The Sudley Road Trace

28 04 2007

I apologize for not having upheld my promise of Friday photo postings.  Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way.  Let’s just say it’s been a very busy year for me in lots of ways, with no signs of letting up any time soon.

Here’s a shot of one of my very favorite spots on the Bull Run battlefield.  This is about all that’s left of the original Sudley Road. 



Part of the road generally formed the western border of the Henry Hill fighting, though technically I think the hill continues west past the road before the land rolls into Chinn Ridge, the scene of Howard’s undoing.  Also known as the Manassas-Sudley Rd., the Sudley & New Market Rd, and even simply the Manassas Rd, this tract led from the crossings of Bull Run at Sudley Ford and then Catharpin Run at Sudley Mineral Springs, through the intersection at the Stone House on the Warrenton Pike, all the way to Manassas Junction.  Two divisions of McDowell’s army, first Hunter’s and then Heintzelman’s, followed this general route south toward Henry Hill.

How to get there 

If you park at the main Visitor’s Center, walk back down the driveway (west) toward Sudley Rd.  At the road, turn left (south) into the grass (you know, you are permitted to leave the beaten path at the park!) and head toward the woods.  There you’ll find the original trace separated from the modern road by a thin screen of trees.  It’s only maybe 100 yards long, but this will give you a better idea of what constituted a road in 1861.

More on “The Coaling”

25 04 2007

I keep forgetting that I have plenty of photos of my own to post.  Here are a few from a Spring 2006 trip to the Shenandoah Valley (hmmm.. looks like I never labeled these).  Our guide was the previously mentioned Gary Ecelbarger.  The site is Port Republic’s “Coaling”.  Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.



a) view from base of the hill; b & c) views from atop The Coaling to the Port Republic battlefield; d & e) exhibits on the site – d shows Keith Rocco’s painting featured here.

…but I know what I like

24 04 2007

I know this isn’t Bull Run related (other than in ways itemized here), but it updates somewhat this post.  The other day I picked up a used copy of Daniel Barefoot’s General Robert F. Hoke, Lee’s Modest Warrior for $9.98.  On the back of the dust jacket is a painting titled Ranger Willie, by Jack Amirian.  It depicts a stretcher borne Willie Hardee, his father standing over him, a mounted Hoke nearby.

The painting is not my style.  In fact, most modern day Civil War art is not my style – I generally find it too “cartoony”, and the overwhelming use of soft blues and grays leaves me with the image of a tattoo on the forearm of an 80 year old sailor – a blue-gray blob (though I’m sure it seemed like a good idea that night in Tokyo).  And why does everyone’s hat look like a gentle breeze would blow it off the wearer’s noggin?  Even the works of painters who strive for more realism bug me.  I mean, the subject matter!  Do we really need to see a young Nathan Bedford Forrest carrying a damsel across a creek, and how many paintings of Stonewall Jackson being alternately kind and gentle with his horse and bathed in heavenly light while at prayer – sometimes both at the same time – can the market bear (apparently a bunch)?

I only own one piece of Civil War art, and it’s by one of the few artists working in the genre whose work I like.  Keith Rocco’s Always Ready is hung above the fireplace in my family room.  It depicts the 9th NY Hawkins’ Zouaves at Antietam.  The print appeals to me on several levels:  I like Keith’s work (check it out in this book); I serve on the board of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation; and the model for the officer holding the Stars and Stripes was an e-quaintance of mine, the late Brian Pohanka.

Rocco’s work is often reminiscent of N. C. Wyeth.  If you don’t recognize the name, or can’t remember which Wyeth he is, think pirates.  His illustrations of buccaneers graced the pages of books like Treasure Island.  He also did Civil War work, like this one of Stonewall Jackson:  


Compare that style to Rocco’s Port Republic below (reproduced with his kind permission):    

 This painting illustrates the early stages of an action in which Major Chatham Roberdeau Wheat’s Louisianans assaulted Federal artillery on high ground now famous as “The Coaling”.  Wheat was seriously wounded at First Bull Run, leading his men in the critical action on Matthews Hill.  He was shot in the chest, through and through, and was told he would not recover.  The 275 pound commander of the 1st Special Louisiana Battalion responded: “I don’t feel like dying yet.”  So he didn’t.  He recovered and once again led his battalion in Richard Taylor’s brigade of Ewell’s division of Jackson’s army in the Valley in 1862.  On page 412 of R. K. Krick’s Conquering the Valley is this description by a Louisianan of the scene around the Coaling on June 9, 1862:

 Men ceased to be men.  They cheered and screamed like lunatics – they fought like demons – they died like fanatics…It was not war on that spot.  It was a pandemonium of cheers, shouts, shrieks, and groans, lighted by the flames from cannon and muskets – blotched by fragments of men thrown high into trees by bursting shells.  To lose the guns was to lose the battle.  To capture them was to win it.  In every great battle of the war there was a hell-spot.  At Port Republic, it was on the mountain side.

 wheat.jpgWheat (pictured at left) and his even larger cohort, 300 pound Lt. Col. William R. Peck of the 9th LA, moved among the Federal guns on the Coaling.  The Louisianans had determined that killing the battery horses would prevent the enemy from removing the guns should they be able to retake the ground.  Wheat used his own knife, and was reported as looking “as bloody as a butcher” while doing the job.

