Our Living National Treasure

Civil War authority, Historian emeritus Ed Bearss

NPS Chief Historian Emeritus, Ed Bearss in 2012

Edwin C. Bearss undoubtedly qualifies as Our Country’s Living National Treasure. His awards and accomplishments read like the combined lives of 3 men.

He served as a U. S. Marine in WWII with the 3rd Marine Raider Battalion on Guadalcanal and the 7th Regiment, 1st Marine Division in New Britain. Severely wounded on Cape Gloucester in 1944, he spent 26 months in a hospital. He returned home to Montana in 1946, but didn’t stay long.

Ed Bearss, NPS Chief Historian Emeritus, Civil War lecture

He used the G.I. Bill to fund a B.S. degree from Georgetown in Foreign Service Studies in 1949. He received his M.A. in history from Indiana University in 1955. He worked as an historian at Vicksburg National Military Park performing the research that led him and two friends to find the long lost U. S. gunboat U.S.S. Cairo, which is on display today.  Starting in 1961, he developed a variety of new parks, Pea Ridge and Wilson’s Creek to mention a few.  He served in many roles with the National Park Service over the years.

On November 1, 1981, he was named Chief Historian of the National Park Service. After his retirement in 1995 he received and still holds the title Chief Historian Emeritus.

He has authored over seventeen books; been the editor of many historical books; received so many awards that they would take up multiple pages; and provided commentary for numerous Civil War television productions.

Ed Bearss, NPS Chief Historian Emeritus, Civil War tours

But where he shines the brightest is on his many Civil War tours. I have never seen a historian that has groupies like a rock star, but Mr. Bearss has them.

If you haven’t been on one of his tours, you need to add it to your bucket list. And when he takes off walking from one point to another, you better double quick to stay up. Folks, he is a walking encyclopedia of historical knowledge.  He can make a battlefield or a historical figure come alive right before your eyes.

Today I join thousands of fellow Civil War Buffs and fans wishing Ed a Happy 90th Birthday. We really appreciate you.

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About Civil War Reflections

Vernon has been a Civil War buff since childhood, but had been inactive in Civil War history for over two decades. However, in the early 1990s his interest was rekindled after watching Ken Burns’ “Civil War Documentary” on PBS. He particularly became interested in the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg) and decided to learn more about this epic struggle.
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