This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Barbara Wyatt: Let me tell you a little bit about Kristen. She works as an archaeologist and grants manager for the American Battlefield Protection Program, which is part of the National Parks Service. For the ABPP, she manages over 25 grants each year for about 1.2 million dollars on battlefields from the Virgin Islands to Saipan. The majority of the ABPP’s projects are archaeological preservation projects, and about 40% of project funds are underwater projects. Previous to joining the agency in 2001 Kristen was the park archaeologist for the Gettysburg battlefield site, and she’s got nearly 25 years of service to the National Park Service. Her BA from the University of Michigan and her MA in anthropology from the University of South Carolina. Kristen, thank you.
Kristen: I’m going to start with the trivia question. What happened today in 1863? Anybody, anybody, anybody? The sinking of the Hunley. Oh, goodness, I can tell it’s going to be one of those crowds. All right. Well, I do work for the American Battlefield Protection Program. We are part of the National Parks Service; however, you notice I’m not in uniform. That’s because I work for an external program. The external programs really are meant to service the outside, people outside of National Parks Service units, so in some strange way I’m an archaeologist who is banned from the National Parks Service. I get to work sometimes in the park units when I’m asked for consulting, but for the most part our legislation, which I have up here, very much directs us as a program.
We’re fortunate that way, because then we don’t have to live with the mission creep of other managers and what have you. We have Congress telling us what to do. We are to be assisting citizens, the public, and private institutions and governments in planning and interpreting and protecting battlefields. They’re to be on American soil as we have interpreted that. That includes all the territories, from the Virgin Islands out to Saipan out to Guam, so we have a pretty big span. As long as I can call it domestic assistance, we can be helpful. We’re here to work in perpetuity. That is, our work is not supposed to use the resource, it’s supposed to save the resources. We are a protection program. Protection’s our middle name.
Give you a little bit of our program history. We were of necessity, let’s say, to Congress, after the Disney event near Manassas. Disney was going to have a theme park, 25 years ago or more, 30 years ago, around Manassas, and essentially the question was, “How many significant or principal battlefields are there out there that are going to cause these kind of disasters, where the government has to come in and purchase land?” The Parks Service said, “We don’t know. We manage our own land, we don’t know what’s out there in the rest of the world. There’s been really no good survey or inventory of Civil War battlefields.” We started with a survey, an inventory, of historic sites. We ended up with 384 of them in 1993 as a report to Congress to give them the condition of these battlefields throughout the nation.
Some of the condition was just “gone,” that’s why we don’t have our top 400. It’s top 384. These battlefields really were the principal ones in the nation that had an outcome that affected the Civil War’s actual unfolding, or a campaign, or a famous person. It was considered to be really the most important battlefields. By 1996 it was clear that not just Civil War battlefields needed attention and assistance, so our grant abilities were granted then, and also our abilities to help any kind of battlefield, any time period. My first slide had Virgin Islands and Hassel Island, that was an engagement between the Dutch and the British. As long as it’s on American soil, we can be involved.
We also have created reports to Congress that prioritize battlefields and their endangered status. By 1998 we were offering funds to buy Civil War battlefields in purchase or in easement, and to date we have leveraged over 87 million dollars that have been given to us by Congress. That means there’s an equal amount, 50%, out there of at least 87 million dollars that someone else provided, because it’s a 50/50 match. By 2003 we were asked by the President’s Advisory Council to be of assistance on battlefields that had adverse events with 106, so we help our sister agencies to try and come up with good medigative efforts, or to identify the battlefields that are under threat from a Section 106 action.
By 2007 we came up with an equivalent report to Congress for Rev War and War of 1812, and over 270 battlefields were assessed in that report for their priority and for their threat, and for their significance. Then 210 we started doing an update for the Civil War reports, since they were already dated at that point. We are still working on getting out a national report that revises their priorities to Congress. Our hope is to be able to give nice big checks, not this. This is the bad thing, when battlefields start getting threatened by sprawl.
