Manassas NBP 11/5/2010: Sudley Springs, Sudley Road, Thornberry House, Ballou

8 11 2010

This past Friday (11/5) I made a quick trip to the Manassas National Battlefield Park to do some research for an upcoming installment of Collateral Damage.  I met up with Ranger Jim Burgess and he helped me with some work in the park archives, then we met up with friend Craig Swain and headed to the northern end of the park boundary. 

Among other sites, we visited the area where (it is likely) Sullivan Ballou’s body was recovered after its mutilation, burning, and reburial by the 21st Georgia (click the thumbs for larger images):

   

The Thornberry House, used as a hospital after both battles of Bull Run (the large tree to the left of the house in the second picture appears on the Barnard photo from 1862):

 

A trace of the original Sudley Road:

 

And Sudley Springs Ford over Catharpin (Little Bull) Run.  This is the same view as in the Barnard photo Jim is holding – you can see the modern remains of the Springs on the opposite bank.  Hunter’s division crossed Bull Run to the east at Sudley Ford, then crossed here to reach the battlefield:

    

Thanks so much to Jim Burgess for all the valuable assistance he has provided over the years – a good guy.  Also thanks to Craig for his always valuable commentary.  As a last bit of coolness, and much to Craig’s satisfaction, Jim took us down to the basement of the VC and showed us one of the original 200 lb Parrott shells from the Battle Monument.  It turns out that these shells were live, and not discovered to be so until the monument’s renovations in the 1970’s.  One of the disarmed shells survived (the shells had been de-fused but not disarmed as the black powder and case shot show):





Liberia Tour

1 11 2010

Opportunity for a detailed tour of Liberia on November 13.  Check it out here.

I will be at the Manassas National Battlefield this coming Friday doing field work for an upcoming Collateral Damage.  On Saturday I’ll be at Antietam National Battlefield with the Save Historic Antietam Foundation for our work day and board meeting.





Civil War Times December 2010

1 10 2010

Inside this issue:

Letters

  • One is not mad at Gary Gallagher, one is.  Of course, the one that is mad is mad because, as we all know, Slavery had nothing to do with the Civil War, and in fact saying it did have anything to do with it should never be allowed to appear in print.  Another is mad at Gallagher because he ranked George Thomas too low as the fourth greatest Union commander.   And still another is upset with Dana Shoaf for not hammering the great villain of the war, George McClellan, hard enough in his op-ed on Stanley McChrystal.  That reader should be pleased with America’s Civil War’s November issue in which Harold Holzer goes ape-shit on Mac’s ass.

News

  • Brandy Station expands.  Camp Lawton site found.

Departments

  • Blue & Gray – Gary Gallagher on what Union soldiers fought for.
  • Collateral Damage – Yours Truly on Bennett Place
  • Interview – Waite Rawls of the MOC
  • Field Guide – Chris Howland at 2nd Bull Run
  • Editor Letter – Dana Shoaf on the GBPA’s endorsement of the Gettysburg Casino

Features

  • General Disobedience – McClellan hatchetographer Edward Bonetopickemper’s hit piece on the centennial’s favorite punching bag.
  • Substitute for a Corpse – David Lowe & Philip Shiman on creative battlefield photography.
  • Joseph Whitworth’s Deadly Rifle – Fred Ray on the favorite weapon of Southern sharpshooters.
  • All Glory and No Gore – Doug Dammann on Elmer Ellsworth’s militia tour of 1860.  This is followed by a photo gallery of Ellsworth memorabilia.
  • Crisis of Faith – George Rable on spiritual revivals

Reviews

  • The USS Carondelet: A Civil War Ironclad in Western Waters, by Myron J. Smith, Jr.
  • Gentlemen Merchants: A Charleston Family’s Odyssey, 1828-1870, Philip N. Racine
  • Kilted Warriors: Music of the 79th New York Volunteer Infantry, 79th Regimental Band (CD)
  • Double Death: The True Story of Pryce Lewis, the Civil War’s Most Daring Spy, Gavin Mortimer
  • Plus a list of eleven books for the holidays.




