Anniversary sparks trip to ‘battle’

The Battle of Gettysburg took place 150 years ago on a scorching hot day in July. It was a battle with more than 40,000 casualties within a four-day span, leaving dead and wounded soldiers spread out over 20 miles of Pennsylvania countryside in their woolen uniforms. It was a battle that turned the tide of the Civil War, when the Union began to win.

“It was 95 degrees, and humid and still that year,” said Steve Sathre, who will teach a field studies class this summer that will take students to a re-enactment of the battle in southern Pennsylvania.

“It’s the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg so it’s kind of a marquee event in the world of history,” said Sathre, who said record numbers of re-enactors have signed up to participate in the event. There will likely be 15,000 re-enactors, including a full cavalry and more than 150 live artillery pieces.

Sathre said he and his students will have a great view of the activities. They won a lottery for seating in the grandstand area at the event.

Students who enroll in the class can expect to attend re-enactments of four specific battles of the Civil War, with the highlight being Pickett’s Charge at the end. In between the battle re-enactments, there will be open-tent historical demonstrations. Sathre said there will be a surgeon’s tent, battlefield cooking demonstrations that are time-appropriate, a blacksmith’s tent and an area devoted to artillery from the time period.

“There are all sorts of learning events,” said Sathre.

Sathre said the class is open to current North Dakota University System students for credit. People from the community can also sign up for the class and take it for no credit. The cost of the class is $950, that will include lodging, transportation to and from events, and entrance into the activities for all of the three days. That cost doesn’t include the extra cost of airfare in and out of Washington, D.C., or the additional cost of college credits.

Students taking the class for credit will be expected to write a 10-page reflection at the conclusion of the course. Prior to the trip, students will do three readings about the Civil War.

Sathre said Dakota College-Bottineau, a two-year college, offers a field experience class every few years.

“This is the third one that we’ve done in the last seven years,” he said. Previous classes retraced the steps of explorers Lewis and Clark and traveled to Boston to tour Revolutionary War sites.

“It’s a highlight for history students and myself because we get into the field,” said Sathre, and students learn more from actually seeing the sites and experiencing things hands-on than they would from just reading books and hearing lectures. Sathre said his students have a chance to get field experience that they might not get until graduate school at larger colleges.

Registration for the class began on Monday. Contact Sathre at 228-5456 or steve.sathre for more information about the class.