We have a specific philosophy, and other than the picture, I haven’t changed the wording in years. Battlefields are cultural landscapes. Each has a unique history, unique resources, and set within a unique community. We look at local advocacy as key for stewardship, and essential for preservation. I find it interesting today to hear all the talk about how important it is to have a linkafranka that you can share, common language, a common methodology. Because we have so many battlefields in the nation, we’ve become very rigorous in our methodology, and very rigorous in our labeling of how we identify our battlefields. The labeling and the method doesn’t change because it’s terrestrial or underwater. We don’t look at that as anything different.
In fact, of all the criticisms I’ve heard over the years, perhaps our ’93 study was most criticized. Not because we got the general in the wrong place, but because we didn’t have underwater resources identified quite correctly. I think we’ve made great strides to change that. Let me take a minute and talk a little bit about defining battlefields. For us, a battlefield is any space that has been fought over. Fire has been taken or received by two governments, and we automatically consider any tribal activity as government sanctioned. It does have to be an actual engagement. We don’t look at massacres or civil disobedience. For example, the 9-11 site in New York would not be considered a battlefield, nor would some massacres of just women and children. There is no chance of fighting in massacres. There’s no chance of engagement.
Any guesses as to how many battlefields there probably are in the nation for just Civil War and Rev War and War of 1812 rolled together?
Speaker 1: three thousand.
Kristen: three thousand just for the Revolutinary War and War of 1812. Over ten thousand for Civil War engagements. There’s a lot of them out there. Today you’re just going to hear about the principal ones, and how we deal with those. There’s a whole lot more, and there’s other wars, as well. French and Indian War, plenty of Indian wars out in the West and the East, Mexican-American wars. Lots of engagement sites. After this morning, hearing about how dynamic and long-term landscapes are, I have to smile at thinking what a moment in archaeological time battlefields are. What an instant they are, and how differently we look at our data set. We are far less concerned about stratigraphy and dating items in that, if you’re at Gettysburg and you don’t know when that Minnie ball came out, that’s three days in time. You better know what the date is on that when you find it. We have different concerns, and underwater battlefields actually allow us a certain amount of freedom to think differently as well.
This is my best slide to talk about what we’re looking at. We’re looking at that middle, that battlefield layer. Don’t have enough juice in this to come through. It’s not that we disregard the upper layers, and it’s not that the lower layers aren’t important. It’s just that Congress gives us a mandate for the battle layer, and we consider everything within the battle layer … Oh, Doug, thank you so much. We consider that battle layer the middle of the Oreo cookie, and everything within the boundary of the battlefield we hope will be protected if we can protect that battle layer. Everything below and everything above hopefully will be maintained, but our focus has to stay like a laser to the battle layer, that moment in time.
Let’s talk a little bit about our method of how we identify our battlefields, how do we put boundaries around them. Time was when we would go to a historian, and we’d say, “Hey, where’s the battle?” They’d give us a blob on a map. We’d often go to the National Register and ask for the blob that’s on their maps. We’d take that, and that would be our blob. That would be how we would look at it. Nowadays we’re actually looking a lot closer at our battlefields, and we start off by looking for defining features. We borrow that lingo from the National Register, key defining features, but we call defining features for battlefields any spot, any location, that can be found. That tree, that bridge, that tree line, that rock, that corner of a building. If they can be located, they can be a defining feature.
That leaves out that order, that concept, that movement. What it does is it pins things to a three-dimensional spot on the world. What’s a little bit revolutionary about our program is we have always considered natural resources just as important as cultural resources. That rock where Turkey Foot stood matters. That escarpment where the men hid matters. That ravine, that defile, that water crossing, that all could be a defining feature. Even that swamp that is an obstacle to the removal of your troops, that’s a very big defining feature. We’ve always looked at the natural and cultural as being tightly linked.
