Interview with Brad Gottfried

19 02 2009

Author Brad Gottfried of the upcoming The Maps of First Bull Run was kind enough to take the time to respond to a few questions regarding the book and the Savas Beatie project in general.

What is the Savas Beatie Battlefield Atlas project, and how did you get involved?

The “Battlefield Atlas” project actually started with my Maps of Gettysburg book.  I had written a book entitled, “The Brigades of Gettysburg” that highlighted the activities of every infantry brigade that participated in the battle.  As a result of that book, I realized that the battle would be much more understandable if they had a series of good, accurate maps, accompanied by a descriptive text.  After some thought, I came up with the idea of a map book, where the map is on the right page and the description is on the left.  That book included over 140 maps and it has been well received.  Since that time, Ted Savas has decided to broaden the concept and has signed up authors to do maps of other campaigns.

Why did you choose Bull Run as your second project?

I basically decided to prepare a book on every campaign in the Eastern Theatre of the Civil War, so it was natural that I go in order.  I had been to the battlefield several times, but like so many others, really had trouble getting my arms around the swirl of events.

How does this book differ from your Gettysburg Atlas?

The book is similar to the Gettysburg Atlas with two exceptions.  First, and perhaps most important, the maps are in color.  This was one of the biggest criticisms of the Gettysburg volume.  The second difference is the length of the book.  The Gettysburg book ran 363 pages and contained about 140 maps; the new one on First Bull Run/Manassas, is 144 pages long and contains 51 maps.  It also includes a section on Ball’s Bluff.

What were the particular challenges of doing a Bull Run Atlas?

I think that Gettysburg spoiled me.  There are so many first-person accounts and so many analyses of what occurred there that I was able to get a much richer picture of what really happened.  Less is written about First Bull Run/Manassas and there is much more ambiguity.  Harry Smeltzer and Jim Burgess really helped me to sort out the fact from the fiction regarding the First Bull Run/Manassas campaign.  Jim Morgan did the same for the Ball’s Bluff section.

Were there any surprises while writing this book?

Not really.  I learned so much about the campaign.   If I had to name some, it was how close General McDowell came to winning this battle and how lucky the Confederates were in moving units into position at just the right time.  Most of us know about Stonewall Jackson’s gallant stand on Henry Hill, but I was surprised by how so many of his units were defeated at one time or another.

What’s up next for you in the series?

I will stop going in order now and concentrate on the most “popular” campaigns.  Next up is the Maryland campaign.  After that I may go back and work on the Second Manassas Campaign.  That book will probably be double the size of the First Bull Run/Manassas book.

Ted Savas was good enough to provide me with one map and corresponding facing text.  You can find the pdf file here.   The pages will face, text on the left, map on the right.  The map is lower res than what will be in the book.  If you can’t open pdf files (you can get a pdf reader for free, just enter “free pdf reader” into a search engine), below are clickable thumbs of each page.

text-17map-17

Again, you can register to be notified when this book becomes available here.





Podcast at MIT Press

18 02 2009

I received an email from Johna Picco at MIT Press asking that I pass along a link to their first  journal podcast, available on their website.

ipodFeatured initially in the December 2008 issue of The New England Quarterly, “From Mashantucket to Appomattox: The Native American Veterans of Connecticut’s Volunteer Regiments and the Union Army,” is a unique perspective on Native American involvement in the Civil War. Listen as author and host, David Naumec along with The New England Quarterly’s own Board of Directors, Bill Fowler, discuss Naumec’s most recent work. 

For more information I urge you to visit our Journal’s Podcast page: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/page/podcasts

You will find both the podcast, as well as Naumec’s original piece feature in The New England Quarterly.

Cool concept.  I recommend reading the article first, then taking in the podcast.  Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of this stuff – maybe it will help make an hour on the elliptical or treadmill a little more bearable.





#4 – Col. Israel B. Richardson

17 02 2009

Report of Col. Israel B. Richardson, Second Michigan Infantry, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 312-314

CAMP 4TH BRIG., 1ST DIV., GENERAL McDOWELL’S CORPS,

In Front of Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run, July 19, 1864

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that I left the camp at Germantown at an early hour yesterday morning, my brigade consisting of the Second and Third Michigan Regiments, the First Massachusetts Regiment, and Twelfth New York. A battalion of light infantry, consisting of forty men from each regiment, one hundred and sixty in all, and commanded by Capt. Robert Brethschneider, of the Second Regiment of Michigan Infantry, moved in front of the brigade some five hundred yards in advance, and threw pickets still farther in advance on the road. A section of 20-pounder rifled guns, commanded by Lieutenant Benjamin, of the Second Artillery, moved in rear of the light battalion. The march of the column was slow, so as to prevent surprise.  No enemy appeared at Centreville, three miles from camp, he having abandoned his intrenchments the night before.

