Subject: Licensed Battlefield [lbg] Examination Process and Information Packet

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1Date August 14, 2017
Subject: Licensed Battlefield [LBG] Examination Process and Information Packet

Dear Prospective Licensed Battlefield Guide:

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Licensed Battlefield Guide (LBG) at Gettysburg National Military Park (GNMP). NOTE: Gettysburg National Military Park is only offering licenses for the Full-Time license category at this time. This packet provides details about the multi-tiered LBG Examination Process and includes an attached information packet.
The entire LBG examination process reflects feedback from GNMP staff, a team of veteran Licensed Battlefield Guides, the visiting public, and past successful and unsuccessful examinees. Under the leadership of the Supervisory Park Ranger/Licensed Battlefield Guide Program Manager, a diverse committee of six current LBGs, representing over 100 years of collective guiding experience, conducted a thorough review of past examinations. The resulting product is a multi-tiered examination process approved by the GNMP Superintendent that is transparent, open, comprehensive, thorough, focused, dynamic, and challenging.
The objective of the multi-tiered LBG Examination Process is to license the most qualified, knowledgeable, skilled, and professional individuals as Licensed Battlefield Guides at Gettysburg National Military Park. Each guide is required to uphold a century-old tradition of mastering relevant core knowledge about the Battle of Gettysburg within the context of causes and consequences of the American Civil War to interpret and communicate that information to the visiting public in an engaging manner.

If you wish to earn the Gettysburg LBG license which grants permission to enter GNMP and provide a personalized tour for compensation – a privilege, not an inherent right – you are required to successfully complete each tier of the multi-tiered process within one examination period. The complete process includes:

Tier 1 Written Examination

Tier 2 Panel Interview

Tier 3 Field Practicum

Tier 4 Oral Battlefield Examination

Tier 5 Post-Licensing Orientation
Each tier of the process will be scored according to a specific rubric developed and approved by Gettysburg National Military Park and the testing committee. You must successfully complete the requirements of each tier in the process to advance to the next tier to earn the license to serve as an LBG at Gettysburg. Failure to successfully complete any one tier means a failure of the entire examination process. In the event this occurs, however, you may attempt to earn your license the next time GNMP offers the full examination process to prospective LBGs.

Tier 1 Written Examination
Tier 1 – the written examination – addresses eight major areas of concentration: Causes of the American Civil War; Consequences of the American Civil War; the Pennsylvania/Gettysburg Campaign; July 1; July 2; July 3, 1863; post-battle Commemoration and Monuments; and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.
Within these eight areas, the written examination may include, but are not limited to, questions addressing the following subtopics:

  • Knowledge of the advance into Pennsylvania of the Army of Northern Virginia and its retreat to Virginia, and the advance of the Army of the Potomac into Pennsylvania and its pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia.

  • Identification and location of topographical and terrain features on the battlefield and in the town, and relevant maps.

  • Identification and location of monuments and landmarks located on the battlefield and in the town, and relevant maps.

  • Knowledge of the battle, the battle’s military participants, and civilians associated with the town/community, and the Army of Northern Virginia and Army of the Potomac prior to, during, and in the early aftermath of the battle.

  • Identification and knowledge of the strategy, tactics, equipment, insignia, terminology, and uniforms of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War.

  • Knowledge of field hospitals, their locations, and the medical practices utilized during Battle of Gettysburg.

  • Knowledge of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.

  • Knowledge of other major American Civil War battles.

  • Knowledge of social, political, economic, and diplomatic causes and consequences of the American Civil War.

  • Knowledge of surrenders, assassination of President Lincoln, Period of Reconstruction.

  • Knowledge of the National Park Service, Gettysburg National Military Park, and its primary partner, the Gettysburg Foundation.

  • Knowledge of questions related to being a Licensed Battlefield Guide, including the history of guiding at GNMP.


  • The morning section of the written examination will contain fill-in-the-blank objective questions.

  • The afternoon section of the written examination will contain a total of six essay questions, related to the following categories: Causes of the American Civil War, Consequences of the American Civil War; Pennsylvania/Gettysburg Campaign; July 1; July 2; July 3, 1863; Soldiers’ National Cemetery; and post-battle Commemoration and Monuments.

Of the six essay questions, three will offer you a choice of options, while answering the other three questions will be mandatory. No answer may exceed one side of one page of the provided paper. Answers must be printed/written clearly and legibly. Any answer not reasonably discernible to the examiners will receive no points.

