Cottage. I don't often talk about my short stint in DC at American University (let's just say that the University and I didn't quite mesh philosophically) and working with the National Trust for Historic Preservation at President Lincoln's Cottage right as the site was opening. My time at the cottage was a blip on the radar; barely any digital footprints still exist from then. [excerpt]


In Plain Black And White: Race & Gettysburg, Winter 1863, John M. Rudy Feb 2013

In Plain Black And White: Race & Gettysburg, Winter 1863, John M. Rudy

Interpreting the Civil War: Connecting the Civil War to the American Public

"Kinkyheads," the Gettysburg Compiler gleefully quipped at the bottom of a column in its February 23rd edition, "is the new title used for Abolitionists." This was, of course, "in contradiction to 'Copperheads.'"

Race was the live wire of Gettysburg's political scene. For the roughly 10% of the borough's population that was black, that live wire must have shocked daily. [excerpt]