Civil War Interactive is having a writer’s contest. Details here.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: Articles, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civil War On the Web, Writing About The Civil War
There’s plenty of good stuff inside on the battle and the battlefield – see here for the table of contents. NPS historians Greg Wolf and John Reid have pieces on some battlefield detective work and the Centennial reenactment; museum specialist Jim Burgess writes on civilian spectators at the battle, and superintendent Ray Brown has an interesting article on the owner of the Van Pelt house. The folks who work and have worked at the park are the real experts on the battles that were fought here. These articles should not be missed – and yes, they’re all available online for free. While I don’t see it listed, there is supposed to be an interview with yours truly in this issue as well. Perhaps I wound up on the cutting room floor? I’ll let you know once I see the magazine itself.
One article in particular caught my attention: An End to Innocence, The First Battle of Manassas by Bradley Gottfried. Here’s the passage that stuck out:
While Lincoln and his Cabinet members listened, McDowell laid out a plan to attack the 24,000-man Confederate Army under Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, deployed near the winding Bull Run creek about 25 miles southwest of Washington. The general intended to use about 30,000 troops in the effort, marching in three columns, while another 10,000 men were held in reserve. With such numerical superiority, it appeared McDowell would overwhelm his Southern counterpart.
OK, I’ve talked about this in the past and you’re probably sick of hearing it by now. I have met Mr. Gottfried – he’s a good guy. I worked closely with him in proofing his book, The Maps of First Bull Run. But what he has written here conflicts with my understanding of McDowell’s plan. Here’s the text of the portion of McDowell’s plan regarding the force he expected to meet at Manassas (emphasis and brackets mine; you can read the whole thing here):
The secession forces at Manassas Junction and its dependencies are supposed to amount at this time [June 24-25, 1861] to–
We cannot count on keeping secret our intention to overthrow this force. Even if the many parties intrusted with the knowledge of the plan should not disclose or discover it, the necessary preliminary measures for such an expedition would betray it; and they are alive and well informed as to every movement, however slight, we make. They have, moreover, been expecting us to attack their position, and have been preparing for it. When it becomes known positively we are about to march, and they learn in what strength, they will be obliged to call in their disposable forces from all quarters, for they will not be able, if closely pressed, to get away by railroad before we can reach them. If General J. E. Johnston’s force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson, and Major-General Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than ten thousand men. So we must calculate on having to do with about thirty-five thousand men.
And here’s where he described the size of the army with which he proposed to take the field:
Leaving small garrisons in the defensive works, I propose to move against Manassas with a force of thirty thousand of all arms, organized into three columns, with a reserve of ten thousand.
I’ve not yet found any evidence that McDowell expected he would have numerical superiority in his strike against Beauregard. I’ll have more to say on this in an upcoming article in America’s Civil War.
UPDATE 3/15/2011: Let me make this clear for everyone, if for some reason you got a different impression from this post: my problem is with the notion that McDowell’s plan assumed a numerical superiority for his army over that which he expected to face around Manassas. To quote Wilfred Brimley in Absence of Malice: “That’s a lot of horse-puckey. The First Amendment (in this case McDowell’s plan) doesn’t say that.”
McDowell’s plans regarding this are clear, as stated above.
Comments : 7 Comments »
Tags: Articles, Brad Gottfried, Civil War Magazines, Civil War Trust, Hallowed Ground Magazine, Irvin McDowell, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civil War Magazines, The Battle, The Battlefield, Writing About The Civil War
An edited version of this story ran in the April 2011 issue of Civil War Times. I’m running it here with additional photos with permission of the publisher. It is titled as it appears in the magazine.
Repaying a Debt of Compassion
Today a pile of rubble, hard by the cut of the still unfinished Manassas Gap Railroad and across the road from the impressive bulk of the Sudley Church, is all that marks the site of what tradition holds was the home of Amos Benson and his wife Margaret. Precisely when the Bensons occupied the house is not clear, but by most accounts it was to the modest dwelling known appropriately as “Christian Hill” that John L. Rice, erstwhile private of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry, made his way on horseback from Washington, DC in October, 1886. He had a debt to pay. How he had incurred that debt and how he went about paying it is the stuff of legend, a story of compassion and reconciliation.
