Bull Runnings Goes to Gettysburg

5 07 2011

I just finished up a great week of activities in Gettysburg. I arrived in town on Tuesday, June 28 and checked into my room at the Gettysburg Hotel where The Civil War Institute was putting me up while I served on the faculty as a tour guide for their annual conference. I then headed over to Gettysburg College to let them know I was around, pick up my gear and take in the tail end of a panel discussion on Edward Porter Alexander. Afterwards I ran into a few familiar faces including Ethan Rafuse, Susannah Ural and Tim Orr, who were also on the faculty for this year’s program, as well as a couple of friends from Penn State Mont Alto tours past and fellow blogger Keith Harris. After a meal in the dining hall (nice seeing NPS rangers Chuck Teague and Matt Atkinson there) it was back to the Union Building ballroom to listen to Gary Gallagher on the subject of his new book, The Union War. The most surreal moment for me occurred when I was seated in a group with “fellow” faculty Ural, Rafuse, A. Wilson Greene, Joseph Glatthaar and Gabor Borritt.

On Wednesday morning I sat at breakfast with Ed Bearss, another of the guides for the day’s Manassas bus tours. A total of seven busses were scheduled for the day. Four would meet up with NPS guides at Manassas National Battlefield Park. Ethan Rafuse, Ed Bearss and myself would accompany our tourists on our busses as they departed from and returned to Gettysburg.

I had forty-two attendees on my bus. They were a great group, and admirably suffered early delays due to traffic. It was a hot day, but the terrain was manageable and I think everyone enjoyed themselves and learned something. My assistant was Jessica Slevin, an intern from Northern Ireland who kept everything running smoothly and on schedule. We left at 8:00 AM and got back to Gettysburg at 8:30 PM, a long but productive day. Click the thumbs below for larger images of Jessica and tired tourists returning to Gettysburg.

 

Thursday I was on my own. I did a little shopping and visited friend Jim Glessner at The American History Store. Then I checked out of the Gettysburg Hotel and moved out to The Wyndham at Gateway Gettysburg, where The Gettysburg Foundation was putting me up until Saturday. Then it was back to town to meet up with friends Chris and Alyce Army. First we walked over to the National Cemetery to help place flags on the graves of the men killed during the battle 148 years ago. Despite the fact that there are about 3,500 battle casualties buried there, the group flagged all the markers in about 15 minutes.

Afterwards I had dinner with the Armys and Wayne and Tina Motts and a few others. A nice relaxing evening.

Friday morning I drove over to Reynolds Ave. and took in a three-hour tour of the Park’s newly acquired Harman Farm on the old Gettysburg Country Club property west of Willoughby Run. The tour was led by NPS historians Scott Hartwig and John Heiser and was very informative. This piece of land will be a real jewel in the park’s crown once a few changes are made. During this tour I saw quite a few battlefield stomping pals and rangers from other parks, including John Hoptak, among the crowd of about 400 people.

After the tour I had lunch with friend Dana Shoaf, then headed up to the Visitor’s Center to take in a Gettysburg Foundation Sacred Trust talk by Dr. Allen Guelzo. I decided that, despite some great offers to join folks later in the evening for a few refreshments, it was a better idea to go back to my room and prepare for my talk for the Sacred Trust series at 9:30 AM Saturday.

I drove out to the Visitor’s Center a little after 8:00 AM, just to make sure that all the technical details for my PowerPoint presentation were in order and to get a parking space within the same zip code as the venue. They were, I did, and Cindy Small and Sue Boardman of the Foundation had everything running smoothly. Somewhere between 50-60 folks showed up, and I think they enjoyed my program on Patrick O’Rorke at First Bull Run. Friend Craig Swain drove up for the show and took a few pictures.

I stayed a while and took in the talks of Wayne Motts and Tim Orr, then set out on the road back home. It was a great week, despite the heat and the crowds of Gettysburg during the anniversary. Thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!





Gettysburg College Civil War Institute Tours

10 02 2011

Here’s a description of the tours for the upcoming 29th Civil War Conference of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.  The conference runs from June 27 through July 1 – here’s the registration brochure.  You have to be enrolled in the conference to attend the tours.

Manassas Battlefield Tours

Buses depart college campus at 8:00 a.m., arrive in Manassas at 10:00 a.m.  Meet tour guides in Manassas.  Lunch on the battlefield (brown bag).  Dinner location to be determined en route home.

