Interview with Darley Newman from Travels with Darley
The American Battlefield Trust sat down to talk with Darley Newman, Emmy-Award winning TV host, producer, author and entrepreneur who travels the globe for her TV series, "Travels with Darley." Season Six, coming to your local PBS TV station, features an episode where she travels (on horseback!) to the Brandy Station battlefield in Culpeper, Virginia. We asked Darley about the episode and her experience on the battlefield.
American Battlefield Trust: Darley, what advice do you have for people that want to visit a battlefield, but may have never been to that kind of site before?
Darley Newman: A great way to get perspective on history is to visit with a local guide or expert. They can share insider information that you may not discover on your own. If one is not available, do some reading before you visit and make sure to look out for any historical signs or information once onsite to help further paint a picture of what transpired and when. I also like to explore by horseback riding, biking or hiking if possible, again, to see the destination in an active way. At Brandy Station Battlefield we explored on horseback, which was especially interesting, as the Battle of Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle ever fought on North American soil.
How is visiting a battlefield different from visiting anywhere else?
DN: Traveling to destinations where history took place and being there firsthand gives you a deeper connection to the past.
What takeaways did you have from your visit to Brandy Station?
DN: At Brandy Station, we were able to have Matthew George on camera to contextualize the battle. Both of us were on horseback and exploring the battlefield in this way really helped to visualize the over 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers that fought, as many of them on horseback. When we think about history, it can sometimes be hard to understand the horrors and challenges, but having Matthew share his knowledge and perspective made it all the more real. The segment in our PBS episode is a must watch to learn about the site.
Why was it important to include a battlefield in your Culpeper itinerary?
DN: Culpeper was a hotspot of activity during the Civil War, so including a battlefield and the Graffiti House was important. We couldn’t not include a battlefield in fact. Of course, we also cover vineyards, the food scene, great outdoor experiences and the breadth of what there is to see and do in Culpeper and the surrounding area. The episode is filled with some of the best things to enjoy and learn while in the area.
How did the visit to Brandy Station fit into the rest of your trip?
DN: In each place that we visit and film for “Travels with Darley,” we’re working to capture the authentic essence of the place. You can’t do that in most places, but especially Culpeper, without delving into the history. Brandy Station was important to include. We’re rode up Bufords Knoll, a strategic command point on the day of the battle. I especially enjoyed visiting the Graffiti House with Docent Bob Luddy. We filmed a 360 video inside. It’s one of the most interesting historical sites we’ve visited and been able to capture in 360. The walls in the three upstairs rooms, the upstairs hallway and downstairs bathroom feature everything from signatures to notations to drawings of horses and birds to female visitors to the camps. You have to visit in person to really take in the diversity of the Graffiti House, but capturing it in 360 was also a great way to share it with people around the world and help them learn about it.
Are there any plans to visit other battlefields in the future of Travels with Darley?
DN: We’ve filmed and included a variety of battlefields in “Travels with Darley” in the past and will most certainly include more in the future. We filmed at Waterloo and Bastogne in Belgium, including the Mardasson Memorial, honoring the American soldiers who were wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge. In France, we filmed two half hour episodes, “Travels with Darley: France’s Western Front,” traveling to WWI sites of significance to Americans in Northeastern France. We featured Belleau Wood, Chemin des Dames in Aisne, chilling Caverne du Dragon, an underground battlefield, biked Verdun battlefield and more. Those episodes are repeating now on PBS stations, as well as Amazon Prime. In all of these destinations, like in Culpeper and Brandy Station, we had local experts and guides on camera to contextualize the importance of each location.
Learn More: Travels with Darley website