The pre-war history of the Bensons is sketchy. Amos was born in September, 1825, in Maryland; Margaret Newman was born in May of 1821 and grew up in the vicinity of Sudley Springs. The two were married sometime prior to 1850. Census records and maps indicate that at the time of the Battle of First Bull Run the Bensons were living east of Bull Run in Fairfax County. In March of 1862, Amos would leave Margaret to go to war with Company A of the 4th Virginia Cavalry, a unit whose roster was thick with names from the area. He eventually rose to the rank of third corporal.
On Sunday morning, July 21, 1861, members of the congregation to which Amos and Margaret belonged made their way along roads and trails to the Sudley Methodist Church along the Sudley Road south of the fords over Bull and Catharpin Runs. They were no doubt startled to encounter columns of soldiers marching down the main road. The worshippers had run headlong into the advance of Union General Irvin McDowell’s army as it moved to turn the forces of Confederate generals P. G. T. Beauregard and Joseph E. Johnston from their positions along Bull Run.
At the head of that column was Colonel Ambrose Burnside’s brigade of Col. David Hunter’s division, which included Rice’s 2nd NH. Despite initial success in the morning, later in the afternoon McDowell’s forces were driven back from the Confederate position near the Henry house. Prior to the retreat Rice was wounded, shot through the lungs by a musket ball. His fellows carried him towards the rear and Sudley Church where Union surgeons had set up shop, but with the enemy closing in and Rice apparently dead, they laid him in under a fence and made good their escape. Two days later, Rice recovered consciousness, still under the fence where his comrades had left him. His wound had putrefied and become infested with maggots.
Later that evening, as they were making their way back to their home from Sudley Church where they had been assisting with the care of wounded Union soldiers, the Benson’s found Rice in his dire state. Amos went back to the church and returned with a Confederate surgeon. The exhausted doctor dismissed Rice as a hopeless case and returned to his duties, but the Bensons were determined. Margaret brought some food from their home and Amos stripped and washed Rice and cleaned out his wound. He was too seriously injured to move, so for ten days the Benson’s clothed, fed, and cared for Rice under the fence, until he was well enough to move to a freight car in Manassas for treatment and eventual imprisonment in Richmond.
Rice was later exchanged and re-enlisted to serve again in the war, becoming an officer. But even twenty-five years later he had not forgotten the Bensons and the debt he felt he owed. In 1886 while on a trip to the nation’s capital he determined to revisit the site of his near-death experience. He made inquiries in the area and found the Bensons. They took him to the place where they had nursed him and visited the battlefield. Rice learned of Amos’s service in the war and was surprised to realize that he had doubtless faced his benefactor on the battlefield.
Rice of course thanked the Bensons for their kindness and attention in his time of need, and they modestly said they were simply “obeying the dictates of humanity”. Rice persisted in his efforts to find some way to repay the Bensons, and Amos hit upon a solution:
“If you want to do that you can help us poor people here pay for our little church yonder. We owe $200 on it yet, which in this poor country is a heavy burden.”
Rice determined then to not only contribute, but to return to his home in Massachusetts and raise the entire sum of the debt remaining on the rebuilt Sudley Church, which had been destroyed during the war. On November 24, he told story of his wounding, the kindness of the Bensons, and the plight of the congregation in the pages of Springfield’s “The Republican”:
“I do not know what creed is taught in that church, but it cannot be wrong in any essential of Christian faith when it bears such fruit as I have described…There must be still living many Massachusetts soldiers who can bear testimony with me to the timely aid rendered by those people when so many of our wounded were left uncared for on that disastrous field.”
By November 28, Rice had received $235 from seventy-nine people, including twenty-seven veterans. The donations ranged from $0.50 to $20.00. In describing the religious and political backgrounds of the contributors to the Bensons, Rice quoted Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
“Saxon and Norman and Dane are we,
But all of us Danes in welcome of thee”
And in a letter of thanks to Rice, Amos said the value of the act was more than financial. In fact, it had “converted” the previously un-reconstructed Margaret. John Rice’s debt to the Bensons was repaid.