*Bus #1 – Ray Brown/Jim Burgess
A View from the Ground: On the frontlines of First Manassas

National Park Service Historians Ray Brown and Jim Burgess will explore significant areas of the battlefield where much of the heaviest combat occurred and where key decisions were made that shaped the outcome of the action, as well as the circumstances that propelled Thomas J. Jackson and his brigade into a pivotal role on Henry Hill.  The tour will require considerable walking over rolling terrain on Henry Hill and Chinn Ridge.    On the actual ground CWI participants will gain a better understanding of how the field actually looked at the time and learn the location of key landmarks and terrain features that help define the location of opposing battle lines This tour by bus and foot will cover sites associated with the battle, including Stone Bridge, Van Pelt house site, Sudley Springs Ford Portici, Robinson House site, Henry Hill, and Chinn Ridge
 
*Buses #2 & #3 – Joe Rizzo caravan with Greg Wolf 
From the First March to the Final Rout:   A Comprehensive Tour of First Manassas

Where Thomas J. Jackson earned the nickname “Stonewal,”on Henry Hill is the focal point of virtually every Manassas tour.  If you are searching for a deeper explanation into the operations and strategy that led to this pivotal moment, if you want to follow in the footsteps of the armies before Jackson helped turn the tide, and if you want to study other critical moments of the campaign that took place away from the towering Jackson monument near the National Park Visitor Center, then this is tour to take, since it includes both a general treatment of the battle and specialized stops for the personal who already has a firm knowledge of the engagement.   Even the veteran visitor of Bull Run will see place–such as Manassas Junction, “Liberia,” Blackbrun’s Ford–that are rarely available to the every-day-visitor of Manassas.

Bus #4 – Ethan Rafuse
Staff Ride

In 1906 officers from what is today the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College executed the school’s first “staff ride”.  Carried out under the direction of Maj. Eben Swift, this exercise involved in-depth study of the great 1864 campaign across northern Georgia that ended with the fall of Atlanta.  The idea behind the staff ride (a concept borrowed from the Prusso-German officer education system) is to use historic battlefields as open-air classrooms to help military professionals better understand the real world challenges of command.  Participants in the 2011 Civil War Institute will have the opportunity to travel to Virginia to participate in a staff ride of First Manassas.  In addition to studying and critically analyzing the course and conduct of one of the Civil War’s truly great campaigns and the terrain where the fighting took place, the ride will provide participants with an appreciation of how the professional military uses history, and its place in the development of leaders for the current and future operational environments.  Unlike the traditional battlefield tour, the emphasis of the staff ride is on analysis of events and the development and application of critical thinking skills.  Thus, it is presumed that participants in a ride have some familiarity with events and are prepared to actively engage with the instructor and other participants. What value does studying campaigns and battles fought over rolling hills by armies wearing fancy uniforms and equipped with single-shot muskets have for officers as they think about the present and future of war in 2010?  Come along and find out!

Bus #5 – Harry Smeltzer [I will be on the bus down and back]
Hidden Mysteries of First Bull Run

This tour explores the battle through a series of personal vignettes that offer an intimate view July 21, 1861.  Even for the veteran tourist of First Manassas, “Hidden Mysteries” will offer a fresh perspective through the stories of participants like Peter Hains, Daniel Tyler, William Falkner, and E. B. C. Cash.    These individuals might not be household names, but their experiences reveal critical and often overlooked moments of the First Manassas Campaign. We will visit the critical portions of the battlefield, as well as a few spots not commonly visited by the casual tourist like the remnants of the war’s first monument and an 1861 road trace. Led by Smeltzer, a noted expert on First Manassas and host of the blog “Bull Runnings,” is geared toward a CWI participant who is familiar with the battle and visited the site before. There will be a moderate amount of walking as part of this tour, with some hilly terrain.
 
Bus #6 – Ed Bearss
Advanced Tour of First Manassas/Bull Run





New Journal: Gettysburg College

14 12 2010

The first issue of the Gettysburg College Journal of the Civil War Era, a joint publication of The Civil War Institute and the school’s Civil War Era Studies Department, is available free in pdf format here.  The journal is unique in that it features studies by undergraduates.  Three of the four contributors are currently pursuing their bachelor’s degrees, while the fourth graduated in 2008 and is now working on her master’s.  None attends or attended Gettysburg College, though one was a participant in the Gettysburg Semester in 2009.





Gettysburg College Civil War Institute Conference 2011 Schedule

1 12 2010

The schedule for the 2011 Gettysburg College Civil War Institute conference, Mobilizing for War and the Battle of First Manassas/Bull Run, has been announced.  They’ve put together quite a lineup of speakers and guides.  The conference runs from June 26 to July 1, with guided tours of the First Bull Run battlefield slated all day on Wednesday, June 29.  Each of the seven guides will be leading their own specialized tour.  The tours are part of the conference package and cannot be attended separately.   The guides are:

  • Ed Bearss
  • Ray Brown
  • Jim Burgess
  • Ethan Rafuse
  • Joe Rizzo
  • Harry Smeltzer
  • Greg Wolf

You can find the full conference schedule here; registration info here.  As more on the tours becomes available, I’ll let you know.





A Couple of 2011 Speaking Engagements

8 10 2010

Here are a couple more appearances I’ll be making in 2011.

