Really, Really Good Stuff

21 04 2010

I know I already told you here about the addition to my blogroll of Mysteries and Conundrums, a site maintained by the staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.  But it bears repeating because those dudes are putting up way cool bits.  I don’t know if they can keep this up, but I sure hope so; and I’d love to see some of the other park staffs follow their lead.  Check it out!

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Coming Soon – Interview with Ed Bearss

11 04 2010

Last Thursday I was privileged to spend about 35 minutes on the phone with NPS Historian Emeritus Edwin C. Bearss.  Our discussion centered on the upcoming release of his new book, Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the Campaigns that Changed the Civil War, but it naturally strayed to other topics.  I’ll be arranging our talk in the form of an interview and posting it here soon.  If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, Mr. Bearss will be speaking to the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Roundtable on April 26.  You can find details here.  The photo above is Mr. Bearss signing my copies of his three-volume The Vicksburg Campaign in Carnegie, PA after his appearance there on February 9, 2009.

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New on the Blogroll – Fredericksburg and Spotyslvania NMP

30 03 2010

New to the blogroll is Mysteries and Conundrums, brought to us by the staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP.  From the About page:

Every week the park staff has conversations (sometimes rigorous) about a new photograph, a new source, or a new idea about the historic landscape on and around the four Civil War battlefields within the park–Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House.  A few of these discussions lead to new understandings or insights.  We will, by virtue of this blog, take some of those conversations and explorations public.  Our purpose is, in part, to share with the public some of the work that makes our jobs so very interesting.  At the same time, we know there are many people out there with lots of knowledge, sources, and additional information that will add to a better understanding of the landscape and resources we manage and interpret.  This blog is an open invitation for you to join in and add to an exploratory process that, we hope, will enhance preservation of the battlefields in and around Fredericksburg.

Much of the material posted here will be provided by the park’s cultural resource managers, Eric Mink and Noel Harrison, though other members of the staff (Greg Mertz, Frank O’Reilly, Donald Pfanz, and John Hennessy) will also chime in occasionally. Comments are welcome.

Bear in mind that while we don’t expect controversy (beyond the historical kind) to be an element of this blog, we are duty bound to point out that all expressions here are unofficial and are not intended to represent the views of the management of the National Park Service.  We are simply trying to engage viewers in what we think are some pretty interesting conversations and debates about matters of history and landscape.

 Welcome aboard!  Hat tip to Craig Swain.

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Chickamauga Tour

14 03 2010

Here’s an article on friend Dave Powell’s most recent tours for the Chickamauga Study Group, which are held at the battlefield annually in cooperation with the NPS and park historian Jim Ogden.  These tours have been well attended, though unfortunately not by me.  I did have the opportunity a few years ago to spend a couple of days on the field there with Dave, and have heard very positive reviews from others who have attended this series.  If you get the chance next year, don’t pass it up.  There’s also a video in the link above, and you can see Dave a couple of times during Ranger Ogden’s voiceover.   That’s Dave on the right in the Chattanooga Times Free Press photo above, standing quietly and carrying a big stick.

UPDATE: See here for Dave’s recap of the tours.

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Manus (Jack) Fish, 1928-2010

5 03 2010

Manus “Jack” Fish, long time employee of the National Park Service and regional director of the National Capital Region (which includes the battlefields of Manassas and Antietam) from 1973 to his retirement in 1988, has died after suffering a stroke on February 27.  During his tenure as regional director, he oversaw significant expansion of Manassas National Battlefield Park.  He was big into tree planting, so I’m not sure how he viewed the current trend of restoring view-sheds on the battlefields.  Here is his obituary, and here is a longer biography, from which I got the photo at left.

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Road Trip – Gettysburg

28 01 2010

I’m off to Gettysburg this morning to do some work on a potential article for a magazine.  I’ll be meeting Ranger John Heiser today in the park’s library, and Ranger Troy Harman in the field tomorrow.  The weather’s not cooperating here in Pittsburgh: my son’s school has a two-hour delay and consequently I’m behind schedule.  I’ll be back sometime Saturday, so no new posts until at least then.





New Battle Blog on Petersburg

22 09 2009

Petersburg

Brett Schulte has announced his new project on the Petersburg Campaign, Beyond the Crater.  I’ve had it on my blogroll for a while, but was holding off an announcement until Brett was ready to go live.  Read his description as he can certainly do a better job on it than I.  I think it’s “I”.  Or is it “me”?  No, I think it’s “I” as in “I can”.  Anyway, check it out.

