New on the Blogroll – Fredericksburg and Spotyslvania NMP

30 03 2010

New to the blogroll is Mysteries and Conundrums, brought to us by the staff at Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP.  From the About page:

Every week the park staff has conversations (sometimes rigorous) about a new photograph, a new source, or a new idea about the historic landscape on and around the four Civil War battlefields within the park–Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House.  A few of these discussions lead to new understandings or insights.  We will, by virtue of this blog, take some of those conversations and explorations public.  Our purpose is, in part, to share with the public some of the work that makes our jobs so very interesting.  At the same time, we know there are many people out there with lots of knowledge, sources, and additional information that will add to a better understanding of the landscape and resources we manage and interpret.  This blog is an open invitation for you to join in and add to an exploratory process that, we hope, will enhance preservation of the battlefields in and around Fredericksburg.

Much of the material posted here will be provided by the park’s cultural resource managers, Eric Mink and Noel Harrison, though other members of the staff (Greg Mertz, Frank O’Reilly, Donald Pfanz, and John Hennessy) will also chime in occasionally. Comments are welcome.

Bear in mind that while we don’t expect controversy (beyond the historical kind) to be an element of this blog, we are duty bound to point out that all expressions here are unofficial and are not intended to represent the views of the management of the National Park Service.  We are simply trying to engage viewers in what we think are some pretty interesting conversations and debates about matters of history and landscape.

 Welcome aboard!  Hat tip to Craig Swain.

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New Civil War Times Department: “In Harm’s Way”

29 03 2010

The June, 2010 issue of Civil War Times magazine ushers in the first installment of a new department I’ll be writing called In Harm’s Way.  These columns will feature homes on or in the vicinity of battlefields.  While the structures or the grounds they occupy will typically have played some role in a battle, the focus will be on the occupants and their stories before, during, and after the action.  This is an idea I pitched to editor Dana Shoaf, who saw something in it and gave me the go-ahead for the first article on Gettysburg’s Lydia Leister house, site of Union General George G. Meade’s headquarters on July 2 & 3, 1863.  

I made arrangements with Ranger Scott Hartwig at the park and at the end of January spent a couple of days there, first in the library where Ranger John Heiser gave me access to the park files on the house, and the next day at the house where Ranger Troy Harman unlocked the door and allowed me to photograph practically every square inch of the tiny log cabin.  Not many interior photos made the article, so let me share a few here (click the thumbs for a larger image):

Kitchen:

      

Loft:

 

Bedroom:

    

I’m looking forward to this new project, which is scheduled for 6 issues.  It presents some interesting creative challenges, and will also require me to make new contacts since I won’t be able to travel to all the sites.  The subject of the next article has been chosen, inquiries have been sent, materials have been received, and writing has commenced.  Let me know what you think of the articles, and if you really like them, let the magazine know!

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A Gen Forum Saves the Day

23 03 2010

As I’ve been researching the backgrounds of the staff and commanders of the armies at Bull Run, I’m finding more and more that when I get really stuck, help has been coming from an unexpected source: genealogy forums.  There are thousands of them out there.

Yesterday I was searching for some information on Otis Tillinghast, McDowell’s AAAG who was mortally wounded on July 21.  I wasn’t having much success until I ran across a discussion on a Tillinghast genealogy website.  It turns out Kent Watkins - like Otis a descendant of the one of the founders of Providence, RI, Pardon Tillinghast - was intrigued by the marker for Ft. Tillinghast that he saw across the street from the Arlington, VA tennis courts where he plays.  In the discussion thread to which Google pointed me I found Mr. Watkins’s announcement that he had written an article on Tillinghast for the group’s newsletter, including an email address for its editor, Ms. Greta Tillinghast Tyler.  I contacted Ms. Tyler and asked how I could go about getting a copy of the newsletter.  I received a prompt reply along with a complimentary pdf of her fine newsletter, Pardon’s Progeny II (click to view the newsletter, with permission of author and editor).  The entire issue consists of Mr. Watkins’s 29 page (!) article on Tillinghast and Ft. Tillinghast, complete with footnotes and bibliography.

So, thanks to Kent and Greta.  I’m sure I’ll be using the article when I write my biographical sketch of their ancestor.

