NPS video promo Trial By Fire recaps sesqui events.
See more here.
NPS video promo Trial By Fire recaps sesqui events.
See more here.
It would appear the worm has turned at Antietam National Battlefield. From the get-go of yesterday’s all-day hikes, it was apparent that much of the tried and true narrative of the 1862 Maryland Campaign has been scrapped by the National Park Service, at least as far as rangers Keith Snyder and Brian Baracz are concerned. There were quizzical looks on the faces of some of the 125 or so folks on the tour as no mention was made of a cowardly, traitorous, or even just plain stupid George McClellan. These were for the most part veteran tourists of the battlefield, conditioned to the old-line tales of the single greatest threat ever faced by our Union – no, not Jeff Davis, not R. E. Lee, not the Confederate armies, not the fire-eaters, not the KGC, not the Copperheads, not the slaveocracy. Those forces combined could never compare to the evil spectre of the Young Napoleon, especially in September, 1862. The debate was closed.
Or was it? To sum up the gist of the seven hour presentation, the Army of Northern Virginia, while defeated at Sharpsburg (What?) was saved from ultimate destruction by the advantages of a its more experienced soldiery (What?), favorable topography (What?), and interior lines of communication (What?). While the Union commander had a good plan (What?), he also had poor lines of communication (What?), many green troops (What?), and experienced troops in not so great condition (What?). It seemed to me that a few grizzled vets in the crowd were thinking “This is bull. That coward McClellan had 300,000 well equipped and experienced soldiers and Lee’s “battle plans”, this battlefield is flat as a board, just like the maps in Landscape Turned Red, despite what my bursting quads are telling me, and Lee won a victory here with three couriers and a one-armed orderly.” Well, there will always be folks whose minds were made up by Bruce Catton back in the 4th grade. But there were a surprising number of younger (well, not older) folks in the group whose minds are just possibly open enough to consider other lines of thought.
It appears the works of modern-day scholars like Joe Harsh, Tom Clemens and Ethan Rafuse have been making dents in the armor of the Maryland Campaign. And the good folks at the Park are contributing as well. Of course, they only work with the literature, artifacts, and battlefields of this campaign every day all day, so what do they know?
Thank you, Ranger Snyder and Ranger Baracz. It was a great day on the field, with great company including my stomping buddy Mike and fellow blogger Craig (whose thoughts on the day can be read here).
John Hennessy has this great post up at Remembering: Musings on Fredericksburg and Manassas, in which he dissects this famous image of Sudley Springs Ford in March, 1862. See other photos from this collection here.
With the anniversary fast approaching, there are lots of blog posts and newspaper articles popping up every day that concern First Bull Run. I don’t announce them all here, but I do try to keep up with them on Facebook and Twitter. Use the links I’ve embedded in their names to follow Bull Runnings there and keep up with the latest Bull Run news.
I’m still getting inquiries regarding whether or not I will be at the ceremonies and events at the battlefield this week. I have no official role there. I may head down that way on Thursday or over the weekend just to check out what’s going on, but I’m not sure just yet. If you go, please be sure to take lots of water and drink it regularly, before you get thirsty. The plains of Manassas is a very hot place indeed in the summer. I mean, really, really hot. If you see me there, please say hello.
Check out this WaPo article on Manassas and the sesquicentennial. Nice photo gallery.
For twenty-seven years, Blue & Gray magazine has been putting out about six issues every year, each issue focusing on a battlefield in minute detail. Do the math: that’s about 160 issues, right? Subtracting the 130 issues that have featured Gettysburg, that still leaves about 30 opportunities to cover First Bull Run. Amazingly, the current issue is the first to highlight our favorite little skirmish.
Well, better late than never.
The magazine and Manassas National Battlefield Park ranger Henry Elliot have produced a fine work with an overview of the campaign, detail of the battle, solid tour guide, and wonderful maps of First Bull Run. Hurrah for this issue! There are twenty maps and a full Order of Battle. Footnotes. Illustrations. The works!
Buy this one today.
(Quibble: I disagree with Mr. Elliot’s assertion on page 8 that “McDowell needed to preserve his numerical advantage over Beauregard.” I’ve said it many times before and am comfortable with the fact that I sit way out here by myself in my position: McDowell never thought he would have a numerical superiority – he never thought he would maintain or gain one at any point in his planning, and therefore his plan did not depend on numerical superiority. For my most recent post on this, see here.)
A limited number of tickets for the July 21 Manassas 150th Commemorative Ceremony will be made available through a lottery.
The morning ceremony near the Manassas National Battlefield Park visitor center on Henry Hill will feature a keynote address by Dr. Ed Ayers and music by the U.S. Marine Corps Band. Only those with tickets will have access to the Henry Hill area of the battlefield during the event. The area is expected to re-open to visitors at noon.
Four thousand tickets to the special ceremony will be distributed through an online lottery. Applications will be accepted from 10 am April 27 through 10 pm May 4. Winners will be notified by email on May 9.
For more information on the event and the ticket lottery: www.virginiacivilwar.org/manassas.php
As of now, I have no plans to attend – but it sounds like fun.
The good folks at the NPS at Gettysburg have started a blog, and you can find it here.
There appear to be few frills and no feed (I keep track of what’s going on in the sphere with my Google feed reader). I’m really not sure why they opted for this format when the good folks at Fredericksburg have blazed such a clear path, but it’s just starting out so maybe things will evolve.
Various magazines are out which include good stuff on First Bull Run. In fact, I’ll wager that more Bull Run material will be published in periodicals this year than have been published in the last 50 years. So with no further ado, lets start with Hallowed Ground, the quarterly publication of the Civil War Trust.
And on page 25, you’ll find an interview with the host of Bull Runnings. That alone is worth the price of membership! There’s other good stuff in here, too. This issue of Hallowed Ground is a must have for your Bull Run collection.