Antietam’s Roulette House

22 08 2010

As I noted here, the October 2010 issue features the third installment of my column which  is now titled Collateral Damage.  The subject is the Roulette house on the Antietam battlefield.  Though I took lots of photos, and also had a few by friends Mike Pellegrini and Mannie Gentilenone were used in the article.  So I present them here for your perusal.

Let’s start with some exterior shots.  The left side of the front of the house is south, the right north.  The second and third photos were taken by my friend Mike.

  

Here’s the rear of the house.  Mr. Roulette kept his beehives in this back yard.  Confederate artillery, advancing Union troops, and upset hives combined here for an often repeated story.

 

The barn sits east of the house.  In the orchard to the southeast is a pear tree that survives from the time of the battle.

 

Here’s the basement door (I call these “Dorothy Doors”) out of which Mr. Roulette burst to encourage the advancing Federals to “Drive ‘em”.  The interior photo was taken by Mannie.  On the day I was there, my NPS guide Keven Walker warned me that the hot day and cool basement meant lots and lots of snakes, so we opted not to go downstairs.  I did see two large black snakes that day.

 

Inside the house Keven, a historian with the Cultural Resources division, pointed out that many of the fixtures dated from before the war, and could have been installed as early as the mid 1700s.

  

We entered the house via the kitchen, in the north end of the house.  One of the cool features in here is the beehive oven.  No flame inside – kind of like a pizza oven.  The fuel (wood) was put in outside, via this little addition on the north end of the house.  Must have been a pain cooking in winter, but was probably state-of-the-art.

  

Here’s the large dining/entertaining room in the center of the house.  You can see by the shot of the window how thick the walls are in this section of the house.  The construction is log at the south end, stone in the center, and frame on the north end.

  

The south end of the dwelling on the first floor is a living room or parlor.  There’s a little problem here with falling plaster, but a collection of the debris on the fireplace mantel shows how the plaster was made in those days.  It was heavy stuff.

 

The main stairway leads up to two smaller bedrooms in the south end of the house. 

   

On Sept. 17, 1862, a bullet fired from the vicinity of the sunken Pig Trough Road to the south of the house entered the window of the southwest bedroom, went through the wall above its door, traveled across the hall and exited inside the closet of the middle bedroom.  That’s Keven pointing to where the bullet entered the wall in the hallway.

   

There is a middle bedroom and a large bedroom at the north end of the house over the kitchen.  You can see in the sagging ceilings the effect of the heavy plaster over 200+ years.

 

The tour of the Roulette house was one of the great perks of my “job”.  Much thanks to Keven Walker, who has a book coming out soon on the farms of the battlefield.  Be sure to check out this and all the Collateral Damage columns in Civil War Times.

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Civil War Times October 2010

5 08 2010


Inside this issue:

  • Susannah Ural and I get complemented by one letter writer for level-headedness in our contributions to last month’s piece on the Governor of Virginia’s Confederate History Month proclamation.  Another contributor wasn’t so lucky.  Of course, other letter writers attacked all the contributors to the piece.  Go figure.
  • Susannah Ural is interviewed about her research on Irish and Texan common soldiers.
  • Gary Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column examines the phenomenon of emancipated slaves in the wake of advancing Union armies.
  • Yours Truly offers up his third installment of what is now known as Collateral Damage with Antietam’s Roulette farm.  Keep an eye out here for the photos that weren’t used.
  • This issue’s Field Guide by Chris Howland features sites in Atlanta.

Features include:

  • Kevin Levin: “Until Every Negro Has Been Slaughtered“- Did Southerners see the Battle of the Crater as a slave rebellion?
  • Eric Niderost: Mad as a Hatter – John Wilkes Booth’s killer Boston Corbett.
  • Dana B. Shoaf: Loose Cannon – A visit with cannon collector Charlie Smithgall.
  • J. David Petruzzi: Cemetery Hill’s Forgotten Savior – John Buford at Gettysburg
  • Thomas G. Clemens: Memories of America’s Bloodiest Day – Ezra Carman
  • Peter Cozzens: Blunder at the Bridge – Union troops miss a rare opportunity to destroy a Rebel force near Corinth.

