Russel Beatie

12 07 2013

BeatieI was surprised and saddened to learn, from the use of the word “late” in a Dimitri Rotov comment to a post on Kevin Levin’s blog, of the passing (in March of this year) of Russel M. Beatie of Savas Beatie publishing. I could find no mention of his death on the web, but was able to confirm it via his associate and friend Ted Savas, who wrote a eulogy in the Savas Beatie July newsletter, which you can read in it’s entirety here. Below is an excerpt. The photo at left was taken on a hunting trip to Scotland and is courtesy of Savas Beatie.

It is with tremendous sadness that I share with you that my publishing partner and good friend Russel H. “Cap” Beatie passed away recently. Cap didn’t want a long eulogy or extravagant send-off. That was not his way. So these few words will have to do.

Most of you know Cap (a Princeton grad and Veteran of the U.S. Army) through his magnificent multi-volume Army of the Potomac endeavor, a research and writing tour de force that will forever remain unfinished. (His fourth installment manuscript, which picks up where volume three left off and travels through the fighting at Seven Pines, is available; we are working with it to determine how or whether we can publish it for you.)

Cap was both an outstanding attorney and a true historian. The man lived and breathed our past. I know he was most happy not arguing in court but rooting in an archive somewhere to help write history “from the bottom up,” as he used to tell me. “I am going to let the sources take me where the sources take me, Savisky.” That was his nickname for me; he had nicknames for everyone. “To hell with all these biased opinions today masquerading as history. What did the men who were there living it think about it all?”

Reviews of the AotP series have been mixed at best, and savaging at times. To be sure, there were definitely problems with the first volume (the only one I’ve read cover-to-cover, though I’ve used all three.) But I’ve never been one to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Who else has pointed out that two of the regular army officers whose experience and advice Robert Patterson was advised by Winfield Scott to rely on in the Valley were the super-aggressive Fitz-John Porter and George Thomas? No one else has been able to communicate to me the complexity of the political and military intrigues at Washington during the period leading up to Bull Run. And his annotated bibliographies! That’s good stuff (I understand plans are afoot to publish a consolidated bibliography from the three completed volumes.) Mr. Beatie approached his research and writing from a different angle than most everybody else. Sometimes he missed, sometimes he made solid contact, but he always made me think.





Making Progress

12 07 2013

I am making progress on a program I will present to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable next spring. Yes, you heard that right, next spring. One of the luxuries of not doing a lot of these presentations is I have plenty of time to prepare. I’m taking a different tack with this one. For the most part my narratives have been mostly extemporaneous based on fairly rough outlines and PowerPoint slides. In fact, the last one I gave had no slides at all, just some notes but also a few pretty long passages from books and some articles I wrote previously (that one was interesting and I had really very little idea where the road would lead, though I was pleasantly surprised.) I decided quite a few months ago, when I got the invite from COCWRT, to open a Word document on my desktop and put down thoughts on the presentation as they entered my head, and so far I’m pretty pleased with what’s taking shape. Now the question is: do I want to write this up in the form of a “paper” and build a slide presentation around it? This is a different approach in a couple of ways. First, when I’ve done PowerPoint presentations in the past, they’ve typically driven the narrative. In this case, the slides will serve more as support. Second, I’ve never before had a “script” for my programs. I’ve never really read a “paper”, though I think my program on Patrick O’Rorke for the Gettysburg Foundation back in 2011 came pretty close, but the bulk of that program consisted of his letter home on the Battle of Bull Run. “Paper Reading” is something I find not so appealing as a consumer, and as a presenter I really prefer give and take during the program as opposed to a structured talk with questions afterwards. For this program, which contrasts a well established, familiar story line of First Bull Run with what really happened (or, at least, what I think really happened and why I think it), I think I’ll write the “paper” and look at my options afterwards. One thing for sure is I won’t be using the future tense when speaking of past events – I promise. Irvin McDowell intended to do some things, he did other things, but he will not BE doing anything ever again.








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