Rob Wheat would eventually meet his end at Gaines’ Mill on May 25, 1862.  He’s buried in Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.  I will get around to a biographical sketch, but it will be awhile yet.

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Ecelbarger on Logan

19 04 2007

logan.jpgLast night at the Western PA Civil War Round Table I enjoyed a presentation on John A. “Black Jack” Logan given by friend Gary Ecelbarger, author of this bio of the Illinois “political” general.  The talk was well organized, informative, and witty.  It’s always good to see Gary, and I spoke with him for a few minutes before he went on.  He has a new book on the 1862 Valley Campaign coming out, and has written very fine books on Kernstown and Frederick Lander.  I’ve spent time in the field with Gary, but this was my first time seeing him in a round table setting: he did not disappoint.  So now I can recommend him both as a guide and a speaker.  Drop me a line if you want to get in touch with him for either purpose.

 On a Bull Run note, then Senator Logan was in the field during the campaign in the role of Congressional observer.  During the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18th he borrowed a weapon (perhaps from a member of the 12th NY) and took a few shots at Longstreet’s men.  Thanks to Gary for the sketch below.  I don’t know anything else about the drawing.  Click on the thumbnail for a larger image:






Logan spent the rest of that day helping to carry off wounded, stayed with the troops on the next, and returned to the capital on the 20th, convinced he should enter the fray. Accounts of his fighting at Blackburn’s Ford can be found in the St. Louis Daily Republican, April 6, 1902, and the New York Tribune, December 30, 1886.  The musket Logan borrowed on July 18th, 1861 is reportedly on display at the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, IL.

   I’ve been working on a blog post detailing my failure to write a magazine article on the opinions of various academic historians on internet resources.  As I worked on it, it struck me that maybe I do have an article in this thing.  So I’m going to finish it up and send it to the editor to see what he thinks.  If he says “nay”, I’ll post a version here; if it’s “yea”, you’ll find it on your newsstand sometime later this year.  I’ll keep you posted.

Daniel Tyler

12 04 2007

Daniel Tyler: born Brooklyn, CT 1/7/1799; father was a veteran of Bunker Hill; nephew was Bvt MGUSA Robert O. Tyler; daughter Gertrude Elizabeth Tyler Carow was mother of First Lady Edith Roosevelt; West Point class of 1819 (14 of 29);  served in artillery and became an authority on the arm, studying in France at the artillery school in Metz and translating French artillery manuals into English; superintendent of inspectors of arms supplied the army by private contractors; resigned 1st Lt. 5/31/34; worked in iron manufacturing, developing blast furnaces and rolling mills (unsuccessful); president of Norwich & Worcester RR, then Macon & Western RR (GA); did not serve in the Mexican War; was a volunteer ADC to MGPA Militia Robert Patterson in April 1861; Col, 1st CT Militia 4/23/61; BG CT Militia 5/10/61; Tyler’s Brigade, Army of NE VA 6/3/61 to 7/8/61; First Division Army of NE VA 7/8/61 to 8/11/61; MOV 8/11/61; BGUSV 3/13/62 (n 3/4/62 c 3/13/62); 2nd Brig, 1st Div Army of the Mississippi, 4/62 to 5/1/62; took part in siege of Corinth; part of commission which investigated MGUSV D. C. Buell’s campaign in KY & TN; Harper’s Ferry, 8th Corps, Middle Dept., 6/13/63 to 7/3/63; Dist. of Delaware, 8th Corps, Middle Dept. 7/3/63 to 1/19/64; resigned 4/6/64, to NJ; in 1870’s, after establishing the Woodstock Iron Ore Co. in the area, he helped found the city of Anniston, AL (named after his daughter-in-law, Annie – “Annie’s Town”) – the town became the site of an industrial complex, and Fort McClellan was established nearby; rescued the Mobile & Montgomery RR and became its president; acquired significant tracts of land in Guadalupe, TX; died on visit to New York City, 11/30/1882; buried in Hillside Cemetery, Anniston, AL.

