Bull Run Atlas

13 02 2009

mapsLast year Savas Beatie announced that the second entry in its series of Civil War battle map studies would cover First Bull Run.  I was involved in reviewing the manuscript, and today I received more information on the book from marketing director Sarah Keeney.

The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign, including the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, June-October 1861 (ISBN 978-1-932714-60-9), by Bradley M. Gottfried, is scheduled for release in May, 2009.  The 7″ X 10″ hardcover will feature 51 full color maps with facing text and run 144 pages.  It will retail for $34.95.

Anyone wishing to “reserve” a copy can do so here; register to be notified when the book is ready to ship.

In the coming weeks, I’ll have some specific content for you – including, hopefully, a sample map.  Also look for my interview with the author.

New Map

4 12 2008

I know I haven’t posted much here or in the Bull Run Resources about the fight at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18, 1861.  I’ll get to that eventually, I promise.  But for now, I have updated the Maps page with the below image of a map of that action drawn by E. Porter Alexander.  Check it out.  Thanks to Jim Burgess of Manassas National Battlefield Park for sending me the image from the Park’s archives. 

Recently some e-quaintances and I were discussing the position of Ayres’ (Sherman’s) Battery during the fight.  It would appear from Alexander’s perspective the battery was situated somewhat to the east of the ford, but it’s not clear from the map to which of Ayres’ positions Alexander was referring.

You can leave comments here or on the Maps page, but here is probably better.


First Bull Run Atlas

15 10 2008

Thanks to this announcement from Drew, I now know that Savas-Beatie will be publishing a new book on Bull Run as Volume 2 of its Civil War atlas series.  It will be authored by Bradley Gottfried, who wrote the Volume 1 on Gettysburg.  As I commented on Drew’s site:

I have to worry a bit about an atlas of First Bull Run, because there are some big questions about who went where and when, particularly during the Henry House Hill phase of the fighting. There are missing ORs for some key regiments (like the 11th NY and all of Jackson’s brigade). Joanna McDonald has a ton of maps in her book, and in fact wrote a tour book for that part of the fighting, but I don’t know that there is enough data available to produce maps that one could call definitive. This should be interesting.

The book is scheduled for release in Spring, 2009.  I’m going to see what I can do about getting an interview with Mr. Gottfried.

“The” Lewis House

26 06 2008

NPS Map of the Battlefield in 1861-1862

Reader Steve Keating asked:

I just finished Brent Nosworthy’s chapter in Roll Call to Destiny, on Burnside at First Manassas, and in it he keeps referring to artillery posted by the Lewis house firing on Burnside’s troops. Isn’t it the Henry house that he means? The only Lewis house I am aware of is Portici, and that is certainly out of 6 pdr range.

Portici is indeed a Lewis House, and there is a Lewis Ford on Bull Run as well.  Portici is, as Steve surmised, too far away to the southeast to have served as a platform for 6 pdr guns firing on Burnside.  After checking my maps, I replied:

I’ll look into this a little more (I only reviewed the book in brief, so I did not read it all), but there was a Maggie Lewis house just north of the northernmost bend of Young’s Branch, and south of Pittsylvania (the Carter house). Davidson’s guns were north of the pike and south of this house, and did fire on Burnside IIRC. You can see the house on Hennessy’s maps, the Collier overlay maps [their website is gone – what happened to Collier Maps?], and the Bearss maps.

Steve acknowledged:

Yeah, I dug out my Hennessy and found the Lewis place. It’s still a little low topographically, and I’ll check it out next time I’m there. With the tree removal going on, it may clear up the picture. Thanks for the info.

