Great, But Not Good

7 01 2011

Check out this thoughtful “teaser” essay by Keith Harris of Cosmic America about the pluses and a pretty big minus of David Blight’s seminal Civil War memory study Race and Reunion.  Hat tip to Kevin Levin for pointing this out.

I’ve added Keith to the blogroll – he’ll show up next time I update the page.  He has some great stuff up and uses some unique angles of approach, so check it out.  I like his style – sort of the Anthony Bourdain of the Civil War blogosphere.





LISTEN TO ME!!!!

7 01 2011

Liza and Jerry flank the clown that is Bull Runnings

Here’s an interesting post on how un-or-less-established individuals in the Civil War history game can get their voices heard and maybe even become a player.  It’s important to have a handle on who your target audience is, though that may change over time.  But there’s really nothing stopping anyone from being heard.  Getting folks to listen is the key, and entirely dependent upon you.





An Expert? Ummm…No.

6 01 2011

Will Rogers defined an expert as a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase, while Mark Twain said it was an ordinary person from another town.  Regardless of the definition you choose, I am no expert.  I can’t imagine ever considering myself an expert, and I’m frankly confounded when I hear anyone describe themselves as one – an expert, that is.  I’ve even heard-tell of folks who have moved on to “other wars” because they’ve learned just about all they can learn about the Civil War.  Come on, get real.  You’re bored, you need a new challenge, a change of pace, I get it.  But spare me the “my work is done here” stuff.  Unless your specialty is percussion caps used on Burnside breech loaders or something similarly obscure, I ain’t buyin’ it. 

I realize that event organizers are going to use the E word in promotional materials.  But I want to make one thing perfectly clear – I don’t consider myself an expert on the Civil War or even the First Battle of Bull Run.  I’m confident I have readers who have studied the war and the battle for a longer period and in greater detail than have I.  [That being said, I can still entertain a room for an hour or two without boring the heck out of everybody (there are always exceptions) and pretty much guarantee that anyone who stays awake the whole time will learn something they didn't know before, so don't let my admission deter you from booking me, Danno.]

I know there’s a real definition of “expert” and it doesn’t mean “knows everything”, but you know what the word connotes, and you know what I mean by this.  I don’t mind so much when others call someone an expert, but it bugs the hell out of me when I hear people refer to themselves as one.

There.  I just needed to get that off my chest.  As always, you’re free to be wr…I mean, you’re free to disagree.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.





North & South Magazine January 2011

5 01 2011

I picked up this current issue of North & South, to which I don’t subscribe and which I don’t typically purchase, for the editorial and one article.  Editor Keith Poulter has finally seen Harry Crocker’s The Politically Correct Guide to the Civil War and noticed the absurdity of the front cover, which I wrote about here nearly two years ago.  He expands on exactly why the blurb “The Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave” is factually incorrect (he calls it a “Crocker you-know-what”).  Poulter’s piece is good stuff, though I disagree with him regarding the author’s and publisher’s intent.  I really don’t believe it was ideologically based.  I think it was more likely financially based – considering their target market, it was intended to sell books.  And I think on that basis it was not a bad idea.  I’m sure there were a lot of folks out there who read that and thought “this is for me.”  And if they thought that, they were right: it is for them.

Also in this issue is an article by George C. Rable, Gott Mit Uns, with the following description: In the aftermath of First Bull Run, each side offered religious explanations for the outcome.  I suspect this is an excerpt from Rable’s most recent book, God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War.  And a long while back, I implied I would look into an essay of Rable’s in Civil War History in which he “uses First Bull Run as a backdrop for his discussion of the role of religion on the battlefield”, but I never got around to it.  Maybe I’ll read the two together and comment in the future.  Then again, maybe I won’t.

Here’s a really interesting tidbit from this most recent edition: in each issue there is a section called “Do You Know”, and there is one “teaser” question to which readers may submit answers to win a prize, typically a book.  There were no correct answers submitted for the prior issue’s question, “Did the Confederate government ban the export of cotton?”  The correct answer was “No.”  A “yes/no” question had no correct answers submitted?  What the…?





