A Military Perspective of the Gettysburg Campaign Itinerary

A 2019 BGES Civil War Field University Program

May 30 – June 2, 2019

The National Military Parks have long had educational value for the leadership of the United States Army and United States Marine Corps. Indeed, they were managed and used by the military until they were turned over to the National Park Service generally in the thirties. Logically there was much to correlate with the military operations of the day. Aviation had not fully evolved, and leadership challenges could be gleaned for noncommissioned officers, commissioned officers, and general officers alike. Formal studies were termed “staff rides” because they usually involved the various components of the staff of any commanding officer. And it goes without saying that issues of logistics, maneuver, combat support, and the principals of war could all be extracted from the great engagements of the Civil War.

The military codifies its professional training in its professional military education schools, and U.S. Army Command and General Staff, U.S. Army War College, National Defense University, and The Industrial College of the Armed Forces all incorporated “staff rides” in their curricula. The most senior courses now involve Lieutenant General, Full General, and senior Civilian leadership at the newly renamed National Defense University at Fort Lesley McNair in Washington, D.C. They study the Gettysburg Campaign, and Dr. Paul Severance is their instructor. Now he has taken his core curriculum and tailored it for you and this program.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

5:45 PM: Check-in at headquarters hotel in Frederick for meet, greet, and to pick up your reading books. Our program begins Thursday evening with our pre-briefings. In military preparation, this is the academic background information that precedes the analysis of the Gettysburg campaign. It will be presented in two parts. Part 1 is titled “The National Strategic Situation on the Eve of the Pennsylvania Campaign.” After a short break, the second lecture will be “The Unfolding Campaign June 3 through June 30.” We recommend you have dinner prior to the foundational lectures. Dinner is on your own.

Friday, May 31, 2019

7:30 AM. We will depart the hotel en route to the Gettysburg NMP Visitor’s Center. Please keep in mind this is how the National Defense University sets the table for their students. We will visit the Visitor’s Center and museum, concluding with the movie and the Cyclorama. From there, it is off to the National Cemetery and Evergreen Cemetery to discuss the dedication and to remind ourselves of the consequences of national strategic decisions. It is a sobering start to a very dynamic program. After lunch, we will take in the opening of the attack at McPherson Ridge and will progress during the afternoon to Oak Ridge, Barlow’s Knoll, and East Cemetery Hill. Each stop will be nearly an hour in length.

Please note that approximately a month before the event, you will be asked if you are willing to be adjunct instructors for information that will be provided to you. Good teaching principles show that more is learned from direct participation that just listening. You will be given the correct information and asked to share it with people at the appropriate times during the program. If you do not wish to present any information for any reason, just advise and we will ask someone else. This is not role playing. Rather, it is class participation, and U.S. general officers/senior government officials in the class must participate. Leadership often involves followership!

Lunch is included, but dinner is on your own. We should be back at the hotel by 6:30 PM.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

7:30 AM. Tactically perhaps the most interesting day at Gettysburg is Day 2, and we are off again at 7:30 en route to the battlefield. At the Longstreet observation tower, with Eisenhower’s Farm in sight and the Confederate attack in front of us, we will debate Lee’s planning and intentions, subordinate response, and friction related to the decision for nearly two hours.

We are next headed to Little Round Top and the crisis of the battle. We will focus on decisive leadership in an evolving tactical situation at the point of attack, with emphasis on General Warren and Strong Vincent. We will finish our morning work with a sobering assessment of Vincent’s Spur under the command of a citizen soldier–a college professor, Joshua Chamberlain.

After lunch, we are headed to the Wheatfield, where the Confederate wave ran into some of the toughest real estate of the day. Back and forth went to two sides across the grainy fields and astride a stone wall. The fight then moves past the Rose Farm to the Peach Orchard–a position of much interest and importance to Robert E. Lee. Here Daniel Sickles had a salient that would cause the Confederates much trouble and the Federal commander George Meade no end of angst. We then jump forward to the Pennsylvania Monument, where the core of Federal resistance and reinforcements broke the Confederate momentum across Plum Run and the wide-ranging fields.

Our final consideration is a lengthy stop on Culp’s Hill, where we will consider the supporting attack and its failure to secure the commanding terrain. We will spend some time evaluating the leadership and role of Gen. George Greene on the Federal right. A missed opportunity caused by a failure to synchronize? You will decide. Then it is back to Frederick. Lunch is provided, and dinner is on your own.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

7:30 AM. We head to the Virginia Memorial on Seminary Ridge. We will discuss Lee’s decision to stay and the plans to collapse the Union army while cutting its supply lines. By walking Pickett’s Charge, we will get a nuanced view of the real issues and opportunities Lee anticipated from such a massed assault. The morning finishes with a summary analysis of what to make of Gettysburg right and wrong.

After lunch, we engage in perhaps the most overlooked element of the campaign, and that is the withdrawal and pursuit of beaten Confederate army. We will follow it to Williamsport, making brief stops along the way. After getting Lee across the Potomac at Williamsport, we will return to the hotel, where the integration of lessons will take about two hours in a fairly open give-and-take format. The program will end around 5 PM.

This is a marvelous opportunity for all the participants. Today I (Len) opened my Air Force Association Magazine, and there was our instructor presenting the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award from the National Defense University to General Larry Spencer, President of the Air Force Association and former USAF Vice Chief of Staff. It’s all about the company you keep, and we are glad to have Paul in the BGES and on our faculty. This is his first program for us. Lunch is included.

About the Faculty

Paul Severance, Ph.D. retired in June 2018 from the faculty of the National Defense University at Fort Lesley McNair, where he was a senior instructor for America’s senior service academy. A joint or purple suite operation, the NDC prepares senior military and civilian leadership for the challenges of assignments that affect global relationships and the security of the United States and its allies. That Civil War battlefields continue to be used as educational laboratories is both encouraging and instructive. Paul is a member of the BGES and is supporting us in our project to restore and interpret the trial and execution of the Lincoln Conspirators using the original courtroom and the site of the executions on Fort McNair.

Hotel Information

This program will be based at the Hampton Inn on Buckeytown Pike in Frederick, Maryland. A room block will be announced shortly on this site along with reservation instructions and the price of the room. Lectures will be held in their meeting room and a restaurant is on-site. The hotel is two minutes off I-270 and can be seen next to the interstate.


The servicing airport is Washington Dulles (IAD), Washington Reagan (DCA), or Baltimore Washington (BWI). There are multiple shuttle and limo options from each airport if you do not wish to rent a car. If you drive to the program, time your arrival between noon and 3 PM, as the commuter traffic crawls between 3 and 7 PM. Sunday evening traffic along I-270 toward D.C. can also be bumper to bumper.

Recommended Reading

You will be provided with a reading book and maps upon arrival. The following books are suggested to enhance your readiness for the program. Amazon.com has a program to support non-profits IF YOU SIGN UP to support Blue and Gray Education Society (EIN 54-1720582) at AmazonSmile. When you sign up there rather than the normal Amazon site, one-half of one percent of your purchase price will be provided to BGES as a donation from Amazon. This will apply not only on this purchase but others you may make at other times.

Kent Masterson Brown: Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign
Edwin C. Bearss and James Parker Hills: Receding Tide, Vicksburg and Gettysburg the Campaigns that Changed the Civil War
Edward B. Coddington: The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command
Michael Shaara: The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War

Register for this program using a secure PayPal link

Registration Type

To register by mail or fax, download this printable registration form: A Military Perspective of the Gettysburg Campaign