I have checked into it a little more, and found some info in the report of Lt. George S. Davidson, in command of a section of Latham’s Battery under “Shanks” Evans.  His is report #113 in Vol II of Series I of the ORs which I should post this weekend.  Here’s what he had to say about his positions during the day:

About this time [about 9:00 AM] it was known that the enemy was forming in force upon your [Evans’s] left flank. I was ordered to join Major Wheat’s command, which lay nearly a mile northwest of my first position. I passed by Van Pelt’s house, and went on to the Carter house, about one hundred yards northeast of which I placed my section in battery. Finding that the enemy, still encroaching upon our flank, had changed his position, I was ordered by yourself to return to the turnpike, which I followed to a high point about fifteen hundred yards west of the stone bridge. I placed my pieces in battery on open ground within two hundred yards north of the turnpike. From this position you ordered my second piece, under Lieut. Clark Leftwich, to advance along the turnpike and up the Sudley road. He accordingly took position about one hundred yards east of the Sudley road, bearing nearly five hundred yards north from the stone house of Matthews.

From this position Lieutenant Leftwich opened upon the enemy, advancing along the Sudley road, about one thousand yards distant. He inflicted considerable injury upon them, and maintained his position until our infantry had retired. He then retired to a hill south of the turnpike, and about one thousand yards distant from and west of Robinson’s house. Here he remained, firing upon the enemy until he had expended all ammunition from his limber chest. The horses of the caisson having run off, Lieutenant Leftwich came to ask me for ammunition, which I being unable to furnish him, he proceeded to the Lewis house, where he rejoined and reported to Captain Latham.

Lieutenant Leftwich had not fired more than six or eight times from his first position on the Sudley road when the enemy advanced toward our right (as our regiment then fronted), and came within range of my gun. I immediately opened fire upon him, which I kept up until I found the enemy advancing along the Sudley road toward my position. I then moved my gun into the turnpike immediately at the mouth of the lane leading to Robinson’s house, and fired upon the enemy with canister, and with good effect, until he had come up within one hundred and fifty yards of my gun. Having expended my ammunition, I reported my command to Captain Latham, then posted on Lewis’ farm, about four hundred yards east of the house.

The Lewis house mentioned by Davidson is I believe the F. Lewis House, Portici; Latham was positioned northeast of the house, between it and Bull Run.  Click on the NPS map image above for a larger version, click that again for an even larger one.  You’ll find both Lewis houses.  I hope that helps you out, Steve.  I’ll be posting some Confederate reports, including Davidson’s, this weekend, and should be getting to Burnside’s Brigade within another week or so.

Animated Maps

3 01 2008

The other day I stumbled on this site, which features animated maps of various Civil War battles, including First Bull Run.  I could quibble with some of the details, but as a general overview I think it’s pretty good.  Check it out.

Time-Life Books First Manassas

27 07 2007



Recently, Brian Downey featured the Antietam entry in the Time-Life Books Voices of the Civil War series over at Behind Antietam on the Web.  There are a total of 18 books in this series (I think), and I have all but the one on the Shenandoah Valley in 1864.  Of course there is one on First Bull Run.

I echo Brian’s sentiments with regard to the quality of the Antietam volume, and the same can be said about First Manassas.  This volume benefits from the text contributions of the late Brian Pohanka, David Thomson and friend Dana Shoaf of America’s Civil War magazine.

This book does suffer from what is in my mind a common distraction in most studies of the campaign, and that is the perceived need (right or wrong) to cover everything that occurred prior to the campaign itself.  Unlike other volumes in the series which usually lead into the featured battle by filling in the blanks since the previous major engagement, the first 73 pages of the 160 page First Manassas summarizes everything back to the outbreak of the rebellion.  This includes the fighting in western Virginia.  All things considered, that’s a minor complaint and I can understand the reasoning behind the decision.  The battle, even the campaign, shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum.

The book is packed with extracts from diaries, letters and memoirs, and has some nice maps.  But the photos and illustrations are what set it apart.  I wish I was as good at scanning and editing images as are some of my fellow bloggers.  I have downloaded PhotoShop Elements and hope to have some time later on in September to learn how to use it.

A note on maps: it’s difficult to believe that good maps of an area so close to the nation’s capital were hard to come by, but I’ve run across a few that show such glaring errors as the Warrenton Turnpike heading straight into Manassas Junction.  Here’s one from the August 3, 1861 edition of Harper’s Weekly (click on the image for a full view):