Next scheduled Academy – Summer, 2017

Gettysburg and the American Civil War

The Academy:  The Licensed Battlefield Guides of Gettysburg are among the foremost experts on this crucial period of American History. Many of our 125-plus members have spent a lifetime of study and every day are out teaching people the significance of this great Battle.  This Academy – an outgrowth of our old test-prep program – has been designed to appeal to a wide audience.  Anyone with an interest in learning more about the era leading up to the American Civil War, the war itself, the greatest battle of the war and the period of reconstruction following the war will find some topic of interest contained in this course.  It is designed such that each session is a self-contained topic. One can pick and choose a specific topic or opt to enroll in the entire program (subject to availability). Each session will be taught by one or more licensed guides who specialize in the study of  that topic. All represent a wide range of guiding experience.

Disclaimer:  The Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide qualification process is conducted periodically by the National Park Service under authority granted it in the Code of Federal Regulations. Though the Licensed Battlefield Guide Academy would certainly help provide a base of information of value to anyone contemplating sitting for the exam, it is not solely designed to prepare one to take the guide exam.  Anyone with an interest in the period will find the course of value. We have no advanced knowledge of when the Park Service will decide to offer an exam.  That announcement will be made by the National Park Service at such time as they find the need to license additional guides.

Test Prep Program:  The Gettysburg National Military Park periodically announces a Tier 1 written part of the licensing process will be offered.    Years ago the ALBG began a series of classes designed to assist individuals interested in taking the written test.  For several test cycles the Harrisburg Area Community College took over the program as part of their Continuing Education program.  When the Gettysburg campus of HACC eliminated the Continuing Education Department, ALBG decided to continue the test-prep program on its own.  Now we have decided to move our focus from purely test prep to a program of  interest to a much wider audience yet it is still ideal for anyone who may be considering the test when offered in the future.   For more information on the licensing process visit this link: 2015 Test Program.

Location: The Academy normally begins in August and runs through mid-November.  All indoor classroom sessions are held Saturday mornings at the Gettysburg Heritage Center (former Wax Museum) on Steinwehr Avenue,  Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  They  run from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  Sessions that have field programs associated with them or extended sessions, will break for lunch and then reconvene in the classroom, on the battlefield or in the town for the extended program.  The field programs will last for two hours from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. The instructors may, at their option, offer less time in the classroom and more in the field. Such changes will be announced during the session but in no instance will be less than the five instructional hours planned.

Cost:  The cost for each of the indoor sessions is $30 per person.  A session that has a corresponding outdoor companion program is $45 per person.  Each session may be purchased individually by clicking the respective link below.

For Information or to register:  Click the Session number for additional information. Click the “Register” column to register and pay using a credit card.  NOTE: REGISTRATION IS CLOSED FOR 2015.



8/08/2015 – Session 1: Causes and Early Months of the American Civil War (Through the Peninsula Campaign.)

Instructor:  Dave Hamacher,  LBG #172    (Guide since 2000)

Our Licensed Battlefield Guide’s American Civil War Academy kicks off with an in-depth study of the many issues that led to the outbreak of the Civil War, the key leaders involved and the many different solutions put forth to resolve the Nation’s difficulties. The failures of these solutions and the leadership of the time resulted in war and for the first two years both sides had successes and failures. This session will look at the early phases of the war, both eastern and western theatres, through the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days’ Battles of June of 1862.



8/15/2015 – Session 2: The Homefront in the American Civil War

Instructor:  Joanne Lewis,  LBG #203     (Guide since 2004)

A good understanding of the Civil War era requires some knowledge of how the war impacted the home front, north and south.  This session will examine how war was waged on this critical front including the many and varied roles women and freedmen / former slaves played.  The raising and feeding of large citizen- armies, the treatment and care of  thousands of wounded and prisoners,  and the implementation of the draft on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, were all equally  important as the movement of the armies in the field.


8/22/2015 – Session 3: The War Continues: The Thousand Mile Front to Confederate High Tide

Instructor:   Phil Muskett,   LBG#240     (Guide since 2010)

As the Civil War continued with the great Confederate offensive in the summer and fall of 1862 the fighting became bitter and bloodier.  Battles at  Second Manassas, Antietam, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville were all added to the list of vicious battles fought between men of north and south.  The commencement of the great campaigns of Vicksburg in the west and Gettysburg in the east in the spring and early summer of 1863 brought the war to a crises. The amateur soldiers and primitive organizations of 1861 had been forged into modern armies and those armies were poised to fight it out. This session deals with the crucial nine months of the war prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.


