An Expert? Ummm…No.

6 01 2011

Will Rogers defined an expert as a man fifty miles from home with a briefcase, while Mark Twain said it was an ordinary person from another town.  Regardless of the definition you choose, I am no expert.  I can’t imagine ever considering myself an expert, and I’m frankly confounded when I hear anyone describe themselves as one – an expert, that is.  I’ve even heard-tell of folks who have moved on to “other wars” because they’ve learned just about all they can learn about the Civil War.  Come on, get real.  You’re bored, you need a new challenge, a change of pace, I get it.  But spare me the “my work is done here” stuff.  Unless your specialty is percussion caps used on Burnside breech loaders or something similarly obscure, I ain’t buyin’ it. 

I realize that event organizers are going to use the E word in promotional materials.  But I want to make one thing perfectly clear – I don’t consider myself an expert on the Civil War or even the First Battle of Bull Run.  I’m confident I have readers who have studied the war and the battle for a longer period and in greater detail than have I.  [That being said, I can still entertain a room for an hour or two without boring the heck out of everybody (there are always exceptions) and pretty much guarantee that anyone who stays awake the whole time will learn something they didn't know before, so don't let my admission deter you from booking me, Danno.]

I know there’s a real definition of “expert” and it doesn’t mean “knows everything”, but you know what the word connotes, and you know what I mean by this.  I don’t mind so much when others call someone an expert, but it bugs the hell out of me when I hear people refer to themselves as one.

There.  I just needed to get that off my chest.  As always, you’re free to be wr…I mean, you’re free to disagree.  Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.





Bull Runnings on Capitol Hill

15 11 2010

I’ve been invited to speak to the Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table on Monday evening, April 4, 2011.  I understand this group meets in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill.  Doors to the buidling close at 7:00 PM.

This will (as of now) be the first presentation on Peter Conover Hains and his account of the First Battle of Bull Run.  I’ll begin work on the presentation in January, so that gives me three months to get the PowerPoint and text together.





A Couple of 2011 Speaking Engagements

8 10 2010

Here are a couple more appearances I’ll be making in 2011.

June 29th, 2011 – Gettysburg, PA and Manassas, VA, The Civil War Institute of Gettysburg College, 29th Annual Summer Conference, Mobilizing for War.  I provided a copy of the press release here.  This is a week-long conference, and will include one day of touring the Manassas battlefield with the focus of the tours being the First Battle of Bull Run.  There will be anywhere from five to eight tour buses and tour guides, each conducting their own custom tour.  My tour will be Hidden Mysteries of First Bull Run.  This tour will be geared for tourists already familiar with the battlefield and the campaign.

October 1, 2011 – Aurora, CO, The Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable, in conjunction with Aurora Community College, presents the Rocky Mountain Civil War Symposium, The Eastern Theater from First Manassas through the Seven Days Campaign (go here for registration info).  I’m not sure yet what I’ll be speaking about, though it will be a topic concerning First Bull Run for sure.

I’ll post updates here as speakers and topics are updated, but so far for sure I know that Ethan Rafuse and Ed Bearss will also be leading tours at Bull Run, and Ethan and Jim Morgan are part of the Rocky Mountain lineup . 

If you do decide to attend any of my speaking events, do me a favor and lay off playing solitaire or any other card game for at least 48 hours beforehand.  The Queen of Diamonds has been known to exaggerate negative reactions to public speakers.  Just ask Laurence Harvey (above).  Thanks in advance. 

If you’d like me to speak to your group, leave a comment on the Book Me, Danno page or shoot me an email at the address to the right.





A Public Appearance

25 09 2010

Don’t miss it!  I will be speaking to  – and hopefully with – the good folks of the Loudoun Valley Civil War Roundtable in Leesburg, VA on June 14, 2011.  This will be a program on the twisted tale of Peter Conover Hains, who fired the opening salvo of the First Battle of Bull Run with his 30-pdr Parrott gun, “Long Tom”.  This is my second confirmed speaking gig for next year.  I have two others which I’m pretty sure are go, one at the end of June and one at the end of September.  I don’t know if any more are in the offing, but I’ll keep the Book Me, Danno page updated for my fans, both of you.