Once you get your list of defining features, you just put them on the ground. Here at Shiloh, we have little red measles of defining features. You can just barely see them. I’m just using Shiloh as an example, because I have a good graphic for it. Once we get our defining features on the ground, then we put a boundary around it, a study area. All your defining features have to be within your battlefield. We don’t have defining features outside of the battlefield. The heaviest area, the area that saw perhaps the most action … Of course, wherever you are is where the most action is, but most people can generally agree about the area that really has key outcome to your objectives, that one area that really is very important. It’s called the core area.
As preservationists, we’re beginning to think that concept might be a little outdated, and the reason why is people tend to say, “Where’s the core area? Well, that’s all we’re going to put on the National Register. Where’s the core area? That’s all we’re going to say. That’s the only land we’re going to buy.” We really are having a trouble with that concept, and that may be actually deleted in the future. We’ll have to see what our next studies bring us.
On top of your battlefield study and core area, you would impose what we call a POTNR, or Potential National Register Area. You could see here this little spot has been removed from the Potential National Register Area. It might have a Walmart on it. There might be something that so erased the readability of that battlefield that it’s just clear from driving around that there’s nothing left. These are windshield surveys, and to archeologists I know that’s not very welcoming, but they’re something that can be done in a couple of days, where you get your defining features pulled together and you have your first look around. It gives us a way to begin our understanding of the battlefield. Grants help us flush out a better understanding as we go.
So, smarty-pants, how do we put this underwater stuff? Here’s Charleston. Right here are the defining features. Then this is the study area. In South Carolina, Dr. Jim Stucht did this work. Here is there troop movements. You can see depending on your old maps that you might have looked at in the past how this has changed, this whole idea of using defining features. This is pretty consistent with National Register bulletin 42, it’s just an elaboration.
All those defining features can actually be broken down even further. We’ve found in battlefields that it’s important to use, again, the same language among different time periods in different parts of the country and different engagements. All our defining features actually can fall within one of these five rubrics, can be key terrain or a key position. Some people call decisive location. It might be the way you know that you’ve reached your objective. If you’re told as a military unit to go take hill 409, then hill 409 is key terrain. It is your position or your objective. Observation and fields of fire could be another type of defining feature. I think some of you may have seen KOCOA analysis out there, where observation and field of fire has been considered in marine settings. This can include looking around the corners of islands. Anybody who can do that is pretty smart, but having that field of vision of being able to see or fire around the corners may really influence how that battlefield turns out.
Being able to see through fog, being able to deal with weather, being able to deal with current patterns. Conceal and cover could also be the reverse of what can be seen. If you can’t be seen because of fog, or you can’t be seen because you’re around the corner of an island, then that’s concealment and cover. I was on the plane once and I asked a military guy if he knew what KOCOA was, and of course they teach it in basic training. I wish I was smart enough to make it up myself. The only thing I did was apply it to archaeology. When I’m talking with troops, I once asked him the difference between conceal and cover, and he said, “Well, if you’re concealed, the enemy can’t see to shoot you. If you’re covered, the enemy can’t actually shoot you.” He’d pick cover every time. I like that explanation.
Obstacles are those funny features that get in the way of mobility or movement. A swamp can be an obstacle. It can stop you from moving around on the battlefield. In a marine setting it could be an obstacle of wind, it could be an obstacle of current, it could be an obstacle of getting into a river setting. The obstacles can be many, and in an avenue of approach is how did you get to the field of fire, or how did you get to that place of contest? How did you get there, and when did you know it began, and when did it end, as the edges of the battlefield’s avenue of approach.
Outside I had some cheat sheets, I call them KOCOA cheat sheets. If you want to pick your cheat sheet, feel free. It’s really a much fuller explanation than today. We also have a submerged resource manual on how to do KOCOA on underwater battlefields, and they’re also outside. I hope that you feel you can pick those up. If you need more, I consider our office a resource. I have a signup sheet that you can sign up for more cheat sheets, and I’ll digitally send them to you. If you need more manuals, I can give you the online link to our website that’ll give you more manuals.
