History ETDs


Michael Burns

Publication Date



In the 150 years since the start of the U.S. Civil War, historians and laypeople alike have debated the causes and conduct of the war. Through the acceptance of the Confederate veterans memorial school the Lost Cause that led to reunification in the late nineteenth century, the memory of the Civil War and the actual events became indistinguishable. This blurring carried over into the work of interpretation at national Civil War battlefield and military parks. Although numerous historians have tackled the issues between Civil War memory and the national parks, and the connection to reunification, the majority have examined only the five original Civil War sites—Chickamauga-Chattanooga, Antietam, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Shiloh National Parks. By examining the history of Manassas National Battlefield Park in Manassas, Virginia—a National Park Service site created after the turn of the twentieth century and one that preserves two Confederate victories—since the conclusion of the first battle, a more complex story between memory and public interpretation arises. Instead of a story of reconciliation between the North and South, one finds a narrative of sectional tensions that remained even after the country reunified. Although the National Park Service has attempted to fight against Lost Cause interpretation there since its establishment in 1940, the legacy of its use of a shrine to Confederate history and memory shows that the sectionalism of Civil War memory still exists in some facets of Civil War interpretation.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Ball, Durwood

Second Committee Member

Smith, Jason Scott



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