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South Hagerstown High School teacher to be featured on Discovery Channel

October 07, 2002

South Hagerstown High School teacher to be featured on Discovery Channel special

South Hagerstown High School social studies teacher John Michael Priest is one of four featured historians in the premiere of a new Discovery Channel program.

On Wednesday at 9 p.m. the Discovery Channel is launching a new series, "Unsolved History," with the opening show focused on Gettysburg.

"Gettysburg: Pickett's Charge" will feature Dr. Gary Gallagher, award-winning historian from the University of Virginia; Scott Hartwig, historian at Gettysburg National Battlefield; Gary Kross, a Gettysburg Battlefield Guide; and Priest, a nationally published Civil War historian. The hourlong program premieres at 9 p.m. and will repeat at 12 a.m.

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New episodes of the series, which uses modern forensic analysis and experiments to offer fresh interpretations of famous events, air every Wednesday on the Discovery Channel at 9 p.m.

Hartwig said the program utilizes a different way to analyze the battle. By examining the effect of the cannonade preceding and during the charge, studying the fence lines which disrupted the formation and analyzing the terrain in the vicinity of the Emmitsburg Road, the documentary will attempt to explain the discrepancies between the actual number of Confederate casualties and those which were believed to have been incurred.

Priest, a teacher in Washington County for more than 20 years, has published 13 books related to the Civil War since 1989.

Bob Wise, the producer, said the show is not based exclusively on the conclusion of Priest's detailed tactical study of the attack, "Into the Fight: Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg" (White Mane, 1998) but "many of the important points (Priest makes) about the men not making the charge are central to the show's thesis."

Priest broke new ground by asserting that a large portion of the Confederates did not complete the charge because they turned around and walked back to their own lines rather than participate in a charge, which they did not believe would succeed. The Discovery Channel on its Web site says: "Take a look at this turning point in American history in a new light."

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