He has led it for a number of Princeton classes but never before opened its riches to the entire alumni body. Join legendary Princeton historian James M. McPherson April 10-12, 2015, on an exploration of Gettysburg — perhaps the most sought-after Princeton alumni experience.
According to Professor McPherson: "Gettysburg was the largest and most important battle of the American Civil War, with a total of about 50,000 casualties (killed, wounded, and captured) among the 165,000 soldiers on both sides who fought there. In fact, it was the largest battle in the history of the Western Hemisphere. It frustrated General Robert E. Lee's hopes for a decisive victory that might have forced the Lincoln administration to negotiate a peace which would have recognized Confederate independence, and it inflicted so much damage on the Army of Northern Virginia that it was no longer capable of the striking power that had characterized its campaigns during the previous year."
During the Journey, travel the course of the battle from the initial clashes west and north of town; the savage fighting in the fields south of town and at Culp’s and Cemetery Hills east of town; the clash of cavalry farther east and more fighting at Culp's Hill; historic Pickett's Charge; and finish the tour with a visit to the site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address four months after the battle. Walk the group of humble landmarks that the battle made famous: the Peach Orchard, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, Little Round Top and the so-called "High Water Mark of the Confederacy" at the crest of Cemetery Ridge.
Please note: When Professor McPherson leads a Princeton Journeys program, it is a sure sell-out. As such, with a cap of 90 for this program, we are limiting enrollment to only Princeton undergraduate and graduate alumni and one traveling companion each.
James M. McPherson joined the Princeton faculty in 1962 and transferred to emeritus status in 2004 as the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Emeritus. He was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 for his single-volume treatment of the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War earned him the prestigious Lincoln Prize in 1998. In 2007 he became the recipient of the first Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
Over his 42 years spent at the University and even now in his official retirement, he has generously shared his knowledge with generations of Princetonians, through courses in the history department that were consistently oversubscribed, as well as through field trips to Civil War battle sites that continue to draw large numbers of students and alumni.