June 29th, 2011 – Gettysburg, PA and Manassas, VA, The Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College, 29th Annual Summer Conference, Mobilizing for War.  I provided a copy of the press release here.  This is a week-long conference, and will include one day of touring the Manassas battlefield with the focus of the tours being the First Battle of Bull Run.  There will be anywhere from five to eight tour buses and tour guides, each conducting their own custom tour.  My tour will be Hidden Mysteries of First Bull Run.  This tour will be geared for tourists already familiar with the battlefield and the campaign.

October 1, 2011 – Aurora, CO, The Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable, in conjunction with Aurora Community College, presents the Rocky Mountain Civil War Symposium, The Eastern Theater from First Manassas through the Seven Days Campaign (go here for registration info).  I’m not sure yet what I’ll be speaking about, though it will be a topic concerning First Bull Run for sure.

I’ll post updates here as speakers and topics are updated, but so far for sure I know that Ethan Rafuse and Ed Bearss will also be leading tours at Bull Run, and Ethan and Jim Morgan are part of the Rocky Mountain lineup . 

If you do decide to attend any of my speaking events, do me a favor and lay off playing solitaire or any other card game for at least 48 hours beforehand.  The Queen of Diamonds has been known to exaggerate negative reactions to public speakers.  Just ask Laurence Harvey (above).  Thanks in advance. 

If you’d like me to speak to your group, leave a comment on the Book Me, Danno page or shoot me an email at the address to the right.





First Bull Run Tour

26 09 2010

Here’s an interesting recap of a recent tour at Manassas NBP with the students of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College, led by Jim Burgess of the NPS.





New Blog – Gettysburg Civil War Institute

13 08 2010

There’s another blog in the hot tub, this one from the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute.  Check out Civil War Institute.  OK, maybe this first post is pandering a bit – a version of that wink-wink nudge-nudge McClellan remark that some NPS rangers and other guides throw out there when they feel like they’re losing the crowd.  But I can’t blame them for putting up an attention grabber: it’s a very crowded hot tub, after all!

I’m not sure who will be contributing posts to this blog, but imagine it will be a team of folks headed up by Institute Director Peter Carmichael.  So my expectations are high.





Gettysburg College Civil War Intstitute 2011 Conference to Feature First Bull Run

11 07 2010

Gettysburg College Civil War Institute has released details of its 2011 conference, and First Bull Run is featured.

Mobilizing for War – 2011 Gettysburg College Civil War Institute Conference

The Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College will host its 29th annual summer conference on June 26-July 2, 2011. The week-long conference will enroll approximately 300 participants from all over the U.S. and abroad and will consist of lectures, workshops, panel discussions, and battlefield tours.   With 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the CWI will explore the mobilization of both armies, the strategies of the high commands, and the opening battles of 1861 with an emphasis on the First Battle of Manassas/Bull Run.
 
The Institute is now under the leadership of Civil War scholar Peter S. Carmichael, the Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College, who recently replaced Dr. Gabor S. Boritt, noted Lincoln scholar and author of The Gettysburg Gospel: The Lincoln Speech That Nobody Knows (Simon and Schuster, 2006).  Carmichael has published a number of books, most recently a study of Southern college students during the Civil War era, The Last Generation: Young Virginians in Peace, War, and Reunion (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2005).  He is currently writing a history of the common soldier for and researching the experience and wartime representation of Confederate slaves, and how the mythical idea of loyal African Americans defending the South animates current cultural wars over “Southern heritage.”

Discussion panels, lectures, and battlefield tours will be led by historians Allen Guelzo, Gary Gallagher, Joseph Glatthaar, A. Wilson Greene, Susannah Ural, Tim Orr, Mary De Credico, Wayne Wei-Sian Hsieh, Ethan Rafuse, Ed Bearss, and others.  Topics to be explored include the training of the armies, the 1861 West Virginia operations, Northern soldiers and Unionism, Fighting for the Confederacy, the Stonewall Jackson Brigade, Balls Bluff, and the Committee on the Conduct of War.  In addition to studying and touring the battlefields of First Manassas, a portion of the program will be dedicated to studying aspects of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Approximately thirty scholarships will be awarded to high school juniors and history teachers from across the country, based on their applications and letters of recommendation. Scholarship recipients attend the conference for free, and benefit from additional programming designed to foster greater learning of history at the high school level.

The CWI sponsors various Civil War and Lincoln related programs throughout the year and is a co-sponsor of the Dedication Day activities commemorating the anniversary of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address on November 19th.    For a complete listing of our upcoming events, conference schedule and information on registration fees, and scholarship opportunities, please visit us online at www.gettysburg.edu/civilwar/institute ,email civilwar@gettysburg.edu, phone 717-337-6590, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
 
Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences.  It is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.  The college was founded in 1832.

Go here for a copy of the press release, flyer and registration form.








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