On advancing one mile in front of Centreville, I came to a halt near some springs to procure water for the brigade, and General Tyler and myself left with a squadron of cavalry and two companies of infantry, for the purpose of making a reconnaissance to the front, which, on arriving one mile in front of Blackburn’s Ford, proved that the enemy had a battery in rear of the run, so as to enfilade the road. He had also strong pickets of infantry and skirmishing parties occupying the woods and houses in front of his position. The battalion of light infantry was now ordered to deploy five hundred yards in front of the eminence upon which this camp is situated, and a position at once taken by the rifled guns, which now opened their fire. This fire was not answered by the enemy until several rounds had been fired, and I pushed forward the skirmishers to the edge of the woods, they driving in those of the enemy in fine style, and then brought up the First Massachusetts Regiment to their support, the skirmishers still advancing into the woods.

Captain Brackett’s squadron of the Second Cavalry, and two 12-pounder howitzers, commanded by Captain Ayres, Fifth U.S. Artillery, now moved up into an opening in the woods in support. The enemy also opened another battery, more to our left, so as to cross-fire with the other upon the road. I ordered up at this time the Twelfth New York Regiment, Colonel Walrath, to the left of our battery, and it being formed in line of battle, I directed it to make a charge upon their position, the skirmishers still pushing forward and drawing the enemy’s fire, but keeping themselves well covered. I now left the position of the Twelfth New York Regiment, to place upon the right of the battery the Massachusetts and Second and Third Michigan Regiments, when a very heavy fire of musketry and artillery was opened by the enemy along his whole line. On moving towards our left, I found that the Twelfth New York Regiment had fallen back out of the woods in disorder, only parts of two companies, some sixty men in all, remaining in line, and retreating. The howitzers and also the cavalry had been withdrawn. Our left was thus exposed, although the skirmishers still held the ground in the woods, and the three remaining regiments on the right remained firm and determined.

I now reported to General Tyler that the main body of the New York regiment had fallen back in confusion, and I proposed to make a charge with the three remaining regiments for the purpose of carrying the enemy’s position. The general replied that the enemy were in large force and strongly fortified, and a further attack was unnecessary; that it was merely a reconnaissance which he had made; that he had found where the strength of the enemy lay, and ordered me to fall back in good order to our batteries on the hill, which we did, the enemy closing his fire before we left the ground, and not venturing to make an effort to follow us.

Our batteries on the hill now opened fire, sustained by the Second Michigan Regiment on the right, in close column by division, the other two regiments forming line of battle on the left. The New York regiment after some time formed under cover of the woods in rear. In this affair our skirmishers advanced so close to the enemy’s works and batteries that two mounted officers were killed inside the breastworks, and one of our men was shot through the shoulder with a revolver by one of the enemy’s officers, and one of their cannoneers was bayoneted by one of our men while the former was engaged in loading his gun. Our skirmishers also, in falling back, had several of their wounded bayoneted, by order of one of the enemy’s officers.

The enemy’s intrenchments and batteries appeared to be in rear of a creek called Bull Run. The batteries on the extreme right of their line were on high ground, and fired over the heads of their infantry in front. At night we fell back to Centreville for water and rations, and this morning have again occupied our ground upon the hill in front of the enemy, they being in large force, and having their pickets and skirmishers in the woods and in front of them, as yesterday. I have the honor also to inclose a statement of our loss incident to this affair.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

 I. B. RICHARDSON,

Colonel, Commanding Fourth Brigade, First Division

Table - [USA] Casualties at Blackburn’s Ford [July 18, 1861]





#3 – Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler

16 02 2009

Report of Brig. Gen. Daniel Tyler, Connecticut Militia, of Action at Blackburn’s Ford

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 310-312

HDQRS. FIRST DIV. DEP’T NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Washington City, July 27, 1861

SIR: On the 18th instant you ordered me to take my division, with the two 20-pounder rifled guns, and move against Centreville, to carry that position. My division moved from its encampment at 7 a.m. At 9 a.m. Richardson’s brigade reached Centreville, and found that the enemy had retreated the night before – one division on the Warrenton turnpike in the direction of Gainesville, and the other, and by far the largest division, towards Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run. Finding that Richardson’s brigade had turned towards the latter point and halted, for the convenience of obtaining water, I took a squadron of cavalry and two light companies from Richardson’s brigade, with Colonel Richardson, to make a reconnaissance, and in feeling our way carefully we soon found ourselves overlooking the strong position of the enemy, situated at Blackburn’s Ford, on Bull Run. A moment’s observation discovered a battery on the opposite bank, but no great body of troops, although the usual pickets and small detachments showed themselves on the left of the position.

