When the first Civil War military parks were established in the 1890s one of their primary functions was to train active military personnel. Indeed, until 1933 those Civil War battlefields protected by federal legislation were administered by the War Department, not the Department of the Interior as they are today. “Training” meant two things. First well into the 20th century these battlefields quite literally served as training grounds for American soldiers. A young Dwight Eisenhower, just three years out of West Point, commanded the tank training facility at Gettysburg’s Camp Colt in 1918. Many of the men in his command would later fight in France. Today, basic and other training is not done in this manner. However, battlefields like Gettysburg do offer lessons in leadership where today’s military learn how and why commanders like Lee, Sherman, and Grant made the decisions they did. Visit Chickamauga, Antietam, or Shiloh today and chances are good that you will see a platoon or even an entire company of military personel on such an excursion. My wife and I have seen it dozens of times. One of the most pristine battlefields is Pea Ridge National Military Park, located in north Arkansas just outside of Bentonville. A captain in the Arkansas National Guard made this short clip of one such excursion at that site.
(Image of Pea Ridge courtesy NPS)