Money ponied up for Park Service

Late last week, I received my issue of The Gettysburg Quarterly issued by the NPS.  Most are aware of the budget squeezes that the NPS and Gettysburg in particular have suffered in recent years.  The front page headline of the newsletter, however, immediately caught my eye and interest:

President’s NPS Budge Proposes Record Increases for Park Operations and Centennial Initiative

Here’s some snippets from the article:

The President’s $2.4 billion National Park Service budget request for Fiscal Year 2008 calls for the largest increase in park operations funding ever proposed and leveraged public-private investments that could generate as much as $3 billion to help the parks prepare for their 100th birthday in 2016.  The proposed budget includes 3,000 new seasonal employees, continues increases for park maintenance, and targets specific cultural and natural resource improvements.

“All of this is possible because the President recommends a $230 million increase in park operations funding over his Fiscal Year 2007 budget request,” said Mary A. Bomar, Director of the National Park Service.  “That is the larget increase ever for park operations and programs that directly benefits national parks.”…

More good news is that the FY2008 budget includes $57.5 million to fully fund employee pay and benefits…

Gettysburg funds in the proposed FY2008 budget include $968,000 in additional operating funds, including half a million dollars annually to increase interpretive programs provided by park rangers… The budget request also includes funding to hire seasonal maintenance employees and funding for the coordination of park volunteer programs.

Gettysburg, as well as all other parks, has been stripped of the needed operating funds lately, forcing them to cut back drastically on maintenance and interpretational programs.  Thankfully, Gettysburg has local foundations that have been able to fund the purchases of historic sites and land, something that the GNMP hasn’t had the funds to do.  These new budget requests, if passed and approved, will give our parks the breathing room necessary to continue their programs, maintenance, and employee pay and benefits.

We constantly hear our senators and representatives tout the necessity of maintaining our parks and their value to our culture – so now would be a good time to contact your legislators and tell them to put our money where their mouth is.

Published in: on March 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Hunterstown – Silly Theories Part 1

In a previous post, I hinted that I would be posting here about some really loonie theories that have been cropping up lately, and most seem to be about Gettysburg and related actions.  In addition (and perhaps apropos to this blog) many of them seem to involve the cavalry actions.  Cavalry actions in the Gettysburg Campaign have come to be the favorite whipping-boy of much of the silly revisionist clap-trap lately. Later I’ll be posting about some of the wacko theories popping up about the July 3, 1863 action at East Cavalry Field.  For now, though, I want to talk about the cavalry fight at Hunterstown (July 2) which has been the subject of much preservation activities lately as well.

Hunterstown is a small, very old town that lies about 4 miles northeast of Gettysburg, and lay just off the left flank of the Army of Northern Virginia during the battle.  It’s an important crossroads to that area.  Jeb Stuart and three of his cavalry brigades passed through and out the town on the afternoon of July 2 after their circuitous ride to Pennsylvania (need I tell you about a book about that ride?) Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton’s brigade was the last to pass through the town on their way to Lee’s army.  Shortly after passing through, the Federal Cavalry division of Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick approached from the Hanover area, tasked to watch the right flank of the Union army and scout the country.  Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer and his brigade of Kilpatrick’s division were in the van, and Kilpatrick’s advance guard ran into some of Hampton’s rear guard just outside town. 

A running skirmish ensued, which rolled through the town and on to the road to Gettysburg. Custer and his regiments pulled up onto the Felty farm ridge, an eminence about a mile away from a mirroring ridge where Hampton had set his position.  Due to the lay of the land, neither could see each other very well.  The road below led straight to each other’s respective ridge.  Seeing the defiant rear guard of Hampton in the road ahead, Custer decided to charge them with a company of Michigan cavalry.  They collided close to Hampton’s position at a bend in the road, and Custer’s horse went down in a heap, pinning the Boy General.  Quickly surrounded and fighting for his life, he was fortunately scooped up by a comrade and taken back to Kilpatrick’s line to safety. 