A history of the Sudley Church states that once the war ended Amos and Margaret moved to Warrenton, and in the early 1880′s had come back to the area of the Springs and were living in a house located 1/8 mile south of Sudley Church and owned by Reverend Henry Cushing – probably Christian Hill. Margaret died in 1898, and Amos followed her in 1901. They are buried together very near the southern door of the modern Sudley Church. The shared marker says of Amos: “He was a good man and full of faith”; of Margaret: “She was a child of God, lived a happy life and died in peace.”
Comments : 4 Comments »
Tags: Amos Benson, Articles, Christian Hill, Collateral Damage, John Rice, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civilians, Soldiers, The Battle, The Battlefield, Writing About The Civil War
Inside this issue:
- Ron Soodalter disagrees with Stephen Budiansky’s take on George Custer
Blue & Gray
- Gary Gallagher looks at The War’s Overlooked Turning Points and argues for the importance of the Seven Days’.
Your host writes about the Benson family and their compassion toward a wounded New Hampshire soldier at First Bull Run. Thanks to a couple of readers who jarred my memory of this a while back. Even though the house wasn’t and isn’t there (you’ll have to buy the magazine to figure that one out), it’s a great story that deserved retelling. More on this in a later post.
- Robert Behre leads us around Charleston, SC.
- James I. “Bud” Robertson recalls the Centennial.
Letter from the Editor
- The Sesquicentennial kicks off
- The Butcher’s Bill - Edward Bonekemper argues that U. S. Grant’s management of the war in Virginia wasn’t as bloody as represented.
- Eye on Arlington – Kim O’Connell’s text and Robin Holland’s photos document the ongoing renovation at Arlington House.
- First Blood at Big Bethel - John V. Quarstein on the June 10, 1861 battle in Virginia.
- Last Letter Home - Dana Shoaf presents a poignant communique from a 14-year-old Third Class Boy aboard USS Galena.
- Cradle of Secession - Joe Loehle photo essay on Charleston, SC.
- ‘Black Jack’ at War - Paul Bradley sketches John Logan’s war career.
- The American Experience program Robert E. Lee, reviewed here.
- Ural on URLs features HMDB. Friend Craig Swain gets a mention.
- Stealing Secrets: How a Few Daring Women Deceived Generals, Impacted Battles, and Altered the Course of the Civil War, by H. Donald Winkler
- Starving the South: How the North Won the Civil War, by Andrew F. Smith
- A German Hurrah! Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Stangel, 9th Ohio Infantry, ed. Joseph Reinhart (I previewed this in my column for America’s Civil War)
- Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War, by Gail Stephens
- The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, by Eric Foner
- War News – Blue & Gray in Black & White: Newspapers in the Civil War, by Brayton Harris, previewed here.
Comments : 2 Comments »
Tags: ACW Books, Articles, Civil War Magazines, Collateral Damage, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Books, Civil War Magazines, Writing About The Civil War
Last night I completed my answers to questions that will appear in interview format in the upcoming issue of a quarterly Civil War magazine. I’ve conducted seventeen of these things for Bull Runnings, but this is the first time I’ve been on the receiving end. It’s tough work, writing about yourself. Tough enough that I put it off as long as I could. But I think it came out fairly well, though you can never tell with anything that appears in print media – every editor is different. For a humorous account involving Mark Twain and an editor with a heavy hand, see volume one of his autobiography, pages 164-180. (Editors work under strict time and space limitations, and so sometimes the submitted manuscript gets what authors typically refer to as “hacked up” or “butchered”. But good editors make good writers. I try not to get too upset with changes, and only protest when the changes result in factual errors. I encourage anyone in this situation to firmly – but tactfully – express your feelings. The editor or publisher doesn’t want egg on his/her face any more than do you.)
Thanks to the magazine in question for their interest in the blog and me. 2011 is shaping up to be a busy year for me as a result of the sesquicentennial and the role of First Bull Run in the first year of it. I suppose in 2012 I’ll retreat to obscurity, but it’ll be fun while it lasts.
Comments : Leave a Comment »
Tags: Articles, Civil War Magazines, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civil War Magazines, Writing About The Civil War
As I may or may not have mentioned earlier, my Collateral Damage column has been picked up for another year with Civil War Times magazine. I’m really happy that editor Dana Shoaf decided to run with an idea I pitched to him during a Facebook chat and that the folks at the magazine and the readers liked what I came up with enough to sign on for another six pieces.
