My “Book-Like-Thingy” and a Shout Out

22 02 2010

I’m still plugging away at what I have come to call my “book-like-thingy.”  While I realize that publication in traditional print format is barely a remote possibility (a: it’s a reference work, not a narrative; b: it’s First Bull Run related; c: the reaction from a publisher to whom I showed an early draft was deafening silence), I find working on it therapeutic and at the very least I’ll make the whole thing available free here, barring the aforementioned remote possibility.

I was working on the captain of the Wise Troop, Company B of the 30th Virginia Volunteers (later to become the 2nd Virginia Cavalry).  The little I could find on John S. Langhorne indicated some very interesting things regarding his descendants.  If you read this blog often, you know that this is the kind of stuff that really gets me going.  But such was the nature of the info that I needed to first confirm that this was the same John S. Langhorne – there were more than one.  Without giving too much away, my stumbling around in the darkness of the web led me to make a phone call to Rachel Deddens of the Lynchburg, Va. Museum System.  Ms. Deddens came through for me big-time, pointing me to a publication, Lynchburg in the Civil War, by George Morris and Susan Foutz (it’s starting to look like I’m going to need quite a few more H. E. Howard books), and faxing me some information from a site’s volunteer manual that I imagine is not readily available.

Thanks, Rachel, for all your help!

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Battles and Leaders – Imboden asks, “What is Up?”

14 02 2010

In John Imboden’s Battles and Leaders article, Incidents of the First Bull Run, he offers up this:

After midnight of July 17th, General Bee, my brigade commander, sent for me to go with him to headquarters, whither he had been summoned. Several brigade commanders were assembled in a room with General Johnston, and a conference of one or two hours was held. When General Bee joined me on the porch to return to our quarters, I saw he was excited, and I asked him, “What is up?”

“What is up?”  No, no, no…it can’t be.  Surely he must have said:

My compiments, General Bee, sir.  May I be so bold as to inquire regarding your assessment of the tactical situation at present?  My sincere and heartfelt apologies if I have overstepped my position.

As we know from films like Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, people in 1860s America spoke exactly as they wrote – no umms, no ahhs, no slang, certainly no profanity, just fully formed thoughts with perfect grammar, diction, and decorum.  Well, of course they didn’t.  But for some reason, many today are convinced they did.  It carries over into the writings of modern historians, who apparently become so immersed in the documents of the era that they lose perspective, and use archaic terms in their narratives without exposition.  What happened in the 70 years separating our incredibly stilted impression of 1860s conversational speech and the witty repartee of Miller’s Crossing

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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.





Civil War Times – February 2010

4 12 2009

The new issue of Civil War Times has been mailed.  The cover is one of my favorite photographs of Robert E. Lee, taken on the steps of his rented home in Richmond shortly after the surrender of his army at Appomattox Court House.  Lee’s face clearly shows bitterness and defiance - perhaps he was still in denial.  I saw the lens Matthew Brady used to take this photo, in Warren Motts’s Military Museum in Columbus (see here).  This issue includes two Lee pieces, one by Gary Gallagher (Do the Numbers Add Up for “Marse Robert”?), the other by Noah Andre Trudeau (Lee’s Last Hurrah, about his postwar tour through the South).  Other feature articles:

  • Guerilla War on the High Seas by Craig L. Symonds
  • “To Rise Again”: the salvage of  USS Monitor by Kristina Fiore.
  • Seeing the War Firsthand:  rare newspaper sketches by Helen Hannon.
  • “Mimic War” No More: Phil Sheridan’s and Jubal Early’s faceoff in August 1864 by Fred Ray.

I also have a review of R. K. Krick’s entry in Broadfoot’s South Carolina Regimental-Roster Set, The 14th South Carolina Infantry Regiment, of the Gregg-McGowan Brigade on page 66.  And on page 15, I have a brief news item and photo on the Potomac Crossing and Shepherdstown Battlefield Tour program I wrote about here.

