24 November 2011 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 7 comments

On this Thanksgiving Day, when we all have to much to be thankful for, I want to share this, Brian Pohanka’s final interview, wherein he talks about the importance of battlefield preservation. It is haunting and bittersweet to see his image and to hear his voice again so many years after his untimely death, but it’s critical that we continue his work. I miss his wise counsel.

Here is a link to the interview.

And to all, a happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful for what you have. I know that I am. I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to visit this blog, and I am grateful to everyone who takes the time and spends their hard-earned money to read my books.

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  1. Mike Peters
    Thu 24th Nov 2011 at 1:35 pm



    As I’ve told you before, the longest E-mail I ever received from Brian was in reply to one I sent congratulatying him for a preservation award. It was like a father or grandfather bragging about children or grandchildren. The passion oozed from the words.

    Man I miss him!

    Three Cheers & a tiger!



  2. Teri Hitchcock
    Fri 25th Nov 2011 at 9:49 am

    I am still rather new to being a Civil War enthusist. Just a few years. I own and have watched many documentries on PBS and the History Channel. I have to say I was quite surprised to learn a short while back that Brian Pohanka had died. I knew from the first time I had seen him he must be re-enactor also (the mustache was a dead give away). His final interview was very insipiring. And I realize how important preservation is. Unfortunately I live in Florida and do not get many opportunities to visit many Civil Was sites in Va, Ga,NC, ect… It saddens me as I slowly get to see these places that there will be less and less of them left. Outside of donations what can the average person do to help?

  3. Mike Peters
    Fri 25th Nov 2011 at 12:05 pm


    Join the Civil War Trust, an organization whose sole purpose is the preservation of historic Civil War battlefield property. There are many different levels of membership.

    We are, if I may paraphrase a famous Civil War quote, “the last reserve of the last Army of the Republic.” If we can’t save it, it won’t be saved.

    Our kids, grandkids and all future generations will thank us.

    Mike Peters

  4. Todd Berkoff
    Sun 27th Nov 2011 at 8:38 pm

    A very moving final plea from one of the greats. It is haunting to hear his voice after so many years.

    As a side note, I enjoyed hearing Brian tell the film’s producer (Rob Hodge from Wide Awake Films) to put everything back after Rob moved items on Brian’s desk. That was so Brian. 🙂

    We are in need of another nationally recognized figure like Brian and like a Jerry Russell (who died in 2003, a year before this video was filmed, and obviously on Brian’s mind at the time) to galvanize the masses to support various preservation causes.

    The Civil War Trust has done excellent work to save thousands of acres over the years–in some cases, thanks to the money that Brian left the Trust–but I feel like the movement has been rudderless without strong leaders like Brian and Jerry.


  5. Eric Niderost
    Tue 29th Nov 2011 at 4:28 pm

    I am a history teacher and writer–I knew Brian, and he knew me–who I was– at first though the Little Bighorn Associates–we met at a LBHA convention. we also corresponded. I am a “generalist” historian–ie, not “into” the Civil War as deeply as Brian and many of you. He was a fine historian and an even better human being–unfailingly friendly and courteous… One minor irritation–and not caused by Brian himself– it was hard to get to him to chat at times-ie at the LBHA conventions he was surrounded by a cloud of, well, groupies–hangers-on– that made access occasionally almost impossible. I confess it irritated me…when I wanted to talk to him–I guess a product of his well-deserved fame and TV appearances. But a fine man, who I was proud to know–we corresponded off and on…

  6. Tue 29th Nov 2011 at 5:12 pm


    Thanks for writing. I definitely understand.

    I was fortunate enough to call Brian my friend, and more importantly, my mentor. I greatly appreciated his generosity with a newbie and his ongoing willingness to read and comment upon my work. For a long time, nothing I wrote went out without his blessing.

    We also shared the same undergraduate college, Dickinson College. That always gave us another common topic to discuss.

    Whenever I was in the DC area, I always arranged for us to get together and share a meal. I value those times most of all.

    I miss Brian and his wise counsel on an almost daily basis.

  7. Brian Stuart Kesterson
    Wed 07th Dec 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Eric – As my Master’s program winds down for this year I am starting to have more time to catch up on some Civil War reading that I have been putting off. I want to thank you for posting the link to Brian C. Pohanka’s last interview. Brian was a kind and generous man who helped me on a number of occasions when I was writing my 17th Virginia Cavalry book. Most notably the sections dealing with the fight at Monocacy where Lt. Col. William C. Tavener was mortally wounded in Gen. McCausland’s second advance on Gen. Rickett’s 6th Corp and Major Frederick F. Smith’s mortal wounding at the skirmish at Urbana where Company F, “Night Hawk Rangers” 17th Virginia Cavalry lost their flag to Lieutenant-Colonel David R. Clendenin’s Eighth Illinois Cavalry.
    Brian was gracious enough to be the first and most noted speaker of Parkersburg’s Fort Boreman Civil War Roundtable back in the early 1990’s. His ability to captivate and inform were second to none! His talk on the Custer battlefield was outstanding and he had a way about him that was nonthreatening and allowed the learner to be an active participant in the learning experience. He loved his family, friends, and the cause that he so passionately devoted his life’s work to, in preserving American history and Civil War battlefield sites. Eric, thank you again for sharing this site and rekindling those fond memories of the past and making us realize the debt that we owe to all who do their part to save our American history.

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