Only the top-performing candidates on Tier 1 will move on to Tier 2- Panel Interview. Exact numbers will be determined by an evaluation of the exam results and the needs of Gettysburg National Military Park.
Tier 2 Panel Interview
A major cornerstone of an LBG’s skill set is the ability to communicate the Gettysburg story to the visitor in an engaging, professional and understandable manner. Examinees who have received notification that they have successfully completed Tier 1 of the LBG Examination Process proceed to Tier 2 – the Panel Interview. Qualifying scores on Tier 1 do not carry over and will have no influence on an individual’s Tier 2 outcome.
In Tier 2, you will be evaluated on your interpersonal communication skills by two separate panels of NPS Rangers and LBGs. They will pose questions and engage you in dialogue for approximately 30 minutes. During this time you will have the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of both oral and interpersonal communications skills, including:

  • Concise manner in the framing of response to questions posed.

  • Ability to listen and relay relevant and accurate answers to questions posed.

  • Appropriate eye contact; voice tone, tempo, and level of projection; and use of correct grammar and pronunciation.

  • Demeanor that exhibits the ability to connect with the interviewers/visitors, as well as reflects the qualities of enthusiasm, friendliness, and a willingness to provide direct answers to any and all questions.

  • Neat, clean, professional appearance, and good posture.

Tier 3 Field Practicum
Approximately four to six weeks after the Tier 2- Panel Interview, successful candidates will be required to attend a 3-day field practicum at a date to be determined. Candidates will also be required to prepare, in advance, an outline of what they deem to be an effective 2-hour guided tour of the battlefield, and a presentation on a pre-assigned topic to be delivered on the battlefield. Candidates will be evaluated on multiple required elements, including the pre-assigned speaking topic. This session also will contain information about topics such as, but not limited to:

  • Assignment and importance of working with an LBG mentor.

  • Polishing extemporaneous speaking skills.

  • Methodology of creating and sharpening an outline of tour stops.

  • Storytelling.

  • Classroom and extensive field sessions with LBGs.

  • The scoring rubric developed and approved by GNMP and the testing committee for the Tier 4- Oral Exam will be shared and explained.

Based upon an evaluation of the candidates’ pre-assigned speaking presentations successful candidates will be notified of their advancement to Tier 4-Oral Exam.

Tier 4 Oral Battlefield Examination
Successful candidates from Tier 3- Field Practicum will be notified of the scheduled Tier 4-Oral Exam.

  • Candidates are required to conduct a practice oral exam with their mentor prior to the scheduling of their official Oral Exam.

  • Oral exams are scheduled throughout the week, not on weekends solely.

  • GNMP will designate a time for the exam to begin. The exam begins in the lobby of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

  • Examiners consist of an NPS Interpretive Ranger and an experienced LBG mentor.

  • Each candidate will have a maximum of two opportunities to successfully complete the oral exam.

  • Candidates must have a valid driver’s license, as well as valid registration and proof of automobile insurance. Candidates will drive their own cars, cover the entire three-day battle and battlefield [with the exception of East Cavalry Field], answer all questions, obey all traffic safety rules, and complete the entire tour in 2 hours.

  • Within less than an hour of completing the first oral exam, candidates will be invited for a personalized feedback session with the examiners who will also inform candidates whether they successfully completed the exam. Within the context of this session, candidates also must demonstrate the ability to self-critique the exam.

  • If a candidate is unsuccessful at the first attempt, a second oral exam will be scheduled within 30 days.

  • Candidates also will receive a post-critique written evaluation following the scoring rubric reviewed in Tier 3.

  • Should candidates fail the Oral Battlefield Examination a second time, they must repeat the entire multi-tiered LBG Examination Process again the next time Gettysburg National Military Park offers it.

Additional Information to Consider before Becoming an LBG:

  • LBGs are self-employed individuals licensed to give tours at GNMP and are not employed by the National Park Service or the Gettysburg Foundation.

  • LBGs are required, as a condition of the Full-Time license, to give a minimum of 175 tours each year.

  • The required annual license fee for the Full-Time license is $360.

  • Neither Gettysburg National Military Park, nor the Gettysburg Foundation, provide benefits, such as health insurance, leave/vacation, sick benefits, disability payments, retirement programs, etc.

  • LBGs must have a valid driver’s license.

  • Designated uniforms are a requirement whenever on duty. Purchase and maintenance of the uniform is the sole responsibility of the LBG.

  • Payment of any applicable federal, state, and local income taxes; SSI, Medicare, etc. and related record keeping are the sole responsibility of the LBG.

