Branding Bull Runnings

14 05 2009

OK, I admit it: I have an MBA.  I got it 20 years ago from the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.  And while I did pretty well academically – I even earned membership in a national honors fraternity called Bata Gamma Sigma – I can’t say that my degree actually did me any good in my conventional career in business (which ended ingloriously about 17 years ago when I got into appraising).  But I did put my marketing concentration to use when I set out with this blog.  I had a definite, if general, idea of what I did and did not want Bull Runnings to be.  And I’ve pretty much stayed within the parameters I set at the beginning.

One of the things I wanted to do was stay on-topic, and I think I’ve done that.  Not that every single post here has been about Bull Run, but I think they’ve been related to my project (if sometimes tenuously).  They include topics on digital history, how other blogs handle things, doings of the National Park Service, stories about participants, my Civil War related travels, the art of history in general, etc…  In particular, I didn’t want modern politics discussed here.  Not that I’m unconcerned with certain situations in our world: I just don’t want this blog to become a forum for bitching or pontificating, at least not about modern politics.  Sticking to this guideline has been my most satisfying decision.   In one respect this has evolved as my outside writing projects have become greater in scope.  I even decided to stay away from certain Civil War topics (like Black Confederates, causes of the war and the legality of secession) unless they relate to First Bull Run and its participants, but sometimes I come across Civil War themed stories, like the Kilpatrick Family Ties thread, that I just can’t resist.

I once wrote in reponse to a comment thread that was developing here that I want Bull Runnings to be more like Switzerland and less like Belgium and France.  That doesn’t mean that I ban heated discussions and disagreements; it just means that I don’t want commenters to bring baggage and personal history here.  Familiarity breeds contempt, and that’s very apparent in online discussion forums.  I get my share of kooks commenting here – hopefully, because of the rules I’ve set for myself and the blog, I get less than my share.  You don’t see their comments, because I delete them.  No fanfare, no explanation.

When I first set out, I didn’t anticipate the Resources section of the blog.  That was supposed to be a separate, database website.  But I’m pleased with how it’s worked out, and how easily the paging features of WordPress have accommodated the project.

In no way is this a criticism of bloggers who don’t have similar guidelines.  A blog can and should be whatever the blogger desires it to be.  My only advice to new bloggers is to have a good idea of what that is.

All of this is done with a reason.  I want returning readers to have a general idea of what to expect when they click in to Bull Runnings.  I hope I’m succeeding, but your input is always welcome.  And as always, thanks for stopping by.

Southern Historical Society Papers

7 04 2009

I’ve set up this page as an index for Bull Run related articles in the Southern Historical Society Papers.  As I post the articles here I’ll link them to the index, as well as to the OOBs.

I don’t have hard copies of the SHSP, so I won’t be able to check the articles that I pull from disc for accuracy (typos, etc…).  So if you see any mistakes, please don’t hesitate to let me know via the comments feature on each post.

Resources and Articles

27 02 2009

OK, I’ve been doing a little thinking this morning (not always a good thing).  If you haven’t caught on yet, this site consists oftwo types of posts: Resources (official reports, orders of battle, biographical sketches, all that stuff listed under “Pages” to the right); and articles, like this one.  So at this late stage, I am going to go back and add the tags and categories Article and Resource to my existing posts, and use them going forward.  That way you can use those filters to find the types of posts you’re most intersted in.  This will be a long-term project: I’ll get to it as time permits. 

Another Good Email

10 02 2009

I got another good email today:


Read your review of my “Confederate Colonels” in “America’s Civil War” and just wanted to say I appreciate all the kind things you said.

I have a lot more in my files on all these officers, than I could fit in the book. Be happy to share anytime.

Best wishes,

Bruce Allardice

Bruce is the author of More Generals in Gray and Confederate Colonels, among others.  He maintains this website, and is happy to answer any questions you may have about Confederate colonels.  You can reach him at bsallardice1 at earthlink dot net (I write email addresses that way to keep folks from geting spammed).