What’s Up With Me

15 08 2010

For those many, many fans of Bull Runnings who just have to know what’s going on in the exciting, fun-filled life of its host, I have a couple of things going on right now. The most immediate is the completion of the next installment of Collateral Damage for Civil War Times. This will feature a home on a Western Theater farm, though it’s not really on a battlefield and it’s on the Eastern seaboard. I checked the CWT website but don’t see that they’ve ever put one of these articles online. If they ever do, I’ll let you know.  And yes, I will be putting up all the photos I took of the Roulette Farm, my subject of the current issue of the magazine, in the near future.

You may have noticed that I have a speaking date coming up at the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst, NC in 2011.  After much deliberation, I’ve decided to make a presentation on Peter Conover Hains, the young artillery lieutenant who opened the ball for the Union at Bull Run with a shot from his 30 pdr Parrott, Long Tom.  I’ve been fascinated with his story for a long time, but haven’t really buckled down on it.  Of course I’ll share the fruits with you all here, when the time is right.

Other than the above mentioned date, I really don’t have any firm commitments to speak in 2011, or the rest of 2010 for that matter.  A couple of roundtables have expressed some interest, but I haven’t nailed anything down for sure.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be leading at least on bus tour on the battlefield, but even that isn’t official yet.  Keep in mind that I have incredibly high standards: I pretty much won’t speak to any group unless they say Hey, would you like to speak to our group?

If your group is interested in a Bull Run related program – or one on any of the other Civil War topics I’ve written on here or elsewhere – you can contact me at the email address in the right hand column.

Last, the Facebook fan page is doing well – Bull Runnings has 136 “likers” as of this morning.  If you want to follow on Facebook, you can use the link in the right hand column.





Speaking Update

16 07 2010

I’ve updated my speaking engagement page (aka Book Me, Dano!, where you can contact me about speaking to your group) to indicate I will be making an appearance before the good folks at the Rufus Barringer Civil War Roundtable in Pinehurst, NC, on May 19, 2011.  Tentatively, I will be giving a presentation based on my Civil War Times magazine column that is now called Collateral Damage, though I think I will be sticking with the original title In Harm’s Way.  If you’re in the area, stop in.  I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there.





Eric Wittenberg on J. E. B. Stuart

18 06 2009

Mother Nature dumped 8 inches of rain on us in about an hour last night, after rain all the previous night and for a good part of the day yesterday.  That had the usual effect on the local athletic fields, so my son’s baseball game was cancelled last night (and quiet possibly will be cancelled tonight, too).  The upside of that was I had the rare opportunity to attend a meeting of the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable.  This was the first time this year that my schedule and those of my wife and son allowed me to go.

So last night I had  the pleasure to see old friend Eric Wittenberg for the first time in over a year and hear his talk on J. E. B. Stuart’s famous – or notorious, if you prefer – ride during the Gettysburg Campaign.  The presentation is based on Eric’s and J. D. Petruzzi’s fine study Plenty of Blame to Go Around.  As usual, Eric did a fine job, for the most part sans notes, with wife Susan manning the PowerPoint.  If he is appearing at a round table near you, or if you’re a program director looking for a speaker, don’t pass up the opportunity to see or book Eric.





A Scythe of Fire

26 09 2008

Image of 8th GA colors used at Bull Run from this site on 9/26/2008.

I’ve finished reading A Scythe of Fire, a Warren Wilkinson and Steven Woodworth collaboration on the 8th GA infantry regiment put together after the former’s untimely death.  I was encouraged to read it based on Wilkinson’s classic (if that word can be applied to such a recent book) Mother May You Never See The Sights I Have Seen.  While Scythe is a nice read, with some good stuff on First Bull Run and an officer’s roster for that battle I’ll use in my Confederate OOB, I found it disappointing on a few levels.  The book builds to its climax at Gettysburg, but then quickly moves through the nearly two years remaining in the war in pitifully few pages, and pretty much ignores the survivors after Appomattox.  Most disturbing was the obvious disdain for some folks exhibited by (I’m assuming) Woodworth, especially for Joe Johnston.  The same old saws are hauled out – afraid to fight, protective of his reputation, yada yada yada – in the form of unsupported opinion presented as fact.  And of course this had to be reinforced in every sentence and paragraph that used Johnston’s name.  God, that stuff is so tired.  It irks me.  It’s irksome.  But there was worthwhile content, including some surprising things about late war desertions that, as far as the 8th Georgia goes at least, fly in the face of conventional wisdom.  Given that most of those leaving the ranks did so by deserting to the enemy, the theory that they wanted to go home to care for their loved ones falls apart.  Sorry if that bit of moonlight wilts your magnolias.

