Battles on the Homefront: Battlefield Reclamation and Interpretive Challenges at Civil War Historic Sites

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Finch, Rachael
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Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis examines the twenty-first-century push for battlefield reclamation in the context of the broader historic preservation movement, discusses new avenues for present and future battlefield reclamation activities, and reviews decision processes and strategies with the central focus placed on interpretive issues at Civil War historic sites. Public and private partnerships, formed between historical and heritage organizations, allow cities and state entities to determine the issues of urban encroachment, funding, interpretation and the scope of the landscape to be preserved. These challenges for the twenty-first century battlefield reclamation may be solved through strong, viable partnerships that serve as the catalyst for local preservation efforts to continue.
Examining the Franklin battlefield landscape, as the primary case study juxtaposed with the Vicksburg National Military Park, will detail how past preservation efforts of these battlefields or lack thereof, leads to a narrow interpretation of the whole story. Instilling the best practices approach will make these sites viable and sustain historic resources for the good of their communities. The challenge remaining for heritage and historical communities and their partners will be to determine who will manage the land and more importantly, what the future holds for continued preservation efforts and the authenticity of shared histories on the battlefield landscape.