Meet Andy Papen of Jefferson City, Mo.

An interview with a Color Bearer member

Virtually all of my trips since college have included at least one Civil War battlefield. Those places don't get preserved by magic; we have to step up and act to preserve those sites.

Color Bearer Andy Papen

Color Bearer Andy Papen
Color Bearer Andy Papen

American Battlefield Trust: What moved you to first give to our organization?

Andy: It was still the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites when I made my first donation, but I didn't become a member until years later. As a lifelong student of American history with a focus (some might call it an obsession) on Civil War, it just seemed like the right thing to do. Virtually all of my trips since college have included at least one Civil War battlefield. Those places don't get preserved by magic; we have to step up and act to preserve those sites. The Trust was the best way to do that. For any student of military history, there is no substitute for being on the ground, and the ground has to be preserved and accessible for us to explore and study. 

What do you enjoy most about being a Color Bearer?

For me, it was just the next step of being a member of the Trust. It was an opportunity to back up my talk about battlefield preservation by increasing the amount of money I donated for preservation. Although I have never been able to attend any Trust events (yet!), I know several other Color Bearers and I both admire and respect their dedication to battlefield preservation. I'm glad to be numbered among them.

What is your favorite battlefield you’ve visited?

There are so many! I'd have to say Chickamauga. Shiloh, Vicksburg, and Wilson's Creek are probably tied for second. I spend very little time on Eastern Theatre, but Antietam and other sites related to the 1862 Maryland Campaign are among my favorites as well. The recent scholarship on Chickamauga and Antietam is excellent, which really feeds my interest. Chickamauga was largely ignored by historians for decades; when I first started going there regularly and studying it twenty-plus years ago, there wasn't a lot of published material available. That's changed in the last few years. 

What would you like to pass on to future generations?   

That the history of this country is still important to us today, even the parts that aren't pretty. History isn't always about feeling good about the past, and maybe the parts that some find offensive just might be the most important to understand. 

If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?

So many come to mind that it's hard to pick just one. Harry Truman probably is at the top of the list. He was an ordinary man, thrust into extraordinary circumstances, who helped shape the post-WWII world. As far as a Civil War era personality is concerned, I'd like to meet either William Rosecrans or George McClellan. I gravitate towards those whom history either overlooks or doesn't really understand.  

Anything else you want to share?   

For so many people, their first battlefield experience was Gettysburg. For me, however, it was Wilson's Creek and Lexington in Missouri. My parents, who always encouraged my interests, took me to visit both sites in the mid to late 1970's. I was able to visit those sites, and still visit them now, because someone took the initiative to preserve them. It's hard to say how much those initial visits did to really spur my interest in the Civil War and history in general, but hopefully a lot of kids can visit sites we help preserve and become interested as well. That's why I'm a member of the Trust and a Color Bearer.