Map courtesy of NPS.





October 2009 Civil War Times

5 08 2009

CWI October 2009On Saturday I received my complimentary copies of Civil War Times magazine.  You may ask “Hey Har, hows come you got complimentary copies?  I thought you wrote for America’s Civil War magazine?”  If you’re a Pittsburgher, you may have ended that with “n ‘at” or the more popular spelling, “N @”.  Well, as you can see from the cover, this issue includes “10 Must-See Sites at First Manassas.”  Inside is my contribution to CWT’s “Field Guide” series.  Thanks to the folks at Weider History Group for giving me the opportunity to move up to the Granddaddy and expand my writing resume’ a bit. 

A little explanation is in order.  The title of the article on page 24 (neither the cover blurb nor the article title were of my making) is “The First Manassas You’ve Missed”, which I think more accurately describes where I was going with my list of ten sites to see on and around the battlefield.   While the Jackson Monument, Henry House, Stone House, and Stone Bridge are certainly must-sees, they are also among the few sites seen by most visitor’s to the field, who tend to walk the little Henry House loop, visit the Stone Bridge before or after, and wave at the Stone House in between (or stare at it a long time as they sit in traffic near the Sudley Road-Route 29 intersection).  I’m not going to go into my list – you need to buy the magazine if you want to see that.  But after you’ve read it, please feel free to leave comments on the article here.

Also in this issue:

  • Peter Cozzens on John Rawlins and his relationship with Grant.
  • Earl Hess on The Battle of the Crater and Confederate efforts at turnabout.
  • Robert McGlone on John Brown.
  • Glenn LaFantasie on the strange journey home of a Georgia colonel killed at Gettysburg.
  • Gary Gallagher on the relevance today of D. S. Freeman and Bruce Catton.
  • Mike Musik on Hardee’s Tactics.
  • Reviews, including fellow blogger Jim Schmidt’s Lincoln’s Labels, which looks really good but I’m not allowed to buy any more books on Lincoln.  Visit Jim’s blog here.

This issue should hit news stands next week.





Buncha Stuff

31 07 2009

Fibber-McGeeI’m finishing up Volume I of Lincoln’s Collected Works (there are 11 volumes in all, plus an index for the first nine).  Rather than post interesting tidbits as I found them, I’ve decided that after I finish each volume I’ll go back to all my little post-its and put up one article listing them.  So look for a summary post next week.

I haven’t forgotten the post on Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, and the characteristics of the Southern officer class that hindered its ability to lead effectively.  I’m sure the article, when written, will piss some folks off, and maybe that’s why I keep putting it off.  But all the books I’m consulting are still sitting in a stack on my office floor.

I need some info on Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.  Does anyone know how, when, and why he received his nickname, Kill Cavalry?  I’m not looking for opinion or generally accepted legend – in fact, if you give that to me in a comment, I’ll delete it.  I’m looking for documented evidence: when and where did the name first appear, and in what context?

My First Bull Run Field Guide for Civil War Times magazine should be showing up in subscriber’s mailboxes soon.  I’ll post some thoughts on the article once I receive my copy.

Civil War Sallie visited the Manassas National Battlefield Park a couple weekends ago for the anniversary of the battle, and wrote about it in multiple installments here.  Check it out.





2009 Battle Anniversary

15 07 2009

I’ve received some inquiries regarding anniversary programs at Manassas National Battlefield Park.  I got this from the website, though it was tough to find:

148th Anniversary of First Manassas (Bull Run) 

Date:  7/18/2009, 7/19/2009

Time:  10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location:  Henry Hill

Details:

See Union and Confederate troops portrayed in an encampment representing the raw soldiers of the summer of 1861 on the Henry Hill battlefield.  Demonstrations of musketry and artillery firing will echo over the grassy fields where the combat raged 148 years ago.  Soldier life demonstrations will describe the experience of citizen soldiers, naive amateurs in their baptism of fire, encountering their “first gunpowder christening.”  U.S. Marine Battalion exhibits will illuminate the uniforms and equipment of Civil War Marines.  Replica colors or flags of regiments in the colorful confusion of the battle will be unfurled, and impressions of Union and Confederate uniforms will depict the “fog of war” the muddle of confusion in the reek of smoke on the battlefield.  Park Ranger tours will be conducted over the ground where bravery and sacrifice was witnessed in what the raw troops, “as green as grass” believed would be the “only battle of the war,” only to be sobered by the carnage revealed in the brutal combat.
 
Fee Free Weekend
 
Contact Park ranger staff at (703) 361-1339








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