Suspecting from the natural strength which I saw the position to possess that the enemy must be in force, and desiring to ascertain the extent of that force and the position of his batteries, I ordered up the two rifled guns, Ayres’ battery, and Richardson’s entire brigade, and subsequently Sherman’s brigade in reserve, to be ready for any contingency. As soon as the rifled guns came up I ordered them into battery on the crest of the hill, nearly a mile from a single battery which we could see placed on the opposite side of the run. Ten or a dozen shots were fired, one of them seeming to take effect on a large body of cavalry, who evidently thought themselves out of range.

The battery we had discovered on our arrival fired six shots and discontinued fire. Finding that our battery did not provoke the enemy to discover his force and his batteries, I ordered Colonel Richardson to advance his brigade and to throw out skirmishers to scour the thick woods with which the whole bottom of Bull Run was covered. This order was skillfully executed, and the skirmishers came out of the wood into the road and close to the ford without provoking any considerable fire from the enemy.

Desiring to make a further attempt to effect the object of the movement, and discovering an opening low down on the bottom of the stream where a couple of howitzers could be put into battery, I ordered Captain Ayres to detach a section, post it himself on the ground I pointed out to him, and sent a squadron of cavalry to support this movement.

The moment Captain Ayres opened his fire the enemy replied with volleys, which showed that the whole bottom was filled with troops, and that he had batteries established in different positions to sweep all the approaches by the road leading to Blackburn’s Ford. Captain Ayres maintained himself most gallantly, and after firing away all his canister shot and some spherical case with terrible effect, as we afterwards learned, withdrew his pieces safely and rejoined his battery. This attack on Captain Ayres accomplished the object I desired, as it showed that the enemy was in force and disclosed the position of his batteries, and had I been at hand the movement would have ended here; but Colonel Richardson having previously given an order for the Twelfth New York to deploy into line and advance into the woods, in an attempt to execute this order the regiment broke, with the exception of two companies, A and I, who stood their ground gallantly, and was only rallied in the woods some mile and a half in the rear. The fire which the regiment encountered was severe, but no excuse for the disorganization it produced.

Having satisfied myself that the enemy was in force, and also as to the position of his batteries, I ordered Colonel Richardson to withdraw his brigade, which was skillfully though unwillingly accomplished, as he requested permission with the First Massachusetts and Second and Third Michigan Regiments to charge the enemy and drive him out. It is but justice to these regiments to say that they stood firm, maneuvered well, and I have no doubt would have backed up manfully the proposition of their gallant commander. After the infantry had been withdrawn, I directed Captain Ayres and Lieutenant Benjamin, who commanded the two 20-pounders, to open their fire both on the battery which enfiladed the road leading to the ford and on the battery which we had discovered in the bottom of Bull Run, which we knew to be surrounded by a large body of men. This fire was continued from 3.15 until 4 o’clock, firing 415 shots. The fire was answered from the enemy’s batteries, gun for gun, but was discontinued the moment we ceased firing.

The concentrated position of the enemy, and the fact that the elevation of our battery and the range were both favorable, induce the belief that the enemy suffered severely from our fire, and this belief is confirmed by the fact that the ensuing day, until 12 m., ambulances were seen coming and going from and to Manassas, two miles distant.
In closing this report, it gives me great pleasure to call to your attention the gallant conduct of Colonel Richardson; Captain Brethschneider, who commanded the skirmishers; Captain Ayres; Lieutenant Lorain, who, I regret to say, was wounded; Lieutenants Dresser, Lyford, and Fuller, attached to Ayres’ battery, and Lieutenants Benjamin and Babbitt, in charge of the two 20-pounder rifled guns, all of whom displayed great coolness, energy, and skill in the discharge of their official duties. Herewith you will find a list of casualties.(*)

With great respect, your obedient servant

DANIEL TYLER,

Brigadier-General

Brigadier-General McDOWELL,

Commanding Department of Northeastern Virginia

[Indorsement]

For the nature of my instructions see copy herewith, marked A.

I. McD., B. G.

A.

HDQRS. DEPARTMENT NORTHEASTERN VIRGINIA,

Between Germantown and Centreville, July 18, 1861–8.15 a.m.

GENERAL: I have information which leads me to believe you will find no force at Centreville, and will meet with no resistance in getting there.

Observe well the roads to Bull Run and to Warrenton. Do not bring on an engagement, but keep up the impression that we are moving on Manassas.

I go to Heintzelman’s to arrange about the plan we have talked over.

