Author Brad Gottfried of the upcoming The Maps of First Bull Run was kind enough to take the time to respond to a few questions regarding the book and the Savas Beatie project in general.
What is the Savas Beatie Battlefield Atlas project, and how did you get involved?
The “Battlefield Atlas” project actually started with my Maps of Gettysburg book. I had written a book entitled, “The Brigades of Gettysburg” that highlighted the activities of every infantry brigade that participated in the battle. As a result of that book, I realized that the battle would be much more understandable if they had a series of good, accurate maps, accompanied by a descriptive text. After some thought, I came up with the idea of a map book, where the map is on the right page and the description is on the left. That book included over 140 maps and it has been well received. Since that time, Ted Savas has decided to broaden the concept and has signed up authors to do maps of other campaigns.
Why did you choose Bull Run as your second project?
I basically decided to prepare a book on every campaign in the Eastern Theatre of the Civil War, so it was natural that I go in order. I had been to the battlefield several times, but like so many others, really had trouble getting my arms around the swirl of events.
How does this book differ from your Gettysburg Atlas?
The book is similar to the Gettysburg Atlas with two exceptions. First, and perhaps most important, the maps are in color. This was one of the biggest criticisms of the Gettysburg volume. The second difference is the length of the book. The Gettysburg book ran 363 pages and contained about 140 maps; the new one on First Bull Run/Manassas, is 144 pages long and contains 51 maps. It also includes a section on Ball’s Bluff.
What were the particular challenges of doing a Bull Run Atlas?
I think that Gettysburg spoiled me. There are so many first-person accounts and so many analyses of what occurred there that I was able to get a much richer picture of what really happened. Less is written about First Bull Run/Manassas and there is much more ambiguity. Harry Smeltzer and Jim Burgess really helped me to sort out the fact from the fiction regarding the First Bull Run/Manassas campaign. Jim Morgan did the same for the Ball’s Bluff section.
Were there any surprises while writing this book?
Not really. I learned so much about the campaign. If I had to name some, it was how close General McDowell came to winning this battle and how lucky the Confederates were in moving units into position at just the right time. Most of us know about Stonewall Jackson’s gallant stand on Henry Hill, but I was surprised by how so many of his units were defeated at one time or another.
What’s up next for you in the series?
I will stop going in order now and concentrate on the most “popular” campaigns. Next up is the Maryland campaign. After that I may go back and work on the Second Manassas Campaign. That book will probably be double the size of the First Bull Run/Manassas book.
Ted Savas was good enough to provide me with one map and corresponding facing text. You can find the pdf file here. The pages will face, text on the left, map on the right. The map is lower res than what will be in the book. If you can’t open pdf files (you can get a pdf reader for free, just enter “free pdf reader” into a search engine), below are clickable thumbs of each page.
Again, you can register to be notified when this book becomes available here.