Manassas NBP Ranger Jim Burgess On Bayonets and Sabers

17 11 2014

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Manassas NBP Ranger and Museum Specialist (and long-time Friend of Bull Runnings) Jim Burgess sat down with Aaron Killian (author of a great First Bull Run E-Tour Book available for download here) to evaluate a couple items Aaron recently acquired. Check out the video here.

 





Manassas NBP Visit 11/15/2014

17 11 2014

I posted some photos I took on a quick trip to show some of the battlefield to my nephew this past Saturday. You can find them on Facebook here. Eventually I’ll set up a gallery here as well. It was a beautiful day, perfect for photos, even though I only had my phone camera with me. We took a walk out to the site of Portici and saw a (to me) new marker at Holkum’s Branch, the site of the post battle meeting of Jefferson Davis and “Stonewall” Jackson. Also saw a (to me) new marker at the site of Christian Hill (read about its significance here.) I do have concerns about bringing attention to that place. I never have as much time as I’d like on the rare occasions I get to visit, but each time I see something I’ve missed before. Get out there – you can’t understand the battle if you don’t walk the ground.





Medal of Honor Ceremony for Alonzo H. Cushing

6 11 2014





Eight Years Blogging

3 11 2014

Well, what can I say? It’s been eight years. This blog has lasted roughly twice as long as the Civil War, and like it has taken on a different character as time passed by. I don’t post as much chatty stuff here as I used to. To keep up with that you can always follow Bull Runnings on Facebook. And yes, it’s been a little slow around here lately, but plans are to continue posting primary material as time allows – there’s still plenty of it out there. Book previews will continue as my supply of books to preview continues. I have some tweaks I’m considering to the preview process, like matching up new releases with older titles. More author interviews as the mood strikes me. I have a couple of original content posts that I just haven’t been able to get to, and I do plan to get to them. But I will not post just because I think I should.

Once I crack open Edward Longacre’s new book on First Bull Run, I think I may provide a kind of running commentary. I don’t know if that will be daily, weekly, or what. Let’s just see how it plays out.

Thanks to all of you who have stuck around. Welcome to those of you who may be new. I’m still having a good time and will keep at it until that changes.





Longacre, “The Early Morning of War”

24 10 2014





Mini-Review: Hennessy on Porter, in “Corps Commanders in Blue”

22 10 2014

517bM0P30PL._SL500_AA300_As some of you know, Bull Runnings has this Facebook Page on which I post a lot of stuff that I’ve decided not to put up here. Last night I posted a review – of sorts – of John Hennessy’s essay on Fitz John Porter, Conservatism’s Dying Ember, in Corps Commanders in Blue, a collection of essays edited by Ethan Rafuse. I’ve decided to post it here. I may, or may not, post mini-reviews of other essays in the book if it strikes me to do so. And I may, or may not, post them here, on the Facebook page, or both. So, if you want to be sure to see them, I suggest both subscribing to the blog and following the Facebook page.

I just finished John J. Hennessy’s essay on Fitz John Porter. I recommend it to all. As Tom Clemens said, it is fair and balanced. I want to comment on a few passages of note:

1 – Regarding Lincoln’s decision to hold back from the AotP McDowell’s corps: “It was, perhaps, the most cautious strategic decision of the war, establishing Lincoln as a military thinker whose strategic conservatism far exceeded McClellan’s.” Yes! Hennessy also included Lincoln’s later admission of his mistake. I’ll add that Irvin McDowell (who was not much of a tactician, but a pretty shrewd big picture guy) also knew at the time that AL was playing into the rebels’ hands.

2 – Regarding Porter’s (via McClellan’s) policies in Virginia and whether or not they dovetailed with those of the administration: “To some eyes, he [McClellan] had not been aggressive enough with respect to slavery and too kind to Southern civilians, but he had in fact hewed closely to standing policy.” Again, YES!!! I wish this had been further explored, because there was a lot of “Don’t do what I say, do what I mean” coming from the admin in those days. However, that perhaps would have required a bit more exposition than the essay format allows.

3 – “In Porter’s eyes an immobile McDowell symbolized the perfidy of the nation’s leaders.” While Hennessy doesn’t limit the evidence that Porter interpreted as indicative of perfidy, he left out the issue of the closing of northern recruiting offices. But again, it’s a limited essay, and I can’t think of anything that should have been jettisoned in favor of this tidbit.

4 – “The message [sent by Porter’s relief and dismissal] was clear: the careers of men who mixed their political views and official duties too freely would not thrive.” I think this perhaps should have been worded differently – the message was clear that those who mixed CONTRARY political views and official duties too freely would not thrive. I don’t think there was an abolitionist in the army who felt constricted by Porter’s fate.

These are all minor in the grand scheme of things. Mr. Hennessy did a great job with this essay. I’d really like to see him expand on it, and hope he intends to do so.





Preview: Shiels, “The Irish in the American Civil War”

20 10 2014

8768 Civil CVR.inddThere are numerous studies on the Irish in our Civil War, some fairly objective and many laden with sentimentality and myth-building which employ such flowery terms as “Celtic Warriors in Blue/Gray.” Even as second generation on my mom’s side I find the latter tedious. What sets The Irish in the American Civil War apart is that its author Damian Shiels (host of a blog with the same title and a professional conflict archaeologist) is not an Irish-American but an Irishman from Limerick. In addition to his proximity to the homes of many of his subjects, his work on the blog and with local Irish sources give him a unique perspective (Damian works wonders with pension records – if you haven’t visited his site please do, you’ll be glad you did.)

This is not a strict narrative account of the history of Irish-American soldiers. Rather the book’s 229 pages of text is divided into sections: Beginnings; Realities; The Wider War; and Aftermath. Each section includes “six true stories of gallantry, sacrifice and bravery,” including good personal accounts of First Bull Run.

Sources include a lot of well-known secondary sources, but the use of newspapers and pension files is Shiels’s real strength. If you’re interested in a different perspective on a well-worn topic, I think it’s worth your while to give The Irish in the American Civil War a tumble.








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