Now, here’s where you guys come in. I have a few sites in mind already, but I can always use suggestions - if you’re a regular reader you know that the theme of the column concerns dwellings and their occupants that were impacted by the war, either as a result of their location on or proximity to a battlefield or due to their use during some other event associated with the war. I prefer that the structure is still standing, but that’s not a prerequisite. The dwelling or its site may be one that is owned by the NPS or other federal, state or local government agency, or it can be privately owned. It’s a necessity though that documentation (on the history of the site and the occupants, before, during, and after the event) be available in some central repository, preferably at or near the site. There’s a short turnaround time for these articles so I need to blitz the sources – make lots of copies - in one visit, paid either by myself or a surrogate. And speaking of surrogates, I may need help in that area as well. I can’t pay you, but I can thank you!
So, if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments section. Thanks!
Comments : 28 Comments »
Tags: Articles, Collateral Damage, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civil War Magazines, Writing About The Civil War
Inside this issue:
- Ethan Rafuse and Ron Baumgarten each wrote in to comment on the Bonekemper McClellan article from the December 2010 issue. For an expansion on Rafuse’s letter, see here.
- Kevin Levin is criticized for “excusing” the execution of Colored Troops after the Crater – how bizarre is that?
Blue & Gray
- Gary Gallagher challenges modern Civil War “PCness” and considers if perhaps the war was actually won in the east.
- Our nation’s capital’s Civil War monuments
Collateral Damage (by your host)
- The Jacob Weikert farm behind Little Round Top on the battlefield of Gettysburg. I’ll have more on this later.
- Garry Adelman and the Center for Civil War Photography
- Judging George Custer - Stephen Budiansky
- Lee to the Rear - R. K. Krick
- Hell on Water (slave ships) – Ron Soodalter
- Lee’s Armored Car (rail mounted guns) – David Schneider
- Super Spy from Wales (Union agent Pryce Lewis) – Gavin Mortimer
- Civil War Citizens: Race, Ethnicity and Identity in America’s Bloodiest Conflict - Susannah Ural (ed.)
- The 111th New York Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History - Martin Husk
- American Civil War Guerilla Tactics - Sean McLachlan
- The Lincoln Assassination: Crime & Punishment, Myth & Memory - Holzer, Symonds, Williams (eds.)
- At the Precipice: Americans North and South During the Secession Crisis - Shearer Davis Bowman
- Recollections of War Times: By an Old Veteran While Under Stonewall Jackson and Lieutenant General James Longstreet - by William McClendon
- The Grand Design: Strategy and the U. S. Civil War – by Donald Stoker (see his interview here)
Comments : 6 Comments »
Tags: Articles, Civil War Magazines, Collateral Damage, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Civil War Magazines, Writing About The Civil War
Here’s an interview that’s a bit of a departure from the formula: Tonia “Teej” Smith, while an established author in her own right, is probably most noted as a professional researcher (she’s even helped out Bull Runnings on occasion). Her name may be familiar to you if you read the acknowledgements sections of a number of Civil War books published in the past 10 years or so. Teej has also moderated a couple of Civil War email discussion groups and founded the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehust, NC, where I’ll be speaking for the second time this coming May. Always a great friend, Ms. Smith graciously consented to answer a few questions for Bull Runnings and shed some light on a little known aspect of that there book-writin’ process.
BR: Can you tell the millions of Bull Runnings readers a little about yourself?
TS: I’m a native Tar Heel, born in Oxford, NC, but, my dad being a career soldier, I was an army brat for the first thirteen years of my life. We did a couple of tours in Germany and were stationed stateside in a number of posts such as Fort Riley, Kansas, Fort Carson, Colorado and my personal favorite, Fort Knox, Kentucky. We came back to North Carolina when I was in the 8th grade and, except for a two year sojourn in Fredericksburg, Virginia, I’ve been here ever since. I now live in the golf capitol of North Carolina, Pinehurst, but I have no interest in chasing the little white ball. In 2001, with the urging and support of some dear friends, I started the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst. We began with fourteen members meeting in my sunroom and finished last year with eighty-one paid members in our third meeting place. I still serve on the board of the RBCWRT and am its program director. Over the years I began doing research for various Civil War authors and eventually began writing articles myself. I also got involved in presenting Civil War programs at local schools and doing roundtable programs based on the articles I’ve written.