For all these principal battlefields, the 384 of them we’ve done with this KOCOA system, the 270-plus for the Rev War and War of 1812, we have those all in GIS. I offered to Jimmy with BOEM if he thought that would be useful, we’d be happy to share all that GIS data so that you know where we think battlefields are right now. We can be helpful with that. You don’t have to do this from scratch, even though you might want to challenge our thoughts and our findings.
Here’s a way that we can rethink some of our underwater resources. If you look at Credit Island in Iowa, look at where he’s got the most likely British gun position. He’s taken those KOCOA ideas and imposed them. Now, one thing we’re doing, and I got to give it to the Pequots, they have done something called a reverse KOCOA. They don’t have the best written backgrounds, but Kevin McBride actually took all five KOCOA principles and said, “Every battlefield has at least these.” Some defining features fall within a couple of the categories. He said, “What am I missing? Which KOCOA attributes am I missing?” He did a reverse KOCOA. I think Chris did the same thing. Looking for where the gun positions were based on what was missing. KOCOA can help you with your predictive modeling, if you’re interested in doing that on battlefields.
You might say to me, “Kris, where can I find a list of battlefields that have had some basic research by our grant office?” You can look online, and we have all of our grants listed. You can look and see where our reports are for Rev War and Civil War, and you can see online for the Civil War ones at least that GIS data. Otherwise, you can contact me and I’m happy to get you some. Also, if you want to know where our program projects are, like the Charleston Harbor one I was just talking to you about, you can go back through the years of our previous grant winners and you can see a little three-line write-up and the dollar amount, and see what was proposed as far as doing research.
For most of those, at least by Christmas we expect to have digital copies of reports available. If you’re working in Hawaii, I’ve talked to someone in Hawaii, and you’re interested in a digital report, ask me and we can get them to you. I just mentioned to Jessica, we have one in Fort Wrangle, which is not too far away from her work. If you’re interested in using us as a resource, we can do that.
I suggest that we should be thinking outside the box. This is one of the saddest little battlefields I ever visited in Wyoming. This is the battlefield as far as the state of Wyoming is concerned, in this box. Thinking outside the box, we have used heritage tours and projects with mapping for dive shops and PSA’s in tours in Saipan. We’ve considered Kiska and Paleliu for island inventories, where we used both terrestrial and underwater. At Kiska, we actually considered the resources of the air, because it was a firefight using airplanes. That’s a third dimension we have to think about, and my head just can’t do that right now. Then we’ve also done the handbook with the Lake Champlain folks, which is available. I’ll step you through a couple of our good examples.
In Saipan, we’ve worked with Dr. Crowl and Dr. McKinnon, and Ships of Discovery. It seemed the tourists were ripping off pieces of these tanks and taking them home. We came up with a heritage tourism trail to help the community. We did a basic site inventory of materials underground, and we came up with posters and PSA’s in order to advise people not to rip stuff off. We trained the dive shop owners in how to treat these archaeological resources with respect, and I hope it’s turning out well.
On Paleliu, we had some basic problems with understanding the boundaries of the battlefield, partly because landowners were concerned. We’ve done at least two archaeological projects in order to work out way into the community, to talk with folks about assuring them how important it is to protect what we’re finding. This one, we’ve used archaeologists in the back door of getting at issues of landscape and issues of local cultural folks, and the archaeologists seem to like being used. Rick Connect was in my first field school, so he doesn’t seem to mind.
Valcour Bay has been working a dive program for years, and we have spent a couple of years supporting that. We’re seed money, we’re not really meant for long-term preservation projects, but just to spark things. We have sparked some research on the zebra mussels on the Spitfire. We have got our manual up, and we’ve done a compilation of some of their research. The manual’s available in the back. We have additional resources. We’ve done projects at specific work, entire engagements, surveys for entire river settings, and regional inventories. You can always ask me for a BIB on this sheet. We have our planning grants which are available, you can see online. We have one coming up in January. These are some of the roles. It’s not matching for our planning grants, this is the ones I manage mostly. Eligible sites are above ground and underground.
We can help you with best practices, we can even help you form your grant requests. We have a small staff, and feel free to contact us if you need help.