Custer was lucky to get out with his life, and the charge marked the first time that Custer led a mounted charge as a brigadier.  His reckless bravery and impetuousness foreshadowed the rest of his Civil War career, and a particular sultry day a little more than a decade later near the Little Big Horn in Montana.

A detachment of Hampton’s troopers followed Custer up the road to his lines and likewise found themselves in a twist as they were fired into from front and flank.  Casualties on both sides were light, compared to the numbers present, but heavier when considering that only about 400 troopers total were involved. So, there was a charge and then a countercharge, with both sides’ artillery beginning a desultory cannon contest that lasted about to dark when both sides withdrew. That, in a nutshell, is the very interesting fight at Hunterstown. 

Eric Wittenberg and I have the most updated and detailed scholarship on the fight in Chapter 8 of our book on Stuart’s ride.  Hunterstown is the subject of an enormous amount of preservation effort activity lately, with some very dedicated local folks doing commendable duty in trying to save the battlefield from recent threats of development.  You can read much about it on the Hunterstown 1863 website. One of the most active and involved is Gettysburg National Military Park ranger and historian Troy Harman.  Quite a cavalry expert in his own right, Troy has been putting in a lot of time and effort with local groups, developers, and legislators in trying to save the battlefield from being plowed under to put up some 2000 McMansions. 

I respect his efforts more than I can put in to words, since Hunterstown has been a favorite of mine for some 30 years, and until recently was an untouched and unthreatened battlefield that has changed little since 1863 – but it’s also been unprotected by governments and preservation groups that have had their attentions diverted elsewhere lately, until a large developer came in to the picture. Many may be aware of Troy’s book Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg, which touts Troy’s popular theory that on July 2 and 3, Lee’s real objective was Cemetery Hill proper.  In other words, what is known today as the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge was not aimed at Cemetery Ridge or even the Copse of Trees, but instead directly at the Evergreen Cemetery.  Troy’s theory is more detailed than this cursory explanation, but that’s the gist of it. Very few serious Gettysburg scholars take Troy’s theory as far as he does, and feel that Troy’s “evidence” is much too conjectural, often taken out of context, and simply isn’t backed by primary source. 

Troy, in fact, has been the genesis of many such theories regarding Gettysburg – most of which have drawn very interesting arguments among students and scholars of the battle. Here is a snippet of Troy’s theory regarding Custer’s role at Hunterstown on July 2, quoted directly from the Hunterstown 1863 website, and can found in its entirety here:

Lines of battle were established a mile apart with Custer’s men establishing their artillery at Felty-Tate Ridge on the northern end, to oppose Hampton’s rebel guns atop Brinkerhoff’s Ridge directly south. In the valley between, a fierce hand-to-hand fight would ensue across the J.G. Gilbert and J. Felty Farms, intact to the present day. It began with Custer ordering elements of the 6th and 7th Michigan cavalry to dismount and move south on foot beyond and below the ridge, along both sides of the Hunterstown Road. Concealed by fields carpeted with ripe golden wheat, the Michigan troopers waded inconspicuously forward to the Felty Farm where some of their best marksmen found excellent cover and elevated fields of fire within the enormous Pennsylvania bank barn west of the road. Felty’s barn was even large enough to conceal Lieutenant A.C.M. Pennington’s 2nd U.S. Battery M, 250 yards to the north along the Felty-Tate ridge. Meanwhile, to complete the deployment, dismounted men of the 7th Michigan formed undetected in the tall wheat east of the Hunterstown Road, to form a cross fire with the 6th Michigan. Custer had arranged the perfect trap, but how to lure Confederate cavalrymen into it required another step. To achieve this and complete the perfect ambush, he would personally lead around sixty mounted men of Company A, 6th Michigan on a daring charge toward the Confederate position. Because the Hunterstown Road was tightly flanked on both sides with post and rail fences, it was impossible for more than one company to move at a gallop. Recognizing this, Custer would use Company A as a small shock force to establish contact with southern troopers. After hitting them hard to get their ire up, he retreated intentionally drawing them back north to the prepared ambush waiting east and west of the Hunterstown Road at Felty’s barn. Custer, a new brigadier nearly lost his life in the initial charge in front of the Gilbert farm, where Confederates resisted. If it had not been for Norville Churchill’s timely rescue of Custer, whisking him out of harm’s way and onto his horse, later Indian Wars on Western Plains may have taken on a different complexion.

