While You’re Waiting…

28 08 2013

…for new posts here, be sure to keep up to date on Civil War, Manassas and First Battle of Bull Run stuff by following Bull Runnings on Facebook and Twitter. Just click those two words and you’ll join the In Crowd in no time!





New Blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac

21 08 2013

Orr Blog

New to the Civil War blogroll is Tales from the Army of the Potomac, hosted by Dr. Timothy Orr. Tim teaches history at Old Dominion University, is a Gettysburg College grad, earned his PhD at Penn State [ROAR!], has been a seasonal ranger with the NPS and a re-enactor, and is an all-around good guy. He may be best known as the historian who made Kelly Clarkson cry on national television. This should be good stuff, if the first four posts are any indication. Here’s an interview he did for Bull Runnings a while back.

 





In Dreams: Romance In the Valley

9 08 2013

I’m still – STILL - reading Voices from Company D. Thankfully though, it is now January of 1865. The other day night I came across tan entry from Henry Beck, a company member who was on detached duty as a commissary clerk. It’s from December 7, 1864, while Early’s forces were still operating in the Shenandoah Valley. Henry’s duties required him to travel about a good bit behind the lines, and while staying with the Heller family in Harrisonburg he spent his time a-courtin’ and a-sparkin’ young Lucy Heller. Before he left town to rejoin his command, he proposed. The next day, he wrote (bold font provided by me):

After several questions on both sides, I received an answer in the affirmative. With what joy my heart received it, is beyond my power to describe. I felt that I was entering upon a new life, from which I could foresee nothing but happiness. After this interesting interview was ended, I retired, but only to wake & dream. It must have been near two o’clock before I went to sleep, only to dream again of the one whom I have learned to love so devotedly, also of the tobacco bag received in the morning.*

Priorities, Henry. FYI, by 1870 Henry and Lucy had three children and were living in Greensboro, AL.

And here’s a little something on dreams because, well, because who in their right mind can’t use a little Roy Orbison every now and again?

Hubbs, G. Ward, ed., Voices from Company D, p. 330





Battlefield Photos March 1862

5 08 2013

I’ve been enjoying a series of posts over at To the Sound Of the Guns in which host Craig Swain has looked at high-resolution TIFF files of glass plate images taken of Union batteries around Charleston, SC during the war. He’s been turning up some pretty interesting stuff which, combined with his encyclopedic and frankly creepy knowledge of all things artillery has made for compelling reading. Along those lines, I’m going to take a closer look at the series of photos of the battlefield and environs of First Bull Run taken in March, 1862 by photographers George Barnard and James Gibson, in the employ of Matthew Brady. You can find lower resolution copies of the photos here, filed under the heading Galleries over to the right. A quick once-over doesn’t turn up anything particularly notable, but one never knows what the zoom do-hickey will turn up. And in the absence of cool stuff in the photos, maybe I’ll speculate a bit. We’ll just have to see.

I’ll be leaning heavily on, and hopefully not lifting blatantly from, Garry Adelman’s fine Manassas Battlefields Then & Now. You can read more about that book here, but if you’re a regular reader of this blog you no doubt have it already.





To Read or Not to Read – That is the Question

3 08 2013

I get lots and lots of books sent to me. And I also still buy books “on my own.” And I read non-fiction slowly. And I read Civil War history very, very, VERY slowly. So, I really can’t read all the books I get, or all the books I have, cover to cover. That’s why I describe the book commentary you typically see here as Previews instead of Reviews. I scan the book, read the intro and (if there is one) the conclusion, check out the notes and bibliography. Basically, I do what I would normally do if I was considering buying the book myself. Hopefully you find that helpful.

So, when it comes to actually reading a book, I have to be very selective. Because it’s a significant investment of my time, and because the opportunity cost is great. So I don’t make the decision lightly. I have two books here, relatively slim volumes, recently received from Savas Beatie: General Grant and the Rewriting of History and John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General. I have reservations about both books – not about reading them, but reporting on them. The latter is written by a descendant of the subject, and my experience has shown such efforts to be typically problematic. Also, I’ve observed (and been slightly involved in) discussion of Hood’s reputation and it got heated. The former delves into the ever dangerous waters of U. S. Grant criticism. The mere mention of the book is likely to bring Grant fans out of the woodwork – I’ve seen them operate, and it ain’t pretty. They are such rabid gatekeepers (and I have no doubt they view themselves as such) that a perceived slight to anyone in the Grant solar system, let alone HUG himself, is likely to elicit a response of biblical proportions.

But after much discussion and deliberation, I’ve made my decision. As soon as I complete my current read, I’ll tackle these two. I have no dog in either fight, regardless of my thoughts on those who do (have dogs in the fight – I’m too distracted to figure out how to write that sentence so that it doesn’t end in a preposition.) I’ll report back to you as best I can. But I have a sneaky feeling that my efforts will be deemed woefully inadequate by partisans of all stripes.





Civil War Stuff on a Civil War Blog, of All Places!

2 08 2013

Be sure to check out this series of posts over at To the Sound Of the Guns. Craig Swain is digging up some really cool stuff in high resolution photos of heavy guns around Charleston, SC. Artillery and material culture – you’ll learn something in spite of yourself. You’ll have to hunt through the list, but consider this one.

9420822350_4cd247efbd





Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush-Hush

1 08 2013

I’ve been waiting for a chance to use another James Elroy quote, and here it is! I just heard through the grapevine that a manuscript has been submitted to a university press – a First Bull Run campaign study that the editor indicates is “long, deeply researched, and extremely well written.” Can this be the type of study I called for in the roundtable article in Civil War History a while back?

It’s starting to sound like I’m advocating a big campaign study featuring coordinated coverage of the social, political, and military aspects of the campaign in context and detail, with an emphasis on how they all impacted what was to follow, and I guess I am.  I think it would make for a fascinating read.

Let’s hope this is it. Having some idea how the process works, I’m guessing it will be a couple of years before we see anything (as late as 2016, the 155th anniversary, perhaps.) But I could be way off on that. And no, I don’t know the writer’s identity. Refer again to the title of this post.

In other news, the program I will present to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable (and talked about here) continues to evolve and I’ve decided to actually write this one up. I’ll share some bullet-points with you all later, but won’t make the big reveal until that evening, of course. Again, the program will focus on McDowell’s plans: what he expected, what he intended, and how and why we seem to miss the mark today when it comes to evaluating them and him.








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