Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part VII

26 08 2009

I received the following this evening, from Anne Mather Fowler McCammon:

I found your article on the Family Ties-Kilpatrick Part II very interesting. You are talking about my family and I enjoyed it very much. Philip Hickey Morgan – and by the way it is Hicky – after Philip Hicky (my great, great, grandfather); his wife (my great great grandmother Anne Mather Hicky) is my namesake. My great grandfather is Henry Waller Fowler, his Bowie knife is in the Alamo. Now I’ve bragged enough. I just wanted to tell you I enjoyed the article.

Thanks ,

Anne

Thanks for the note, Anne.  I’ve corrected my misspelling of Hicky.  For the whole Kilpatrick Family Ties series, see here.





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part VI

19 03 2009

I received a couple of notes today from a reader who is a living Kirkpatrick family tie.  She’s also descended from a Bull Run participant, among others (reader SusanSweet take note).  I’ve received a few other notes from descendants of participants, and I’m going to see if I can get permission to post them here.  The following is stitched from a couple of notes.

Hello,

I just found your bull runnings website, and really enjoyed reading the history, some of which I was already aware, in connection with Philip Hicky Morgan, and his descendants (Harry Hays, Consuelo, Thelma and Gloria, etc.).

I dabble in genealogy.  I am a descendant of Philips’ father, Judge Thomas Gibbes Morgan of Baton Rouge, which is why I enjoyed your web site.  Judge Morgan had 8 more children after he married his second wife, Sarah Fowler Morgan.  Their first born child was Lavinia Marie Morgan, born 1832.  Lavinia was my great-great grandmother.  Lavinia is not as well known as her youngest sister, Sarah, the civil war diarist, or her youngest brother, James Morris Morgan.  But Lavinia’s influence may have been one of the reasons why she and her husband, General Richard Coulter Drum, spent the civil war years at the Presidio in San Francisco, keeping the peace in California, since the state had strong Confederate sympathizers.  A cousin of mine told me that Lavinia reportedly told her husband’s superiors, “I don’t want mah husband killin’ my relatives.”

Sincerely,

Robyn L. Hunt

Desert Hot Springs, California

(originally from Washington, D.C. – Bethesda, Maryland)

P.S.:  Another great-great grandfather of mine was General Henry Jackson Hunt, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac

———–

Unfortunately, my family does not have any letters or papers of Lavinia’s or Gen. Drum’s.  Most of their belongings and possessions were destroyed when their home in Chevy Chase, Maryland burned in February 1901.  All I have are a few photos of Lavinia and Gen. Drum with their two grandsons, circa 1886), and one of their only daughter, Henrietta Drum, who everyone referred to as “Blossom.”  I also have one piece of furniture that belonged to Blossom.  It is a small mahogany table that opens up to store silverware.  Even though I don’t know for sure, I believe that this table may have been a wedding gift from President Chester Arthur to Blossom when she married Henry J. Hunt, Jr. in Washington in 1882.  (President Arthur was a personal friend of General Drum.)  I know for a fact that Pres. Arthur attended the wedding.  The table was made by Louis Comfort Tiffany.  Also in 1881 or 1882, Pres. Arthur did not like the existing antiques in the White House, so he got rid of much of the old furniture and commissioned Louis Tiffany to redecorate the public rooms of the White House.  Louis Tiffany’s company designed and made furniture several years before he became famous for his beautiful stained glass work.

I know some of the folks at the Drum Barracks museum also – Kathy Ralston and Susan Ogle, the Director.  Its location is only about a 2 hour drive from my home. 

Thank goodness for the people who wanted to preserve it and not let it be torn down in the 1960s, and also thank goodness for the City of Los Angeles for maintaining it.

Robyn





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part V

15 10 2008

Here’s an update to the Kilpatrick Family Ties series.  I found this site the other day, which has confirmed some of the information I already had and also alerted me to a few other tidbits.  To quote the Dude: Lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, lotta strands to keep in my head, man.

