On the Stones River National Battlefield today I sat among the honeysuckles and poison ivy edging “the cotton field,” and read this quote by a Texas soldier—
…the artillery opened up on us…and it seemed that the heavens and the earth were coming together.
I immediately recalled this line from a new DBT song about a school shooting in Oregon—
heaven is calling my name from the hallway outside the door.
In that connection—the recognition of the conflation of earthly horror and heavenly relief in death captured by both a modern songwriter and a Civil War soldier, I got chills. Ahistorical? Decontextualized? Yes. But I saw Stones River through a song that’s been harrowing me for months. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened to me at a historic site. It was meaningful.
Peter Carmichael has a very narrow view of what constitutes legitimate experiences learning for visitors to Civil War battlefields. Would this count?