Our Friend Shotgun

8 09 2013
Shotgun Discusses Action on Chinn's Ridge April 2005

Shotgun Discusses Action on Chinn Ridge April 2005

I received news today that my friend (and yours, even if you don’t know it) Dick Weeks, aka Shotgun, is quite ill. All of us who comprise the online Civil War “community” owe Shotgun a debt of gratitude. Probably more than any single person he has over the past 20 or so years shaped how that community looks today. In addition to building and maintaining one of the most widely used general Civil War websites, Shotgun’s Home of the American Civil War, he has  also maintained a message board and a chat room which is still active. And by organizing annual battlefield “musters,” he has provided the opportunity for far flung individuals who had known each other by screen name only to meet, learn, share research, and form long lasting friendships.

Shotgun possesses the rare ability to carry over his friendly, helpful, generous, and civil personality from “real life” to the web. While a sterile bio might leave one with the impression he is a “tough old bird” – and in some ways he is, a military man who calls ‘em as he sees ‘em – Shotgun is a truly good guy, and even if he tells you you’re full of, um, baloney, he can do it in a way that doesn’t make you feel like that of which you are most likely full.

I’ve been on plenty of battlefield tours of varying sizes and logistical complexity over the years, some costing hundreds of dollars, with dozens of attendees and multiple faculty, but none have exceeded a muggy, wet day spent with Shotgun and our mutual friend Teej Smith touring the battlefield of Second Manassas. If you’ve never had the chance to walk that ground with Sgt. Weeks and his hand-colored Hennessy maps, you’ve really missed out. But best of all was retiring to Shotgun’s house in Herndon for what he calls “grilled meat and adult beverages.” To this day I can’t recall what kind of meat was grilled, but delicious as it was it didn’t compare to the conversation and camaraderie shared by three tired but happy Civil War nuts that night.

Over the years Shotgun has been many things to many people – devoted son, father, and husband, patriotic two-branch veteran, mentor, innovator, hand-lender – but I’ll bet most folks whose lives he has touched think of him simply as friend. His daughter Michele informs us that he’d really like to hear from his friends just now, and she’ll see to it that he’s made aware of the contents of any messages sent to his email address, shotgun@civilwarhome.com.

Dick, the thoughts and prayers of my family are with you and yours. Thanks for everything. You’re Finest Kind.





New Blog: Tales from the Army of the Potomac

21 08 2013

Orr Blog

New to the Civil War blogroll is Tales from the Army of the Potomac, hosted by Dr. Timothy Orr. Tim teaches history at Old Dominion University, is a Gettysburg College grad, earned his PhD at Penn State [ROAR!], has been a seasonal ranger with the NPS and a re-enactor, and is an all-around good guy. He may be best known as the historian who made Kelly Clarkson cry on national television. This should be good stuff, if the first four posts are any indication. Here’s an interview he did for Bull Runnings a while back.

 





Civil War Stuff on a Civil War Blog, of All Places!

2 08 2013

Be sure to check out this series of posts over at To the Sound Of the Guns. Craig Swain is digging up some really cool stuff in high resolution photos of heavy guns around Charleston, SC. Artillery and material culture – you’ll learn something in spite of yourself. You’ll have to hunt through the list, but consider this one.

9420822350_4cd247efbd





Penn State’s Pennsylvania Civil War Newspapers Online

6 09 2012

Check it out here (hat tip to Kevin Levin).





Popular Drivel

24 08 2012

If you haven’t heard about “historian” Richard Slotkin’s new book on Antietam, Google it. I will not link to it here. I refuse. Just like the Supreme Court and prior restraint, the book has been roundly rejected by a number of Antietam scholars I know. But check out this critique of a recent interview this “historian” – make that “MAJOR historian” - recently did with NPR.





Communist Plot

19 07 2012

I’ve been informed by my friend Craig Swain that Bull Runnings has been “blocked” in China. As we used to say back in the day:

Better dead than Red.





What is a “Civil War Blog”?

18 07 2012

I ask that without implying that there is, or even should be, a definition. The beauty of a blog is still that it can be whatever the blogger wants it to be. I’ve tried to be pretty clear of my own intentions, which you can read over in the right hand column of this page.