8/29/2015 – Session 4: The Evolution of Tactics, Weapons and Organizations (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:   Chris Rebmann,  LBG #146    (Guide since 1998)   ALBG Past President

Jomini,” “Hardee’s Tactics,” “Napoleon’s Maxims;” all of these and many more were topics of discussion around campfires and tents of officers, both north and south, as the citizen-soldiers struggled to master the jargon and knowledge of the professional soldier.  The war as it continued saw the older Napoleonic-style tactics begin to give way to a more effective one based on the development of modern weapons and more effective cannon. How troops moved to how far a Napoleon cannon actually fired to the transition of cavalry’s role in battle are all topics of interest in this session as we watch the war grow from a clash of amateur armies to the forging of large, well-trained and veteran war machines.  This session will include a field program to help illustrate common tactics of all three branches of service.


9/05/2015 – Session 5: Battle of Gettysburg – the “Meeting Engagement: July 1” (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:  Tony Nicastro,  LBG#93    (Guide since 1993)

This session will be a comprehensive overview of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg and its consequences. It will include the movements of the key units of both armies as well as major personalities involved.  The classroom program in the morning will be followed by an associated field program which  will review the terrain over which the July 1st battles were fought.


9/19/2015 – Session 6: Battle of Gettysburg – “Longstreet’s Assault on the Union Left: July 2” (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:  Jim Hessler,   LBG #196     (Guide since 2003)

This session will be a comprehensive overview of the Confederate assault on the left flank of the Union army on the afternoon of July 2nd. It will include the movements of the key units of both armies: elements of James Longstreet’s Confederate First Corps and Dan Sickles’s Union Third Corps as well as supporting units involved in the action. An associated field program in the afternoon will continue the discussion on the actual terrain over which the Battle was fought from Little Round Top through the center of the Cemetery Ridge line and points in between.


9/26/2015 – Session 7: Battle of Gettysburg – “Culp’s and Cemetery Hills: July 2 & 3” (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:  Jim Hueting,   LBG #4     (Guide since 1987)  ALBG Past President

Often taking second place to events occurring on the southern part of the battlefield, the defense of Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill were equally important to the final outcome of the Battle. This session will be a comprehensive overview of the fighting on the Federal right flank. It will cover both the July 2nd attack on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill by elements of Richard Ewell’s Confederate Second Corps as well as the Union counterattack and heavy fighting on the morning of July 3rd on Culp’s Hill. Affiliated actions on Power’s and Wolf’s Hill will be considered. An associated field program will continue the session in the afternoon with a look at the actual terrain involved.


10/3/2015 – Session 8: Battle of Gettysburg – “Afternoon Fighting of July 3” (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:   Chuck Burkell,  LBG#75     (Guide since 2014)

The fighting on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg will be the focus of this combined classroom / field session. The great Confederate infantry assault on the afternoon of July 3rd that has come to be known as Pickett’s Charge will be examined and we will also look at the cavalry fighting both east and south of Gettysburg later that afternoon.  An associated field program on the infantry assault will continue the session on the actual terrain.



10/10/2015 – Session 9: Human Interest Stories of the Battle of Gettysburg

Instructor:  Deb Novotny,  LBG #14      (Guide since 1975)

A battle is fought by human beings. The area where a battle is fought often contains innocent human beings unfortunate enough to be trapped by the struggle of the armies. Thus stories of the unique experience of these soldiers and  civilians put flesh on the bones of dry battle facts, figures and statistics. This session looks at the facts behind some of the cherished and the little-known human interest stories related to the campaign and the Battle of Gettysburg. Oft told myths and stories will be discusses. Some will be debunked. Others verified.


10/17/2015 – Session 10: The Retreat from Gettysburg through the Overland Campaign

Instructor: Britt Isenberg,   LBG #20     (Guide since 2014)

This session looks at the movements of both armies in the weeks immediately following the battle of Gettysburg and the withdrawal of Lee’s army to Virginia. The impact of the battle on the armies will be examined as well as the surrender of the crucial river port city of Vicksburg at the same time.  The move towards the great western battle of Chickamauga in September, Chattanooga and the rise of Ulysses Grant to overall Union command will be looked at.  Finally the commencement of the  Union grand strategy in May of 1864  under the direct control of General-of-the-Army Grant  will result in great simultaneous campaigns in both Virginia and Georgia.



