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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

In November 1863, thousands descended upon the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the thousands who had descended upon and fallen upon the field around the town four months earlier. They came for a ceremony of official culture: the dedication of a national cemetery for thousands of citizen-soldiers of the Union. Southerners were excluded from this initial commemoration; little did any of the people present in November 1863 know the tremendous role Southerners would play in adopting this sacred field for popular pilgrimages in the years after the war. Nor could those on the stage know the extent to which the general populace would appropriate the hallowed ground for their own purposes beyond the purview of official culture.

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