Civil War Trust “Hallowed Ground” Spring 2011

14 03 2011

The Spring 2011 issue of Hallowed Ground, the Civil War Trust’s members publication, is out. Happily it focuses on First Bull Run.

There’s plenty of good stuff inside on the battle and the battlefield – see here for the table of contents. NPS historians Greg Wolf and John Reid have pieces on some battlefield detective work and the Centennial reenactment; museum specialist Jim Burgess writes on civilian spectators at the battle, and superintendent Ray Brown has an interesting article on the owner of the Van Pelt house. The folks who work and have worked at the park are the real experts on the battles that were fought here. These articles should not be missed – and yes, they’re all available online for free. While I don’t see it listed, there is supposed to be an interview with yours truly in this issue as well. Perhaps I wound up on the cutting room floor? I’ll let you know once I see the magazine itself.

One article in particular caught my attention: An End to Innocence, The First Battle of Manassas by Bradley Gottfried. Here’s the passage that stuck out:

While Lincoln and his Cabinet members listened, McDowell laid out a plan to attack the 24,000-man Confederate Army under Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, deployed near the winding Bull Run creek about 25 miles southwest of Washington. The general intended to use about 30,000 troops in the effort, marching in three columns, while another 10,000 men were held in reserve. With such numerical superiority, it appeared McDowell would overwhelm his Southern counterpart.

OK, I’ve talked about this in the past and you’re probably sick of hearing it by now. I have met Mr. Gottfried – he’s a good guy. I worked closely with him in proofing his book, The Maps of First Bull Run. But what he has written here conflicts with my understanding of McDowell’s plan. Here’s the text of the portion of McDowell’s plan regarding the force he expected to meet at Manassas (emphasis and brackets mine; you can read the whole thing here):

The secession forces at Manassas Junction and its dependencies are supposed to amount at this time [June 24-25, 1861] to–

Infantry          23,000

Cavalry          1,500

Artillery           500

Total               25,000

We cannot count on keeping secret our intention to overthrow this force. Even if the many parties intrusted with the knowledge of the plan should not disclose or discover it, the necessary preliminary measures for such an expedition would betray it; and they are alive and well informed as to every movement, however slight, we make. They have, moreover, been expecting us to attack their position, and have been preparing for it. When it becomes known positively we are about to march, and they learn in what strength, they will be obliged to call in their disposable forces from all quarters, for they will not be able, if closely pressed, to get away by railroad before we can reach them. If General J. E. Johnston’s force is kept engaged by Major-General Patterson, and Major-General Butler occupies the force now in his vicinity, I think they will not be able to bring up more than ten thousand men. So we must calculate on having to do with about thirty-five thousand men.

And here’s where he described the size of the army with which he proposed to take the field:

Leaving small garrisons in the defensive works, I propose to move against Manassas with a force of thirty thousand of all arms, organized into three columns, with a reserve of ten thousand.

I’ve not yet found any evidence that McDowell expected he would have numerical superiority in his strike against Beauregard. I’ll have more to say on this in an upcoming article in America’s Civil War.

UPDATE 3/15/2011: Let me make this clear for everyone, if for some reason you got a different impression from this post: my problem is with the notion that McDowell’s plan assumed a numerical superiority for his army over that which he expected to face around Manassas. To quote Wilfred Brimley in Absence of Malice: “That’s a lot of horse-puckey. The First Amendment (in this case McDowell’s plan) doesn’t say that.”

McDowell’s plans regarding this are clear, as stated above.





More on the Blue & Gray BR1 Issue

4 03 2011

In this post I let you know that the next issue of Blue & Gray magazine will feature First Bull Run. For those who don’t know, since 1983 B&G has been publishing this very fine magazine about six times a year.  Each issue focuses on one campaign or battle, and sometimes very specific pieces of a campaign or battle. For example Gettysburg has been done about a gajillion times over the past 28 years. But believe it or not, this will be the first issue dedicated to BR1. Go figure.