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Turkey Break

25 11 2009

There won’t be much – if any – activity here for a while as I take a little holiday break.  Nope, no burnout.  I do have some posts to make, but won’t be able to get to them for a week or so.  Anyway, I try only to post when I a) have something to say and b) have the time.  This is a case of b.  When things break, I’ll finish four more posts on my Springfield trip, and hope to pick up the pace with Resources posts.  While I’m away from the blog, take some time to surf around it – go to the resources section; click on some of the tags in the tag cloud in the lower part of the right hand margin.  Also look for me in print in the upcoming Civil War Times magazine – I think I have a news item and a book review in there.  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!





Books and More Books

25 09 2009

41YejDu4b9L__SL500_AA240_Today’s mail brought seven, count ‘em, seven new books for review.  One is for a full review in Civil War Times; five are for my regular Six-Pack column in America’s Civil War (in a departure, I’ll review five new books and only one older, but that one is among my all time favorite biographies); and one for this blog, fellow blogger John Hoptak’s own Our Boys Did Nobly, pictured at left.  As the subtitle says, this 345 page paperback is the story of Schuylkill County, PA Soldiers at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.  I just flipped through it, and see that Mannie Gentile has put art back into maps!  I’m gonna move John’s book up to second on my list, right after Suzy Barile’s Undaunted Hearts.  Thanks for the nice inscription, John!

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America’s Civil War – November 2009

1 09 2009

ACW-Nov-2009Inside the November 2009 issue of America’s Civil War magazine:Ron Soodalter’s Fury in Vermont, the cover story on the 1864 Confederate raid on St. Albans;  Gordon Berg takes a look at Ambrose Bierce’s series of stories on Chickamauga, and tries to separate fact from fiction; Tamela Baker’s article is on Sweet Subversive Scribes, three female journalists in Virginia who published the pro-Union Waterford News; John Stauffer contributes an adaptation of their new and controversial book , The State of Jones (see here for some spirited discussion ofthe book); and Jonathan A. Noyalas writes of the return of  “Sheridan’s Veterans’ Association” to the Shenandoah Valley in 1883.

My Six-Pack column this time technically featured five new books and one old, though one of the new books is really a new paperback release of an eleven-year-old work.  No Holier Spot of Ground: Confederate Monuments & Cemeteries of South Carolina is paired with Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.The Maps of First Bull Run with Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps; and in a departure from the usual format, two new releases are reviewed together, General George H. Thomas: A Biography of the Union’s “Rock of Chickamauga” and Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas.

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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.





America’s Civil War – September 2009

10 07 2009

ACW-Sept-09As the 150th anniversary of his raid on Harper’s Ferry approaches, the September 2009 issue of America’s Civil War features John Brown on the cover.  Inside, related articles include the cover story by Tim Rowland, a timeline of slavery in North America; a look at David Hunter’s struggle to raise the all black 1st SC Volunteers (to be commanded by Brown “conspirator” Thomas Wentworth Higginson) by Tom Huntingdon; and a recounting of VMI instructor Thomas Jackson’s role in the hanging of Brown at Charlestown.90th-PA

Fellow blogger Mannie Gentile contributed a nice article on one of the most interesting regimental monuments on any battlefield, that of the 90th PA Volunteer Infantry at Antietam (at right is a photo I took of the replica monument  not long after its dedication in 2004).  Check out Mannie’s essay on the historiography of George B. McClellan here.

Also in this issue: Jared Frederick on Altoona, PA’s loyal governor’s conference in 1862; Daniel E. Sutherland on Missouri guerrillas; and a convincing letter from Doug Garnett (no relation) in Canada refutes an earlier identification of a photograph of the elusive Richard Brooke Garnett.

My contribution in Six-Pack has five new books and one old,  Bruce Allardice’s Kentuckians in Gray is paired with Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary, edited by Nancy Baird; John Schmutz’s The Battle of the Crater: a Complete History with Richard Slotkin’s No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864; and Invisible Hero: Patrick R. Cleburne by Bruce Stewart with 1997′s Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne & the Civil War by Craig Symonds.








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