Pohanka, Brian C. 1955-2005

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POHANKA, Brian C. 1955-2005

(Brian Caldwell Pohanka)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born March 20, 1955, in Washington, DC; died of melanoma, June 15, 2005, in Alexandria, VA. Historian, editor, activist, and author. Pohanka was a noted U.S. Civil War authority who edited the Time-Life reference series on the subject, worked to protect battlefields from development, and served as an advisor for civil war-era movies. He became fascinated by the War between the States as a boy, and even began conducting serious library research on the subject at the National Archives in Washington, DC, when he was twelve years old. He later went on to earn a history degree from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Pohanka made his living as an editor for Time-Life's "Civil War" reference series and was also hired as a consultant for such films as Glory and Cold Mountain. In addition, he wrote extensively on the subject, publishing such works as Distant Thunder: A Photographic Essay on the American Civil War (1988) and An Illustrated History of the Civil War: Images of an American Tragedy (2000). As a hobby, he participated in Civil War battle reenactments, playing the role of captain of the 5th New York Infantry. He also campaigned actively to preserve historic lands as a member of the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites (later the Civil War Preservation Trust). His work in this area earned him recognition from the trust as Battlefield Preservationist of the Year in 2004. Although the U.S. Civil War was his specialty, Pohanka also conducted research in other areas, including the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Lt. Colonel George Custer met his end at the hands of the Sioux, and in Africa, where he studied sites of the Zulu wars. At the time of his death, he had completed a new history book about the 5th New York Infantry, which was scheduled to be published posthumously.



Chicago Tribune, July 9, 2005, section 2, p. 11.

New York Times, July 4, 2005, p. A12.

Washington Post, June 17, 2005, p. B7.