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.





Up Next…

18 05 2012

OK, I think the next thing I’ll be working on for the Resources section is Official Correspondence. This will be from The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 2 (Serial No. 2). I just have to figure out how I’m going to set those pages up so they’re easy to find and use. I guess it would be best to set up pages by individual names, with an index for TO and FROM with dates. Any suggestions?





Rebel Barbarities

23 04 2012

As part of the Joint Congressional Committee on the Conduct of the War’s (JCCW) investigation, testimony was taken and a report issued with regard to the barbarous treatment by the rebels, at Manassas, of the remains of officers and soldiers of the United States killed in battle there. The report and testimony can be found in Volume III of the Committee’s reports beginning on page 449. An exchange of messages with Frank June Ruiz – host of The Red Legged Devil, a blog on the 14th Brooklyn – reminded me of this and I will commence posting the transcripts in the resources section, starting with the report.





What Do You Think of This?

19 04 2012

In my last post, under the signature of the letter, I included a link to the letter writer’s Civil War records at Ancestry.com. Of course, you need to be a subscriber to Ancestry.com for the link to work, but I thought this might be a time-saving measure for some readers looking for more. Let me know what you think of this. If enough feel it’s a good idea, I’ll try to include a similar link when I can. Also, do you like the separate link, or would it be better to just hyperlink the signature?





It’s a Small World, After All

16 04 2012

Since February 25, 2012, Bull Runnings has been viewed on computer screens in 93 different countries. Here are the top 24:





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.





Oh Boy….

21 03 2012

Today I received the June 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine. At the top of the cover: Why Gary Gallagher Doesn’t Trust Civil War Bloggers. So that’s where I went straight away – Gallagher’s Blue & Gray column. It turns out the teaser on the cover misrepresents the content of Gallagher’s piece. Sure, he takes nameless bloggers to task for transgressions ranging from saying not-so-nice-things about Gallagher to spending too much time debating “non-issues” like black Confederates (note I’ve included that tag on this post, as I can always use the hits). But the overall tenor of the piece is that the content of blogs is uneven. Gallagher ends with this:

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.

That sounds a lot like my own thoughts regarding books on the Civil War. In fact, I think you can replace the words “Civil War blogging” in the first sentence and “blogs” in the last and insert just about anything in their place and you’d have an assessment of equal applicability.

Read Kevin Levin’s thoughts here. He has a dog in the fight, so to speak.








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