Twelve Years Blogging

11 12 2018

I’m a month behind on this, but it’s been twelve years. Yay me. Here’s a gift idea:

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Bull Runnings Spring 2019 Battlefield Tour

1 12 2018

“This will be a great, great tour. Very strong. Very special. Other tours at other battlefields? Disasters. But this one will be huge. Believe me. Everyone agrees.” – Anonymous chief executive.

69th New York State Militia

The Regiment prays for good weather on May 11, 2019.

Save the date: May 11, 2019. 9:00 AM. Manassas National Battlefield Park. Free tour. Will make a most excellent Mother’s Day gift.

For this fourth Bull Runnings Battlefield Tour, we’ll follow in the footsteps of the Fighting Irishmen of Col. Michael Corcoran’s 69th New York State Militia at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861. We’ll start at the Stone Bridge, make our way (by foot) to Henry House Hill, and then follow the regiment in retreat back to Bull Run. Out and back is a five-mile walk, but tourists can opt out at the halfway point (or anywhere else, for that matter).

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Henry Hill – The Halfway Point

That’s cool enough. But check out these guides:

Harry Smeltzer – You already know me (if not check out the About Me link). Don’t let my last name fool you – mom was a Power.

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John J. Hennessy – Widely respected historian and battlefield guide, he is the author of First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence, and Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas. He guided the first ever Bull Runnings Battlefield Tour in 2016.

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Damian Shiels – Irishman, professional battlefield archaeologist, and host of the blog Irish in the American Civil War. He is the author of The Irish in the American Civil War and The Forgotten Irish: Irish Emigrant Experiences in America.

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Joseph Maghe – Civil War artifact collector extraordinaire, he has amassed a truly impressive array of artifacts, with a special focus on regiments with Irish/Irish American affiliations.

As we traverse the field, your guides will share extracts from after action reports, personal correspondence, and memoirs of participants. We’ll also discuss the experiences of the soldiers’ families in New York and Ireland, and the backgrounds of the men. Along the way Mr. Maghe will have various artifacts with ties to the regiment to view.

Logistics: This is a free tour. Everything is on your own: transportation, lodging, meals. We’ll break for lunch, probably at the visitor’s center, so you’ll probably want to carry your meal or have it waiting in a vehicle there in the parking lot. Dress for the weather. Tour will be rain or shine, barring flood waters.

There are no formal plans for apres-tour, but The Winery at Bull Run is a pretty neat place, and I’ll give updates about whether or not it’s going to be open.

Keep an eye out here and on the Facebook Event Page for updates, handouts, and other news.





Preview – McIlwain, “The Million Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President”

21 11 2018

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New from Savas Beatie is Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr.’s The Million Dollar Man Who Helped Kill a President: George Washington Gayle and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

This story, the promotional materials claim, will set you straight on the real mastermind behind the assassination of the 16th POTUS (Gayle, an Alabama lawyer), and the motivation of the assassins ($$$).

You get:

  • 140 pages of text, in ten chapters.
  • 11 photos & engravings.
  • In a break with Savas Beatie SOP, end-notes (70 pp, indexed by chapter, not page – not my preferred format).
  • 64 page bibliography (primarily published sources).
  • Two-page index (for those of you scoring at home, that’s 136 pages of notes, bibliography, and index, and 140 pages of narrative).

Christopher Lyle McIlwain, Sr. is a lawyer in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is the author of two books on Alabama in the Civil War. See his author page here.





Preview – Smith, “The Real Horse Soldiers”

20 11 2018


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New from Savas Beatie is Timothy B. Smith’s The Real Horse Soldiers: Benjamin Grierson’s Epic 1863 Civil War Raid Through Mississippi. Most of us are familiar with this courtesy of John Wayne and William Holden. But as the title says, this is the fact behind the 1959 film (though not directly related to the film – for that, see Neil Longley York’s Fiction as Fact: The Horse Soldiers and Popular Memory.

You get:

  • 315 pages of narrative in preface, prologue, 11 chapters, and epilogue.
  • Bottom of page footnotes.
  • Bibliography with 5 1/2 pages of manuscript and newspaper sources.
  • Full index
  • 13 maps
  • 36 photographs

Dr. Timothy B. Smith is a former National Park Service employee and now teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of numerous and award winning books – see his author page here.