You’ll notice some stuff that expands a bit on Part II and Part III.  I found it really interesting that Kilpatrick granddaughter Consuelo Morgan’s husband Benjamin’s father, Benjamin Thaw, Sr, Harry K.’s half brother, was married to a woman named Elma Ellsworth Dows, born in October, 1861.  Elmer Ellsworth, the first Colonel of the 11th NY Fire Zouaves, was one of the war’s first martyrs (see here), and there was a multitude of babies born across the North in following years named for him.  This is the first time I’ve run across what appears to be a female namesake!

You’ll also see that Consuelo is buried in the Thaw plot in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery.  I didn’t notice her grave when I made my trek there (see here), and didn’t think to look for her because she remarried after the death of Benjamin Thaw, Jr.  It turns out that she is buried not far from her other grandfather, Philip Hicky Morgan.  I guess I need to go back there.

The site has lots of interesting stuff about the Thaws that I didn’t know – though you can probably fill a thimble with the stuff I do know about them.  For instance, the family supplied two aviators to the American forces in WWI, one of whom died in action.  It seems a shame they’re remembered almost exclusively for nutcase Harry Kendall Thaw – of Pittsburgh.





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part IV

4 09 2008

Here’s an update on the Kilpatrick Family Ties series (see here for all of them, including this one).  When I was writing Part II, I learned that Evelyn Nesbit, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, had also posed for the artist Charles Dana Gibson and was one of his popular Gibson Girls.  That’s Evelyn as a Gibson Girl up top.  One thing led to another – as it usually does – and I noticed at one point that Gibson’s father was named Charles deWolf Gibson, and was a lieutenant in the Civil War.  While I couldn’t nail him down, wouldn’t you know the search for Charles deWolf Gibson turned up this guy:

That’s right, newscaster Charles deWolf “Charlie” Gibson.  As I couldn’t verify a relationship, I filed this away in the back of my noggin.  But today I did a Google search of Charles+deWolf+Dana+Gibson, and turned up a bit from an August 27, 1997 broadcast of ABC’s Good Morning America, in which Gibson describes himself and co-star Elizabeth Vargas as “The Gibson Guy and the Vargas Girl” and notes that Charles Dana Gibson was his great-uncle.  I couldn’t get the whole transcript as I’m not a subscriber to Highbeam Research, but if any of you have the service you can find the Good Morning America transcripts here.  And for any of you not old or lecherous enough to remember Vargas (or the earlier Varga) Girls, here’s one:

Hubba hubba.





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part III

4 05 2008

This should be the last is the 3rd entry in the Kilpatrick thread (see Part I, Part II, Part IV and Part V).

The fact that Philip Hicky Morgan is buried in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery was bugging me, so last week I drove down to Lawrenceville to check it out.  I suspected that since Morgan’s (and Kilpatrick’s) granddaughter married into the wealthy Thaw family, he might be buried in the Thaw plot.  But that really didn’t make much sense, since Morgan died in New York City in 1900, long before the marriage (and subsequent divorce) of Consuelo Morgan and Benjamin Thaw, Jr.

To make a long story short, I found Philip in a Morgan family plot, in a different section of the cemetery than the Thaw plot.  Surprisingly, I also found Philip’s wife Beatrice, and his half brother James Morris Morgan.  In the same family plot was Algernon Sidney Morgan, one-time Colonel of the 63rd PA Volunteer Infantry.  Before and after the war, he was successful in the coke business.

Philip’s father Thomas Gibbes Morgan was born in New Jersey and grew up in Washington County, PA, south of Pittsburgh, in an area known then and today as Morganza.  This area was home to Col. George Morgan, who was the first to alert President Thomas Jefferson to the machinations of Aaron Burr, and his grandson George W. Morgan, who participated in the Texas war for independence and was also a Brigadier General in the Civil War, commanding the 13th Corps under Sherman during the Vicksburg campaign.  I’m not positive how Thomas is connected to the Washington County clan, but he married a local girl named Eliza Ann McKennan and moved with his brother Morris to Louisiana, where Philip was born.  After the death of Philip’s mother Thomas started a new family, which included Sarah and James Morris.

