Housekeeping

3 03 2009

I’m working on a number of things.  I have ten different draft posts started, some of which are very interesting, maybe provocative or controversial.  It’s just a question of time and focus.  These posts include:

  • A bit on John Rodgers Meigs, son of Union Army Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs.
  • A look at the McCallister brothers, who fought on opposite sides at Bull Run.
  • My favorite Lincoln quote, and what it reveals (to me) about the President as a political animal.
  • The newly discovered photo of Rob Wheat.
  • Two military terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, though they mean different things.  Porter Alexander didn’t help matters by using both words to describe the same incident at Bull Run.
  • The thoughts of Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jefferson on an underlying weakness in the character of the southern man, as reflected in the writings of Joseph Glatthaar, Douglas Southall Freeman and Jefferson himself.

I hope to get to these soon.  But as you may have noticed, the articles on this site are not typically lenghty.  That’s by design – Bull Runnings is all about brevity, in theory more like Hemingway and less like Steinbeck.  And as Mark Twain pointed out, it takes a lot more effort and time to write short letters than it does to write long ones.

Let me know if any of the above topics are of particular interest – maybe it will help me prioritize.

By the way, I’m working on a book.  It’s very early on: I don’t have a publisher, and haven’t really sought one out.  It’s a Bull Run specific reference work,  I’m working on it as I get to it, and the concept is evolving.  It incorporates a lot of what I have written here, but it’s not one of those Blog Books.  If I don’t find anyone interested in publishing it, I’ll make it available here for free.





Resources and Articles

27 02 2009

OK, I’ve been doing a little thinking this morning (not always a good thing).  If you haven’t caught on yet, this site consists oftwo types of posts: Resources (official reports, orders of battle, biographical sketches, all that stuff listed under “Pages” to the right); and articles, like this one.  So at this late stage, I am going to go back and add the tags and categories Article and Resource to my existing posts, and use them going forward.  That way you can use those filters to find the types of posts you’re most intersted in.  This will be a long-term project: I’ll get to it as time permits. 





Another Good Email

10 02 2009

I got another good email today:

Harry:

Read your review of my “Confederate Colonels” in “America’s Civil War” and just wanted to say I appreciate all the kind things you said.

I have a lot more in my files on all these officers, than I could fit in the book. Be happy to share anytime.

Best wishes,

Bruce Allardice

Bruce is the author of More Generals in Gray and Confederate Colonels, among others.  He maintains this website, and is happy to answer any questions you may have about Confederate colonels.  You can reach him at bsallardice1 at earthlink dot net (I write email addresses that way to keep folks from geting spammed).

I’m so grateful to folks like Bruce, John Hennessy, Mike Musick, Jim Burgess and all you others I’m leaving out and irking by so doing for all the wonderful help you’ve offerred and provided.  This project is infinitely better for your contributions, and in many ways that’s what Bull Runnings is about.





I Love Emails Like This!

3 02 2009

I received this earlier today:

Hi Harry:

I enjoy your blog very much–it’s interesting to me to read (again) source material that I had once intensely examined, long ago, before I knew much of anything about the world, and to see if my take on it remains as it was.  Generally it does, but I’m always curious.  I know I could go back and read the stuff myself, but it’s more fun (to be honest) just reading it as you string it out there.  Anyway, you do a very nice job.

My question:  I have files full of First Manassas stuff, which I would be happy to share if you’d like.  Every once in a while you put something up that stimulates me to go find other things–for example, I found that I have a WONDERFUL letter about Upton at Blackburn’s, busting him as a pretty West Point boy, after you had put up a couple of Upton related things a while back.  But, I don’t know whether you have all this stuff already…or even want it.

So, I ask.  Want me to send cool stuff along? 

John [Hennessy]

For those of you who don’t already know, John Hennessy is the NPS Chief Historian for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park and author of a fine study of First Bull Run as well as one of the all-time classic Civil War campaign histories.  Of course I said YES.  This site has benefited tremendously from contributions by readers, and it looks like it will continue to do so.  Thanks, John!





