Hennessy “Binoculars” Tour Update

26 07 2015

Here’s an update to yesterday’s post. As Mr. Hennessy’s talk needs no further interpretation or explanation whatsoever, like yesterday I leave you with his description of this clip:

Ted Schubel has produced a 12-minute video of the conclusion of the program at Spotsylvania on Friday–reflections on interpration, Civil War Battlefields, and our present mess. You can find a few other clips elsewhere, and the entire program in audio form, but this probably summarizes the intent of the program best. Thanks to Ted for his efforts.

John J. Hennessy “Turns the Binoculars Around”

25 07 2015

JJHThis is important listening. Per John Hennessy’s description of his talk:

Last night I gave a program at Spotsylvania that used the sites and stories of the place to explore why it is the Civil War remains such a difficult, debatable topic for Americans today. It was a beautiful night, and we had about 120 along.

Given all that’s going on around us, I considered the program one of the most important I have given. Ted Schubel of NewsTalk1230 WFVA has posted the full audio of the program, with, I believe some shorter video clips to come. My thanks to him, and to all who came out.

Check it out here.

On Military History

12 12 2014

In the blogosphere, in print, and on social media currently there is a buzz about the subject of military history. I won’t go into the details and give links – just Google Civil War and Military History and you’ll find plenty of examples. Opinions on what “military history” is, what it is not, and what it is becoming vary widely, as do opinions on whether the issue is a mountain or a molehill. So who am I to not take the opportunity to weigh in?

First off, let me stress that I don’t consider myself a historian, military or otherwise. I’ve said that before and nothing has changed. To me, a historian is an individual who has been trained and accredited in the field of history. In short, someone with a degree in history from a post-secondary institution. Now, I try to adhere to a set of standards which I understand to be good practice in the field, but you only have my word to go by. It’s a base-line thing. It’s not qualitative. Historians can produce awful history, and non-historians can produce great history.

While I have not yet found a good definition for military history, I have developed my own, after a fashion. I’ll make it simple – military history to me is not history that simply involves military operations (though based on some awards given out this past year – and pretty hefty ones at that – that does seem to be a working definition for some pretty prestigious organizations.) Military history, in my opinion, at the very least reflects an understanding of  not only military conventions and doctrines of the time in question – say, the American Civil War – but also of how they fit on the developmental timeline. For example, if one is going to critique decision making, one had better have a good grasp of the experiences (education, training, service) that led the actor to that point. And a military historian is someone whose education in history focused on this specialty. That does not mean that someone untrained in military history cannot produce good military history. It does mean, however, that they are not military historians. To me. At this point.

To put it in simple terms, Sheldon is a theoretical physicist. Leonard, poor Leonard, is only a practical (or applied) physicist. Raj is an astrophysicist. And Wolowitz only has a masters. In engineering. A glorified plumber. You see the differences, right?

Dixon Miles Court of Inquiry News

26 11 2014

Friend Jim Rosebrock, host of the blog South from the North Woods, on a recent trip to the National Archives was kind enough to photograph the contents of the file containing the documents associated with the Dixon Miles First Bull Run Court of Inquiry for First Bull Run. Late in the day on July 21, 1861, Colonel Israel B. Richardson leveled a charge of drunkenness at Miles, to whose division Richardson’s brigade had been temporarily attached. This charge resulted in Irvin McDowell removing Miles from command, and at Miles’s request the Court of Inquiry was later convened.

I now have over 150 images of handwritten documents to transcribe, the bulk of which are of witness testimony. As far as I know, this file has never appeared in print or digital format, so we’re breaking new ground here. Long ago I posted the summary of the court’s finding here, and this is the index page I’ll be using for all the documents. Below is a taste of what I have to work with – thankfully the penmanship is not generally this poor (click for a larger image.)


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.

McDowell and Franklin

8 07 2014

I was recently going through some older posts, and was reminded of a series of posts from over 4 years ago by Dmitri Rotov over at Civil War Bookshelf. They explore the relationship between Irvin McDowell and William Franklin, and shed some light on the duo prior to First Bull Run (and beyond). Check them out – good stuff.

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Civil War Trust Battle App – Stone Bridge

8 04 2014


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