The connections between the Kilpatrick, Morgan, and Thaw families are more than simply blood and marriage.  All three families served in the US diplomatic corps, Kilpatrick and the Morgans achieved distinction in the military, and the Thaws and Pennsylvania Morgans made their fortunes in coke (for those of you not from Western PA, where we’re born with this knowledge, coke is a critical ingredient in the steel making process).  But precisely how these Louisiana Morgans wound up here in Pittsburgh after their deaths is a mystery to me.

I’ve taken this about as far as I wish to, at least as far as the Morgans and Thaws are concerned.  But I know there are genealogical junkies who read Bull Runnings, so if you find out any more let me know.  Here is some info on Washington, PA, and here is a link to the regimental history of the 63rd PA that includes a biographical sketch of A. S. Morgan.  Below are some images I recorded at Allegheny Cemetery of Morgan headstones (click on the thumbnail for larger image):

   

As a bonus, here is the marker to Harry K. Thaw in a different section:

  





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part II

28 04 2008

In this post I told you about some of the noteworthy descendants of the Class of ‘61’s Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.  Continued research at the prompting of friends Jim Morgan and Teej Smith has turned up some more info on the progeny of Kil-Cavalry.  Strap yourself in, things could get a little bumpy…

Of course these forays into family histories need some sort of Civil War background, so let’s start with Kilpatrick’s role as the commander of a cavalry brigade in the Army of the Potomac during the Gettysburg Campaign.  In particular, during the pursuit of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia after the battle, Kilpatrick was involved in a night-time fight in Monterey Pass, on the grounds of the Monterey Inn at Blue Ridge Summit.  You’ll be able to read all about it in One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863, by Eric Wittenberg, J. D. Petruzzi and Mike Nugent.  Now, keep this fight in mind for later.

Judson and his Chilean wife Louisa had a daughter, Laura, who married US diplomat Harry Hays Morgan. Harry Hays Morgan was the son of Philip Hicky Morgan, a Louisianan who remained loyal during the war and was rewarded by the Republicans afterwards with various state and Federal positions including the ministry to Mexico.  Philip was the brother of Sarah Morgan, whose writings were published as The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman (AKA A Confederate Girl’s Diary), and also of James Morris Morgan, author of Recollections of a Rebel Reefer.  For some reason, Philip is listed as buried here in Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Cemetery, though he died in New York and as far as I’ve been able to learn never lived in the Steel City (see update here).  I couldn’t find any images of Philip, but here are Sarah and James:

 

Laura and Harry had four children, including the twins, Gloria and Thelma (at left), Consuelo, and Harry Hays Morgan, Jr.  Harry Jr. was a non-descript film actor in the 1940’s.  Gloria, as discussed, would marry into the Vanderbilt family and give birth to Little Gloria of tight blue jeans fame.  Thelma would eventually marry Marmaduke Furness, 1st Viscount Furness and chairman of a shipping company.  This 7 year marriage gained Thelma the lifelong title of Viscountess Furness, though she was also known as Lady Furness.  She dabbled in film acting and producing, and also in rich men.  More on her later.

Consuelo, like Thelma, also married well and often.  She married a French Count and a president of Colonial Airlines who was also a Democratic National Committee bigwig.  But it is another of her marriages that at least gives a hint as to why Consuelo’s grandfather Morgan wound up in Pittsburgh (again, see update here).

One of Consuelo’s husbands was diplomat Benjamin Thaw, Jr., of the Pittsburgh coal family.  His father, Benjamin Thaw, was a member of the now notorious South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club.  The club was comprised of about fifty super-wealthy Pittsburgh families like the Carnegies, the Mellons, and the Fricks (here’s a member list).  The club purchased an abandoned reservoir in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania on the Little Conemaugh River near the town of South Fork.  The South Fork Dam formed Lake Conemaugh, the centerpiece of the Club’s secretive retreat of cottages.

On May 31, 1889, after days of heavy rain, the South Fork Dam burst, sending an estimated 20 million gallons of water down the Little Conemaugh River to the point where it joined with Stony Creek to form the Conemaugh River.  At that confluence was a steel producing settlement of 30,000; Johnstown, PA.  Over 2,200 people perished.  Many survivors blamed the catastrophe on the changes made to the South Fork Dam by the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club.  Read about the Johnstown Flood here.