BR: What was it that got you interested in history, and in the Civil War era in particular?
TS: You might say my dad, who was himself a history buff, planted the seed when he took me to my first battlefield, Stones River, and lifted me up so that I could touch a minie ball buried in a witness tree. What I remember most about that trip was the cold and mist (it was January) and the intense silence across the field. I then took about a thirty-five year hiatus from studying the war when I got involved in school, marriage and raising a family. What brought me back may surprise you. While channel-surfing one Sunday afternoon in the mid 1990s I came across an advertisement for THE MOVIE aka Ted Turner’s Gettysburg. After watching it, I bought the book The Killer Angels, on which the movie was based, and joined an online discussion group that was and still is dedicated to the study of the Gettysburg campaign. I then began building my own library. At first I was all over the place with my studies, trying to learn about individual battles, whole campaigns, and commanders all at the same time. Trying to make up for lost time, you might say, but it didn’t take me long to realize I was going to have to narrow my field of interest if I didn’t want to become overwhelmed. From the very beginning, I was drawn to J.E.B. Stuart and his cavalry. The first biography I bought was Manley Wade Wellman’s Giant In Gray. However, what attracts me most to the Civil War period are the characters that you might say were created by the war. I don’t mean the central players like R.E. Lee, U.S. Grant, Stonewall Jackson, etc but people such as Confederate nurse Abby House, or the Cape Fear Minutemen, or cousins Orton Williams and Walter Gipson Peter, both also cousins of Mrs. Robert E. Lee who were executed on June 9, 1863, for spying at Franklin, Tennessee. History has all but forgotten these people but, in my opinion, it’s their stories and stories like theirs, that add the richness and color, and in many cases, the humanity to that era.
BR: How did you get started as a researcher for other authors?
TS: As realtors like to say “Location, Location, Location…” Seriously, a writer friend of mine knew that I live just over an hour from the libraries at the University of North Carolina and Duke University. One day he asked me if I would be interested in taking a look-see at a couple of collections he knew to be at those two schools. Like so many researchers, I immediately fell in love with “the hunt,” but I also found out that I have a knack for digging out the arcane tidbit. More importantly, I’m pretty good at deciphering the flowery penmanship prevalent in Civil War era letters, diaries and journals.
BR: Can you mention some names, like who you’ve worked with and any specific books/articles?
TS: Eric Wittenberg and I share a passion for all things cavalry so I’ve worked more with him than anyone else, most particularly, Glory Enough For All: Sheridan’s Second Raid And The Battle of Trevilian Station and The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and The Civil War’s Final Campaign. Monroe’s Crossroads is just thirty miles from my home so you can understand why I would be interested in it. I’ve also done some work for Dave Powell on his Chickamauga project and for Sheridan “Butch” Barringer whose biography of Brig.Gen. Rufus Barringer, commander of the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade is still in the works. Two years ago I assisted Stevan Meserve in researching his footnotes for an annotation of a journal that eventually became the book In The Shadow of the Enemy: The Civil War Journal of Ida Powell Dulany. If I had to choose a favorite it would be having contributed to A Little Short of Boats: The Fights at Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21-22, 1861, by Jim Morgan, both his original edition and the newly revised edition due out next spring. Those last two projects were a bit of challenge for me since they were not cavalry specific.
BR: Can you describe your research process?
