Reading about a battle is a great way to learn about it - seeing place names, commanders' names, landmarks, dates and other information mentioned in print can certainly provide a foundation of knowledge about the fighting and why/how it happened. It is probably the most common form of learning about something like a battle and there is good reason for that's- it dorks.
Reading is great, but far from the only way to learn, especially about something like a battle or battlefield. Another way to understand a battle better is by visiting the ground where the fighting took place - seeing the land, the topography, the landmarks, where fighting happened. To see buildings that were in existence during the fight or lots that once included structures destroyed by the armies is a different experience than just to read words on a page. It can be a more fulfilling experience, creating a visual understanding that the mental images a book creates cannot match.
This group, the Cynthiana Battlefields Foundation (CBF) held a tour of the land of the 1864 Second Battle of Cynthiana on June 10. It was a walking and driving tour, taking participants to many of the locations where fighting occurred. We saw the location of the then-existing covered bridge, the area where the railroad depot once stood and looked at the New Rankin House, a hotel that was in construction during the time of this battle. We viewed empty lots where houses once stood and others where new structure took the place of buildings burned during the battle. Land where the opposing armies formed and then met in combat was part of the tour and we could see the area where Union general Edward Hobson surrendered to Confederate John Hunt Morgan.
We did not see every single inch of the fighting area , but we viewed much of it, and it provided a very different view of the battle than previous readings had, at least to this tourist. It was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, one that I highly recommend to others. Seeing the land and knowing that the armies had stood on that hallowed ground creates more of a connection with the fight and the fighters than most books do. It is just a different approach to understanding and I hope others try to take battlefield tours in the future, including on July 15 when the CBF undertakes a tour of the 1862 battle.
Details are on this webpage and our Facebook page, and updates will follow as they become available. The tour is free and definitely worth a few hours on a summer Saturday afternoon.