Preview: Eric Wittenberg, “‘The Devil’s to Pay’ – John Buford at Gettysburg: A History and Walking Tour”

24 11 2014

downloadNew from Savas-Beatie is “The Devil’s to Pay” – John Buford at Gettysburg: A History and Walking Tour, by prolific Civil War cavalry author Eric J. Wittenberg. This is the first “book-length study devoted entirely to the critical delaying actions waged by Buford and his dismounted troopers and his horse artillerists on the morning of July 1, 1863.”

Here’s the skinny: with “The Devils to Pay” you get 204 pages of narrative taking the reader along with Buford and his men from Fredericksburg to Pennsylvania (including Brandy Station), covering in detail the actions in the Gettysburg vicinity through their ordered departure on July 2. This narrative includes background and biographical information on Buford and his men, a lengthy conclusion summarizing their performance and use, and an epilogue. In addition, there are four appendices (an order of battle; a treatise on “The Myth of the Spencers”; an analysis of the nature of Buford’s defense on July 1; and consideration of the question of whether or not Lane’s Confederate infantry brigade formed squares against a perceived cavalry threat on July 1); a 22 page, illustrated walking and driving tour; and a bibliography. Sprinkled throughout are more than 80 images and 17 Phil Laino maps.





Preview: Noah Andre Trudeau, “The Last Citadel: Petersburg June 1864 – April 1865″

23 11 2014


Savas-Beatie
has released a new, revised, and expanded edition of Noah Andre Trudeau’s 1991 study of the Siege of Petersburg, The Last Citadel: Petersburg, June 1864 – April 1865. For years, Trudeau’s works on 1864 action in Virginia have rested on the shelves of many students of the war, including those of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey’s character in the series House of Cards). So, what’s new here? I’ll let the author speak for himself, from the Preface:

511VHRArmjL._SL500_AA300_[The] revisions lie in several areas. On a visual level I have reworked all the maps with what I hope is a touch more skill than I possessed when I crafted the originals in 1991 (my first effort in that direction!), and even added a couple. Text-wise, and in my eternal search for perfection, I corrected all errors of fact (thankfully, not many) that were pointed out to me in reviews and conversations about the book and even a couple I found on my own.  I would like to especially thank Dr. Richard J. Sommers, who took time off from his busy schedule to read me through the notes in his annotated copy, which directed me to details I am pleased to have now attended to. Thanks also to historians Chris Calkins and James H. Blankenship, Jr., who passed along corrections. I also too advantage of the fact that Savas Beatie was not merely reprinting the original to add several pages of new material. I’ll ‘fess up to having learned a few things in the years since the book first appeared, and in some places changed the text to better reflect what I now know, or think I do.

As what remains the most significant single-volume work on the Petersburg Campaign, this revised edition is a must if you don’t have the original, and is an improvement if you do.





Holkum’s Branch – Manassas National Battlefield Park, 11/15/2014

22 11 2014

Last Saturday at Manassas National Battlefield Park I took a little walk to Holkum’s Branch of Bull Run, east of the Henry Hill Visitor’s Center not far from the site of Portici on the M. Lewis farm, which was Joe Johnston’s HQ during the battle. The site is significant for a meeting that occurred there late in the day on July 21, 1861. In this area Brigadier General Thomas J. Jackson encountered CSA President Jefferson Davis and proclaimed (according to surgeon Hunter McGuire who had just tended to Jackson’s wounded finger): “Give me ten thousand men and I shall take Washington City tomorrow.”

Interpretive marker

Interpretive marker

View north to Holkum’s Branch from marker

Follow trail east from behind Jackson's guns on Henry Hill. Where the trail turns left (north) to the Stone Bridge, turn right (south) to Portici.

Follow First Manassas Trail east from behind Jackson’s guns on Henry Hill. Where the trail turns left (north) to the Stone Bridge, turn right (south) to Portici.





Thornberry House

21 11 2014

This past Saturday I paid a visit to Manassas National Battlefield Park. One of the spots we hit was the north end of the park, the area of the Thornberry House and Sudley Church. The Thornberry children were used by photographers Barnard and Gibson in many of their March 1862 photos of the battlefield, and the house was used as a hospital in both battles of Manassas. It was near this house that Sullivan Ballou’s body was buried and subsequently dug up, mutilated, and burned (see here, here, and here.) Laura Thornberry later recorded her recollections of the battle. And here are some images of the house and surroundings I recorded earlier. Below are the images from Saturday, November 15, 2014. Click for much larger images.

Interpretive Marker

Interpretive Marker

House from west

House from west

House from south

House from south

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Looking south down Sudley Road trace, west of Thornberry house

Thornberry House 1862

Thornberry House 1862





Sudley Springs Ford Now and Then

20 11 2014

From my battlefield visit this past Saturday, here’s a photo of Sudley Springs Ford on Catharpin Run, over which the divisions of Hunter and Heintzelman crossed on the morning of July 21, 1861. Compare it to the Barnard and Gibson photo from March 1862. Notice anything? See the pile of rubble on the other side of the run, left of center (click on the image if you can’t make it out)? They are all that remains of the Sudley Spring house. It appears nice and square in the 1862 photo to the left of the Union cavalrymen, who are facing off against the Thornberry kids on the near side. Look at the trees that frame the left of both photos. Clearly not the same trees, but notice how they are both leaning similarly. What does it mean? OK, nothing. But it’s cool, nonetheless.

10396291_886522461371485_249971227697202730_ncav-at-sudley





That Big Puddle on Henry Hill

19 11 2014

IMG_20141115_142217_942

This past Saturday I visited Manassas National Battlefield Park for a quick tour with my nephew. I snapped this photo of the typically wet area just east of the Visitor’s Center parking lot, the one you usually have to walk around on your trek to Stonewall on Steroids. Why take a picture of a puddle, especially a dry one? Well, in 1862, some theorize – I tend to concur – this feature was photographed at least three times, twice by the team of Whitney & Woodbury, and once by Barnard and Gibson. At the time, the marshy area was surrounded by shallow and supposedly Confederate graves. Think about that next time you’re busy keeping your feet dry.

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Whitney & Woodbury

Barnard & Gibson

Barnard & Gibson





A Review (Not Mine) of “The Early Morning of War”: “The new standard bearer of Bull Run studies.”

18 11 2014

Check out Drew’s review of Ed Longacre’s new book on First Bull Run here.








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