Tattoo It On Your Forehead

4 01 2011

Here’s a thoughtful post by Dmitri Rotov on how we have come to understand – or rather, “know” – what happened to Confederate general Gustavus W. Smith after he took command of the army outside of Richmond in June 1862.  The opening sentence says it all:

Common knowledge is the curse of Civil War history.

Post title courtesy of Jeffrey [The Big] Lebowski.





2011 Manassas and PWC Sesqui Activities

4 01 2011

Here’s an article with a calendar of sesquicentennial events in Virginia in 2011.  Below are events scheduled for Manassas and Prince William County in the first quarter:

  • Manassas Museum: “Mosby in Manassas and Prince William.” Lecture. 2 p.m. Jan. 16. Free. 9101 Prince William St., Manassas. Info: 703-368-1873, or www.manassasmuseum.org.
  • Manassas Blue and Gray Ball: Civil War food, music and dancing. Jan. 22, Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10900 University Blvd., Manassas. $150 per person. Info: 703-361-6599 ext. 102.
  • Old Manassas Courthouse: “There Stands Jackson: The Life and Times of General Thomas Jonathan Jackson.” Lecture. 7 p.m. Jan. 27. Free. 9248 Lee Ave., Manassas. Info: 703-367-7872.
  • Manassas Museum: “Back of the Big House and the Planters Project.” Lecture on slave life during the Civil War. 2 p.m. Feb. 6. Free. 9101 Prince William St., Manassas. Info: 703-368-1873 or www.manassasmuseum.org.
  • Liberia Mansion: “A Slave’s Life at Liberia Plantation.” Living history, music and stories at the Liberia Mansion, 8601 Portner Ave., Manassas. 2 p.m. Feb. 12. $15. Info: 703-368-1873.
  • Old Manassas Courthouse: “Plantation Culture from Those Who Built It: A View of Slavery through Architecture and Art.” Lecture. 7 p.m. Feb. 24. Free. 9248 Lee Ave, Manassas. Info: 703-367-7872.
  • Liberia Plantation: Dinner with General P.G.T. Beauregard. March 19. $25. 8601 Portner Ave., Manassas. Info and registration: 703-368-1873.
  • Manassas Museum: “Manassas: Legends and Lies.” Lecture by John Hennessy. Book signing follows. 2 p.m. March 27 Free. 9101 Prince William St., Manassas. Info: 703-368-1873 or www.manassasmuseum.org.
  • Old Manassas Courthouse: “They Fought Like Demons: Female Combatants in the Civil War.” Lecture. 7 p.m. March 21 Free. 9248 Lee Ave, Manassas. Info: 703-367-7872.

The March 21 lecture may be presented by Elizabeth Leonard, who gave Bull Runnings an interview recently.

If any of you have any more information on these events, let me know in the comments section!





1911 Peace Jubilee to be Reenacted

3 01 2011

Here and here are a couple of articles on the reenactment of the July 21, 1911 Peace Jubilee to be held on its 100th anniversary in Manassas as part of Prince William County’s Civil War Sesquicentennial observation.  The above is an image of President Taft opening the jubilee, on the steps of the same courthouse in Old Town Manassas where the reenactment will take place.





Dana Shoaf on the Confederate Soldier

2 01 2011

Here’s Civil War Times editor Dana Shoaf on the Confederate Soldier:

See here.





Great News – and Coming Up…

1 01 2011

The great news is that I received a communique from the Godfather of battle digitization, Brian Downey, and he plans to be active on his blog again this year (work commitments kept him away for most of 2010).  To show he is in earnest, he has a new post up at Behind Antietam on the Web.  Welcome back, Brian!

Things I’m working on for the next few posts:

  • an interview with a Gettysburg entrepreneur;
  • a preview/review of the January 10 American Experience program on U. S. Grant;
  • a preview of the new issue of America’s Civil War magazine;
  • a couple of items of interest from the new issue of North and South magazine;
  • an expansion on my article on Gettysburg’s Jacob Weikert farm in the current issue of Civil War Times magazine;
  • another way to follow Bull Runnings using an e-Reader (that is what they call those things, right?);
  • and something I’ve been putting off for a long while, a look at an essay that discusses expectations at the time that the great military leader of the Civil War would emerge from a place other than the military establishment.

As usual, other things are sure to come up, including more primary material on First Bull Run and various news items, so stay tuned!








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