The Long and the Short of My Columbus Presentation

14 03 2014

More to follow.





Presenting in Ohio Next Month

20 02 2014

Just a reminder that I’ll be making a presentation to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable on March 12. Here’s a summary:

Irvin McDowell’s Plan and Other Bull Run Misconceptions. This program will explore what the presenter feels are popular misconceptions surrounding the First Bull Run campaign, with primary focus on the Union army commander’s intentions up to the early hours of July 21, 1861. We will discuss how we have come to know the story of Bull Run as we know it, various primary sources and secondary accounts of the campaign, treatments by historians and institutions, the general interest (or lack thereof) of Civil War enthusiasts in the details of the campaign, and other related – or even unrelated – topics. As always, the audience will likely play no small role in the content of the program as it progresses.

I’m looking forward to this. It will be the first time I talk about my thoughts on what McDowell really intended when he set out from Washington for Manassas. It’s not what you think. Just gotta figure out how to set it down on paper and slides. You see, this is a very complicated case. You know, a lotta ins, a lotta outs, a lotta what-have-yous. And, uh, a lotta strands to keep in my head, man. Oh man, my thinking about this case has become very uptight. Let’s just hope I can get things straight by then.

Check out the details at the COCWRT website.





Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush-Hush

1 08 2013

I’ve been waiting for a chance to use another James Elroy quote, and here it is! I just heard through the grapevine that a manuscript has been submitted to a university press – a First Bull Run campaign study that the editor indicates is “long, deeply researched, and extremely well written.” Can this be the type of study I called for in the roundtable article in Civil War History a while back?

It’s starting to sound like I’m advocating a big campaign study featuring coordinated coverage of the social, political, and military aspects of the campaign in context and detail, with an emphasis on how they all impacted what was to follow, and I guess I am.  I think it would make for a fascinating read.

Let’s hope this is it. Having some idea how the process works, I’m guessing it will be a couple of years before we see anything (as late as 2016, the 155th anniversary, perhaps.) But I could be way off on that. And no, I don’t know the writer’s identity. Refer again to the title of this post.

In other news, the program I will present to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable (and talked about here) continues to evolve and I’ve decided to actually write this one up. I’ll share some bullet-points with you all later, but won’t make the big reveal until that evening, of course. Again, the program will focus on McDowell’s plans: what he expected, what he intended, and how and why we seem to miss the mark today when it comes to evaluating them and him.





Making Progress

12 07 2013

I am making progress on a program I will present to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable next spring. Yes, you heard that right, next spring. One of the luxuries of not doing a lot of these presentations is I have plenty of time to prepare. I’m taking a different tack with this one. For the most part my narratives have been mostly extemporaneous based on fairly rough outlines and PowerPoint slides. In fact, the last one I gave had no slides at all, just some notes but also a few pretty long passages from books and some articles I wrote previously (that one was interesting and I had really very little idea where the road would lead, though I was pleasantly surprised.) I decided quite a few months ago, when I got the invite from COCWRT, to open a Word document on my desktop and put down thoughts on the presentation as they entered my head, and so far I’m pretty pleased with what’s taking shape. Now the question is: do I want to write this up in the form of a “paper” and build a slide presentation around it? This is a different approach in a couple of ways. First, when I’ve done PowerPoint presentations in the past, they’ve typically driven the narrative. In this case, the slides will serve more as support. Second, I’ve never before had a “script” for my programs. I’ve never really read a “paper”, though I think my program on Patrick O’Rorke for the Gettysburg Foundation back in 2011 came pretty close, but the bulk of that program consisted of his letter home on the Battle of Bull Run. “Paper Reading” is something I find not so appealing as a consumer, and as a presenter I really prefer give and take during the program as opposed to a structured talk with questions afterwards. For this program, which contrasts a well established, familiar story line of First Bull Run with what really happened (or, at least, what I think really happened and why I think it), I think I’ll write the “paper” and look at my options afterwards. One thing for sure is I won’t be using the future tense when speaking of past events – I promise. Irvin McDowell intended to do some things, he did other things, but he will not BE doing anything ever again.





Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable, Pinehurst, NC, 4/18/2013

29 04 2013

About 45 people showed up for my presentation to the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Southern Pines, NC (the area is generally Pinehurst.) This presentation was a first for me, though I have spoken to the group on two other occasions. Program director and friend Tonia (Teej) Smith asked me to speak to the membership on blogging. That’s a pretty general topic, but also one which I wasn’t sure I could speak about for an hour without repeated use of “I” and “me.” As I developed the program it turned into a look at what I call The Future of Civil War History From a Slightly Different Point of View. I really had only a very general idea of the outline of the program, and hoped it would foster a give-and-take with the audience, since they are the very sorts of folks I feel will be playing a big role in that future. OK, I did have to use “I” and “me” a good bit.