Consuelo’s father-in-law also had a brother by the name of Harry Kendall Thaw (left).  Harry was the black sheep of the family, having attended Western University (the future University of Pittsburgh) and Harvard with little distinction, unless you count his expulsion from the latter institution as noteworthy.  Mentally unstable and a drug abuser, Harry really, really liked women, particularly showgirls – though he treated them very, very badly.  This led to an infatuation with a transplanted Pittsburgher and Broadway chorus girl (and Gibson Girl) named Evelyn Nesbit. 

Harry pursued Evelyn (right), against the protestations of his family.  Evelyn enabled the pursuit, against the advice of her powerful friend and sometimes paramour Stanford White, the famous architect who had designed the second Madison Square Garden.  (As a setting for his lavish libidinous escapades, White had a tower apartment at The Garden which featured numerous mirrors.  He had another “love nest” that showcased a red velvet swing.)  By this time, White had moved on to other conquests but appears to have maintained a fatherly relationship with Evelyn.  Evelyn moved on to the actor John Barrymore and Harry Thaw.  After a stormy continental courtship, Evelyn and Harry were married on April 4, 1905.

Apparently Evelyn’s past physical relationship with White (left) ate at Thaw, and either out of rage over that past or suspicions of an ongoing affair on June 25, 1906, in the rooftop theater of Madison Square Garden, Harry K. Thaw fired three pistol shots into the face of Stanford White, killing him instantly, to the tune of I Could Love a Million Girls.  The typical high profile socialite New York murder trial ensued.  Thaw was committed to an asylum, but was judged sane and set free by 1915.  Read about the murder & trial here and here.  Listen to a PBS American Experience clip here.

The affair has been the subject of Hollywood films such as The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing, starring Joan Collins as Evelyn, and Ragtime, which was based on the E. L. Doctorow novel of the same name.  I read that book and also liked the movie, which featured James Cagney in his final film role, the late Howard Rollins in his finest, Elizabeth McGovern (a big crush of mine back then) as Evelyn, and Robert Joy as the insane Thaw, shouting his mantra: I’m Harry K. Thaw, of Pittsburgh!  Even later, Doctorow’s book was the basis for a Broadway musical.

OK, back to the wife of Harry’s nephew.   Consuelo Morgan Thaw and her sister Lady Thelma Furness were, as well as I can figure, living in England when the stock market crashed in 1929.  Another American woman who, like Thelma and Consuelo, married well and often was living there, too.  She was Bessie Warfield, the wife of the half-American shipping magnate Ernest Aldrich Simpson, and through Consuelo she became friends with Thelma.

Also around this time, Lady Thelma had taken up with a happy bachelor by the unlikely name of Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David.  Everybody called him The Prince of Wales, or simply Royal Highness.  Things were going along smoothly enough, and on January 10, 1931 Thelma introduced Bessie Warfield Simpson to her boyfriend, the Prince.  In 1933 Lady Thelma took a trip back to the States, and Bessie, whom everyone called by her middle name, Wallis, swooped in to fill the void in the Prince’s life.  The rest, as they say, is history. 

Prince Edward became King Edward VIII of England in January, 1936, watching his accession ceremony in the company of his married girlfriend, Wallis Simpson.  Edward made known his plans to marry Wallis as soon as her divorce was finalized.  But the British government, headed by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, opposed the union, in part because the position of the Church of England – which one could argue was born to facilitate divorce – opposed remarriage after divorce.  Presented with the prospects of abandoning his love or accepting the resignations of the governments of the United Kingdom and the Dominions, Edward chose Wallis and a third option, abdicating his throne on December 10, 1936.  The two lived out the remainder of their lives as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.  Here’s a wonderful Philippe Halsman photo of the Windsors jumping (for joy, I suppose):

One other thing: Bessie Wallis Warfield was born on June 19, 1895 (or 1896), in Square Cottage at Monterey Inn, Blue Ridge Summit, PA, the very ground on which Hugh Judson Kilpatrick – the grandfather of the women who led Wallis to the love of her life – had fought a night battle in July, 1863.

It’s funny how these things work out.