I’m so grateful to folks like Bruce, John Hennessy, Mike Musick, Jim Burgess and all you others I’m leaving out and irking by so doing for all the wonderful help you’ve offerred and provided.  This project is infinitely better for your contributions, and in many ways that’s what Bull Runnings is about.

I Love Emails Like This!

3 02 2009

I received this earlier today:

Hi Harry:

I enjoy your blog very much–it’s interesting to me to read (again) source material that I had once intensely examined, long ago, before I knew much of anything about the world, and to see if my take on it remains as it was.  Generally it does, but I’m always curious.  I know I could go back and read the stuff myself, but it’s more fun (to be honest) just reading it as you string it out there.  Anyway, you do a very nice job.

My question:  I have files full of First Manassas stuff, which I would be happy to share if you’d like.  Every once in a while you put something up that stimulates me to go find other things–for example, I found that I have a WONDERFUL letter about Upton at Blackburn’s, busting him as a pretty West Point boy, after you had put up a couple of Upton related things a while back.  But, I don’t know whether you have all this stuff already…or even want it.

So, I ask.  Want me to send cool stuff along? 

John [Hennessy]

For those of you who don’t already know, John Hennessy is the NPS Chief Historian for Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Battlefield Park and author of a fine study of First Bull Run as well as one of the all-time classic Civil War campaign histories.  Of course I said YES.  This site has benefited tremendously from contributions by readers, and it looks like it will continue to do so.  Thanks, John!

Blackburn’s Ford

2 02 2009

So far this site has been mostly silent on the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, 1861.  It was initially known as the Battle of (or at) Bull (or Bull’s) Run, before the bigger battle three days later.  I’m not really sure why I chose to treat the actions separately, but I’ve changed my mind.  I’m going to go back and start posting the ORs pertaining to Blackburn’s Ford.  For now, the actions in the Valley will not be a part of this site, though that may change at some point.

I think I’m also going to try to post the tables from the ORs as well – numbers and losses.  This requires a little more work converting the files into images that I can post, but I think I have the hang of it.

I hope you enjoyed the last few of letters from W. T. Sherman and T. J. Goree.  Other letters and diaries to come.  Be sure to read the comments to these – I have some pretty bright readers who contribute mightily to this site via the comments section.

Shout Out

1 12 2008

Thanks to reader Robert Moore II of Cenantua’s Blog for the numerous contributions he has made to this site over the past few days, while most of us were in turkey induced comas.  As a result, I have fixed a couple of inaccuracies in my CSA and CSA Artillery orders of battle (I had conflicting info noted on the OOBs – I try to do that when I’m not sure).  Check out the comments to posts here, here, here, and here.  Now it’s a question of me getting all this other good stuff incorporated into the site.  Thanks Robert for this and all the other help you’ve provided.  This type of reader participation is what I had in mind when I started this blog.  No blogger is an island.

Lest you think I just take anyone’s “word” for stuff, I do check everything out as much as possible.  In the case of the Culpeper/Newtown artillery, Robert is uniquely qualified to render advice because he has authored books on four of the Confederate batteries (including Newtown) present at First Bull Run.  These books are part of the Virginia Regimental History Series (VRHS), aka the Howard Series (those thin, gray volumes you see at NPS bookstores).  I plan on collecting the volumes for those units present at Bull Run, but individually and new they are not cheap.  Anybody want to trade any for OR volumes?

In the course of the flurry of comment exchanges this weekend, I wrote something along the lines of the the following, but it must have gone MIA.  Tell me if this is something you’d like to see:

I plan to write regimental biographies, which will work as follows:

  • A master page with all regiments listed and linked (one page for USA and one for CSA);
    • A page for each regiment with links to the following three posts:
      • Companies and commanders, including other names the companies were known as, along with county of origin.  Also numbers and losses for 7/21/61;
      • A very brief summary of the regiment’s movements on 7/21/61;
      • A full biographical sketch based on sources like Dyer, The Union Army, and Crute.  This will be easier for USA units than CSA, I think.


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