Drawing on some writing by Garry Wills in Henry Adams and the Making of America, Ken Noe, James Ellroy, John Huston, the Coen Brothers, and some of the pieces I’ve written here over the years, we examined the changing landscape of “history” in the digital age. I compared our recent and future times with that of the “gentleman historians” of the 19th century, and we discussed how digital archives and the web in general have lessened to some extent the barriers to research. And we talked a bit about how those in the room could get started in participating in the process. There were plenty of questions and lots of enthusiasm, and an encouraging line of folks who wanted to carry on the discussion after my time was up.

On Friday Teej and I made a trip west to Salisbury, NC, site of a wartime Confederate prison and the grave of Col. Charles Fisher of the 6th NC, who was killed in action at First Bull Run. Here are a few photos of his grave in the Old Lutheran Cemetery.

IMG_20130419_131207_304 IMG_20130419_131213_414 IMG_20130419_131223_284 IMG_20130419_131237_602

You can see more photos of the trip to Salisbury on Bull Runnings’s Facebook Page. The image of the group at the top of the page is “flipped”, but you can see it in its proper orientation on Facebook.

As always, Teej and RBCWRT president “Harry” Hilgrove treated me top rate. If you’re in the area on the third Thursday of the month, check them out in Southern Pines.





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.





Book Your Airline Tickets and Hotel Rooms Now!!!

7 06 2012

I’ll be appearing at the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable on March 12, 2014. The program is tentatively titled: “McDowell’s ‘Plan’ for Bull Run: Brilliant, Sound, or Something Less?”, though I may go with the shorter “Irvin McDowell and the First Bull Run Campaign: What Was He Thinking?” If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or if you attended my tour of the battlefield for the Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College last June, you know that my thoughts on this diverge sharply from what is generally accepted. This doesn’t mean my theories are any better or worse than anyone else’s. It just means mine are right and their’s are wrong.

I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting many thousands of you there! And if you’re looking for a speaker for your group, drop me a note at my email address at right or leave a comment under the Book Me, Danno! tab.





Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable

13 07 2011

On June 14, 2011 I was privileged to speak to the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable in the Thomas Balch Library, Leesburg, Virginia. About fifty or so folks gathered for my presentation The First Shot at Bull Run: Peter Conover Hains Remembers.

This is a first-rate group and venue. Unfortunately I ran long once again and didn’t have time for Q&A, though a few folks did approach me afterwards with some good inquiries. My thanks to president Bill Wilkin, VP Cecil Jones, Secretary Dwight Bower, Treasurer Gary Mester and Program Chairman Chris Custode, as well as board member Craig Swain who helped book me, and board member Jim Morgan who graciously introduced me. My son and I had a great time.

Thanks also to the good folks at the Weider History Group, who hosted my son and me for lunch the next day and gave us a tour of their Leesburg offices.

Craig also made a video recording of the whole presentation and posted it to YouTube in six parts. The first segment is posted below. You can find all six parts here.





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!





The Dusty Trail

27 06 2011

Tomorrow I’m hitting the road once again. On Wednesday, June 29, I’ll be leading a tour of First Bull Run for the Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College‘s Summer Conference. There are a total of 7 tour busses. Four will be led by NPS personnel, the remaining three by Ed Bearss, Ethan Rafuse, and myself. My tour is for people already familiar with the battlefield, and will be a tour in biography, for lack of a better term. This will be an opportunity for me to share those stories I’ve stumbled across over the past 6 years or so. Not your typical battlefield tour, but I hope the brave souls who chose my tour enjoy it.

On Saturday, July 2, I’ll be speaking as part of the Gettysburg Foundation’s Sacred Trust speaker’s series. At 9:30 AM outside the Visitor’s Center I’ll give a presentation on Patrick O’Rorke at First Bull Run. When the Foundation first contacted me they asked for a topic that tied in Gettysburg and First Bull Run, and O’Rorke was the obvious choice for me. It’s a short program, only 45 minutes including Q & A. Afterwards I’ll be available at a signing table, though unlike just about everyone else on the schedule I really don’t have anything to sign – unless someone shoves a copy of America’s Civil War, Civil War Times, or Civil War History in front of me. I kinda doubt that’s gonna happen, though.

So if you’re registered for Wednesday’s tour I’m looking forward to meeting you. And if you’re in town on Saturday morning, please stop by the Visitor’s Center. I’ll also be strolling about town and battlefield on Thursday and Friday, so if you see me please say hi!








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 784 other followers