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!





Recap of Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable

18 06 2011

Sorry for the delay in posting this. Last week – precisely Monday, June 6 – I made the second presentation of my program on Peter Conover Hains, in to the good folks of the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable. The group met in a judiciary committee hearing room of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC – not the same room where the Watergate hearings were held, but not too shabby.

It was a logistically challenging day. First I Metroed in from the home of my good friends Kathy and Dan Carson in Arlington. I lugged my computer, projector, materials and a change of clothes to the office of Ron Baumgarten of All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac, in the US Trade Representative complex in the Winder Building, of which he gave me a quick tour. It was nice to finally meet Ron so I don’t have to call him an e-quaintance any more. Then I had to kill time and wound up walking all day through Washington. I’ll cover that walk in another post.

After a long and very hot day I met RT president George Franks, III and other officers at Bullfeathers, a popular Hill watering hole and restaurant. Needless to say I required significant watering. Then it was up the Hill to the venue. Here are a couple of pictures of the room – click on the thumbs for larger images.

 

About 15-20 folks were present, and they were quite familiar with local District history, which was challenging considering my program included a good bit of it. As usual I ran a little long, but there was time for a few questions which were very good. George presented me with a beautiful miniature of the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the Capitol dome.

Thanks to everyone who made it out. You’re a great group!





Another Road Trip

13 06 2011

The second of three June road trips for Bull Runnings will feature my appearance before the Loudon County Civil War Roundtable in Leesburg, VA. For details, go here.





Yakkin’ in Gettysburg

8 06 2011

Last week I received an invitation, totally unexpected, from Cindy Small of the Gettysburg Foundation to participate in their speaker’s program, A Sacred Trust: Gettysburg Perspectives, to be held on the 148th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Cindy asked me to speak about a Bull Run topic, preferably one with a Gettysburg tie-in, so at 9:30 AM on Saturday, I’ll present “I had been under fire…and had felt no inclination to run”: Patrick O’Rorke at First Bull Run. I’ll be warming up the crowd for Wayne Motts. The program will run 45 minutes including questions and answers. I’ll also be available after the talk, though unlike every other speaker that day I have no books to autograph or sell – so feel free to come see me and shoot the breeze if you’re so inclined.

Others on the schedule include Troy Harman, Ethan Rafuse, Alan Guelzo, Ed Bearss, Tim Orr, John Hoptak…well, just go here for a full schedule of events.





Hittin’ the Road…

5 06 2011

…to our nation’s capital – and Capitol.

In a few hours I’m heading to Washington, DC where I’ll be presenting my program on Peter Hains to the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable. Tomorrow I plan on doing some sightseeing, starting off by paying a visit to All Not So Quiet on the Potomac host Ron Baumgarten, who works in town in the Winder Building, home today of the U.S. Trade Representative. I hope then to hit Ford’s Theater and the National Building Museum, which is a beautiful structure and originally housed the Pension office. For monuments I’m taking along my paperback copy of Testament to Union to help guide me about – lots of walking.

The meeting starts at 7 PM in the Rayburn House Office Building., and runs until about 8:30.

On the way home on Tuesday I hope to stop by Manassas National Battlefield Park, and will proceed to Winchester for some field work on my upcoming Collateral Damage article and to hopefully meet up with e-quaintance Robert Moore, aka Cenantua.

So, a busy couple of days ahead.





Slow Here, I Know

1 06 2011

Sorry for the lack of posts. Lots of stuff going on. I have RT programs to present on June 6th and June 14th, and the Gettysburg College tour on June 29, and possibly another engagement on July 2nd or 3rd (you can check out the details on those appearances here). As I get time, I’ll post some articles on the new Civil War Times and my Collateral Damage column, as well as the new Civil War History and my participation in a roundtable discussion in its pages. Bear with me for the next few weeks.





Back From the Vale

25 05 2011

Last Thursday evening I presented The First Gun at Bull Run, a program on Peter Conover Hains, to the good folks at the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst, NC. This was the first of three presentations I’ll be giving through Julne 14, and it went off pretty well. There were some paper rustling moments I wasn’t real happy with, but hopefully I can rearrange my outline to avoid a repeat in DC on June 6.

Thanks to host Teej Smith for the wonderful hospitality shown on Thursday and Friday – perfect walkin’ ’round weather for Chapel Hill. Also thanks to RBCWRT president Frank Jones and everyone at the meeting for a fine event.





Yakkin’ in the the Vale of Humility

18 05 2011

Tomorrow evening, May 19, I’ll be presenting a program to the good people of the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst, NC. My talk, which I’ll be giving two more times in June, is on Peter Connover Hains, who “opened the ball” at First Bull Run with a shot from his 30-pdr Parrott rifle, Long Tom. I’ll discuss Hains’s long and distinguished army career, aspects of his interesting personal life, and the memoir of First Bull Run he wrote on the golden anniversary of the battle.

This is my second trip to this roundtable – they’re a great bunch and I’m looking forward to seeing them and good friend Teej Smith again. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area.





Change of Plans

17 03 2011

Rayburn House Office Building

Thanks to potential jury duty, the appearance of Bull Runnings before the JCCW – er, the Capitol Hill Civil War Roundtable set for April 4 has been rescheduled. I will be presenting my Bull Run themed program in the Judicial Hearing Room of the Rayburn House Office Building (where the Watergate hearings were held!) on June 6, 2011. Yep, D-Day. The presentation will look at the Battle of First Bull Run through the aged eyes of participant Peter Conover Hains.

Thanks to President George Franks III for his understanding and flexibility in rescheduling this engagement which I absolutely did not want to cancel.





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








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