Reviews

  • Chester G. Hearn, Lincoln, the Cabinet and the Generals
  • B. R. Burg, ed., Rebel at Large: The Diary of Confederate Deserter Philip Van Buskirk
  • Robert Hunt, The Good Men Who Won the War: Army of the Cumberland Veterans and Emancipation Memory
  • Thomas G. Reynolds, General Sterling Price and the Confederacy
  • Charles R. Knight, Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864
  • Richard L. Armstrong, “God Alone Knows Which Was Right”: The Blue and Gray Terrill Family of Virginia in the Civil War
  • Ural on URLs – www.Footnote.com




Those Pesky (and Just Plain Wrong?) Roman Numerals

8 07 2010

Of course there were no corps in either army at First Bull Run, but just bear with me and maybe you guys can help straighten me – or the powers that be – out.

I received a digital copy of my next Civil War Times article in what is now known as the Collateral Damage department – it was first called In Harm’s Way.  As usual, and as anyone who writes for a periodical should expect, there were some editorial changes.  One in particular caught my attention.  I have two really big pet peeves.  The first I’ve written about many times, and that is the use of an before variants of the word history.  The H is pronounced in all forms of history (unless you’re Cockney), therefore it should be preceded by a, not an.  Check out any style manual.

I know better than to give anyone an opportunity to foul that one up in the editing of anything I write, as much as it’s in my power to do that.  But it’s a little tougher when it comes to Union corps designations.  I always use Arabic numerals (1,2,3), while many, including my editors, prefer Roman numerals (I, II, III).  My thoughts have been that Roman numerals were not used during the Civil War to denote corps, so I shouldn’t use them either.  It’s been pointed out to me that the compilers of the Official Records usually spelled it out (First, Second, Third), but did not use Roman numerals.

Perhaps because today’s readers expect Roman numerals, what was 2nd Corps became II Corps in the final version of my article.  So when, and how, did the use of Roman numerals to designate Union corps come into vogue?  What’s your preference, and why: any middle-schooler will tell you that Arabic is way easier than Roman!

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Civil War Times August 2010

29 05 2010

I received my copy of the new Civil War Times magazine yesterday.  Inside:

Second Guessing Dick Ewell by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher White: Is it fair to blame General Richard Ewell for the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg?  Plus Five Battle Maps by David Fuller

The Great Libby Prison Breakout by Steven Trent Smith: Engineering the war’s most daring escape – one furtive shovel at a time.

Unwritten History by Noah Andre Trudeau: The war memoirs Robert E. Lee chose not to write.

“Villains, Vandals and Devils” by Ken Noe: Rebels fought to the bitter end because they hated the Yankee invaders.  See Ken’s book.

This month’s Civilians In Harm’s Way (the name change took me by surprise) by yours truly features Chickamauga’s Snodgrass house.  Once again, thanks to friends Dave Powell and Lee White for their assistance.  I didn’t get to travel for this one, so I don’t have any additional photos to share here.  That won’t be the case with next installment.

I also make an appearance in a feature on Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell’s recent Confederate History Month proclamation, The Proclamation and the Peculiar Institution.  Though it’s not the longest bit I’ve ever published, it’s certainly the largest and boldest font in which my stuff has appeared.  I share space with William Marvel, Susannah Ural, Lesley Gordon, S. Waite Rawls III, Kevin Levin, Catherine Clinton, Harold Holzer and Michael Fellman.  Here’s my full, unedited contribution (though I think the edited version was well done and a fair representation of my thoughts):

I think the Governor’s proclamation was nothing more than a dusting off of previously issued proclamations, made at least in part in fulfillment of promises given prior to his election.  I believe not much thought at all went into it, and that the apology issued was genuine.