10/24/2015 – Session 11: The Aftermath of the Battle & the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:  Roy Frampton,  LBG #112    (Guide since 1968)       ALBG Past President

While the war continues, Gettysburg is left to cope with the aftermath of the bloodiest battle ever to occur in North America.  This session will examine the cleanup of the area immediately following the battle, including the treatment and transportation of the thousands of wounded men.  We will look at the problem of the dead and dying, their burial on the battlefield and the subsequent development and dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, including the 26-hours of President Lincoln’s visit in November.  We will also discuss the exhumation and reburial of the Southern battle dead after the war. An extensive tour of both the National and Evergreen Cemeteries will take place following the classroom session.



10/31/2015 – Session 12: Town of Gettysburg: Before, During and After the Battle. (FIELD PROGRAM)

Instructor:  Joe Mieczkowski,   LBG #226   (Guide since 2007)    ALBG PRESIDENT

The Battle of Gettysburg takes its name from the county seat of Adams County and any study of the Civil War and the Gettysburg campaign of necessity must include the actual town that gave its name to the great battle. This session will look at  the growth of Gettysburg from a small crossroads community to county seat and major American Battlefield to today’s home town of a national treasure.  It will look at the personalities involved as well as the historic structures that remain from the town’s earliest days.  A portion of the program will be devoted to how the citizens of the town coped during the time the armies surrounded them. A  field program consisting of a tour of the town is planned to help the student become familiar with key landmarks of the community.



11/7/2015 – Session 13: The End of the Civil War and the “Reconstruction” of the Union

Instructor: Dave Hamacher,  LBG #172    (Guide since 2000)

Grant’s campaign at Petersburg to cut the vital supply lines supporting  Richmond and to starve out Lee’s veterans coupled with Sherman’s capture of Atlanta and the March to the Sea culminated with the final campaigns of the war and the surrender of the Confederate armies in the spring of 1865. But the war’s end does not end the story. The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln only complicates the difficult issue of reconstructing both the political and social systems of the defeated south. This session looks at the final days of the war and the many years of struggle ahead up to our present time. The consequences of our nation’s bloodiest was continue to haunt us today.



11/14/2015 – Session 14: The Development of the Gettysburg National Military Park

Instructor: Fred Hawthorne,  LBG #56     (Guide since 1981)         ALBG Past President

What we know today as the Gettysburg National Military Park did not simply spring into existence.  It is the product of a century and a half of development. Its transformation continues to this day. This session will examine the development of the Gettysburg Battlefield from 1863 through the present with a look at the many individuals and groups responsible for preserving, developing and marking the Park. Emphasis will be placed on the how the monumentation of the Battlefield came about with information on the building and significance of many of the key memorial structures on the field today.  An additional short session will be held at the conclusion of this session on the upcoming four-tier licensing process.  A description of the process will be given and questions will be answered on all phase of the process including the upcoming Tier 1 exam.



11/21/2015 – Session 15: The History and Realities of Battlefield Guiding – Extended Academy Wrap-up Session

Instructors: Christina Moon, LBG #235 (Guide since 2008) and George Newton LBG #216 (Guide since 2005)

This session will start with an explanation of  how guiding at Gettysburg evolved in the years after the great battle through the implementation of licensed guiding in the early part of the 20th Century.  It will look at the guiding tradition as it evolved under the auspices of the War Department and then the National Park Service both here and at other National Parks in the system.   There will then be a program on the “Realities of Guiding.”  This will give an overview of the nuts and bolts of guiding in the 21st Century and will help you make a decision if guiding is for you.   We will finish with some practical examples of questions such as may be encountered on the guide examination and strategies for making final preparations for the exam.  This will be of great value for anyone who is planning on taking the December 5 guide examination.

Note:  This day coincides with the Remembrance Day Activities.  By consensus of the group pre-registered it will begin an hour earlier – at 8:00 AM and go through until 1:00 PM allowing time for the annual Remembrance day parade.