Preview – Wert, “Civil War Barons”

11 11 2018


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I received a copy of Jeffry Wert’s new Civil War Barons: Tycoons, Entrepreneurs, Inventors and Visionaries Who Forged Victory and Shaped a Nation, but was a little surprised to find that Da Capo Press sent an advanced reading copy (ARC). As a general rule, I don’t preview ARCs here – they don’t lend themselves to previews because they often don’t include everything that may be in the final version (for instance, I really hope they remedy the missing Oxford comma in the subtitle). However, Jeff is an acquaintance and a great guy, so I’m making an exception in this case. I’ll give you the skinny, with the caveat that things could change.

From the publisher:

From prominent historian and Pulitzer Prize-finalist Jeffry D. Wert, a multi-biographical work of a remarkable yet largely unknown group of men whose contributions won the war and shaped America’s future.

You get:

  • 209 pages of text
  • Eleven chapters, preface, prologue, and epilogue.
  • Chapter titles:
    • The Administrators
    • The Visionary
    • The Inventors
    • The Improvisers
    • The Patriots
    • The Investors
    • The Tinkerers
    • The Dreamers
    • The Opportunists
    • The Builders
  • Some still familiar names in the Postscript
    • Philip D. Armour
    • Gail Borden
    • Andrew Carnegie
    • John Deere
    • Cyrus McCormick
    • Edward Squibb
    • The Studebaker Brothers
    • Cornelius Vanderbilt
    • Frederick Weyerhaeuser
  • No Index (yet)
  • 31 pages of end notes
  • A bibliography, including a fair number of archival sources, newspapers, and online sources

Jeff Wert is a prolific author familiar to most readers of this blog. Check out his Amazon author page here.





Preview – “In Memory of Self and Comrades”

7 11 2018

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New from University of Tennessee Press is In Memory of Self and Comrades, the memoir of Thomas Wallace Colley’s service with the First Virginia Cavalry, edited by Michael K. Shaffer. This is of particular interest to followers of Bull Runnings because Colley’s recollections include the regiment’s movements before, during, and in the aftermath of First Bull Run. It’s brief (four and a half pages), but there are also three BR1 related letters included. We don’t have a lot of first-hand 1st VA Cav accounts, and hopefully the author will grant permission for me to provide transcriptions in the Resources section here.

What you get:

  • 133 pages of memoir.
  • Two appendices with Regimental History and Biographical Roster Sketch from Colley’s journal and a separate journal
  • Appendix with a Short Historical Sketch of Officers from the Washington Mounted Rifles (Colley’s company L, in which he served with Pvt. John. S. Mosby)
  • Appendix with a selection of Colley’s wartime letters
  • Appendix with an 1887 account of Colley’s wounding at Kelly’s Ford
  • 30 pages of end notes
  • Ten page bibliography (limited unpublished sources, but friends Ron Baumgarten and Brian Downey show up)
  • Nine George Skoch maps
  • 37 photos and illustrations

Michael K. Shaffer is an instructor at Kennesaw State University’s College of Continuing Education and Professional Education. He is the author of Washington County, Virginia, in the Civil War.





Preview – Pula, “Under the Crescent Moon” Vol. 2

5 11 2018


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James Pula’s Under the Crescent Moon with the XI Corps in the Civil War Volume 2 From Gettysburg to Victory, 1863 – 1865, picks up after the Battle of Chancellorsville, where Volume 1 left off. You get:

  • 323 pages if narrative in 21 chapters. Note that 299 pages of the narrative take us to the relief of Knoxville in December 1863, after which the 11th and 12th corps, after which the 11th (that’s right, they didn’t use Roman numerals for corps designation back in the day) and 12th corps were consolidated into the new 20th corps.
  • Addendums for 11th Corps numbers and losses at Gettysburg.
  • Addendum with 11th Corps order of battle for Chattanooga.
  • Addendum listing 11th Corps Medal of Honor Awardees.
  • Bottom of page footnotes.
  • Bibliography (numerous archival sources were consulted).
  • Full index
  • Five maps – an improvement over Volume 1, but I need more.