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Sacred Trust Talks & Book Signings

July 6 @ 9:30 am - 5:00 pm


Co-sponsored by Gettysburg National Military Park and the Gettysburg Foundation, the annual Sacred Trust event takes place at the Gettyburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center and commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg with talks on various perspectives and topics related to the American Civil War.

Through a signature series of thought-provoking talks, Sacred Trust brings the lessons, teachings and inspiring stories of Gettysburg to today’s audiences in commemoration of the anniversary of the 1863 battle.

July 6 Schedule of Topics & Presenters
9:30 a.m. | The Iron Dice of Battle: Albert Sidney Johnston and the Civil War in the West with Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D.
Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D.
Albert Sidney Johnston is well known but not fully understood. Perhaps the best way to analyze his life and Confederate command is by examining him as a gambler. His early life showed traits of such gambling when life-or-death or life-altering decisions confronted him, and similarly there were times when he put family or army organizations at risk with gambles. Johnston certainly did so in his tenure as Western Theater Confederate commander, and much like a gambler he had to bluff and deceive with a strict poker face. He did so until the enemy upped the ante with the shocking Confederate defeats at Forts Henry and Donelson. Johnston ultimately had to call his opponent’s hand, which he did at Shiloh where he declared he must “roll the iron dice of battle.” It was a gamble to be sure, but it had to be done, or as he stated it, he and the Confederate army must “conquer or perish.” Of course, he perished, and his defeat on top of the setbacks earlier in 1862 led to a terribly dismal situation for the Confederacy, especially in the west, that far outlived his tenure as commander.

Timothy B. Smith, Ph.D. (Mississippi State University, 2001) is a veteran of the National Park Service and currently teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. In addition to numerous articles and essays, he is the author, editor or co-editor of more than 20 books with several university and commercial presses. His books have won numerous awards, with his trilogy on the American Civil War’s Tennessee River campaign (Forts Henry and Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth) winning a total of nine book awards. He is currently finishing a five-volume study of the Vicksburg Campaign for the University Press of Kansas and a new study of Albert Sidney Johnston for LSU Press. Timothy lives with his wife Kelly and daughters Mary Kate and Leah Grace in Adamsville, Tennessee.

11 a.m. | The Soil of Our Native State: Pittsburgh Troops at Gettysburg with Ranger Richard Condon
Richard Condon
Pittsburgh and the surrounding environs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, produced nearly 26,000 soldiers during the Civil War. Many of these men served in defense of their home state during the Gettysburg Campaign and forged an enduring bond to the landscape, and each other, for many years to come. Explore with Rich Condon the stories of some of these Iron City natives who fought at Gettysburg and their long-lasting relationship with the battlefield.

Richard Condon is a public historian from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For over a decade Rich has worked with a multitude of sites and organizations including The Battle of Franklin Trust, Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall and Museum, Flight 93 National Memorial, Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, and currently Catoctin Mountain Park. He has written for Civil War Times Magazine, The American Battlefield Trust, as well as Emerging Civil War, and operates the Civil War Pittsburgh blog, which focuses on sharing stories related to western Pennsylvania’s role in the Civil War.

1:30 p.m. | The Ironclad Attack, April 7, 1863 with Richard W. Hatcher, III
Richard W. Hatcher, III
On April 7, 1863, nine U.S. “ironclads” carrying 32 heavy guns aligned themselves to attack Ft. Sumter and concentrated their fire on the fort. Seventy-seven heavy cannon and mortars at Sumter, on Morris and Sullivan’s Islands, and Ft. Johnson on James Island responded to what became known as “The Ironclad Attack.” During the 2.5-hour battle, the U.S. ships and C.S. batteries fired approximately 90 tons of projectiles. In the silence of the aftermath, the soundly defeated U.S. Navy, having lost one ship and suffering damage to others, retreated to Port Royal.

Born in Richmond, Va., Richard W. Hatcher, III, became interested in the Civil War during the 1961-65 Centennial. After graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1973 with a BA in History, Rick pursued a career with the National Park Service, working from 1970-92 at Richmond National Battlefield Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore (FL unit), Colonial National Historical Park, Kings Mountain National Military Park and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. From 1992 until his retirement in 2015, Rick served as the Historian at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. He currently serves on the board of the Friends of Charleston’s National Parks and as 2nd vice president of the Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table. In December 2023, his book Thunder in the Harbor, Fort Sumter and the Civil War was published by SavasBeatie.

3 p.m. | Reconsidering Longstreet: Gettysburg, Appomattox, New Orleans with Elizabeth R. Varon, Ph.D.
Elizabeth R. Varon, Ph.D.
General James Longstreet is remembered by many as a prominent Confederate general during the American Civil War. He also was reviled by generations of white Southerners as an apostate—both for criticizing the generalship of Robert E. Lee and becoming a Republican during Reconstruction. Varon’s lecture focuses on his influential postwar political career and connects it to the perennial debates over his wartime record.

Elizabeth R. Varon, Ph.D. is Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History at the University of Virginia and a member of the executive council of UVA’s John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History. Varon grew up in northern Virginia. Her books include Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War, which won the 2020 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. Her most recent book is Longstreet: The Confederate General Who Defied the South (Simon & Schuster, 2023).


July 6
9:30 am - 5:00 pm


Gettysburg National Military Park Museum & Visitor Center
1195 Baltimore Pike
Gettysburg, PA 17325 United States
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(877) 874-2478
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