I am a very blessed individual.
Well, I get to teach a course using the Civil War as a foundation to teach leadership at a place I love, for a university I admire (Georgetown), around some fantastic students who are our potential leaders in the political, government, non-profit and corporate world, and I get paid for it.
Though the American Civil War is not my specialty (German military history is), I have a passion for it, having read my first Civil War book as a kid in the 2nd grade of elementary school, while I lived in Amarillo, TX. That book was the American Heritage American Civil War, where the maps had minitures on each one, maneuvering during the key part of the battle.
First, it is the students that make or break this course. I do not give them a lot of guidance, forcing them to seek the answers for themselves. Then, they have to walk three of the four days, just a few miles, but it is the best way to feel the events of the battle, see it from the eyes of the leaders as they talk about it.
The last day, Dr. Lamar Reinsch, an expert on Lincoln takes them on the route of President Lincoln during his stay in November for the Gettysburg Address, they end up at the National Cemetary having to write a letter to someone close reflecting on their experiences the previous three days. The students have to role play a leader, of either Union or Confederate Army, or a few take the parts of “citizens”. They all did a fantastic job, as well as contributed to great after action reviews held in the evening. These reviews were ran by Dr. Robert Bies and Mr. John Fontana, who do an outstanding job facilitating the students through their lessons learned.
As the days go on, the students got more and more into how they could learn from the leaders of that dramatic campaign and battle. This is the fourth year I have had to honor to lead and teach this course. After each time, students have reflected on how they have been able to take the lessons from the “Gettysburg Residency” (of the Georgetown Executive Masters in Leadership masters course) and applied them to their everyday lives as leaders.
I have also got to do this with other groups over the last year, including the John Carroll scholars from Georgetown University, but we went to Antietam, MD. My good friend, LTC (ret.) Allen Gill assisted me and lead it with me. Al is currently the DIrector of Leadership and Applied Ethics at Georgetown. Also, Al and I took a private group through, as well as cadets from Norway Naval Academy. I also have taken groups from businesses to Civil War battlefields in both Pennyslvania, Virginia and Georgia.
The only down side of the Gettysburg Residency, is that it has to end, but I get to drive to and from Gettysburg up U.S. Route 15 which goes through some of the most beautiful areas in our country following the routes Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia took to Gettysburg, while fighting Union Cavalry.
But, I look forward to more “staff rides” and using the Civil War to teach leadership. If you are interested please contact Ms Jeannine Adams on the contact page of my web site to coordinate.