Note the phrase above describing Custer’s “trap” that I’ve highlighted above.  In referring to the fight at Hunterstown, Harman often describes it as “Custer’s Trap.”  Troy’s theory is that Custer deployed his brigade (with the artillery and a portion of Brig. Gen. Elon Farnsworth’s brigade) along the Felty Ridge, in position to surround and assault Confederates that he would lure to them by making the mounted assault with the 6th Michigan’s Company A.  As if Custer, in a split second, had set up and deployed a grand scheme to lure as many southerners into a trap that he would spring upon his return.

Troy’s evidence for this?  Well, there ain’t none, to put it bluntly.  In fact, every shred of primary source and evidence makes it very obvious that Custer simply, and with trademark impetuousness, charged with a single company into Hampton’s position (in fact into an unintended “trap” of Hampton’s making) and barely got out with his skin.  Many of his fellow troopers were killed, wounded, and captured.  He then barely got back to his own position – and only by Churchill’s bravery and determination – where Hampton’s pursuers were in turn hit hard by the Michiganders.  No intended trap, no grand scheme, just a classic meeting engagement between two units of cavalry in which each got hammered by the other by a series of charge and countercharge.

Why, then, is it necessary to put forth all this “trap” nonsense?  Perhaps it’s to place more importance upon the fight at Hunterstown, with a view toward the preservation activities.  In my opinion, Hunterstown is important enough in and of itself, without ascribing some fabricated grand scheming to it.  And if the preservation threats pass one day, we’re then left with the danger given to the historical record with all this “trap” nonsense.  Folks will start believing it, and it will be impossible to re-introduce the truth.  I dare say that if any of the troopers of either side could come back and listen to this “trap” idea, as if it were some military tactic specifically employed by anyone on that field, they’d be looking at us crosseyed.

I respect Troy, his research, his dedication, and his efforts considerably.  But let’s stop the silliness about Hunterstown.  The battlefield is worthy of saving, and the fight worthy of study, for the historiography and lessons that it teaches.  We don’t need to fabricate theories about it in order to either save it or understand it, and we don’t need the potentially irreparable damage that the historical record will suffer by such silliness.

Troy will also likely be instrumental in developing the wording of any planned wayside markers or plaques that might be installed on the battlefield.  I’ve had nightmares that Troy is going to have at least one with a huge heading saying “CUSTER’S TRAP.”  Makes me shiver every time I think about it.

Hunterstown was not a trap.  It is classic cavalry, classic meeting engagement, and classic Hampton and Kilpatrick.   And classic needs no inflation of the historical record.

Published in: on March 27, 2007 at 4:53 pm  Comments (13)  

Westminster event – Great Hosts, Great Friends, Great Time

On Friday, I left for Gettysburg about 1:00pm, since Eric Wittenberg and I were staying overnight at the home of a friend (Dr. Dave Moore) on Herr’s Ridge.  I arrived in town about 4:30, and decided to stop in the Farnsworth House bookstore before taking a trip around the battlefield.  They’ve really been selling copies of our book and had only a few copies left.  It had been raining for a couple days, and Saturday’s forecast was no better – when I reached Little Round Top I literally had the place to myself.  Not another soul was up there.  The view was beautiful with a heavy fog blanketing everything you could see, in spite of the drizzle.  Rarely does one have such a view completely to themselves, and I always treasure it.  I gave my respects to Gen. GK Warren, enjoyed the new view of the Plum Run area below due to the ongoing tree clearings, and then headed for the High Water Mark.

