New Page: Welcome!

14 01 2011

Willkommen!

There’s been a noticeable spike in readership here the past couple of months, and it’s not a spike that I can attribute to any one particular anomaly as has happened in the past.  I suspect it has something to do with the sesquicentennial and the accompanying interest in events that occurred in the first year of the war.  So, for the benefit of visitors who may be coming to Bull Runnings for the first time, I’ve added a new page to the masthead above, Welcome!, explaining what we’re all about.  Check it out.





Three Years Blogging

3 11 2009

I started this thing on Nov. 2, 2006.  Now it’s three years later, and I’ve made 759 posts, including 256 entries in the resources section.  The blog has received 172,496 WordPress hits, basically doubling the previous year each year – this year so far I’ve received 89,500 hits, and will probably get about 107,000 or so by the end of the calendar year.  In contrast, I received about 52, 200 hits in 2008.  Last month I topped 10,000 hits in a month for the first time, and in October 2008 I set a then record of 4,825.  My busiest day was this past August 31, when I had 728 visitors thanks to the late Rolling Stone Brian Jones being in the news and lots of folks looking for an image of his tombstone, one of which (from findagrave.com) graces this post.  So the growth has been slow but steady.  Huffington and Malkin have nothing to fear, but I’m happy with the way things are going.

This past year I also jumped into social networking with Facebook.  I registered the blog there with the Networked Blogs application on Facebook and have 93 followers that way.  I’ve also added links to the bottom of selected posts to make it easier for readers to share my posts via different sites if they’re so inclined.

As for posts, …but I know what I like is still in the all-time lead with 4,171 views (none of these numbers include feed readers).  1862 Photos of Bull Run is a distant second with 3,212.  The most viewed post written this year has been Civil War Art – Howard Pyle with 711, followed closely by Civil War Art – N. C. Wyeth with 686.  Seems like a theme.

Over the past few weeks I’ve strayed from the central theme of this blog, but I’ll get back to posting primary Bull Run material soon.

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Review Policy

7 10 2009

In light of the recent FTC ruling concerning requirements for product reviews, I’ve posted a Review Policy.  I realize that perhaps this ruling doesn’t apply to book reviews, but I’d rather not take the chance.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Any suggestions are appreciated.





Buncha Stuff

31 07 2009

Fibber-McGeeI’m finishing up Volume I of Lincoln’s Collected Works (there are 11 volumes in all, plus an index for the first nine).  Rather than post interesting tidbits as I found them, I’ve decided that after I finish each volume I’ll go back to all my little post-its and put up one article listing them.  So look for a summary post next week.

I haven’t forgotten the post on Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and the characteristics of the Southern officer class that hindered its ability to lead effectively.  I’m sure the article, when written, will piss some folks off, and maybe that’s why I keep putting it off.  But all the books I’m consulting are still sitting in a stack on my office floor.

I need some info on Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.  Does anyone know how, when, and why he received his nickname, Kill Cavalry?  I’m not looking for opinion or generally accepted legend – in fact, if you give that to me in a comment, I’ll delete it.  I’m looking for documented evidence: when and where did the name first appear, and in what context?

My First Bull Run Field Guide for Civil War Times magazine should be showing up in subscriber’s mailboxes soon.  I’ll post some thoughts on the article once I receive my copy.

Civil War Sallie visited the Manassas National Battlefield Park a couple weekends ago for the anniversary of the battle, and wrote about it in multiple installments here.  Check it out.





Biographical Sketches

28 07 2009

I think I need to go back and change some things.  My resources section is supposed to be free of interpretation, but some of my biographical sketches include little lead-ins to the meat and potatoes part.  This has been nagging at the far reaches of my noggin for awhile.  It has nothing to do with the poor, one star rating someone recently gave to my sketch of William T. Sherman, by the way.  So I’ll be going back and removing these background pieces, but I’ll re-post those parts as separate articles.





Ratings

20 07 2009

I’ve added ratings options to posts and comments.  When you click on the link to a post on the main page (the title of the post is the link), that will take you to a page with the post only on it.  At the bottom of the post you’ll see five stars followed by “Rate This”.  When you mouse over the stars, a rating will appear, anywhere from “very poor” for one star to “excellent” for five stars.  Click on the appropriate star, and you’ve rated the post!

I’ve also added a “Nero” rating to the comments.  You can give “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” ratings to anyone’s comment.

I hope you enjoy and use this feature, and if there are any posts you’ve read here in the past that you’d like to rate, feel free to do so.





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.





A Note on Comments

15 07 2009

I have always enabled the comments feature to posts on this blog.  I even enable it on “resource” posts like the ORs and the JCCW testimony.  I’ve done so to allow and encourage reader participation and, just as important, contribution.  So, if you read something here about which you feel compelled to comment, please by all means do so.  Just follow these simple rules:

  • Be courteous.
  • Be rational.
  • Be specific – especially with criticism (which should of course be constructive).
  • Be concise.
  • Leave the comment on the applicable post, not on places like “About Me”.

If you have a question that is not specific to one or a series of posts, send me an email at my address to the right.  But don’t send me an email about a post – leave a comment.

I reserve the right to delete comments or to not approve comments.  As it stands now, the first time you post a comment on this site – from a specific email address – your comment must be approved.  After that first comment is approved, subsequent comments will post automatically, though I can still delete them.  The decision rests with me.





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.





Good Stuff Cookin’

30 04 2009

This past Tuesday I received an email from reader Jon-Erik Gilot, who sent along an Ohio newspaper article from 1861, recounting a soldier’s experience at Bull Run.  This is an account I’ve never read before, and it includes some pretty cool stuff.  But as it is a little controversial, I want to get some confirmation on the basics.  I’ve forwarded the article to two e-quaintances who are authorities on the regiment in question, and so far things appear to check out.  I’ll post the article as a resource, include the info from the authorities in question as a separate article, and link to that article as notes to the resource.

Thanks to Jon-Erik, who now lives here in Pittsburgh and has done a lot of work on the Upper Ohio Valley in the Civil War.








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