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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New Civil War Times Department: “In Harm’s Way”

29 03 2010

The June, 2010 issue of Civil War Times magazine ushers in the first installment of a new department I’ll be writing called In Harm’s Way.  These columns will feature homes on or in the vicinity of battlefields.  While the structures or the grounds they occupy will typically have played some role in a battle, the focus will be on the occupants and their stories before, during, and after the action.  This is an idea I pitched to editor Dana Shoaf, who saw something in it and gave me the go-ahead for the first article on Gettysburg’s Lydia Leister house, site of Union General George G. Meade’s headquarters on July 2 & 3, 1863.  

I made arrangements with Ranger Scott Hartwig at the park and at the end of January spent a couple of days there, first in the library where Ranger John Heiser gave me access to the park files on the house, and the next day at the house where Ranger Troy Harman unlocked the door and allowed me to photograph practically every square inch of the tiny log cabin.  Not many interior photos made the article, so let me share a few here (click the thumbs for a larger image):

Kitchen:

      

Loft:

 

Bedroom:

    

I’m looking forward to this new project, which is scheduled for 6 issues.  It presents some interesting creative challenges, and will also require me to make new contacts since I won’t be able to travel to all the sites.  The subject of the next article has been chosen, inquiries have been sent, materials have been received, and writing has commenced.  Let me know what you think of the articles, and if you really like them, let the magazine know!

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