UPDATE: See Part III here.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook





Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part I

21 04 2008

Some of the more intriguing threads I like to pull are the ones that link well known figures by blood or marriage – family ties.  I’ve explored this before in the case of Peyton Manning (establishing that such a link probably doesn’t exist, see here, here and here), and you probably know the story of how a descendant’s relationship to First Bull Run Medal of Honor recipient Adelbert Ames led him to a memorable and often repeated encounter with the 35th President of the United States (if not don’t fret, I’ll talk about it later).  Today let’s take a look at one of Ames’s classmates who had not one, but two descendants who are household names in the US today.

In May, 1861 Hugh Judson Kilpatrick graduated from the US Military Academy 17th out of his class of 45.  Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st US Artillery on May 6, 1861, three days later he accepted a captaincy in the 5th New York Infantry, Duryee’s Zouaves.  He was with that regiment in the expedition to Big Bethel in June, and in the battle there on June 10th he was severely wounded but did not retire from the field until too weak from loss of blood.  Later he organized the 2nd NY Cavalry and by Dec. 1862 had risen to the colonelcy of that regiment.  In June of 1863 he became a brigadier general of volunteers in command of a division of cavalry in the Army of the Potomac.  He was hand-picked by Sherman to lead his cavalry in Georgia and the Carolinas, and ended the war a Major General USV and Brevet Maj. Gen. USA.  After the war he twice served as US envoy to Chile, and he died in that country in 1881, of Bright’s disease at the age of 46.

Today, he serves mainly as a punch-line for Civil War authors working backwards from their conclusions and assumptions regarding his character.

Kilpatrick and his Chilean wife Luisa had a daughter, Laura Delphine, who married an American diplomat named Harry Morgan (no, not that Harry Morgan, though a like-named son would become an actor).  Laura and Harry had a daughter named Gloria Laura Mercedes Morgan, who married Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune.  The fruit of that union was Gloria Laura Vanderbilt, the poor little rich girl who became the centerpiece of a bitter custody battle between her widowed mother and the powerful Vanderbilt clan.  Eventually, her name graced the butts of hundreds of thousands of women in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.  Little Gloria Vanderbilt is the great-granddaughter of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.

Little Gloria’s fourth marriage, to Wyatt Emory Cooper, produced two sons.  Older brother Carter committed suicide in 1988, jumping from the window of the family’s 14th floor apartment before his mother’s eyes.  Kilpatrick’s other great-great-grandson, Anderson, pursued a career in journalism, and today has his own news program on CNN.  See the resemblance?

 

By the way, another CNN talking head is named Campbell Brown.  She gets her first name from her mother’s side and her last from her father’s.  So it seems she’s not related to the stepson of Richard S. Ewell, a Confederate brigade commander at First Bull Run.  That Campbell Brown wrote a Century Magazine article on his step-dad at Bull Run that can be found in Volume I of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, and also published The First Manassas: Correspondence between Generals R. S. Ewell and G. T. Beauregard in further defense of Ewell in the face of Beauregard’s unfairly critical recollections.  This book is a collection of his Civil War related writings.

See Part II here.

add to del.icio.us : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook





A Note on Blogs – This One, Anyway

16 07 2009

Heart-Rate

Yesterday I had heart rate problems.  For a number of reasons I won’t go into, my resting heart rate is usually somewhere in the mid to low 50’s.  But yesterday as I sat at my computer it was hovering 25-30 bpm faster.  This was due to an email I received from the author of a book mentioned in a couple of my posts, which resulted in my writing this post.  This guy was irate regarding “gross deficiencies” in my post, which was one in a series.  It became obvious after an exchange of emails that he had not read all the posts in the series, had not read them in order after learning of them, and did not understand the focus of the posts – nor did he care.  I’m pretty sure he was most upset with the fact that I never contacted him about his book (the existence of which I only learned of in the process of writing the series that ended with the receipt of the book), although he also didn’t like my characterization of his footnotes as “uneven” and a cautionary statement about regimental histories and biographies written by descendants in general, a concern shared by just about every historian and student of history I know.  I only read a page or two of the book that dealt with the topic in question, and offered no review or qualitative comments about the book specifically.