Again, there were very few people on the field.  The Visitor’s Center was just closing, so I decided to run back out to the First Day’s field and drive Reynolds and Buford Avenues, and a few others places.  After a 6-hour drive from Columbus, Eric arrived shortly after and I took him to the Mayflower Chinese restaurant for dinner (which was excellent) and then we went to the Reliance Mine Saloon for some well-deserved beers.

It was great to see our favorite bartender Bobbie again (after a bout with cancer she’s recovering well) and after a while William Frassanito and John Archer arrived.  We all sat at the bar and yakked for a couple hours.  Bill was regaling us with stories about his picture research and latest project, and John and I got into a long discussion about “new” (read that ridiculous) interpretations about Gettysburg that some left-field loonies have been coming up with lately (I’ll blog more about this topic soon).   Since Eric and I had to be up about 6:00 am to drive to Westminster, we headed out about 11:00 pm.

Dave is a local physician and had Saturday off, so he decided to join us on Saturday.  We left the house about 7:30 Saturday morning and went to the Avenue restaurant for breakfast.  Old friend artist Dale Gallon came in, and informed us that he had just finished his latest painting – it was commissioned to commemorate a very interesting small fight in Iraq – check his website for updates on that.

We needed to be in Westminster by 9:00 am since our presentation as keynote speakers began at 9:30.  We missed our turn off the bypass, and arrived just a little late but in plenty of time.  The event was jointly hosted by the Carroll County Historical Society and the Carroll County Community College.  The college is a beautiful, newer facility.  After being interviewed by the Carroll County Times, Eric and I were taken to the downstairs auditorium for our talk.  We were informed by coordinator Cathy Baty that this, the 10th year of the event, seemed their largest and best-attended – I believe there were a couple hundred folks in the auditorium alone.  Eric and I each spoke for about a half hour concerning our book generally, and Corbit’s Charge in Westminster on June 29, 1863 specifically. 

We then went back upstairs to the foyer for our book signing, and it went very well.  Over the next couple hours we signed and sold about 34 books.  Several more who had previously purchased the book brought it for us to sign.  As always, it was wonderful talking with the folks about Stuart’s ride.  That’s what I enjoy the most about all this – having conversations with people and also hearing how much they’ve enjoyed the book or anticipate reading it.

After lunch and some more signings, we headed back for Gettysburg for one more trip around the battlefield before heading for home.  It was still chilly and rainy, so we weren’t able to get out and walk (everything, and I mean everything, was absolutely soggy) but we went around the main field and also checked out the new tree-cuttings on Culp’s Hill.  For a Saturday, there were again very few people on the field.  When we got back to Dave’s around 2:00 pm we said our goodbyes.  I made one stop at the Visitor Center bookstore (they’d sold out of our book again) then headed down the road for home.

Our interview with the Carroll County Times is online today – click here to see it.  The event was a terrific time, and the Carroll County Historical Society has every reason to be proud of the day.  We were very honored to be taken care of so well, and I for one look forward to going back.

This June 23-24 Westminster is commemorating Corbit’s Charge with a weekend event of speakers, reenactors, book signings and living history, so if anyone can make it please do.  Eric and I are planning to attend that event, and I look forward to seeing everyone from the Historical Society again.  Cathy Baty and crew, thank you for such a fine event that was planned and executed so well!

