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tv   American Artifacts WWI Meuse- Argonne Offensive  CSPAN  November 4, 2018 6:00pm-7:00pm EST

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, they rehabilitated him, for whatever that was worth. there are a lot of stories like that of people suspected or new likely spies for foreign governments or were involved in espionage but they were still happy to share a beer with them. >> i definitely recommend all of you buy the book. it's available outside with my former colleagues with the international spy museum. i think he will be happy to sign the book as well. [applause] >> thank you all. the books are out there. come up to the bar if you are a club member. we can keep the tradition going. [captions copyright national
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cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] announcer: you're watching american history tv, only on c-span3. on september 20 6, 1918, the american army and france launched the meuse-argonne offensive, the largest battle in u.s. history area and french and british forces also attacked along -- history. french and british forces also attacked along the 400 mile western front. up next on american artifacts, historian mitchell yockelson and french battlefield guide guyon moyes on -- guide guillaume visit france, including places where harry truman, george patton, and douglas macarthur had life experiences.
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ofdiscover several artifacts the great war, including an unexploded 75 millimeter artillery shell on the floor of the argonne forest. an hour.bout we are standing in front of the pennsylvania monument, dedicated in 1927 to honor the veterans of pennsylvania, many of them in the 28th national guard division that were directly involved with --, which the town of was in the opening stages of meuse-argonne operation, which involved 1.2 million soldiers. you grew up not far from here. is it easy to say you've explored this battlefield on many occasions as a young man, and today as a battlefield guide. guillame: i was born in a small town around 15 miles away from here.
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i grew up close to the argonne forest, so always walking it when i was a child. discovering the remains of french bomb holes. here?ught at tyga my first interest. -- that's how i got my first interest. i've been working in several countries and came back to my homeland. i'm quite specialized in world war i. i'm meeting quite many tours with american people. i try to be as knowledgeable as thesele read many times are people that are already quite knowledgeable. they have traveled already to normandy. but the may got interested in world war i and they want to discover the ground.
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showing the villages, trying to find the remains. all the divisions and you start to be more knowledgeable. that's very interesting. we still have remains everywhere. nothing was built or touched for one century. that's what makes it very interesting. >> you mentioned a red zone. is that something the french government has designated to make sure this is a protective land? yes indeed. the red zone is a preserved ground. the soil was cleaned, but not
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underground. so we find a lot of remains. we also have some economical reasons. rather than keeping it as it was. >> we are going to explore the battlefield from a significant point. aume will talk about his experiences working for many years and his perspective as a french historian, what the significance of the meuse-argonne means to him and the french people. certainly where we are has a storied history. why don't you tell us about the significance. >> it's like from two to 3000. the town is famous to the french people.
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town where louis 16 wash was met -- louis arrested with marie antoinette. he spent one night as prisoner in that tower. course it was occupied by the germans. also liberated by american troops on september 26 of 1918. logistical -- the topic troops that were on the front line. three miles south of the town. before the beginning of the meuse-argonne offensive.
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less from the american offensive , and the right is the meuse river. we are 20 miles away. the top line was around 22 miles wide. takenre are photographs here. and it very much destroyed buildings, had been caved in. do you know if the town itself was destroyed before the meuse-argonne operation or during? >> it was already damaged. every town was affected. it was already quite damaged. by the german artillery. most of the damages due to the meuse-argonne.
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i know you know a lot about it. was a do you think it strategic importance for the americans to take it on the first day of the battle? >> we are not far away from the jumping line. it was an important logistical center, especially railroad tracks. you cut the germans for many supplies on the front lines. >> can you point out for us the direction of the american advance early that morning when they jumped off after the artillery barrage? and maybe you know where the artillery positions -- where they would have been positioned and firing on the german lines? guillame: the american offensive
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started three miles south, close to a village. they were the ones who actually -- 28th division, they make their way from the south. when in fact the entire american offensive is launching north. north quiteo quickly early in the morning. they captured that part. the other part was liberated by the 35th. the direction is from the south to the north. >> we are walking through the pennsylvania monument, which was
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arrested in 1927. one of the key architects was from philadelphia. he lived in france as a young man. he did his studies and he was hired by the american battle monuments commission to help with the cemeteries and the memorials. i don't think this is part of the american battle monuments commission. >> is a state memorial. this is a huge state memorial, a very impressive one. that's quite an impressive one. >> not just the meuse-argonne, the pennsylvanians serve all over. pennsylvaniat to
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and there were commission in honoring the members of their communities who fought during the war, just as they had done during the civil war. let's walk over towards this wall. what are we going to see? >> we are on the hill first of all. valley ofg to see the the river. the small river flowing. shapel see the zigzag area quite a quiet river. then it starts natural over here. thereverb was the limit or first day of the 28th division.
