Discussion: Legal Battle Continues Over Revolutionary War Battlefield

Discussion for article #243723

A people who destroy their own history, for greed or folly, have no idea where they have been.
And they will never know where it is that they are going.


Greed always trumps all things. Sad that these so-called “learned” individuals cannot see the folly of their proposed actions – actions that will forever destroy the value of this great, historical site. Sheer madness. Disgusting as well.

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Have you ever spent much time at old battlefields? They are just a bunch of fields. Go to Valley Forge. Hundreds of acres, 5 or 6 monuments, very boring. The only battlefield that I have been to which is at all worth preserving is Gettysburg. The diorama is helpful there. But most civil war, Revolutionary War, WWI and WWII battlefields are extremely uninteresting.

It would be far better to build the faculty housing (which is probably desperately needed for poorly paid faculty) and to include a commemorative section about the battle.

It is not clear what a battlefield has to do with history. History is documentation, not fields.


Have you been there? How big is it? What SPECIFICALLY about the battlefield is “preservable”?


I’m with you. I’ve never bought into the notion of “hallowed ground,” which seems like ignorant superstition. If being able to view the site actually improves one’s understanding of what happened, and why it was important, then preserving the site might make some sense. But most of these battlefields really are just flat dirt, and what happened there a couple of centuries ago doesn’t magically transform them into anything other than flat dirt.

I lived in Virginia for many years, and if you tried to preserve every chunk of land where some fighting took place, there would be precious few businesses or houses in the state. Even the “big name” battlefield parks tend to be valued not because of the history of what happened there, but because they’re bucolic settings in the midst of otherwise hectic suburban sprawl.


That might be enough, right there

Well yes, but the Institute for Advanced Studies already has a wonderful woodland, with walking paths, a nice little suspension bridge, and so on. I don’t think this particular field offers much.

We’ve heard this line before, we must destroy _______ to save it… however it just never works out that way… $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ is all that counts.

Go to Petersburg and you will see for example opposing trenches but yards apart. You see exactly why the Battle at the Crater was so bloody… you may read about it but by walking the grounds you begin to understand the hell that occurred, words never can adequately describe actuality.


I don’t think every site of every skirmish of every war in America needs to be preserved but I do thing the location of major battles rate preservation. In Montana we have only one really major battlefield and that of course is the Little Bighorn (which as battles go was strictly a small affair). But the field itself has a certain terrible ambience and attracts hordes of tourists (including Asian tourists) in the summer. It has never struck me as ‘just a bunch of fields’, but a real evocation of what transpired there in 1876. Perhaps it is the markers indicating where both soldiers and native Americans fell that contributes to the atmosphere and is far more than just flat dirt. It may also be that a large state like Montana historical land preservation is just not the issue it is back east.

I’ve been to many battlefields, and, done right like at Gettysburg, it can be important. As you say, if every part of VA that had a battle was preserved, that would be a lot. Some years ago, we visited Antietam on July 4, when the park was preparing for the July 4 concert. We did manage to get out and walk around. Even though I know about the battle, the specific bridge which saw the loss of thousands of lives was just a small bridge. OK, important, but without the context of knowledge of the battle, not much there. Bunker Hill the same - the monument has the diorama to show the battle, it’s on a hill, but amazingly, there are no dead people there any more.

I would support the development of some kind of memorial within the housing. Just keeping a big field? Waste of space in a highly crowded part of the country.

Many people at this site are just reflexively irate - anything which is written up automatically gets “the horror - how can they be so cruel/unnatural/unfeeling” and “those heartless conservative monsters”. It’s kind of silly, really.

Yeah, that’s an important battlefield, and also one of the very few “Indian war” battlefields to be preserved. Partially because it was not simply a slaughter of women and children which happened in many. Couple other points: Montana is a big empty place, with a lot of room. Saving a battlefield of 40 acres or so is not a huge cost. In Princeton, on the other hand, open space is much harder to come by. Also Little Big Horn is and always was public space, owned by the Feds. The Princeton area is privately owned. Finally, I agree that the key is the interpretation via the markers. Without those markers, the meaning would be a lot less apparent.

I am a big history fan. I’m just not a huge fan of preserving empty fields.

Um you must have never been to the Little Bighorn, the battlefield is huge (as large as some of the battlefields I visited back east), covering much of the movements of that day. It is a few miles across at the very least. But in a sparsely populated state not a lot of controversy associated with preservation and like you said most of it is federal land (although the Crow Reservation surrounds the Little Bighorn battlefield).

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Nope, not actually visited, although I do live in SD, and it would be a short 9-10 hour drive from our house. Might get there next summer, who knows.

Maybe they could build opposing buildings in say, brown and blue with gun turrets?

Get Christie to ‘cone it off’ from development?

Yeppers, just what we need–more housing developments with the associated strip malls, gas stations, liquor stores, maybe a gun shop.

See kids, the battlefield was right were the MickyD, the Taco Bell, and the Big Effing Bob’s Liquor and Cigarettes is.

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Historic sites are not supposed to be amusement parks with souvenir stands.
They aren’t there for entertainment.

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Because once it’s gone, it’s gone. The original schooner America survived until the 1950’s, but it was allowed to rot away and is no more. You can build a dozen replicas, but none of them are original. Yeah, I know, who cares? Just a pile of wood.
Sorry about the poorly paid faculty. Maybe if the Institute had less of an Edifice Complex they could pay them enough to live in a decent house a short commute away. Or telecommute–it’s a new century, remember? Einstein, Oppenheimer, Turing, sure–but what have they done lately?
History is indeed documentation, and re-evaluation of same. Len Deighton described walking the ground of the battlefields of 1940 and realizing that the historians who’d written about those battles had never seen the actual places where the fighting took place.