Dr. Hillen Class Outing

students posing for a photo at the top of a hill

Seven students in the Strategic Leadership in American Institutions course—accompanied by H-SC alumni, other college professors, and Wheat Professor John Hillen—took to the field on a recent Saturday for an all-day staff ride.  A staff ride is an exercise designed by the military to re-enact the major decisions of leaders in a historic campaign on the very spots where those decisions took place. Dr. Hillen’s class adapted the concept for their study of strategic leadership and decision-making and re-played the last weeks of the U.S. Civil War, in particular 10 days of the Appomattox campaign. Playing Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses Grant, Robert E. Lee, Philip Sheridan, James Longstreet, and other major political and military decision-makers, students gave presentations in character about how they were thinking through their strategic position, their institutional goals, and how they were framing their decision-making process. The characters interacted with each other just as they may have in real life. The staff ride took place at the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield, High Bridge in Farmville, and the Appomattox Courthouse.