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the offensive direction was still the same coming from south going north. they made their way further north. flank we see the plateau of the argonne forest. the new yorkers that will probably speak about today. we see quite well the argonne , 10st around 40 miles long to 15 miles wide. that was the limit between the french operation and the american operation inside the argonne forest.
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>> why did it take until the autumn of 1918 for a major offensive to liberate what we know is that meuse-argonne front? have they tried to liberate this area? tell us a little bit about what to decemberding up 20 6, 1918. guillame: the germans at the beginning of the war, we have some heavy battles going on right there. -- the head of the french headquarter will retreat. they will march south and march 20 miles per day. they will invade oregon very quickly. they will still make their way further south.
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then big battle. early september of 1914. that's a big defeat for the germans. we have some forests and stops inside. when the french try to counter attack the german offensive are stronger than the french counterattack. that doesn't mean the french won't fight to try to defeat the germans here. the german offensive is too strong. battles for one year, one and a half. big battles going on in the argonne forest.
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the classical offensive will then switch to a war. we have a lot of mine craters. soldiers were not able to go over the top that slowly have the idea to pick up from their position under the enemy line. the enemy was still wounded. that will never give many advantage. we will have a heavy battle. if we look at the entire front forward fourl move years.
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we need an important advantage to make a difference. that's all we did not have for four years here. >> general pershing, you mention the movement war, he oh -- he refer to it as opened warfare. americans do not stay behind the trenches but to utilize weapons, the rifles, the theys and the 1970's that -- a lot of troops hadn't actually spend time training. when they came over here they often fired their weapons for the first time. trieds the french not warfare earlier to dislodge the hillss that were in the
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and occupied behind the barbed wire? >> we have a big operation going on. the entire front line is 400 miles long. by the french, by the british, by the germans. when the enemy is able to have a breach into the enemy lines, it is not on the front line. hard.ench will try not far away from the argonne. they will try again, same location.
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we have a huge operation by the french that doesn't work. if you compare to the entire 400 mile-long frontline -- i don't know why we couldn't switch that movement more. the americans of course will give something very important. they will give the advantage to .he allies breaks to the german lines very quickly. and finally defeats them. , you talk about the numbers of americans. more of the 27,000 officers and men read that was twice the size of the french and british? >> about twice the size.
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>> do you know how many german troops were in this the sanity by the time of the operation? >> there were german divisions in line. they were all along the front line but not only the front line. the first line to break through -- they had very deep and strong , including a lot of machine-gun positions. they will use any reach in the place we treat to try to slow down or stop the americans. very heavily fortified line
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months before the offensive, in case they were not able to resist the main frontline. >> let's head to -- it involves the 35th kansas division, which includes a young commander by the name of harry s truman. further on in the findings -- fighting in the woods involved a young commander by the name of georgia spat in. we are standing in front of the misery monument, which honors the troops from missouri, many of them have served in the 35th division, which is one of the national guard divisions. one of its most famous members was a battery commander, and artillery commander by the name
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of captain harry s truman. the 35th division fought directly in this area. .hey were firing artillery can you point us about the significance why the americans attacked that hill. >> we can see the top of the trees in the forest. an observation position used by the germans. frontline was stabilized. for three years and a half we have a heavy battle going on, especially an underground war. then the french were relieved. by soldiers of the 35th. take dominating
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ground and see what's going on. from there jumping line. wayfinally making their into -- >> captain harry s truman wrote home to his fiancee, telling her about the battle and that he was involved in his experience in war. in one of his more vibrant letters it involves the first day attack on september 26, when his artillery was supporting the american attack on the hill. now one of the letters the truman wrote home. ammunition was fired from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. earlier in the day.
