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An Interview With Historian Gary Adelman

Garry E. Adelman, a graduate of Michigan State University and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, is the award-winning author, co-author or editor of 20 books and 50 Civil War articles. He is the vice president of the Center for Civil War Photography and has been a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg for 25 years. He has conceived and drafted the text for wayside exhibits at ten battlefields, has given thousands of battlefield tours at more than 60 sites and has lectured at hundreds of locations across the country including the National Archives, the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. He has appeared as a speaker on the BBC, C-Span, Pennsylvania Cable Network, American Heroes Channel, and on HISTORY where he was a chief consultant and talking head on the Emmy Award-winning show Gettysburg (2011), Blood and Glory: The Civil War in Color (2015), and Grant (2020). He works full time as Chief Historian at the American Battlefield Trust.

1. Why do you think the Western Theater is important?

It fed the Confederacy, allowed for water-based transport and communications, allowed the Confederacy to exist as a whole instead of as disparate parts, and Union successes there made the Anaconda Plan work and prevented the above.

2. In your years of research, what was the most surprising information you found about the Western Theater?

Mine is simple and did not take years of research, but it's simply the way that campaigns of the west favored Union efforts via the path of waterways and how the reverse is true in the east.

3. What Civil War general do you see yourself most like, and why?

Well, I suppose I should pick someone from the west so let's think--I need to pick someone rather excitable and wiry, and who when armed with good information is willing to take risks--sounds like Emerson Opdycke to me! I hope the similarities end there though--he only lived to 54, though, and I'm 53 ...


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