On A Great Battlefield

The Making, Management, and Memory of Gettysburg National Military Park, 1933–2023

  • Author(s): Jennifer M. Murray
  • Series:
  • Imprint: University of Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2023-06-27
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Paper: Price $29.95 | Buy Now

Of the more than seventy sites associated with the Civil War era that the National Park Service manages, none hold more national appeal and recognition than Gettysburg National Military Park. Welcoming more than one million visitors annually from across the world, the National Park Service at Gettysburg holds the enormous responsibility of preserving the war’s most “hallowed ground.” In On a Great Battlefield, Jennifer M. Murray chronicles the administration of the National Park Service and how it educates the public about the battle and the Civil War as a whole since it acquired the site in August 1933.

Originally published in 2014, this revised edition includes a new preface that updates the story of the Park for the battle’s 160th anniversary. The last ten years underscore how political and social upheavals are reflected in the Park. Management has been challenged in many ways, including by the Black Lives Matter movement and the need for a more comprehensive interpretation of the war, the rise of a reactionary white nationalist element that holds fast to Confederate symbolism at Gettysburg, and the COVID-19 outbreak that briefly caused visitation to plummet and has resulted in more restricted access. Despite the seeming permanence of landscapes and monuments, this book reveals that the battlefield and our understanding of it are always changing and evolving.

Jennifer M. Murray, teaching associate professor of history at Oklahoma State University, is the author of The Civil War Begins. She is currently working on a biography of George Gordon Meade.