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after his unit reached the hill, germantery wade the harassing fire for most of the rest of the day. the hill, was nothing but a bog. when his battery was ready to fire on the hill, they realized the guns when raise high enough to reach it you forced to improvise, the men placed the tale of one gun in a shell hole and fired several rounds of us test at the extreme elevation in the general direction of germany. one of truman's men was sitting in the shell hole when it went right through that right between his legs. -- right between his legs. this monument has many of the state memorials. the state of missouri will pay to have someone make sure that it is cleaned up. after the war many of the states
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just like pennsylvania wanted to honor the troops from the area who fought throughout the western front. let's head toward the chevy woods. the 36th division headed in that direction. they ran into trouble in the woods. here, mile away from that's where the germans had some of their very strong lines. you see the remains of original trenches there. the americanoods troops, mainly the 35th division was supported by a brigade led by a lieutenant colonel, george s patton. what are we looking at here? >> the frontline from the
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operation. that's where he saw the pennsylvania memorial. now we are to enter into the -- a man who wasr wounded close by. that's where we are. on the hilltops that are dominating the plane, which is the plane we have right there. the american offensive was to start on a straight line. american soldiers had to make , capturing the towns and making their way north. now,s where we enter right to see some of the fortified line by the germans.
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and the offensive from the 35th was from the right to the small valley of the river, including the surrounding area. we are marching the same way as the american operation was jumping up the line and making our way north. >> where were the german position be? ,> all along the ridge here dominating that ground where the -- had.s had read they will always try to choose how to defend and always have the dominating position. that would be a bloody day for the american troops. september twice six is a successful offensive.
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>> the division itself started to fall apart. of the first divisions relieved. nothing good shape. we see a piece of it. we still have any blackberries growing. a few meters -- that is quite
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deep. probably from six to seven feet deep. still after one century, never restored that position. every year we find hundreds of on shells and hand grenades. we are just on the crossing here. we have a communication trench to the rights that goes to another northern french line. then my position, we have to imagine from six to seven feet deep and looking there we can see we are on the slope. if we imagine the american soldiers coming toward us, we
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have to imagine most of the trees are gone. that's a dominating position for the germans. every 30 meters more we have one more communication trend. we have some ground now. probably from the firing of the artillery operation. these are some of the german first lines that were to be lost on the first hours. , the 35thmorning division attack is heading in this direction. we are in heavily fortified trenches.
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there are german trenches further down the ridge and show from from not only firing the morning of the 26th but it had been left over from previous attacks. this part was shelled by the french every day. that doesn't mean we don't have shelling every day. we have a lot of show holes by the american artillery operations. the missouri kansas troops are heading in this direction, but they are starting to fall apart. the troops are scattering. there is support by tanks and no tanks led by george s patton. he sees what's going on. he sees the 35th troops are in toarray and he wants them help pick out the german machine gun nests, which are all around.
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they also run into trouble. they start getting locked up and to show holes and trenches. patton, who is known as a very animated officer, he's on foot. shovel off of one of the tanks and he teaches his men and encourages them to use a lot of profanity. he has them dating out of the trenches. eventually they had forward. patton is hit by a machine gun blast, most likely from somewhere around this area. >> he was fighting in the fields firingere, most of the was coming from the slopes. >> he shot in the leg near the groin. aides grabs him, is
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able to drag him in while the machine guns are blasting all around, places him in a shell hole and they begin medical treatment. literally they are able to save his life. the fighting is going on. a long time for the aim illness to finally reach patton. rough bumpyong journey back to the rear. to a field hospital and eventually a general hospital. the morning of the first day attack, the battle and the wars over for george patton. didn't he come back here at some point and photographs? >> he took a photograph from where he thinks the location of the shell hole was.