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The Red Brick Wall was the Color of a Brick-Red Crayola

21 03 2010

Right now I’m reading On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, by Robert M. Poole – a 2009 publication.  Just getting into it, cruising along, not much to complain about (though I think I need to write up something on just who offered Robert E. Lee command of what).  But then I roll across this:

Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, commander of the 1st New York Zouaves, piled into a steamboat with his men and sailed toward Alexandria.  This dandified regiment of firemen-soldiers was hard to miss, decked out in their red pantaloons, tasselled caps and white spats and brewing for a brawl.

Jeez Louise.  I won’t go into what the 11th New York Infantry, Ellsworth’s Fire Zouaves did and did not wear and when they did and did not wear it.  Click on “Zouaves” in the tag cloud at the bottom of the right hand column of this page and you’ll find lots of articles on the topic.  The most definitive one is here.

Thanks to Douglas Adams for the title of this post.

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New to the Blogroll: Clemens and Patchan

19 03 2010

Two new blogs have been added to my roll:

I put Tom’s blog in the Civil War Battle Blog section.  Not sure if I should put Scott’s there, though.  What do you think? (UPDATE – I opted to put Scott’s with the Battle Blogs).

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C-Span’s Video Library

18 03 2010

Check this out – it’s C-Span’s Video Library.  This link searches “Civil War”.  Time-sucker.  Hat-tip to Facebook friend George Franks.

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Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, Blue & Gray

17 03 2010

  

Here are some highlights of the current issues of Civil War Times, America’s Civil War, and Blue & Gray magazines.

Blue & Gray, Vol. XXVI, #5

  • The General’s Tour is The Luray Valley Campaign of 1862, authored by friend Gary Ecelbarger.  Good stuff.
  • Wiley Sword delves into the machinations behind the writing of Hardee’s Tactics in the 1850′s.
  • J. Michael Martinez relates personal stories of Union prisoners in the Florence Stockade.

Civil War Times, April 2010

  • Peter Cozzens on an 1879 interview with James Longstreet
  • William Marvel interprets the Gettysburg Address
  • Kevin Levin reviews Confederate executions.
  • Alan Gauthreaux writes on the fighting for Baton Rouge.
  • Michael Panhorst on the Battle Monuments at Manassas (I wrote about them here).

America’s Civil War, May 2010

  • Jeffrey Maciejewski on the Crater
  • Ron Soodalter on Confederate terrorists/partisans
  • Robert Mitchell on the Underground Railroad
  • Edward Longacre on Joe Wheeler
  • Patricia Curtis on Civil War Brooklyn
  • Note: This issue marks the last installment of Smeltzer’s Six-Pack.  It was fun while it lasted. (I will still be doing short previews of new releases for ACW).

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The Differences Slavery Made

16 03 2010

Edward Ayers is at it again.  Check out this interesting project.  Be sure to click on the “Presentation” view to get some background on the history of digital history.  You might be surprised by just how long people have been thinking about it.

I dabble in hyperlinks.  I tried in my own ham-handed way to expand their use in my transcription of John Hennessy’s article on the “naming” of Stonewall Jackson.  Potentially I could use hyperlinks to connect references in after action reports to the AARs of others (I’ve done so on occasion), and in and between other entries in the resources section.  But that’s a whole lot of work.  I wish there was an easier way – there probably is, but I’m afraid I’m not equipped for it.  But you can see the potential.  Instead of a footnote that tells one where to look, a hyperlink grabs you by the hand and takes you there.  An added benefit is that this makes it a lot more difficult for an author to “shine you on” by citing something that really doesn’t support what he’s saying.  It takes the reader behind the curtain, so to speak.  Try to find a book that can do that.

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Chickamauga Tour

14 03 2010

Here’s an article on friend Dave Powell’s most recent tours for the Chickamauga Study Group, which are held at the battlefield annually in cooperation with the NPS and park historian Jim Ogden.  These tours have been well attended, though unfortunately not by me.  I did have the opportunity a few years ago to spend a couple of days on the field there with Dave, and have heard very positive reviews from others who have attended this series.  If you get the chance next year, don’t pass it up.  There’s also a video in the link above, and you can see Dave a couple of times during Ranger Ogden’s voiceover.   That’s Dave on the right in the Chattanooga Times Free Press photo above, standing quietly and carrying a big stick.

UPDATE: See here for Dave’s recap of the tours.

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Time-Out

8 03 2010

My laptop is down for a few days as I await the arrival of a replacement AC power cord.  This may put a damper on posts for a little while, since my 12-year-old usually dominates the desktop in the evening.  This may give me a chance to work on my reviews for America’s Civil War, which are due a week from today (look for a format change in the next issue).








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