Sources: Eicher & Eicher, Civil War High Commands, pp 538-539, 767; Heitman, Historical Register and Dictionary of the U. S. Army, Vol. I p 977; Sifakis, Who was Who in the American Civil War, p 665; Warner, Generals in Blue, pp 514-515. 



 e – Edith Carow Roosevelt; f – Edith & TR; g – Roosevelt Family; h – Edith (on ground) and TR (left) as teenagers

 Photos: a,b,c –; d –; e –; f, g –; h –

Note on Edith Carow Roosevelt

“After taking a devastating drubbing in a race for mayor of New York City, T.R. went off to London to marry Edith Carow, a childhood sweetheart. The Carows had lost their money and were now living in Europe where it was cheaper to keep up appearances. The family, however, had not always known hard times. (Her maternal grandfather was Union General Daniel Tyler, whose leadership bears some of the blame for the disaster at Bull Run, but who later became a successful iron manufacturer and railroad president) –, 8/31/2006, The Roosevelt Dynasty, article written by Stephen Hess in “America’s Political Dynasties”, Doubleday & Company, Inc., NY, 1966


Kurt Vonnegut Dies at Age 84

12 04 2007

Off topic, I know.  But I just wrote about him last week.  See the story here.

More Manning Moniker Madness

11 04 2007

allardice.jpgAn update on the previous posts regarding the relationship (if any) between Peyton Manning the quarterback and Peyton Manning the Confederate staff officer (if you have not read the posts, go here, here, and then here): Bruce Allardice, author of More Generals in Gray, sent me this note:

I’ve done some research and Major Peyton Manning and the QB Peyton Manning are NOT closely related. The two descend from different Manning families and the name Peyton is a recent addition to the family of Elisha Archibald “Archie” Manning.

I responded:

Thanks for the info. Where were you when I needed you two weeks ago? A bit on this will be published in a national CW magazine in the near future, with the disclaimer that a positive link has not been established. Do you happen to know if there is any link between Archie Manning and Eli Peyton of the 3rd MS?

Unfortunately, the upcoming issue of that magazine has already gone to press.  It would have been nice to include the information provided by Bruce.  But these things happen, I guess.

Bruce Allardice’s book More Generals in Gray is a must-have for the reference section of your personal Civil War library.  While you can’t see it in the photo, my copy of the book sits on the lower shelf seen here. 

UPDATE: Bruce contacted me again today with a little more info.  It seems that Archie Manning’s family has its roots in South Carolina, so there is likely no close link to the 19th century Alabama/Mississippi Mannings.  However, there is still a possible Bull Run thread here, in that former SC governor J. L. Manning was a volunteer ADC to P. G. T. Beauregard during the battle.

New Page

5 04 2007

Over to the right you’ll see I’ve added a new page with sub-pages.  See “Official Reports – Union”, with the sub-page “#6 – Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell”.  I’ll add pages for Confederate reports and for Official Correspondence for both armies.

All of this comes from a DVD of the OR’s.  There are some spelling errors on the disk, and I’ll try to verify with the hard copy.  But if you see something wrong, drop me a line.  It’s also important to understand that the OR’s are not in and of themselves primary data.  They are transcriptions of documents, and even the printed version undoubtedly includes transcription errors.  And have I mentioned what a pain in the ass it is to copy lots of data into WordPress?  Even though I had already put the McDowell reports into Word, it took me about 2 hours to get it into WordPress.  Infuriating.

I haven’t forgotten about my promise to comment on the Heintzelman biography.  I’ll get around to it soon, and have already started writing the post.  But taxes are due…

“I Cannot Live without Books”

3 04 2007


The quote is attributed to Thomas Jefferson in an 1815 letter to John Adams.  Like most Jefferson quotes it’s taken a little out of context.  In the rest of the sentence TJ clarifies that he could certainly live with fewer books, “where amusement, and not use, is the only future object”.  In fact, Jefferson sold over 6,000 volumes of his personal collection to restock the recently destroyed Library of Congress.

Civil War enthusiasts are notorious bibliophiles, and I’m no exception.  I have just short of 1,600 Civil War titles in my library, not counting magazines and journals.  To some of you that may sound like a lot, but to others not.  Since I began to concentrate on the outbreak of the war in general and Bull Run in particular, I’ve noticed that I don’t buy nearly so many books.  Thank God for a little focus.

The fact is I have more unread books right now than I could ever possibly read.  Of course, I have no intention of reading many of them – cover to cover, that is.  Take the ORs for instance (War of the Rebellion, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, ORs for short).  I have them on CD.  I have them on DVD.  They are available for free from several sources online.  Yet I also have about 100 volumes on my shelves.  Why?  I have no idea.  I just like books.  I like to hold them in my hands and flip through them and see where they take me.  I like to read something in a blog post or on a discussion group and then yank a book off my shelves to find an answer or get more detail.  Not that I don’t take advantage of the ever growing number of books available for free downloading online.  I do.  But I have a real hard time actually reading them online.  I print out lots of pages, and have many books and parts of books in this format in plastic binders (but I don’t count those as part of my library – that would be cheating).