TS: It varies. Sometimes an author will send me to a list of collections found at a specific repository/archive with the request that I look for a letter or letters known to be in that collection. Most often though, authors send me a list and an overview of what they hope to find in those collections. In which case, it becomes my job to look for references in those collections that are specific to my author’s needs. That often requires that I read every letter in a collection. And sometimes I do come up empty, but that is not as disappointing as it sounds. Often it simply means that the letter writer wasn’t present at an event or he did not find it important enough to write about it. What does take the wind out one’s sails is coming across the letter that begins, “Brother John should be home by now and no doubt has told you all about the battle of __________ so I will not go into the details again…” Sigh…
It’s an entirely different process when I’m doing research for myself since I have to start from scratch. Often I can get an idea of where to start to search by looking at bibliographies of other authors who have written on similar topics but most often it comes down to running names, events and locations through the search engines of various universities and other archival sites. I generally start with the universities closest to home and branch out from there. Even when I find what I think I need in the collections at Duke or Chapel Hill, I will still check other facilities to make sure that all of my bases are covered. Whether I’m working for myself or another author, the process has been greatly simplified by the growing number of research institutions that allow the use of digital cameras. In the same amount of time it used to take me to copy a few letters in a file, I can photograph the entire file and then decide what is truly needed at a later time. Another lesson I’ve learned is if the research facility has a card catalog as well as an online finding aid, use both. Often things in the card catalogs fall through the cracks in the transcription process.
BR: What are some of the surprises you uncovered in your research?
TS: WOW…that’s actually a tough question as I have seldom completed a research project without finding some surprising tidbit that either confirmed what I originally had thought or told me that I was going in the wrong direction. But one that comes to readily to mind was a letter written by J.E.B. Stuart to Custis Lee, April 9, 1864, that I found at Virginia Historical Society while researching material for an article on Flora Cooke Stuart [wife of J. E. B.]. It was marked “confidential” and with good reason. Most cavalry folks know there was no love lost between Stuart and Wade Hampton but until I saw this letter, I had no idea of the extent to which Stuart was prepared to go to rid himself of the troublesome South Carolinian. Stuart also made a reference to the need for him and Custis to do what they could to keep cavalry chieftain, Fitz Lee, from drinking for the duration of the war. Her husband was barely cold in his grave before Stuart’s chief of staff, H.B. McClellan, wrote to Flora to warn her of the destructive nature of this letter and to suggest that she get the letter from Custis Lee and destroy it. Lee, too, was all for destroying the letter but Mrs. Stuart refused to do so. The Jonathan Olds’ Flora Cooke Stuart Papers at Virginia Historical Society - which I was fortunate to be allowed to access even before they were cataloged - turned out to be a virtual gold mine of little known facts concerning the Stuart family after Yellow Tavern.
BR: Can you describe any instances where your research turned up anything that either conflicted with or confirmed your preconceived notions prior to starting a project?
TS: One of the questions I’m most often asked when I do a program on Flora Stuart is whether there was ever reconciliation between the Stuarts and the Cookes. While I knew that Philip St. George Cooke reached out to his daughter when he heard about Jeb’s death, I hadn’t until recently been able to determine if she responded to him. Letters written by Cooke to his nephew, John Esten Cooke, which were recently posted on a website maintained by Cooke family descendants, indicated that she did. There is conclusive proof at Virginia Historical Society that Cooke also reconciled with his son, Brig. Gen. John Rogers Cooke, CSA.
The “smoking gun” that continues to elude me is proof positive that Orton Williams was not a glory hound so consumed with a desire to make a name for himself that he ended up getting himself and his cousin killed at Franklin, Tennessee. However, two years ago, I found a heretofore unpublished letter in the Mary Lee papers at Virginia Historical Society written April 7, 1863 by R.E. Lee to Orton Williams which totally debunked the often told story that Lee considered Williams a drunk and a failure. It also put to rest the notion that Orton’s immediate superiors, too, considered him a failure, and had removed him from command. Add to that another unpublished letter I found at Duke’s Perkins Library which was written by J.E.B. Stuart at about the same time as the Lee letter to an unnamed colonel serving in the western theatre. In his letter, Stuart stated he was he was pleased that the colonel was returning to serve in Virginia where “he should have been all along.” Lee, too, expressed a desire to have Williams back in Virginia. Not exactly resounding evidence that Williams and Peter had a legitimate reason to go to Fort Granger dressed in Union uniforms but if previous historians were wrong about the nature and character of Orton Williams which is the basis for their claim that Williams was unstable then in what other areas of the story might they have erred?
BR: Can you tell us something about your own writing and speaking engagements?
