Battlefield Tip: Bring Photos

by Scott Manning on March 15, 2011

Last summer, I needed an extra set of visuals for friends, as I dragged them to Gettysburg, mentioned 20 different names they never heard before, and then spent the rest of the trip reminding them why each name was important. Civil War enthusiasts tend to know many of the generals down to the corps level, but the average American struggles with anything past Lee, Stonewall, Grant, and Sherman. I printed up a bunch of photos with names and flags, making it easier for me talk about scenarios and personalities on the battlefield. To make them last longer, I laminated them with some self-adhesive sheets.

Laminated photos of Civil War generals

More laminated photos of Civil War generals

These have become tremendously useful, as I will refer to generals and events of the battle throughout the tour. People tend to remember faces. So while I may mention Longstreet for the third time, a visual cue makes a world of difference between a confused look and a moment of clarity. As someone spends less time trying to remember names, the overall trip becomes more enjoyable for them.

I have seen park rangers use photos in their talks loads of time, so I do not know why it took me so long to make my own. The results were so positive on trips to Gettysburg that I created sets for other battlefields.

As for laminating tips, there are loads of brands available, but you cannot go wrong with the 8.5×11″ Scotch sheets. I used two generals per sheet.

Laminated Sheets

They are extremely durable. After multiple trips to Gettysburg, Antietam, and the Fredericksburg area, I have yet to destroy one. I even spent some time in the rain with them.

Do you use photos while you provide tours for people on battlefields or other historical sites? Tell me about it.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John Buchanan March 22, 2011 at 1:02 PM

I do the same.

I also do the Order of Battle with the commanders’ photos down to corps/division/brigade level depending on the battle. I do this for both my Revolutionary War and Civil War walks.

I do the same with maps.

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2 Scott Manning March 22, 2011 at 2:10 PM

John, do you pull out photos throughout, depending on your location or do you do one initial presentation at the beginning and put the photos away for the rest of the walk?

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