Very respectfully, &c.,

IRVIN McDOWELL,

Brigadier-General

Brigadier-General TYLER

(*) See inclosure to No. 4, p. 314





Bull Run Atlas Talk

15 02 2009

chatter

Lots of chatter on my post on the upcoming Bull Run Atlas, including some information on other entries in the series.  Check it out here.





#2 – Col. Orlando B. Willcox

15 02 2009

Reports of Col. Orlando B. Willcox, First Michigan Infantry, of Skirmish at Fairfax Court-House

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, pp 309-310

HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE, THIRD DIVISION,

Fairfax Station, July 17, 1861

SIR: After leaving the Old Fairfax road this noon with my brigade, we proceeded with an advance guard in skirmishing order and pioneers with axes, and felt our way until the skirmishers came upon this point. The enemy fled precipitately without firing a shot, but we succeeded in capturing a sergeant, a corporal, and nine men, belonging to the First Alabama Rifle Regiment. They occupied two camps, and are reported to have been two regiments, of about 1,000 men each, from Alabama and Louisiana. We found every evidence of hasty departure—provisions; fires burning; a box of medical instruments, partly consumed; a secession flag, &c., in their camps. Our most extended skirmishers towards the left saw also some cavalry scattering and flying.

The enemy must have been early apprised of our coming, but whether their main body had left before we commenced cutting the road I cannot tell. The earthworks were, as supposed, near the railroad. There was a masked earthwork in the woods farther about a mile west of the station, but no guns in any of them. I await the colonel’s further orders at this point, having promptly returned after following the Fairfax road two and a half miles and communicating with Colonel Miles.

Very respectfully,

O. B. WILLCOX,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade

Capt. C. McKEEVER,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Third Division

[Indorsement]

This is the only secession flag captured during the first Bull Run campaign.

S. P. HEINTZELMAN,

Colonel Seventeenth United States Infantry

—–

FAIRFAX STATION, July 18, 1861

Capt. J. B. FRY,

Assistant Adjutant-General, Fairfax Court-House:

SIR: I have just received a dispatch from Colonel Heintzelman. He is still at Sangster’s, waiting orders. Not knowing whether he has succeeded in communicating with you otherwise, I deem it best to report the fact myself.

I can get guides to Wolf Run Shoals and Bacon Race Church. I deem it necessary to have both telegraphic and railway communication with Alexandria. Have sent word to this effect to General Runyon, and hope it is approved by General McDowell, but would respectfully suggest that orders be issued.

If we could have struck this point and Sangster’s about three hours earlier we might have taken about three thousand prisoners. The bridges beyond have been burnt by the enemy.

Very respectfully,

O. B. WILLCOX,

Colonel, Commanding Second Brigade

Please forward the inclosed. Can I have a small mounted party of soldiers for carrying dispatches? I have to communicate with yourself, Colonel Heintzelman, and Alexandria, and the horses have to be taken from the teams.

Respectfully, &c.,

O. B. W.





#16 – Casualties, Tyler’s Division, July 21, 1861

14 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 351

16p351

Click for clearer image





Bull Run Atlas

13 02 2009

mapsLast year Savas Beatie announced that the second entry in its series of Civil War battle map studies would cover First Bull Run.  I was involved in reviewing the manuscript, and today I received more information on the book from marketing director Sarah Keeney.

The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign, including the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, June-October 1861 (ISBN 978-1-932714-60-9), by Bradley M. Gottfried, is scheduled for release in May, 2009.  The 7″ X 10″ hardcover will feature 51 full color maps with facing text and run 144 pages.  It will retail for $34.95.

Anyone wishing to “reserve” a copy can do so here; register to be notified when the book is ready to ship.

In the coming weeks, I’ll have some specific content for you – including, hopefully, a sample map.  Also look for my interview with the author.





#6 – USA Artillery Lost July 21, 1861

13 02 2009

O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME 2 [S# 2] — CHAPTER IX, p 328

6p328

Click for clearer image





Ranger Greg Coco

12 02 2009

Ranger Greg Coco

In this post I wrote about a short walking tour I took at Gettysburg this past August, led by Ranger and prolific author Greg Coco.  I noted in that post that Mr. Coco offered an unusually candid and humanistic narrative as he led our group to the Widow Leister house and The Angle, admonishing us all to take time to think of all the good things we have, and not to focus on the negatives.”  Later that day, after the tour, I heard from a friend that Mr. Coco was very sick with cancer.  That news cast the things he said that day in a different light.  I chose not to write about that, because I really didn’t know the man and wouldn’t discuss his health on a public forum.  I find today that Greg Coco passed away early yesterday morning.  I have not been able to track down an obituary online.  A memorial service is scheduled at the Gettysburg NMP Visitor’s Center this coming Saturday at 4 pm.








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