Housekeeping

26 01 2009

OK, a couple of things.  For one, I have another very long letter from T. J. Goree saved in my drafts.  Problem is, for some reason my visual editor is making a whole bunch of words run together every time I hit spell check or save.  I sent WordPress an email, but they haven’t responded, and I want to leave it there so they can see what I’m talking about.  Every time I have a problem it’s the first time they’ve seen it, despite the fact that there are millions of WordPress blogs.

Also, I’ve finished proofing a manuscript for an upcoming book on First Bull Run.  It was quite a learning experience on several levels, and I’m thankful to the publisher and author for the opportunity to contribute to the project.

I’ve determined that my recent purchase of the new two volume Lincoln biography by Michael Burlingame will be my last Lincoln purchase for a long while, unless I find something I just can’t pass up.  I’m creeping up on 200 AL books (if I haven’t topped it already), and that’s just inexcusable.

I’m still creeping along with the McDougall book Throes of Democracy.  It’s pretty good, but there’s a lot of stuff in there so it’s taking me awhile (I’m around 275 pages in with 335 to go).  After that, I think I’m going to do Vol. II of Freehling’s The Road to Disunion and then Burton’s The Age of Lincoln.  I need a better understanding of antebellum America.  I may throw some lighter reading in there as well.  All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.    I’m thinking of Heroes & Cowards – it may dovetail with a post I’m working on concerning Southern criticism of the character of Southern men.

My Six-Pack column for May’s America’s Civil War has been submitted, and I’ve seen a draft of the layout including the new graphics.  Interesting.

There is a possibility that I may be doing a tour of the First Bull Run battlefield this summer.  While I’ve participated in and even organized multi-day tours before, I’ve never actually conducted one.  I have turned down requests to do them, but I think now it’s time to bite the bullet if I get the chance.

Oh yeah: I’m all done posting the Bull Run OR’s from the Supplement.  Thanks again to Jonathan Soffe for sending those to me.  I wonder how long I should wait before asking him if he can send me the correspondence?





Cool Stuff Coming Up

3 12 2008

A few neat developments here at Bull Runnings.  With the help of friends Robert Moore and Jonathan Soffe, I think we’ve ironed out some problems with the CSA and CSA artillery OOBs.  According to Jim Burgess at the Battlefield, one of these is a problem which has persisted at least since 1947!  At the same time I think we’ve solved a related problem in the Bull Run bible, R. M. Johnston’s Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics.

I made the changes, but think I’m going to revamp the Arty OOBs a little.

I’ll also share an E. Porter Alexander map of the action at Blackburn’s Ford Jim provided.





The Blog Lebowski

16 11 2008

I’ve been thinking about some recent discussions bouncing around on several blogs regarding the form “information compilation” blogs should take.  Whenever we start speaking in terms of should instead of could I get a little nervous.  Now, I believe that certain basic tenets need to be followed when dealing with history, including digital history – proper citation and attribution especially.  But when I hear some suggest that there necessarily be interpretation and analysis, I have to wonder.  Of course, narrative form history requires an interpretive framework that is the product of the author’s analysis (see here).  But do we want to constrain ourselves with the narrative format when we don’t have to?

im-a-lebowskiIn a comment I made to this post, I mentioned that I think of the digital history portion of this blog, the Bull Run Resources, as being like the Buddha: not the moon, but the finger pointing at the moon.  Now, I didn’t come up with that on my own – I don’t know much about philosophy (about all I learned from the one philosophy course I took in college was the very valuable lesson that it’s less important to provide a correct answer than it is to provide the answer the instructor wants).  No, I got the Buddha thing from none other than The Dude, or His Dudeness, or The Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.  That is, the actor who made The Dude famous, Jeff Bridges.  In the foreword to the book I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski: Life,The Big Lebowski, and What-Have-You, the actor wrote [emphasis and brackets mine]:

“I often take these little walks in the evening at sunset and listen to different things.  Recently I played some Alan Watts [a British philosopher], and it reminded me of my conversation with Bernie [Glassman, founder of Zen Peacemakers] and how Zen relates to Lebowski.  Watts says, ‘The whole art of poetry is to say what can’t be said.’  I suppose that’s true for any art, including filmmaking.  He goes on to say that ‘Every poet, every artist feels when he gets to the end of his work, that there is something absolutely essential that was left out, so Zen has always described itself as a finger pointing at the moon.’  The Big Lebowski is a lot like that.