I read most of my favorite blogs using Google Reader. There are dozens I consider to be “Civil War blogs”, even without ever having firmed up what that means in my own head. What classifies a blog as “Civil War” to you? One that shares research concerning the military, political, or social aspects of the war (there are a few out there, though not as many as one might think)? One that discusses how the war, or rather the era and its elements, are remembered today or at various times? One that offers opinions on what other bloggers or writers or commentators are saying? One that simply promotes the blogger’s print works? One that draws tenuous comparisons between the Civil War Era and our own to prove out the blogger’s own current political positions, or to discredit those of others? One that at least attempts to use some of the unique capabilities of digital history techniques, such as hyperlinks, metadata, video? All of these? None? Are any of them more important to you than others?

On a related note, what compels you to read a “Civil War” blog, or deters you from doing so (you can include Bull Runnings in either case)?

You may recall that a while back a few of “us” tried to categorize at least one type of blog, the “information compilation blog” or “battle blog.” You can read about that here and here.

 

UPDATE: A related question is “Who are Civil War Bloggers?”. Robert is discussing that very thing now over at Cenantua’s Blog.





Updates

15 07 2012

Once again real life has infringed upon my hobby, and I haven’t been able to come up with any posts lately. If you’re not already doing so, please be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook, as I frequently put stuff up on those outlets (look in the right hand margin of this page and make the appropriate clicks to follow.)

I’ve been notified that my regular reviews in brief column (it’s been known by several names over the years) in Weider History Group’s America’s Civil War magazine has run its course. These things happen, in fact have happened before, and will continue to happen in the magazine business as formats change. I’m thankful for the opportunities editor Dana Shoaf has provided. On a happier note, I have been asked to write reviews on single titles, and my first one will appear in the issue of Civil War Times that will be in process in August.

I also mentioned earlier that I’ll be speaking to the Central Ohio Civil War Roundtable in 2014. I’ve been putting together a few notes for that presentation and am really pleased with how things are going. We’ll be covering a lot of assumptions that are generally accepted as fact concerning the campaign that may not be quite accurate. OK, make that flat out wrong. It should be fun, and if your group is interested you can contact me at my email address to the right or send me a message on the Book Me, Danno! page.





Letter to CWT on Gary Gallagher on CW Bloggers

24 05 2012

The August 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine includes a letter from yours truly commenting on Prof. Gary Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column in the preceding issue. The letter was pretty much a recap of thoughts I wrote about here. I really don’t think Gallagher’s “criticisms” were harsh on blogs and bloggers, any more than they would be if applied, as they can and should, to books and authors. However, I did find G’s implication (though it may simply have been my inference) that somehow the blogosphere can, in light of his criticism, be safely ignored by “serious” historians to be wrong-headed. As happens often in magazines, my letter was edited to fit the space available, so I present the original version below:

As a Civil War blogger, I read with interest Gary Gallagher’s “Blue & Gray” column in the June 2012 issue of Civil War Times. I found it to be a  molehill with lofty aspirations, if you will. Dr. G. sums up his position: “Overall, my limited engagement with the Civil War blogging world has left me alternately informed, puzzled and, on occasion, genuinely amused. I suspect these are common reactions to the mass of valuable information and unfiltered opinion that crowd the multitude of blogs out there.” In other words, the content of the blogs taken as a whole is uneven. As both a consumer and reviewer of Civil War books, I can say the same thing about the print world, including university presses. There’s a lot of crap out there. Unlike print media, with most blogs the comments feature helps to  keep the blogger honest, correct errors of fact, and facilitate an organic research process that can be wonderful to behold. Consumers have a responsibility to separate the wheat from the chaff in any case. Anyone researching the American Civil War – or any topic, for that matter – can only ignore what is published in “non-traditional” formats at their peril. Just because they didn’t read it doesn’t change the fact that it has been written. Adaptation is the key to survival.





Good News

11 04 2012

The good folks at the University of Virginia’s Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library have granted their permission for Bull Runnings to post First Bull Run related material from their collections which have been transcribed and presented on their blog, 150 Years Ago Today. Look for that in the days ahead.








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