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,t seems to be somewhere here close by the forest. and firing was probably coming from one of these positions. the exact location is not exactly known, but it is somewhere here. >> he is leading the third u.s. army, his troops are not fighting far from here as they are pushing the german advance. late august of 1944, third just a fewated again days before the beginning of the battle. >> this was built early in the war. >> this was 1914. the germans got here and we are facing it right there. but also in the valley. easier for machine gun.
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it's a small reverb. >> i can't imagine. >> from the wire wrapping around. remains. that was then covered with ground. shelled. was heavily sometime after the heavy rain.
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and exploded shell. don't touch it, you can spot it. >> what caliber is that? >> 75. mitchell: fired by the americans? guillame: fired by the americans if it's a 75. later on i will explain -- mitchell: do we need to market somehow? guillame: i will explain the location. alex plane exactly where it is. -- i will explain exactly where it is. the erosion because of the rain, it fell down here. that's why it's now inside the trench. it's probably been
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buried for 100 years. several -- toave get the ground clean again. we had heavy rain on the last day. shelle a lot of piece of appearing. you can see it because it's quite thick, quite heavy. some like this one is very sharp. the idea is to explode into to give very bad wounded to the soldiers. there, small one right which is another one. this is another one. the off to try to find sided color from the iron. battles.about
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the war here lasted for four years. we have battles going on every day, so the remains are everywhere. in the church. neuvilly was the last village before heading to the french line. it was used by the french and later on the americans. has a very famous picture that was taken here.
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>> [speaking french] translator: world war i, the neuvilly-en-argonne is the last village. all of the people evacuated the village and went to the southern pot of the states -- southern part of the states. thought the village was -- nobody was in a test was in it anymore. he took off part of the laws, part of the roof. herethe americans came they would decide the state church is enough. at this point decided which hospital they were being sent to.
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up by where they served. thehell: --guillame: frontline stabilized a few yards outside the village. that's when we see. a hospital by the 110th regimen. takes something of a souvenir from the church. that's what they are going to have to -- >> during world war i, one of a --merican soldiers took and took it home with him and kept it all his life. back he was given this --
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she started researching and found a photo in her family. from this photo she managed to find the village. and tour de force. this happened two years ago. she came back. he was from kansas. her name -- she was his granddaughter.
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>> [speaking french] translator: this was one of the first church that was rebuilt after the war. became used as a church by 1920, 1922. >> we see his family come in to visit. we see theground destroyed village from the village of neuvilly, which was damaged or in the war. and appearing in a kind of -- palace we have crisis appearing.
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the artist works a lot, producing for the churches and chapels. blending the german war. >> [speaking french]
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>> we are inside the church, looking at the pictures of american doughboy playing the organ in that church. they have the very same colors. on the original location. not sure if it was the original one. taken onure was october 11, 1918. i saw the picture. if you months ago i had an american client who sent to me. i already heard about it. looking like it's quite an important one.
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they have from time to time american people asking to enter into the church. first division, october 11. the village was the german camp during the war for four years. we were seven nights from the front line. that was an important german camp. the troop was used by the germans. they have to fight out of it.
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some of the inhabitants have not had time to escape from the village. the germans arrived very quickly. --e of the inhabitants they had to work for the german , adding pavement on the streets. that was the case here. they will liberate that. they were probably of the offensive that liberated the village. these are the very same soldiers that liberated it.
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mitchell: we --guillame: we are entering into the wood located -- was part of the german line. the fortified line where the germans tried to stop the american offensive. as soon as we enter into the we find remains from german quitees that are still deep in fact. the american troops from 42nd division fought there and
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had to make their way through the most fortified german lines. so here it is. zigzag shape. coming from the top of the hill. going down and finally turning left. the fortified lines built by the germans for the american offensive. >> by the 84th brigade of the 42nd division.