  • Because of the seasonal fluctuation in park visitation and guiding opportunities, guiding is potentially most viable from approximately mid-March through mid-November.

Attached are a series of Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs], a suggested reading list, a brief history of guiding at GNMP, and a handout about whether guiding is for you to help you with your self-guided, self-directed, self-study preparation for the entire multi-tiered LBG Examination Process. It is incumbent upon all potential Licensed Battlefield Guide candidates to read and understand all of these elements of the packet.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Angela Atkinson

Supervisory Park Ranger/LBG Program Manager

Gettysburg National Military Park

1195 Baltimore Pike

Suite 100

Gettysburg, PA 17325

Email: (please use Licensed Battlefield Guide in the Subject line)

Licensed Battlefield Guide Exam Committee

Rob Abbott, LBG #16

Angie Atkinson, Supervisory Park Ranger/Licensed Battlefield Guide Program Manager

Tony Delacy, LBG #210

John Fitzpatrick, LBG #200

Fred Hawthorne, LBG #56

Tony Nicastro, LBG #93

Dr. Carol Reardon, George Winfree Professor Emerita of American History, Penn State University

Fred Wieners, LBG #249

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs] about Becoming a Licensed Battlefield Guide

What is the size of the Guide Force?
The law of supply and demand, as ultimately assessed by Gettysburg National Military Park, including input from the Gettysburg Foundation’s database, determines this. Currently there are approximately 150 LBGs.
How is the size of the guide force determined?
The park, with input from the Gettysburg Foundation, which owns and manages the Visitor Center and operates the Reservation System, carefully reviews the number of requests for guided tours and the number of visitors not able to obtain an LBG because no guide is available to serve them, as well as visitation patterns to determine the number of guides to be added to the LBG force. Based on all of this, an informed decision is made whether the entire testing process should be initiated and how many guides will be licensed from the fully completed process at that time.
How frequently will the multi-tiered LBG Licensing Process take place?
The licensing process is authorized at the discretion of the Superintendent at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Why is there a cost to take the test?
There is a non-refundable fee of $250.00 to cover the administrative expenses associated with giving Tier 1 – the Written Examination – of the LBG Examination Process.
How soon should I start to study?
The sooner the better – begin studying for the exam as soon as you want to become a guide.
What should I study?
Start with a good general work such as those cited in the Suggested Reading List in this packet. There are other, more in-depth, one-volume works like: Edwin Coddington’s The Gettysburg Campaign; Noah Trudeau’s Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage; Stephen W. Sears’ Gettysburg; and Allen C. Guelzo’s Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. It is important that you obtain the basics of the narrative of the battle, and do not focus on statistics. Successful LBGs grasp the political, social, economic, and diplomatic perspectives of the American Civil War era, as well as the causes and consequences. Knowledge of military aspects is important, but not sufficient. Individuals with the most detailed and minute knowledge of the battle usually have the hardest time making it through the licensing process. Why? Because they concentrate so much on a specialized aspect of the battle, i.e. tactics, and too little on the broader scope of the battle, the human-interest element, and their meaning within the entire scope of the American Civil War.
Also, it is absolutely essential to become familiar with the actual physical battlefield. You must know the locations of monuments, historic homes and farms, the roads/waterways, and important battle-related sites. This means you need to visit the battlefield in person and study it by driving, and, especially, walking the field. Relevant map study is also important.
What is the oral battlefield examination like?
Following Tier 3, the process enters the most difficult phase, Tier 4 – the Oral Exam. As a prospective LBG, you must complete this exam, which requires you to design and present a 2-hour tour to an NPS Interpretive Ranger and a current LBG who will play the role of visitors. You will provide a vehicle and drive these two “visitors” through the entire three-day battle (with the exception of East Cavalry Field) and present your tour.
You are expected to weave your knowledge of the battle and the war into an educational and enjoyable interpretive tour that will personalize your narration of that tour for the “visitors.” You will be evaluated on how successful you were in completing this goal in two hours according to a scoring rubric developed by the NPS and the testing committee – this rubric will be shared with you in Tier 3 so you understand the expectations of you during this phase. You should expect the “visitors” to question you throughout the tour in order to test your knowledge and ability to weave your answers into an understandable narration.
How will the oral exam be evaluated?
The examiners will be taking notes and recording their observations while you are presenting your tour during the oral examination. Upon completion of the exam, the examiners will have you wait while they convene to compare notes and discuss how well you performed. You will then be called in for a personalized discussion of your test results and whether you successfully completed the exam. Whatever decision is made, the examiners will explain what you did well and the areas you need to improve.
If you do not successfully complete the first oral exam, you will be told why and what steps are necessary to correct it. A second exam will be re-scheduled, allowing you time (30 days) to make the corrections. You will also receive written comments from the first test prior to the second oral exam. You should carefully review and follow the examiners’ suggestions as you prepare for the second chance. You are required to work with your assigned LBG mentor (assigned in Tier 3) to help you work on the rough spots and provide you helpful ideas and suggestions. When the second test is administered, you will follow the same testing procedures as you did in the first test.

