Dr. Lesley Gordon took her Civil War class (HY 315) and UA History grad students on a tour of Vicksburg National Military Park this past March. They were joined by Dr. Susannah Ural and some of her students from the University of Southern Mississippi as well as UA and Southern Mississippi ROTC members. Park rangers and graduate students, such as UA History PhD students Brian Martin and Trace Brusco, co-led the tour. Undergraduate students also presented about the battle at various tour sites.
Undergraduate Shelby Stokes remarked that the trip was “fantastic” and singled out the Shirley House as a tour highlight: I thought the Shirley house was a really interesting stop on our trip. The Shirley family lived at Vicksburg and owned slaves but remained loyal to the Union. Their home was on the battlefield so they had to evacuate to a cave nearby to escape the battle and avoid getting hurt.”
Brian Martin, who helped Dr. Gordon plan the tour, stressed the importance of experiential learning through such trips: “Sitting in a classroom, things can sometimes seem detached from reality or from the present, but witnessing historical sites dispels you of that idea.” He also commented on how battlefield tours augment other mediums of historical knowledge: “Books and maps can tell you a lot, but you can gain a much different—and in many ways better—understanding of some events by experiencing the place where it happened.”
Students gained a valuable and enjoyable lesson in historical interpretation and increased their historical knowledge through the Vicksburg tour. This trip was sponsored by the Charles G. Summersell Chair of Southern History.