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as 42nd division was known the rainbow division because it included national guard units from across the united states. 84th brigade was led by brigadier general douglas macarthur, who had risen through the ranks. first he started as chief of staff for the 42nd division and the 84th brigade commander had been sacked and macarthur was promoted. one of the reasons macarthur was promoted was he was an officer who led in front. take the -- it was extremely important to general pershing. the army knew this was going to be a difficult effort. to 84th brigade reported this corps commander. he was from the citadel and a
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tough guy. you are would take this position, or i want to see a list of 5000 casualties. we don't take that position. i will be at the top of that list. the 84th brigade with the 83rd was heavilyts flank pushed back by the germans. area was heavily for five by machine guns and artillery. mac arthur's men even were stopped by the liar and hung up on it. casualties were mounting. one report says bodies were piled on top of each other. again, stillarted
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the 84th couldn't break through. keep attacking. linely broke through the and rove the germans back. the americans were on the high ground. the germans didn't go far. for the mostion part was in american hands. and that alleviates fire elsewhere on the line. where would mac arthur's men have come? faced thether we farms and then make their way into the forest on top of the face theen starting to german french is.
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that perspective even further. >> we are standing in the monument, which symbolizes the frome news campaign september 26 through november 11 of 1918. the battle ended with the i.istice award in world war front between the meuse river and the argonne forest.
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it basically pushed the german tourists to their knees, recognizing the 1.2 million americans that fought in the grow., would only the germans had no chance of winning. >> we remain there. villageured the at the beginning of the war. still hiding a lot of observation shelter everywhere around. that's why it was so heavily fortified. village at the beginning of the war. we are building in the middle of the church. same from the very church and around.
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it was an observation position. the highest ground of the entire american offensive to commemorate the sacrifice. american place for the national memorial. like a greek or roman temple. and this characteristic is looking at the troop. that will come to liberate for the entire oregon and finally the entire french counter. history, 1000 years ago, walking in that part of the country.
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they never wanted to leave. so they decided to stay here. and then took the name of the falcon. interview was created here. church.he very last this was used as a parish church for the village. made by the french and later on the americans. it was such a big church. that's because at the beginning it was a church -- this ground is kept and by the aim bmc.
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we see the remains from the battle. heavy holes, big impact from the shelves. impact.some firing into the columns. and the church finally collapsed. this memorial was built in 30 years. 60 meters high. >> designing a number of buildings in washington dc, including the national archives. records documenting this battle --
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important strategic landmark. ,t was taken to the second day even though general pershing's objectives wanted his troops to take it on the first day. it overlooks the whole meuse valley. it can fire on the american troops. but the woods itself proved to be very difficult to penetrate. the 79th division, which consisted of national army troops in set of pennsylvania. it was one main regiment, the 313th infantry. men from that city push forward through the woods and then
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mountain andlcon penetrated up the ridge. germans didn't go too far. .iterally made their own stand which meant to go on for another six weeks of heavy duty fighting. the battle ended with the armistice of world war i. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] get your guns, get your guns. take them on the run. hear them calling you and me. >> this year marks the centennial of world war i, which
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ended on november 11, 1918. american history tv will devote 48 hours the weekend of november 10 and 11 with tours of battlefields and cemeteries in france. storyscussions with the of us of world war i. november 10 and 11, here on american history tv. tonight on afterwards, vice president mike pence's daughter talks about their book, where you go, life lessons for my father. she is interviewed by author --s and >> why can't we have just a more normal life? thaten i write in the book
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one of the first earlier chapters, i wouldn't have minded growing up in one house with one yard that we changed our whole lives. that's what my parents thought we would do. in the backyard when we were born, we put our handprints in the cement. very much thought that would be where we lived forever. then obviously got a different plan for life. and the privilege it has been. i didn't think my parents had shown me the, how to take it all in stride. it makes us closer as a family.
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tonight.afterwards >> next on the civil war, peter carmichael talks about the various ways violence at the 1862 battle of antietam was depicted in photos, illustrations and letters. he describes the public reaction to photographs of dead soldiers and householders wrote about the battle to family members at home. this talk was part of a conference on the battle of antietam, that took place at shepherd university. >> okay, welcome back to the morning session. i'm dr. james. thank you for your attendance. we appreciate your interest in the subject matter. this is an interesting collaboration that was articulated so well, bringing a lot of methodologies and points


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