Viewshed Meeting Tonight

13 01 2010

I just learned from Facebook friend, author, and Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Garry Adelman that a meeting will be held tonight at the Manassas National Battlefield Park visitor center on Henry Hill, regarding the Manassas Battlefields Viewsheds Study project.  The following is from Prince William County’s website:

For Release

December 23, 2009

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA . . . The Prince William County Planning Office and the Manassas National Battlefield Park are jointly managing a grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program to study the Battlefields’ militarily significant views.  This is the third and final public meeting for the Manassas Battlefields Viewsheds Study project.
 
A Public Meeting for the Manassas Battlefields Viewshed Study will be held Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, Manassas National Battlefield Park at 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, VA. At the meeting, the Study’s consultant will present the draft Viewshed Preservation Plan and solicit comment from the public. 
 
Copies of the draft Viewshed Preservation Plan (VPP) are available for review at the Henry Hill Visitor Center, at Park Headquarters; in the Prince William County Planning Office; at the Chinn Regional, Bull Run Regional, Central Community, and Gainesville Neighborhood libraries; and on-line at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/. To view the draft online, under Parks select Manassas NBP, select Conduct Study of Critical Historic Viewsheds of Manassas Battlefield, select Open for Public Comment). At this site, comments can be entered, or, for further information or to comment on the Plan, call the Park Headquarters at 703-754-1861, extension 0.  All comments on the VPP are due to the Park no later than Jan. 27, 2010.
 
Accessibility to Persons with Disabilities: This meeting is being held at a public facility believed to be accessible to persons with disabilities.  Any person with questions on the accessibility of the facility should contact the Henry Hill Visitor Center, 6511 Sudley Road, Manassas, Virginia, 20109, or by telephone at 703-361-1339 or TDD 703-361-7075.
 
Directions to the Henry Hill Visitor Center

From Washington D.C. and Points East:  Travel west on I-66 to Exit 47B, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Proceed through the first traffic light. The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points North:  Travel south on I-95 to the Capital Beltway (Route 495).  Travel west towards Silver Springs, MD.  Continue on the Beltway for approximately 10 miles, crossing the Potomac River into Virginia.  Take the exit for I-66 west to Manassas.  Take Exit 47B, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Proceed through the first traffic light. The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points South:  Travel north on I-95 to Exit 152, Route 234 north towards Manassas.  Stay on Business Route 234 (do not take the by-pass) and travel for approximately 20 miles just beyond the city of Manassas.  The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is located on the right, just past the entrance to the Northern Virginia Community College.
 
From Points West: Travel east on I-66 to Exit 47, Route 234 North (Sudley Road).  Turn left on Route 234 and proceed through the first traffic light.  The entrance to the Henry Hill Visitor Center is on the right, just past the Northern Virginia Community College.

If any of you attend, please let us know what is discussed.

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What Is Truth?

10 01 2010

I’ve finished Joan Waugh’s U. S. Grant: American Hero, American Myth.  I’ll give some thoughts on the book at some point in the near future.  But it and Larry Tagg’s The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln got me to thinking: what do we really know of “public opinion” as of a point in time?  I mean, it’s hard even today, with polls out the wazoo, to tell what public opinion is on any given topic.  The most typical resource relied upon for public opinion has been newspapers, including reporting and editorializing.  But let’s keep in mind that newspapers never have been objective, and during the middle period of the 19th century in this country they were unabashedly partisan.  That’s why they had names like “The Democrat”, “The Whig” and “The Republican”.  They reflected the viewpoints of their owners and editors (again, no different from today).  If we admit the lack of objectivity, then we don’t take editorials at face value – we also delve into letters to the editor.  Of course those were selected for publication by the editor as well.  So perhaps we should look in the records of the newspapers themselves: files of letters to the editor that never made it into print.  If they exist, we have to rely on the objectivity of the newspaper in saving the letters.  And even that pool is tainted because it will consist of correspondence from readers of that particular newspaper.  As consumers, we have to deal with another filter, that of the historian who selects (evaluates) what’s pertinent, what’s worthwhile.  Anyway, all this thinking just makes me look more suspiciously at generalizations about what people in the north or south “thought” or “felt”, and about how “pressure from the public” or even the press, influenced decision makers.

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Coming Up

8 01 2010

I’m way behind on reviews.  I have some notes to recent reads by Larry Tagg, Jim Schmidt, and Joan Waugh to name a few.  Spoiler Alert – these were all three great books: Tagg’s and Waugh’s were probably two of the most important releases of 2009.  I’m still considering a long review of Tagg for publication.  If I go that route, I won’t be able to post it here for a while.

I’ve received a couple of inquiries about the progress of a piece for which I’m compiling material about the affect of slavery on the character of southern elites who made up the bulk of the Confederacy’s officer corps, and what folks like Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, Alexis de Toqueville and some modern commentators had to say about it, and how it all may cause one to reconsider the meaning of a famous quote by Lee.  All I can say is that the stack is getting bigger, but the bit is getting no closer ot being written.

I know I’ve been remiss in posting new resource material, and hope to flip the ratio of original content to resource material this year.  That is to say, I want to put up more primary material and run at the mouth less.

