Monday, February 21, 2011
Earthwork Preservation and Protection: Lessons of the past in consideration of the future.
The Civil War Roundtable of Franklin,
Virginia, on November 12, 1957, stand posed directly on the Bloody Angle, at the point where the Union line is conjoined with the Confederate parapet. To the left of the group is NPS historian, Ralph Happel, who had served as their guide at the adjacent contact station, not visible in this image. The view is looking east, along the face of the Salient. Note the large cedar tree looming immediately to their backs at right. This photograph is from the archives of the F&SNMP.
The same spot, fifty-four years later. The Bloody Angle is protected from most intrusive pedestrian incursions by virtue of this wooden bridge, due to be removed at some point in the very near future. Previous posts on this blog, here, here, and here, have covered the construction of a new bridge futher down the line. Note the stump of the large cedar tree at right middle, immediately to this side of the bridge. The cedar was removed a few years ago to help restore the unobscured vista of the Bloody Angle, to that which the soldiers would have experienced. The cedar tree had been planted in the early days of the park as an ill-conceived landscaping measure, one of the conflicts of "battlefield park" versus "natural park" philosophies.
Sparingly placed, so as to to be themselves non intrusive, signs such as these are designed to instill a discipline within the visitor to be mindful of the resource's delicate condition. Sadly, this does escape the consciousness of many, and on a daily basis a casual observer will witness numerous, shocking examples.
The question for the future must now be, "Will the park visitor dutifully follow the new trail system, or will they feel unflinchingly compelled to veer from the path and walk on the earthworks?" The future will tell.