Anyway, here’s a sneak peek of the cover, from the magazine’s site.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I asked Jim Burgess at Manassas National Battlefield to proof an article I was writing (I’ve since submitted my final draft, after rewriting the whole thing – that’s what editors are for, and good editors make good writers). At the time he told me about the upcoming issue, and that the feature was written by ranger Henry Elliott. Nobody knows Bull Run like the good folks who work there at the park, so this should be first-rate. I’m really looking forward to it – 20 maps! A driving tour! This will come as quite a surprise to those supposedly learned students convinced that this important battle was simply a meeting of two armed mobs, with no displays of tactics whatsoever and therefore unworthy of attention.

Of course, Blue & Gray won’t be the only publication focusing on our favorite topic in the coming months. Keep an eye out here for more news in that regard.





America’s Civil War May 2011

3 03 2011

Inside this issue:

Field Notes:

  • Wilderness battlefield preservation victory
  • The Lowry controversy
  • Budget woes affect sesqui efforts
  • Monitor restoration
  • Georgia Dept of Agriculture removes controversial murals

5 Questions:

  • Daniel Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Bookshop

Cease Fire:

  • Harold Holzer discusses historical honesty

Legends

  • Ron Soodalter points out some surprising lyrics in state songs that are unchanged to this day

Features

  • Jackson, Johnston and Conflicting Interests – Dennis Frye: differing opinions on holding Harper’s Ferry in 1861
  • Looking for a Few Good Men: recruiting poster photo essay
  • An Omen a Philippi – Gerald Swick: early fight in Western Virginia, with an interesting sidebar on James Hanger, an amputee whose prosthetic manufacturing company lives on today
  • The Common Soldier’s Recipe for Disaster: photo essay on the culinary delights of the Civil War
  • Diary of a Morgan Raider – John M. Porter: in fact, a memoir. Extract form One of Morgan’s Men, Kent Masterson Brown, ed.

Reviews

  • My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy – Nora Titone
  • God’s Almost Chosen People: A Religious History of the American Civil War – George Rable
  • Faith, Valor, and Devotion: The Civil War Letters of William Porcher DuBose – W. Eric Emerson & Karen Stokes, eds.
  • A Young Virginia Boatman Navigates the Civil War: The Journals of George Randolph Wood – Will Molineux, ed.
  • Santa Fe Trail (Film)
  • Harry’s Just Wild About
    • John Bell Hood and the Fight for Civil War Memory – Brian Craig Miller
    • The Civil War: The First Year Told by Those Who Lived It – Brooks Simpson, Stephen Sears, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, eds.
    • Caught Between Three Fires: Cass County, MO, Chaos, & Order No. 11, 1860-1865 – Tom Rafiner
    • The Battle of Resaca: Atlanta Campaign, 1864 – Philip Secrist




Blue & Gray Does First Bull Run!

2 03 2011

Finally! Jim Burgess told me about this a couple of weeks ago, but thanks to Drew for alerting everyone to this!





Civil War Times April 2011

28 01 2011

Inside this issue:

Letters:

  • Ron Soodalter disagrees with Stephen Budiansky’s take on George Custer

Blue & Gray

  • Gary Gallagher looks at The War’s Overlooked Turning Points and argues for the importance of the Seven Days’.

Collateral Damage

Your host writes about the Benson family and their compassion toward a wounded New Hampshire soldier at First Bull Run.  Thanks to a couple of readers who jarred my memory of this a while back.  Even though the house wasn’t and isn’t there (you’ll have to buy the magazine to figure that one out), it’s a great story that deserved retelling.  More on this in a later post.

Field Guide

  • Robert Behre leads us around Charleston, SC.

Interview

  • James I. “Bud” Robertson recalls the Centennial.