TS: My first article was titled Gentlemen, You Have Played This D____ed Well, published in the September 2005 issue of North and South Magazine. It was the story of the capture and execution of the aforementioned Confederate officers Colonel William Orton Williams and his first cousin, Lieutenant Walter Gibson Peter. Since then I’ve had an article on Confederate nurse Abby House published by America’s Civil War and one in Civil War Times on the Stuart-Custis Lee letter. My article on Flora Cooke Stuart is still pending with ACW. I’ve done programs on Flora Stuart for the Loudoun County CWRT in Leesburg, Va., and the Eastern Loudoun County CWRT in Sterling Virginia, and for the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society in Richmond this past May. I’ve also spoken on Mrs. Stuart to various roundtables in my home state of North Carolina and will go to Huntsville, Alabama next June to tell her story of life without Jeb to the Tennessee Valley CWRT. In addition to the Stuart programs, I’ve also given presentations on Aunt Abby House, Confederate nurse; the capture and imprisonment of Brig. Gen. Rufus Barringer, the only Confederate general in uniform that Abraham Lincoln met; and the execution of Williams and Peter, most recently at the 2009 Longwood Seminar in Lynchburg, Virginia.
BR: What’s next for you?
TS: I’m very excited about a new research project that I will be starting next week for James Hessler, author of Sickles At Gettysburg. Jim’s next book will concern Lt. Gen. James Longstreet at Gettysburg and I will be going to Perkins Library at Duke and Wilson Library at UNC for him. On May 10, 2011, I will debut a new program based on the capture of Forts Caswell and Johnson on the North Carolina coast in January 1861 by a group of men out of Wilmington, NC who called themselves the Cape Fear Minutemen. Like my other roundtable presentations, this one will be based on an article that I am in the process of writing.
There are quite a few folks who owe Teej a lot, including writers, readers – and bloggers. I have a couple of tidbits she scrounged up that I’ll be adding to the Resources section here in the future. If you’re an author with research needs of your own and would like to explore the possibility of working with Teej, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments : 1 Comment »
Tags: Articles, Interviews, Researching the Civil War, Tonia Smith, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Interviews, Writing About The Civil War
This past Friday (11/5) I made a quick trip to the Manassas National Battlefield Park to do some research for an upcoming installment of Collateral Damage. I met up with Ranger Jim Burgess and he helped me with some work in the park archives, then we met up with friend Craig Swain and headed to the northern end of the park boundary.
Among other sites, we visited the area where (it is likely) Sullivan Ballou’s body was recovered after its mutilation, burning, and reburial by the 21st Georgia (click the thumbs for larger images):
The Thornberry House, used as a hospital after both battles of Bull Run (the large tree to the left of the house in the second picture appears on the Barnard photo from 1862):
A trace of the original Sudley Road:
And Sudley Springs Ford over Catharpin (Little Bull) Run. This is the same view as in the Barnard photo Jim is holding – you can see the modern remains of the Springs on the opposite bank. Hunter’s division crossed Bull Run to the east at Sudley Ford, then crossed here to reach the battlefield:
Thanks so much to Jim Burgess for all the valuable assistance he has provided over the years – a good guy. Also thanks to Craig for his always valuable commentary. As a last bit of coolness, and much to Craig’s satisfaction, Jim took us down to the basement of the VC and showed us one of the original 200 lb Parrott shells from the Battle Monument. It turns out that these shells were live, and not discovered to be so until the monument’s renovations in the 1970′s. One of the disarmed shells survived (the shells had been de-fused but not disarmed as the black powder and case shot show):
Comments : 11 Comments »
Tags: Articles, Collateral Damage, NPS, Sudley Road, Sudley Springs Ford, Sullivan Ballou, Thornberry House, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Field Trips, Galleries, The Battlefield, Writing About The Civil War
Opportunity for a detailed tour of Liberia on November 13. Check it out here.
I will be at the Manassas National Battlefield this coming Friday doing field work for an upcoming Collateral Damage. On Saturday I’ll be at Antietam National Battlefield with the Save Historic Antietam Foundation for our work day and board meeting.
Comments : 3 Comments »
Tags: Antietam, Articles, Collateral Damage, Liberia Plantation, Save Historic Antietam Foundation, Writing About The Civil War
Categories : Articles, Field Trips, Preservation, The Battlefield, Writing About The Civil War