Popular Drivel

24 08 2012

If you haven’t heard about “historian” Richard Slotkin’s new book on Antietam, Google it. I will not link to it here. I refuse. Just like the Supreme Court and prior restraint, the book has been roundly rejected by a number of Antietam scholars I know. But check out this critique of a recent interview this “historian” – make that “MAJOR historian” – recently did with NPR.





Another Letter Via a Reader

10 08 2012

This weekend I will (hopefully) post an 1888 letter written by the colonel of a prominent Bull Run regiment – in some ways, the most prominent Bull Run regiment – concerning the battle. The letter is in private hands, a transcription of which has been provided by a descendant of the recipient. I also expect to receive a digital copy of the letter itself to be attached to the transcription, but won’t (in this case) wait for that. It’s risky to post such an item without some tangible proof of the authenticity, but due to the prominence of the letter writer I think I’ll make an exception. I can always pull the post later, but I have no reason to doubt this one.

As always, thank you dear readers for your contributions. I know I have one or two others that I have yet to post, but only because I haven’t quite figured out how to use them.  I encourage all readers in possession of relevant material to submit it for inclusion in the Bull Run Resources section.





What is a “Civil War Blog”?

18 07 2012

I ask that without implying that there is, or even should be, a definition. The beauty of a blog is still that it can be whatever the blogger wants it to be. I’ve tried to be pretty clear of my own intentions, which you can read over in the right hand column of this page.

I read most of my favorite blogs using Google Reader. There are dozens I consider to be “Civil War blogs”, even without ever having firmed up what that means in my own head. What classifies a blog as “Civil War” to you? One that shares research concerning the military, political, or social aspects of the war (there are a few out there, though not as many as one might think)? One that discusses how the war, or rather the era and its elements, are remembered today or at various times? One that offers opinions on what other bloggers or writers or commentators are saying? One that simply promotes the blogger’s print works? One that draws tenuous comparisons between the Civil War Era and our own to prove out the blogger’s own current political positions, or to discredit those of others? One that at least attempts to use some of the unique capabilities of digital history techniques, such as hyperlinks, metadata, video? All of these? None? Are any of them more important to you than others?

On a related note, what compels you to read a “Civil War” blog, or deters you from doing so (you can include Bull Runnings in either case)?

You may recall that a while back a few of “us” tried to categorize at least one type of blog, the “information compilation blog” or “battle blog.” You can read about that here and here.

 

UPDATE: A related question is “Who are Civil War Bloggers?”. Robert is discussing that very thing now over at Cenantua’s Blog.





Updates

15 07 2012

Once again real life has infringed upon my hobby, and I haven’t been able to come up with any posts lately. If you’re not already doing so, please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as I frequently put stuff up on those outlets (look in the right hand margin of this page and make the appropriate clicks to follow.)

I’ve been notified that my regular reviews in brief column (it’s been known by several names over the years) in Weider History Group’s America’s Civil War magazine has run its course. These things happen, in fact have happened before, and will continue to happen in the magazine business as formats change. I’m thankful for the opportunities editor Dana Shoaf has provided. On a happier note, I have been asked to write reviews on single titles, and my first one will appear in the issue of Civil War Times that will be in process in August.

I also mentioned earlier that I’ll be speaking to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable in 2014. I’ve been putting together a few notes for that presentation and am really pleased with how things are going. We’ll be covering a lot of assumptions that are generally accepted as fact concerning the campaign that may not be quite accurate. OK, make that flat out wrong. It should be fun, and if your group is interested you can contact me at my email address to the right or send me a message on the Book Me, Danno! page.





Letter to CWT on Gary Gallagher on CW Bloggers

24 05 2012

The August 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine includes a letter from yours truly commenting on Prof. Gary Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column in the preceding issue. The letter was pretty much a recap of thoughts I wrote about here. I really don’t think Gallagher’s “criticisms” were harsh on blogs and bloggers, any more than they would be if applied, as they can and should, to books and authors. However, I did find G’s implication (though it may simply have been my inference) that somehow the blogosphere can, in light of his criticism, be safely ignored by “serious” historians to be wrong-headed. As happens often in magazines, my letter was edited to fit the space available, so I present the original version below:

As a Civil War blogger, I read with interest Gary Gallagher’s “Blue & Gray” column in the June 2012 issue of Civil War Times. I found it to be a  molehill with lofty aspirations, if you will. Dr. G. sums up his position: “Overall, my limited engagement with the Civil War blogging world has left me alternately informed, puzzled and, on occasion, genuinely amused. I suspect these are common reactions to the mass of valuable information and unfiltered opinion that crowd the multitude of blogs out there.” In other words, the content of the blogs taken as a whole is uneven. As both a consumer and reviewer of Civil War books, I can say the same thing about the print world, including university presses. There’s a lot of crap out there. Unlike print media, with most blogs the comments feature helps to  keep the blogger honest, correct errors of fact, and facilitate an organic research process that can be wonderful to behold. Consumers have a responsibility to separate the wheat from the chaff in any case. Anyone researching the American Civil War – or any topic, for that matter – can only ignore what is published in “non-traditional” formats at their peril. Just because they didn’t read it doesn’t change the fact that it has been written. Adaptation is the key to survival.





Up Next…

18 05 2012

OK, I think the next thing I’ll be working on for the Resources section is Official Correspondence. This will be from The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 2 (Serial No. 2). I just have to figure out how I’m going to set those pages up so they’re easy to find and use. I guess it would be best to set up pages by individual names, with an index for TO and FROM with dates. Any suggestions?





What Do You Think of This?

19 04 2012

In my last post, under the signature of the letter, I included a link to the letter writer’s Civil War records at Ancestry.com. Of course, you need to be a subscriber to Ancestry.com for the link to work, but I thought this might be a time-saving measure for some readers looking for more. Let me know what you think of this. If enough feel it’s a good idea, I’ll try to include a similar link when I can. Also, do you like the separate link, or would it be better to just hyperlink the signature?








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