Right now I’m taking some time of from my ACW reading to brush up on the Gilded Age, with Devil in the White City and American Eve.  The latter will help me in expanding on my Kilpatrick Family Ties material which I hope to turn into a round table presentation (any takers?), and both books will help when I tackle the later life of a Bull Run personality.  Until I’m finished with them, the picture of Scythe of Fire will remain at the bottom of the right hand column of this page.





Top of the World, Ma!!!

10 09 2008

Bull Runnings and its not so humble host have made the big time with this notice of my upcoming program at Sharpsburg Heritage Days posted on the NPS website for Antietam National Battlefield.  I know it’s not much, but it’s pretty cool to me!  Let’s just hope things turn out better for me than they did for Cody Jarret.

I was going to work up a program based on the Kilpartrick Family Ties series, but now that both the NPS and the festival’s website have advertised that I will be doing my Bull Run Threads presentation I guess I’ll stick to that – an amended version of my last roundtable talk, which may include some stuff I was not able to get to in Columbus.  I think I’ll still work up a program on Kilpatrick, so if any of you are interested in that presentation, contact me through the comments section of this post or the Speaking Dates page to the right.

If you’re in town Saturday, please stop by for the SHAF lecture series, which also features Antietam authorities John Schildt and Tom Clemens.  Their programs are at 1:00 and 2:00 PM respectively, and I go on at 3:00.  All lectures are at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Sharpsburg, and are free to the public.  And be sure to say hi!





Sharpsburg Heritage Days

23 08 2008

I’ll be presenting a version of my Threads program as part of the Save Historic Antietam Foundation (SHAF) Lecture Series at Sharpsburg Heritage Days, September 13 & 14.  I believe I’ll be doing this on the 13th, sometime between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in town.  Here’s a schedule of events.  The SHAF lectures are free.

Related events coming up include a crossing of the Potomac the following Saturday, Sept. 20th, in commemoration of the 146th Anniversary of the Battle of Shepherdstown.  The crossing (from the Maryland side to the West Virginia side) will be followed by a tour of the Cement Mill which figured so prominently in the battle, as well as some privately owned battlefield land, with refreshments provided afterwards by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA). There is a fee for this event.  Here are the details from Tom Clemens.  Leave a comment here if you’re interested in attending, and I’ll put you in touch with him:

We’ll meet at 3:00 Saturday Sept. 20 on the Maryland side of the Potomac at Boteler’s (Packhorse, Shepherdstown) Ford. This may entail some car-pooling from Antietam Visitor’s Center if there are a lot of us. We’ll wade the Potomac at the ford site, and on the other side some folks from Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association (SBPA) will meet us. They will arrange for us to use the actual ford site, which is on private property, and we’ll stop and look at the ruins of the Cement Mill. Then we’ll ascend the bluff roughly along the route of Barnes’ Brigade and go to the place where the 118th PA fought, all of which is also on private property. After viewing the main battle area we’ll walk to the original farmhouse, also privately owned, where the opposing forces first met, and see a shell embedded in the farmhouse wall. From there we’ll go to the Dunleavey’s home, just a short distance away, where they will serve us hamburgers, hot dogs and all the trimmings, as well as adult liquid refreshments that will slake the thirst of all dedicated battlefield trasmpers. When we have had our fill of everything, they will provide drivers to take us back to our vehicles, thus we only have to wade once. All of this wonderful stuff for only a paltry $25 per person donation to SBPA, which is tax-deductible! It doesn’t get any better than this! Tramping a privately-owned battlefield, helping a preservation group, and a good meal!!

On Columbus Day Weekend, October 10-11, SHAF will sponsor a dinner and lecture with Marion V. Armstrong, author of “Unfurl Those Colors”, McClellan, Sumner, and the Second Army Corps in the Antietam Campaign on Friday evening at the South Mountain Inn, followed by a tour of the relevant portions of the field on Saturday.  There will be fees for these events as well.  I recently interviewed Mr. Armstrong for the SHAF newsletter, and that will be put up on the SHAF website along with details of the event once they are ironed out.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 781 other followers