Lately I’ve gotten into buying reference works.  I have the massive single volume edition of Dyer’s Compendium, Heitman’s Historical Register and Dictionary of the U.S. Army, Fox’s Regimental Losses, Lincoln Day by Day, and AL’s Collected Works.  All of these are available free online.  It seems to me that if a reference book is not available for free downloading online, it will be shortly after I buy it.  The Reports of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War are available, but if I find the volume I need (the second volume, which includes Bull Run) at a good price, I know I won’t be able to resist.  I buy 90% of my books second hand, either at one of four used book stores I haunt or on Ebay, though I’m finding it harder and harder to get really good deals on the latter.  I also buy from Amazon’s market place, which has good deals on used and remaindered books.  And last year I bought the four volumes of Dornbusch’s Military Bibliography of the Civil War at the Mansfield, OH show.  Morningside had a table there, and the price was right.

I made some pretty good buys (I think) last week, and will share them with you now.

J. Willard Brown, The Signal Corps in the War of the Rebellion.  It’s a Butternut and Blue reprint of the 1896 edition that I picked up for $15 (using a 50% off coupon).  Jim McLean at Butternut and Blue should be pleased that Half Price Books in Pittsburgh put a bunch of recently purchased B&B books in their collectible section.  A nice reflection on the quality of his books.

Jesse Bowman Young’s The Battle of Gettysburg.  A reprint of the 1913 edition that can be found online, but it only cost me eight bucks.  Sadly, I have about 125 books on the Gettysburg Campaign.  Admitting that is a big step in the right direction, I think.  I hope.

Nicholas Lemann’s Redemption, The Last Battle of the Civil War, which just came out in 2006.  Eight bucks.

Another B&B reprint, Historical Sketch of the Nottoway Grays by Richard Irbay.  This is the story of Company G of the 18th VA.  It includes an interesting account of the treatment of wounded Federals at First Bull Run.  I’m finding that a lot of the stories of atrocities there which are often dismissed as myth have their bases in cold hard fact.  Also more confusion caused by red pants.  Twelve dollars.

An Easton Press edition of Fuller & Steuart’s Firearms of the Confederacy which I couldn’t pass up for $15.

Civil War Naval Chronology, 1861-1865, compiled by the Naval History Division of the Navy Department and printed by the GPO.  This is the single volume 1971 edition of the six volumes printed during the Centennial (thanks to friend David Langbart for filling me in on the history).  A really cool reference.  It includes chronologies for each year of the war, highlighting naval events.  It also has twelve appendices, including naval sheet music and the journal of a US Marine.  I got it for all of $19.

I also found a couple of modern biographies of prominent Bull Runners Edward Porter Alexander and John Imboden for six and eight dollars, respectively.

The last I’ll mention are five of the nine volumes of The Official Army Register.  Most of these are available online, but I think they are the individual years rather than the four year compilations reprinted by Ron R. Van Sickle Military Books in 1987.  I got them for $3.98 each.  I have found the rest of these on Bookfinder, for about $30-$40 per volume.  These list the officers and their promotions, resignations, dismissals and deaths for each regiment mustered into Federal service.  Their use is a little limited for my purposes though, because most ninety day units are not included.  Like the Massachusetts Military History Society volumes (I have six out of fifteen), I’ll be keeping an eye out for the ones I’m missing.

I like books.  I like ‘em a whole lot.  How about you?


1 04 2007

vonnegut.jpgIt’s funny how memory works, or in this case doesn’t work.  Earlier, in the post Taking Hits, I mentioned the Kilgore Trout book Venus on the Half Shell, in which I thought appeared the story of a place where “equality” was taken to such extremes that everything and everyone was reduced to the lowest common denominator.  I was talking to my friend Larry last night about the book, because we had read it at the same time about 30 years ago when we were high school classmates.  Larry had read my earlier post and, like me, was surprised to learn that the author of the book was not Kurt Vonnegut working under the name of one of his characters, but rather one Philip Jose Farmer.  We were both reading a lot of Vonnegut back then.  While we were talking, it dawned on me that the name of the character in the equality story was Harrison Bergeron.  Today I Googled the name and found that the story of the same name is not in Venus, but Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House, which I read around the same time along with Breakfast of Champions and Slaughterhouse Five.  It’s suddenly become easier for me to understand how Civil War veterans could get things “wrong” in memoirs written years after the fact (see how deftly I brought this post on topic?).