“The guys who wrote this book say the Coens [the writers, director and producer of The Big Lebowski] have kept clear of them entirely, and that tickles me.  Like all of you reading this, I’d be interested to know what the Coen brothers think, but it’s kind of beautiful that they don’t want to say anything definitive.  Let ‘em be the pointing finger.”

So that’s kind of how I view Bull Runnings.  I’ll give my opinion and analysis on the blog part of this site.  But for now let the Bull Run Resources section serve as a pointing finger.  Depending on who explores the data, why, how, and in what order, the story will be different.  To me, that’s what really distinguishes digital history from traditional narrative.  And perhaps what makes it more like real life.

More on poetry and digital history later.

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Hang in There!

12 11 2008

hang-in-there1I’ve been experiencing a spike in readership in November but work has me a little behind in my blog postings (and book reviews, and manuscript reviews). I’ll be back to writing in a day or two.  I’ve got a few draft posts written, so it’s not a question of the dreaded block.  Keep checking back!





New Blog Category

4 11 2008

If you’ve been following the conversation here, you already know that Robert and I have added a new blog category to our sites, Civil War “Information Compilation” Blogs.  This is to identify those Civil War websites that, like Bull Runnings, use blog platforms to also serve as a repository for data.  Not all the same types of data, not all in the same ways.  For instance, you’ll find my stuff listed under Bull Run Resources over to the right and in the header, with pages set up for indexing.  It’s not perfect, but so far it works.  Some of the blogs I’ve listed in this category don’t organize by pages (though I think they should, of course!).  I’m hoping – and I think Robert’s hoping too – that this may help bring other similar blogs out in the open, and more importantly help us like minded folks to make our projects more user friendly and organized, and to more fully realize potentials.  If you have a similar blog and think you should be listed, or if you know of anyone you think should be listed, let me know.





Two Years Blogging

2 11 2008

I made my first post on Bull Runnings on November 2, 2006.  It’s been a fun two years, and I’m hoping for a few more (at least), the Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.  By way of a recap on the digital history part of this site, I’ve posted all of the Official Reports (After Action Reports) for Bull Run proper, at least all of those included in the Official Records; citations for all Bull Run MOH awardees; Orders of Battle for both armies; a few biographical sketches; links to beau coup digital books; one previously unpublished contemporary letter from a prominent participant; transcripts of one witness’ testimony before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War; and three photo galleries.  Lots of miles to go yet.

Bull Runnings has been featured in one print magazine, and I was interviewed for an Internet Civil War radio program.  One series of posts was included in the 14th Military History Carnival.

Bull Runnings remains ad free.

Blog stats.  I’ve written 463 posts in 36 different categories, and received 940 comments (a useless stat since it includes links between articles).  I’ve also received (and blocked thanks to Akismet) 10,798 spam comments. At the suggestions of Craig and Robert, I’ve started using something called “Tags”.  I don’t understand the difference between tags and categories, but I’ve created 25 of the former in the past couple of days.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll go back and tag every old post, but may do so as I revisit them for whatever reason.

As of right now, my pages have been viewed 72,551 times.  For the 2 months I was up in 2006, I averaged 63 pageviews per day; 73/day for all of 2007; and 137/day so far in 2008.  Right around 90 different computers visit Bull Runnings each day.

Not very impressive numbers, I realize.  But I’m OK with it if you are.  I know of a few sure-fire ways to increase traffic, but writing about such things would violate the few very simple rules I established when I first set out, and I’m not willing to make that sacrifice.

Thanks to each and every one of you who read my stuff – even you who come here via Google searches for striated glutes.  Thanks to you who have provided great information that has helped make the Bull Run Resources on this site a meaningful tool.  Thanks to all my fellow bloggers who have been so helpful over these past two years.  And last, thanks to my wife and son who have had to ask distracted dad the same questions or give him the same instructions repeatedly while he taps away on this keyboard.








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