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