Letter from the Editor

  • The Sesquicentennial kicks off

Features

  • The Butcher’s Bill – Edward Bonekemper argues that U. S. Grant’s management of the war in Virginia wasn’t as bloody as represented.
  • Eye on Arlington – Kim O’Connell’s text and Robin Holland’s photos document the ongoing renovation at Arlington House.
  • First Blood at Big Bethel – John V. Quarstein on the June 10, 1861 battle in Virginia.
  • Last Letter Home – Dana Shoaf presents a poignant communique from a 14-year-old Third Class Boy aboard USS Galena.
  • Cradle of Secession – Joe Loehle photo essay on Charleston, SC.
  • ‘Black Jack’ at War – Paul Bradley sketches John Logan’s war career.

Reviews





The Jacob Weikert Farm

11 01 2011

The February 2011 edition of Civil War Times magazine (previewed here) includes my Collateral Damage article on the Jacob Weikert farm south of Gettysburg, just outside the park boundaries on the Taneytown Rd and the back of Little Round Top.  I had visited the property and toured the house twice over the years prior to my return this past summer.  Friends Gerry and Beth Hoffman bought the place in 2002 and are wonderful stewards – they also run an antiques business from spring to fall each year in the barn (Tillie’s Treasures).  Unfortunately I had left my camera on a low res setting when taking my photos to accompany the article, and none could be used in the magazine.  So I’m displaying them here, along with some I shot on an earlier visit in 2006.  Click the thumbs for larger images – it might be a good idea to have my article handy.

Keep in mind that the Weikert farm is private property.  The Hoffman’s are “finest kind”, but please respect their privacy.

First the low res photos from my most recent visit:

  

The house from southwest, south and southeast.  

  

The carriage house and corn-crib; the barn from Taneytown Rd; the barn from the rear.

  

The dining room was used as an operating theater; bloodstains are still evident on the dining room floor; the site of the wartime well and the Weikert’s enduring legacy.

These are from 2006:

  

General Stephen Weed died here in the basement, where the washer and dryer sit today; rough-hewn beams in basement; the basement fireplace and oven where the Weikert’s and Tillie Pierce baked bread for hospital staff and wounded – note the charred beam above the oven.





America’s Civil War March 2011

9 01 2011

Inside this issue:

Letters

  • It turns out that newly elected Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper is the great-grandson of Union Captain Andrew Hickenlooper, who commanded an Ohio battery at Shiloh and is depicted in the famous Thomas Corwin Lindsay painting of The Hornet’s Nest.

5 Questions

Cease Fire

  • Harold Holzer looks at current Virginia Civil War controversies brewing, and brings up an old one by yet again mentioning the governor’s proclamation from earlier last year.  He seems to have a little trouble letting go.

Legends

  • Ron Soodalter discusses David Twiggs’s choice between loyalty and, well, not-loyalty.

Features

  • A Shot in the Dark by Winston Groom – The Crisis of Fort Sumter
  • Lee, Grant and Their Steadfast Steeds by Ron Soodalter – Self explanatory
  • The Teenage Terrorist of Roane County by H. Donald Winkler – Rebel guide and scout Nancy Hart
  • Survival in an Alabama Slammer by Peter Cozzens – The Confederacy’s Cahaba Federal Prison was pretty well managed, all things considered
  • The One-Way Voyage of the Stone Fleet by Greg Bailey – A fleet of old ships, mostly whalers past their prime, set out from New Bedford, CT in November 1861 to become an integral, if stationary, part of the southern blockade.

Reviews

  • The New York Time Complete Civil War, 1861-1865, Harold Holzer & Craig Symonds, eds.
  • Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg, Earl J. Hess
  • Shadow of Shiloh: Major General Lew Wallace in the Civil War, Gail Stephens
  • Roughshod Through Dixie: Grierson’s Raid, 1863, Mark Lardas
  • Wicked Spring (Film from 2003)

And I was Just Wild About (or maybe I wasn’t)… 

  • The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” About the “Lost Cause”, James Loewen & Edward Sebesta, eds.
  • Sacred Ties: From West Point Brothers to Battlefield Rivals: A True Story from the Civil War, Tom Carhart
  • The Mechanical Fuze and the Advance of Artillery in the Civil War, Edward B. McCaul, Jr.
  • The First Assassin, John J. Miller (novel)







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