What if I fail the oral exam a second time?
If you are unsuccessful in passing the second oral, you must repeat the entire multi-tier LBG Examination Process when the Gettysburg National Military Park offers it.

I’ve successfully completed the entire multi-tiered LBG Examination Process – what happens next?
Examinees who have successfully completed the entire multi-tiered LBG Examination Process receive a packet of information on being a licensed battlefield guide, including paperwork that must be signed and returned to the Park, and the license fee. You will need to acquire a uniform of prescribed items (cost estimate is $200 or more). Finally, you will need to see the Supervisory Park Ranger to obtain the official badge, uniform patches, and photo ID. After this is completed, you may give your first tour.
Is there a probation period?

All newly licensed battlefield guides are placed on a probation period of one year from the time their licensed is issued. During the probationary year, the Supervisory Park Ranger may audit a new LBG. This simply means you will be asked to present your tour to him or her. Failures to abide by regulations or pass the audit are grounds to suspend or revoke your license.

How do I keep my license?
Upon successfully completing the probationary year, an LBG may retain a license for as long as he or she wishes, so long as all guiding rules and regulations are obeyed, the annual license fee is paid, and the annual licensing agreement is signed as specified by policy. LBGs are, of course, expected to continually research and refine their tours. New LBGs soon discover that to become successful, they must develop a number of different, even specialized, tours. As an LBG, you must not allow yourself to continually present a single tour for it will soon develop into a mechanical presentation. Unfortunately, some LBGs in the past have fallen into this type of presentation and have received complaints from visitors. Guides failing to improve upon their presentation will be so informed and counseled, after which they could lose their privilege to guide.


Category 1: Comprehensive Studies of the Pennsylvania Campaign and the Battle of Gettysburg

Visitors often inform their Licensed Battlefield Guide that they have read one or more of these five major histories of the Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg. Thus, their understanding of the events’ major events and controversies may be shaped significantly by the specific arguments advanced by the author(s) with whom they are most familiar and may hold tightly to strong opinions with which you may not agree. Thus, in addition to the vast amount of information each of these books presents, you should also become familiar with the ways in which these authors agree or disagree with each other on such key issues as: the Lee-Longstreet relationship, the Meade-Sickles controversy, Lee’s generalship, Meade’s generalship, the absence of Stuart’s cavalry, the allocation of credit or blame for various events such Ewell’s inaction against Culp’s Hill on July 1 or the holding of Little Round Top, and many others. Remember, even if two authors seem to agree on some matter of controversy, they may not base their arguments on the exact same evidence; be alert to how authors who reach the same conclusion may follow different paths to get there.

As you read, be alert to author bias and balance—does an author seem to favor the Union or the Confederacy, or perhaps specific individuals? Does the author give equal consideration to each of the two armies that fought at Gettysburg or not? Does the book give undue attention to specific units or specific commanders disproportionate to their contribution or performance at Gettysburg? Does an author acknowledge points of contention or shape the narrative around a preferred point of view?

E.B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command

Glenn Tucker, High Tide at Gettysburg

Stephen Sears, Gettysburg

Noah Andre Trudeau, Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage

Allen C. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion

Also, do not ignore Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels, and D. Scott Hartwig, A Killer Angels Companion

Many visitors will also cite Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and the movie “Gettysburg” based on it) as the source of most of their understanding of the battle. It is especially important for a Licensed Battlefield Guide to make clear that The Killer Angels is a work of fiction, and neither Shaara nor the team that produced “Gettysburg” consistently respected historical accuracy or avoided the problems of bias and balance. Hartwig’s booklet will make clear where the author and filmmakers took license.