 I find most of the reactions to the proclamation and the apology repugnant, outside of the obvious disappointment of those who objected to either and, in curious cases, both.  Pendulums are funny things, and after watching them for a while you get the impression they spend most of their time at either end, and not much in the middle.  At the extremes, we see reactions ranging from claims that Confederates were nothing more than terrorists, that slavery had little or nothing to do with the Confederate cause, that the Tea Party movement is primarily a gathering of neo-Confederate racists, and that the same movement reflects frustrations similar to those felt by the slaveholding south.  All are gross distortions of the truth, and politically motivated.  Unfortunately little attention has been given to valid historical issues raised by the issuance of the proclamation, notably that of the diversity of the people of the State of Virginia before and during the Civil War.  I’m left with the feeling we let an opportunity slip through our fingers in favor of forwarding political agendas.

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I Have Always Depended on the Kindness of Stangers

1 05 2010

OK, well maybe not strangers, but certainly folks who are under no obligation to help me.  I’m back from my day trip to Antietam.  NPS historian Ted Alexander provided me with more information on my In Harm’s Way subject house than I could ever fit into an article of under 1,000 words.  I could have read through the material all day, but I only had a couple of hours and with the help of my buddy Mike waded through the material and made copies of the most essential stuff.  Cultural Resources Specialist and historian Keven Walker took us over to the house and gave us a fine tour of the structure along with detailed history of the building and its occupants.  Thanks to both Ted and Keven for their expert and enthusiastic assistance.

We decided to drive back to Pittsburgh via Gettysburg (kind of like Uneasy Rider driving to LA from Jackson, MS via Omaha).  We ran into Antietam ranger John Hoptak on the street there, outside the Farnsworth House bookstore.  It was a beautiful, warm day – lot’s of folks milling about.  Curiously, many merchants stuck to their 5:00 PM closing times.  Of course I’m not privy to their financial records, but it seems odd to me, especially considering many of these are small businesses actively staffed by their owners, implying more flexibility in scheduling operating hours (that is to say, “Look Marge, the hotel parking lot is full and there are a bunch of people eating outside O’Rorke’s.  Maybe we should stay open until 6:00 or 7:00″).  I’m just sayin’.

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Day Trip to Maryland

29 04 2010

Tomorrow early AM I’m off for Antietam National Battlefield with my friend Mike.  I have some work to do with NPS historian Ted Alexander at his office, then will spend some time at one of the farmhouses on the battlefield.  We should have a little time to bum around before heading for home, but this trip is feels more like work than fun.  Fun work, nonetheless, and it pretty much beats anything I do in my “real job”.  This is for a future installment of In Harm’s Way for Civil War Times, which is going very well thanks for asking.  I admit to preferring the subjects of the articles which allow me to visit the site and look through the files myself.  The subject of the article which will appear in the next issue that hits the stands – I submitted it last week and reviewed the edited pdf file yesterday – is on a Western Theater battlefield, and I had to write it remotely, with the help of others (a friend on the NPS staff sent me copies of the file, and another friend took photos – they did right by me).  I feel more connected to the house if I can crawl around it, measure it, and take photos – lots of photos – myself.  But I’m not complaining; this is a good gig.

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Done and Doner

21 04 2010

The second installment of In Harm’s Way has been sent to my editors at Civil War Times, and the third victim has been chosen.  I’ll be back in the Eastern Theater, and will again get to personally visit the subject property and get lots of photos.

I also sent in my two cents on the Virginia Confederate History Month controversy as discussed here.  I don’t know if it’s exactly what they were looking for, but it’s what I think.  I may post my full comment here, but not until after the magazine ships.

Today, for the first time ever, Bull Runnings topped 1,000 WordPress hits in a day.  I topped my previous high month a few days ago, and there are nine days left in the month yet.  Last week, I doubled my previous high week.  For mysterious reasons not fully understood by me, the site since April 6 has been receiving two-and-a-half to three times as many hits as it has in recent months.  Thanks and welcome to all my new readers.  I hope you’ll come back regularly.  I haven’t written many new articles this month, but hope to get back to regular posting of original content and Bull Run Resource material soon.

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