Look, this blog is not a linear narrative – it’s not a book.  Books don’t have hyperlinks – when I place a link in a post (such as see here), I expect the reader will click on that link.  It’s part of the post.  Other than links to Amazon or other sources for purchase information, those links aren’t put there for giggles.

In addition, blog posts are usually pretty focused and brief.  Topics are generally narrow.  In what is still my favorite series of posts, the Kilpatrick Family Ties series, I did not write much about Kilpatrick’s military career.  So you see no mention of, say, Monroe’s Crossroads.  That’s not because of poor research, but because the “story” in that case was his family.

I held these truths to be self evident.  I guess I shouldn’t have.  But I definitely shouldn’t have let it get to me like it did.  It’s times like these I wish I’d spent a few years in an ashram, or taken up TM.  Ohmmmm…ohmmmm…

UPDATE:  Today this guy has sent even more insulting and rude emails.  He steadfastly refuses to identify what he calls “misinformation” spread by my “blithering” blog, and keeps repeating the same nonsense.  I’m quite willing to correct any mistakes I’ve made in my posts, and have done so on more than one occasion when they have been pointed out to me.  I’m tempted to reproduce his emails here in their entirety, but that would be quite embarrassing to the individual and maybe there’s more to his story than I know.  Hopefully I’ve heard the last from him.

Sorry about this.  I don’t use my blog to vent, and hopefully this will be a one-time thing.





Interview: George F. Franks, III, “Battle of Falling Waters 1863″

14 09 2013
George Franks Outside Daniel Donnelly House

George Franks Outside Daniel Donnelly House

I’ve known George Franks for a few years and had the pleasure of meeting him when I spoke to the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable back in 2011. He recently authored Battle of Falling Waters 1863: Custer, Pettigrew and the End of the Gettysburg Campaign. Here he tells us about it, and his interesting connection to the battlefield.

BR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? (Personal life, career, establish bona-fides, published works, etc. – whatever you’re comfortable with.)

GFF: I am originally from Pittsburgh. I currently live in Washington County, Maryland near the town of Williamsport. I studied history at the U. S. Naval Academy and University of Pittsburgh. I worked in the telecommunication industry for over twenty-five years. I am currently a consultant and also own an e-commerce business. Though I have always enjoyed history and writing, my first post academy published article was one on the Battle of Falling Waters, Maryland in 2007 in an international wargame publication.

BR: What got you interested in the Civil War?

GFF: As a child of the Civil War Centennial, I was bombarded with magazines, television programs, books and even toys related to the conflict. I started reading Civil War books at an early age. Also, my parents took my brothers and me to battlefields as part of our family vacations. I would say my biggest influence was family friends giving me a copy of Miller’s PHOTOGRAPHIC HISTORY when I was still quite young.

BR: Why the interest in Falling Waters?

GFF: I have always been interested in the Gettysburg Campaign. Melissa Cooperson and I began looking for a house to restore over a decade ago. We found and fell in love with the Daniel Donnelly House which was built in 1830. It also happened to have a Civil War battle fought on the property. While I knew the names related to it: Heth, Pettigrew, Kilpatrick, Buford and Custer, I was not familiar with the battle. As we began many years of restoration work on the house during weekends, I began my research of the battle.

BR: What makes your study stand out – what does it contribute to the literature that has not already been contributed?

GFF: Two things stand out in my view. First, if you look at any book on the Gettysburg Campaign, you will find a paragraph on the July 14, 1863 Battle of Falling Waters, Maryland. A very few books devote a page to it. This is the first book devoted to the last battle of the Gettysburg Campaign. Secondly, the battle is a microcosm of the war. It is a story devotion to cause, hardship, miscalculation, unparalleled bravery, tragedy, missed opportunities and what might be considered a cover-up.

BR: What’s your last word on Pettigrew, Buford, Kilpatrick, et al? Do you follow the old traditional narrative on these guys – are black hats always black, and white hats always white?

GFF: All these men were so complex. They were products of their era. It is difficult for us to fully understand them in 2013. Having said that, I do not differ greatly from most Civil War historians on Kilpatrick or Buford based on my research. I became a great fan of Pettigrew. Not so much as a military leader, though he was admirable, but as a brilliant academic, writer, scientist, jurist and politician. His mortal wounding at Falling Waters and death 3 days later at Bunker Hill, WV were a tragedy not only for the South but for the entire country. A true “what-if” that I have thought about often.