The (potential) good news is that I may have a new column in a different magazine.  I don’t want to jinx myself, so I won’t say much more other than that this column would combine my real job with my hobby.  (Given that I’ve not been a smashing success at either of those things, maybe I should worry.)

I’ve got a Jan. 12 deadline for my May 6-Pack preview/review column, so I’m not sure how much I’ll be posting here until then.

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America’s Civil War: March 2010

7 01 2010

Inside this issue of America’s Civil War:

Up Front

  • Pennsylvania gears up for the sesquicentennial (no, they didn’t contact me and no, I’m not holding my breath);
  • An interim (aren’t they all?) superintendent named for Gettysburg;
  • An interview with Virginia House Speaker Bill Howell on his state’s sesquicentennial efforts (let’s hope I don’t have to type that word again);
  • A short piece on the anecdotes, legends and lies about CSS Shenandoah;
  • A profile of Hinton Rowan Helper, a native-born Carolinian from a slave-holding family who published The Impending Crisis of the South: How to Meet It in 1857, in which he blamed wealthy planters, “the slaveholding oligarchy” for his section’s ills and, while not disapproving of the institution morally, felt it was not a viable basis for an economic system.

Features:

  • Mike Clem: A Port in the Storm – on the US Naval Academy during the war.
  • Harold Holzer: Abraham Lincoln The Anti-Politician – hmm…this should be interesting considering the more you learn about Abe, the more you realize he was nothing if not a political animal.
  • Dana Shoaf: Grant’s Bridges to Victory – an illustrated essay on bridges in the Overland Campaign.
  • Jim Bradshaw: The Other Battle of Calcasieu Pass – some general wackiness caused by a 17-year-old Louisiana belle named Babette.  I wonder if vampires had something to do with it?
  • David McCormick: Knights in Binding Armor – on personal body armor in the Civil War.
  • Fight Songs – a pictorial essay on military music and musicians.

Reviews:

Six-Pack

  • Five new books, and only one old one.  Two by fellow bloggers: The Boys of Adams’ Battery G by Robert Grandchamp, and John Hoptak’s Our Boys Did Nobly.  Add Paul Taylor and that makes three bloggers with traditional print books in this issue.  Also here is Brian McGinty’s John Bron’s Trial and Clay Mountcastle’s Punitive War: Confederate Guerillas and Union Reprisals.  The last two books and only pairing this time around are Jim Hessler’s Sickles at Gettysburg and the classic Sickles the Incredible by W. A. Swanson).  This Six-Pack was a little more heavily edited and lost some of what I was trying to get across, but that’s the nature of a one-page with graphics limit.  I do wish my editor would stop changing my Corps designations (i.e. 9th Corps to The IX Corps).  They didn’t use roman numerals, so why should we?  We go ‘roud and ’round on it, and it’s really a small thing.

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Springfield, IL: Part VI – Lincoln Tomb and Miscellaneous Statuary

2 01 2010

On October 9-12 this year my family and I visited Springfield, IL (see overview of the trip here).  On the 11th, we visited The Lincoln Tomb in Springfield’s Oak Hill Cemetery.  Unfortunately, the tomb (run by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency) was not open – budget constraints again.  And even the exterior was not fully accessible: the second level of the exterior was closed for repairs.  It was an overcast day to begin with, and I was losing what little light I had.  Here are some images of the tomb and the statuary on and in front of it.  The nose of the Gutzon Borglum bust is shiny from the rubbing hands of thousands of visitors.  The four Larkin Mead tableaux around the obelisk depict the cavalry, navy, artillery, and infantry.  Click on the thumbs for larger images, and click the images for larger ones still:

          

Here is a view of the tomb from the rear, and also of the stained glass window that allows light into the interior:

 

At the bottom of the hill behind the tomb is the crypt in which Lincoln’s body resided initially and, halfway up the hill, a marker to another vault to which his body was subsequently removed prior to completion of the tomb:

     

Across from the crypt at the bottom of the hill is a chime tower, inlaid with the slab on which Lincoln’s body first rested:

 

We stayed our first night (10/9-10) a little outside town near the power plant at the Crowne Plaza hotel, in the lobby of which is this grouping of Lincoln and some children On the Road to Greatness:

This grouping (Springfield’s Lincoln, 2004 by Larry Anderson) sits on the Adams St. mall between the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices and the Old State Capitol.

    

 There are two sculptures outside the Springfield Union StationVisitor Center, across the street from the ALPLM.  The first shows Abe clutching his coat against a cold prairie wind (A Greater Task, 2006 by John McClarey); the second is an interactive photo-op (Lincoln, 2006 by Mark Lundeen).

       

Inside the Visitor Center is this cool model of Lincoln’s funeral train:

       

On Monday the 12th, before driving back to St. Louis to catch our flight home, the boy and I drove over to the current Illinois State Capitol, on the grounds of which are two fine statues of Lincoln (Lincoln of the Farewell Address, 1918 by Andrew O’Connor) and Stephen Douglas (1918 by Gilbert Riswold).

     

I really enjoyed our trip to Springfield, even if it was a little chilly.  I consider that a small price to play for smaller crowds and shorter lines.  Springfield is a must visit for all Lincoln, Civil War, Presidential, and American history enthusiasts.  I hope to return some day to catch the other sites I missed this time around.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

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