|Civil War Round Table welcomes renowned historian
|Posted: Sunday, July 8, 2012 5:45 am
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|On Tuesday July 17, at 7 p.m., the Murfreesboro Civil War Round Table plays host to world renowned historian Ed Bearss at the Rutherford County Courthouse.
Bearss will share his insights on the July 13, 1862 raid by Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry that brought the war to the doorsteps of Murfreesboro's citizens. This free event is open to anyone interested in learning more about the history of our town.
Bearss found a love for history at an early age. While growing up on his father's ranch near Sarpy, Mont., he named the cattle after Civil War generals and battles. His favorite cow was Antietam.
After spending a year hitchhiking across the country visiting Civil War battlefields after graduating from high school, Bearss joined the United States Marine Corps on April 28, 1942.
He was with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion in the invasion of Guadalcanal and the Russell Islands. In 1943 he served with the 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division in New Britain where he was severely wounded by machine gun fire at "Suicide Creek."
The wound ended Bearss' military career.
Upon receiving his honorable discharge, he turned to his education, earning a bachelor's degree in foreign service studies from Georgetown University. In 1955 he earned an masters in history from Indiana University. His thesis was on Confederate Gen. Patrick Cleburne. That same year, Bearss accepted the position of historian at Vicksburg National Military Park launching a decades-long career of sharing our history with the public.
While at Vicksburg, Bearss located the "Widow Blakely," a cannon used on the Vicksburg River defense and had long been displayed at West Point as "Whistling Dick."
Other research led him and two friends to the long lost resting place of the Union ironclad gunboat "Cairo." He located the two forgotten forts at Grand Gulf, Miss., and contributed significantly to the establishment of Grand Gulf as a state military monument.
In addition to writing books and magazine articles, Bearss prepared dozens of research reports for parks spanning the breadth and scope of our nation's history.
But his first love remained leading battlefield tours. Even when his duties no longer required it, Bearss continued his guiding groups in his spare time and soon had a reputation as one of the best in the business.
Bearss served as chief historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994. Upon his retirement in 1995 he was given the unique title of National Park Service Historian Emeritus.
Despite having completed more than 50 years of official public service, Bearss didn't stop there. He continues to spend the better part of each year leading battlefield tours and giving public programs continuing to share his knowledge and passion for history and preservation to thousands.