STEUBENVILLE - City Manager Cathy Davison ran through the ravine and the remnants of a wheat field that had been covered in blood and bodies nearly 149 years ago.
She didn't scream the rebel yell the Confederate soldiers were shouting that hot July day in 1863 as they rushed to their deaths.
But Davison learned the value of leadership and listening to others as she and 29 other members of the International City Manager Association followed the historical footsteps of Gen. George Pickett and the 12,500 soldiers under his command as they attacked the Union forces on Cemetery Ridge.
HISTORY LESSON – Steubenville City Manager Cathy Davison recently attended a three-day International City Manager Association training session in Gettysburg, where she studied leadership lessons from the Battle of Gettysburg. Standing in front of a panoramic view of the Pennsylvania village in the 1860s were, from left, Henry Martin, a city manager from Michigan, a re-enactor portraying Jenny Wade, the only civilian casualty from the battle, Davison and a re-enactor playing the part of Union Army Gen. John Fulton Reynolds who was killed at the beginning of the battle. -- Contributed
"We ran the route the Confederates took that day to feel what the soldiers felt during the battle," Davison said.
"We started marching in formation as those soldiers did through two swales. The union soldiers had later talked about the Confederate troops disappearing from view. That is when they were marching through the swales. We then ran through what was the wheat field in 1863 and then climbed the fence. Running those steps where so many died saddened me a great deal. The country didn't need to go through a Civil War. The issues could have been worked out. And the especially amazing thing is most of the commanders on both sides went to school together and knew each other very well," stated Davison.
"Gen. Pickett doubted the decision to attack the center of the union lines and Gen. James Longstreet even questioned the Confederate commander Gen. Robert E. Lee. But Longstreet wasn't from Virginia and Lee discounted his thoughts and ordered the charge to take place," noted Davison.
"General George Meade had only been in command of the Union army for two days. But he met with his commanders, both the generals and front line commanders and reached a collaborative consensus. That was one of our lessons. We need to listen to others and reach a decision all can agree on or support," continued Davison.
"This was a chance to learn and live history to become a better manager. I think I am that type of leader. I look for consensus and ideas from others," Davison continued.
"One of the points I learned during the three day conference has made me think more about the clarity of our city's mission. Does our staff always know where we are going? I don't think so. In our next employee newsletter I will be discussing our city mission," said Davison.
"It doesn't matter who you are. We are a team. And as a smaller city we are expected to provide exceptional services for our residents, businesses and visitors," declared Davison.
"We all arrived in Gettysburg on Tuesday. We had been told to read the book. 'The Killer Angels' written in 1975 by Michael Shaara. On Wednesday we watched the film 'Gettysburg' based on 'The Killer Angels' and then talked about the command structures, strategies and methods of communication during the battle," Davison explained.
"We also walked through the village and learned how the few men and the number of women who had remained in the village coped with the aftermath of the battle that left 51,000 casualties, 5,000 dead horses and the terrible devastation," cited Davison.
"This conference has encouraged me to ask our city residents to be leaders in our community. I am asking all residents to step forward and become a part of the city team. We have had to adapt our organization to deal with economic difficulties. But because we are an innovative organization we are able to overcome the tough issues and continue moving forward in providing exceptional service," Davison stated.
"Proving successful will take the entire team. It will take ever city employee to step up and adopt our innovations. Leadership is not easy. It is hard. But I wouldn't change my job for the world. I have seen our city unions adapt to change and bring forward ideas to make our team more efficient. I will ask for a similar training I have enjoyed for our department heads as well as our employees. It will make us a better team and provide a collaborative leadership for our city," said Davison.