BR: Can you describe how long it took to write the book, what you learned along the way, and when you knew you were “done”?

GFF: I began my research over ten years ago. I was working very responsible full time jobs during the entire research and writing process. I focused primarily on the writing and editing over the past two years. I was fortunate to work with a very able editor, Tim Terrell. I tried to focus on primary sources wherever possible and then build a narrative from that. Of course, there were many contradictory accounts. I stopped research, with one or two specific exceptions, two years ago so the book would be available for the 150th Anniversary of the battle. I missed my goal by three days.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process? What online and brick and mortar sources did you rely on most?

GFF: It started out about 75% brick and mortar and 25% online. Over time those reversed as more information became available online. Initially the book covered more of the retreat but during the research process I concluded that some very good scholarship in that area was being published and to focus just on the Battle of Falling Waters 1863. I did include some background information on the events before and after for perspective.

BR: How has the book been received so far?

GFF: Sales through my web site and Amazon have been and continue to be strong. I have several retail stores selling the book with more carrying it in the near future. There is quite a bit of interest from Civil War Round Tables (I have spoken to several already) and in more tours of the Falling Waters Battlefield. We have hosted tours led by Ed Bearss, J. D. Petruzzi, Eric Wittenberg and Steve French plus the Smithsonian Institution in the past.

BR: What’s next for you?

GFF: I have several research and writing projects underway. I am not sure which one will take priority right now. I enjoy the research and writing process. There will be another book and it will probably be a Civil War topic.





Branding Bull Runnings

14 05 2009

OK, I admit it: I have an MBA.  I got it 20 years ago from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.  And while I did pretty well academically – I even earned membership in a national honors fraternity called Bata Gamma Sigma – I can’t say that my degree actually did me any good in my conventional career in business (which ended ingloriously about 17 years ago when I got into appraising).  But I did put my marketing concentration to use when I set out with this blog.  I had a definite, if general, idea of what I did and did not want Bull Runnings to be.  And I’ve pretty much stayed within the parameters I set at the beginning.

One of the things I wanted to do was stay on-topic, and I think I’ve done that.  Not that every single post here has been about Bull Run, but I think they’ve been related to my project (if sometimes tenuously).  They include topics on digital history, how other blogs handle things, doings of the National Park Service, stories about participants, my Civil War related travels, the art of history in general, etc…  In particular, I didn’t want modern politics discussed here.  Not that I’m unconcerned with certain situations in our world: I just don’t want this blog to become a forum for bitching or pontificating, at least not about modern politics.  Sticking to this guideline has been my most satisfying decision.   In one respect this has evolved as my outside writing projects have become greater in scope.  I even decided to stay away from certain Civil War topics (like Black Confederates, causes of the war and the legality of secession) unless they relate to First Bull Run and its participants, but sometimes I come across Civil War themed stories, like the Kilpatrick Family Ties thread, that I just can’t resist.

I once wrote in reponse to a comment thread that was developing here that I want Bull Runnings to be more like Switzerland and less like Belgium and France.  That doesn’t mean that I ban heated discussions and disagreements; it just means that I don’t want commenters to bring baggage and personal history here.  Familiarity breeds contempt, and that’s very apparent in online discussion forums.  I get my share of kooks commenting here – hopefully, because of the rules I’ve set for myself and the blog, I get less than my share.  You don’t see their comments, because I delete them.  No fanfare, no explanation.

When I first set out, I didn’t anticipate the Resources section of the blog.  That was supposed to be a separate, database website.  But I’m pleased with how it’s worked out, and how easily the paging features of WordPress have accommodated the project.

In no way is this a criticism of bloggers who don’t have similar guidelines.  A blog can and should be whatever the blogger desires it to be.  My only advice to new bloggers is to have a good idea of what that is.

All of this is done with a reason.  I want returning readers to have a general idea of what to expect when they click in to Bull Runnings.  I hope I’m succeeding, but your input is always welcome.  And as always, thanks for stopping by.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 837 other followers