Category 2. Microhistories

Many visitors will express special interests and will request to spend their entire time with a Licensed Battlefield Guide concentrating on a specific day, a single tactical action, or one military specialty rather than tour the entire battlefield. While the comprehensive histories in Section 1 will provide a close reader with a breadth of understanding of the campaign and battle, the works cited below will enhance that reader’s depth of knowledge about specific parts of the big picture. Be on the alert for ways in which these specialized studies agree with, reject, or modify arguments made in the broader comprehensive studies in Category 1.

Thomas J. Ryan, Spies, Scouts, and Secrets in the Gettysburg Campaign

Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg—The First Day

David G. Martin, Gettysburg, July 1

Eric Wittenberg, “The Devil’s to Pay”: John Buford at Gettysburg

Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg—The Second Day

Thomas Desjardins, Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine

Garry Adelman and Tim Smith, Devil’s Den

Harry Pfanz, Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill

Earl J. Hess, Pickett’s Charge—The Last Attack at Gettysburg

Wayne Motts and James Hessler, Pickett’s Charge

Kent Masterson Brown, Retreat from Gettysburg

George Newton, Silent Sentinels: A Reference Guide to the Artillery of Gettysburg

Eric Wittenberg, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions

Gettysburg essays in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume 3.

Volume 27, Parts 1, 2, and 3 of The War of the Rebellion: The Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, which contain the post-battle reports written by Union and Confederate officers on the, corps, division, brigade, regimental and artillery brigade, battalion and battery level, is the ultimate primary source for microhistory. This source is readily accessible online.

Ben Dixon, Learning the Battle of Gettysburg, A Guide to the Official Records

Category 3. Mastering spatial relationships on the battlefield

A Licensed Battlefield Guide simply must master the ability to use the battlefield’s terrain to show visitors where specific actions occurred, how they relate to other portions of the field, the distance advancing or retreating troops covered, and the direction they took. While intensive reading is necessary to obtain one’s License, a prospective Licensed Battlefield Guide also must devote significant time on the battlefield itself to understand the physical environment in which the armies operated. In addition to the maps in the books in the previous two categories, the following books should help you master the spatial relations critical to giving an informative tour.

Phil Laino, Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, or Bradley Gottfried, The Maps of Gettysburg

Carol Reardon and Tom Vossler, A Field Guide to Gettysburg

Category 4. Specialized non-tactical topics centering on Gettysburg

Inevitably, visitors will ask questions about issues not directly related to the actions of brigades or the decisions of generals. Thus, to get and then keep a visitor’s interest engaged, a Licensed Battlefield Guide often must dig into other integral elements of the broader Gettysburg narrative through human interest stories about local civilians before, during, and after the battle, as well as the political, religious, social and history of the town of Gettysburg. Other visitors may show a greater interest in the care of the wounded, the burial of the dead, the establishment of the Soldiers National Cemetery and the National Battlefield Park, and, of course, President Lincoln and his Address.

Greg Coco, A Strange and Blighted Land

William Frassanito, Gettysburg: A Journey in Time, and Early Photography at Gettysburg

Timothy H. Smith, The Farms of Gettysburg

Carol Reardon, Pickett’s Charge in History and Memory

Gabor Boritt, ed., The Gettysburg Nobody Knows

Margaret Creighton, Colors of Courage, Gettysburg’s Forgotten History

Gerald R. Bennett, Days of Uncertainty and Dread: The Ordeal Endured by the Citizens at Gettysburg.

Jennifer Murray, On a Great Battlefield, or Jim Weeks, Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine

Fred Hawthorne, Gettysburg: Stories of Men and Monuments as Told by Battlefield Guides.

Roy Frampton, Lincoln and the Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg National Cemetery

Martin P. Johnson, Writing the Gettysburg Address

Garry Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America

It is also worth your time to read the standard overviews of the Battle of Gettysburg published by the National Park Service and individual authors to understand what a casual visitor to the battlefield may or may not have had a chance to learn before touring with a Licensed Battlefield Guide.

Category 5: Contextual Reading

A Licensed Battlefield Guide frequently fields very basic questions about the Civil War that require a understanding of the conflict well beyond Gettysburg. Typical questions generally touch on the causes of the war, the fundamentals of military science in the nineteenth century, and the consequences of the war that the nation still struggles to resolve. These works provide a foundation for giving useful historically-sound answers to questions that still stir controversy today.

James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom

James McPherson, For Cause and Comrades

Earl J. Hess, Civil War Infantry Tactics, Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness

David Blight, Race and Reunion; or Caroline Janney, Remembering the Civil War

John Coski, The Confederate Battle Flag

Tony Horwitz, Confederates in the Attic

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