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.





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!








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