Published in: on March 25, 2007 at 9:57 am  Comments (4)  

Off to Westminster

Tommorrow (Friday) I’ll be off to the conference in Westminster MD – Maryland and the Civil War: A Regional Perspective – hosted by the Carroll County Historical Society and Carroll Community College.  Well, actually I’ll be driving to Gettysburg first, where I’ll meet up with my partner in crime, Eric Wittenberg, and where we’ll be staying at the home of a good friend just outside town.  The conference is on Saturday, and Eric and I will be the keynote speakers beginning at 9:30 am.  During the general session, we’ll be discussing our book on Jeb Stuart’s Ride in general, and the battle at Westminster specifically.  I’m going to be discussing how and why we wrote the book, what we hoped to accomplish with it, and Eric will be discussing the Westminster fight in detail.

The conference, their 10th annual, promises to have very interesting content, and we’re looking forward to an educational time.  Eric and I will have copies of our book for personalized sale.  If any of my readers can make it, we’d look forward to seeing/meeting you.

Check out the conference website for the itinerary and more details.  I will post a wrap-up when I return on Sunday.

Published in: on March 22, 2007 at 4:17 pm  Comments (1)  

“Rocky” punches out with dignity

Having missed it in theaters, last night I was able to view the final installment in the “Rocky” saga – Rocky Balboa.  I was really looking forward to the release of this one – I’d heard both good and bad things about it, but I couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

The original Rocky came out in 1976 – my Dad and I went to see it together, and it was the first movie we went to as father and son.  I was 11 years old at the time, and it’s really the first movie I can recall watching and appreciating – so it’s always been very special to me.  I grew up in a very Italian family and household – very ethnically based – so there was that connection with the Balboa character as well.  For those of you who remember the time, especially if you were a teen or pre-teen, every young Italian kid wanted to be the Italian Stallion. 

Since then, I’ve bought both the video and DVD of Rocky, and have watched it countless times.  Most know the story – Stallone did most of the movie himself, low budget, shot the whole thing in less than a month, very earthy and raw.  After its release, if you didn’t at some point run up the steps of the library in Philly and dance around on the top with your arms in the air, well, you didn’t go the distance.  Balboa became a Philadelphia icon, a make-believe character made real.  He was the hero of every little kid who saw the future as too intimidating, or who was told that he couldn’t accomplish this or that.  For a kid my age in 1976, Rocky came at just the right time to be an indelible part of my childhood.

I also enjoyed Rocky II when it was released a few years later – but as with just about every other series of sequels, the characters, plots, and atmosphere of the Rocky saga became ridiculous.  I’ve only seen the others once, and haven’t watched them again.  For me, the Rocky story was the first and second movie, and the rest could go in the trash bin.

So when I’d heard of this final Rocky movie last year, I hoped that Stallone would be able to return to the atmosphere and magic of the original movie.  I knew that there was going to be “one more fight” in the old geezer, and I only hoped that the premise of the final bout wouldn’t bring the movie down.  Last night I started the movie with anticipation, a lot of high hopes, and a dose of that dread that Stallone would somehow find a way to screw up this final installment.  I had deliberately avoided any reviews of the movie since its December release, so I really knew very little of the story until last night.

Without giving away too many details of the movie, I was pleasantly surprised.  Stallone, in my opinion, did indeed find that magic of the original Rocky.  Instead of the glitzy sets that crept into the second movie, and dominated the rest of them, Stallone found the dark, earthy streets of inner city Philly.  If the cameras could have returned 30 years after the first movie to pick up where they left off, they would have captured this movie.  The background movie was classic first movie, and I often felt as though I was watching that original flick instead.  Stallone’s performance as the aging Balboa reminded me very much of his movie Cop Land (1997), another extremely underrated movie and performance that is likewise one of my favorites.  Stallone’s 50-something Rocky showed that he knew who, what and where the character would be.  There’s no pretense, no fabricated “wisdom” of the passing of years.  When old Rocky dispenses advice during the movie, it’s believable.

The final fight and ending were just right – and the proper way for Rocky to gallop (or limp slightly, as the case may be) off into the sunset.  On the DVD, you can watch an “alternate ending,” but in my opinion Stallone chose the right one for the theatrical release.

At the end of the movie, I felt myself saying goodbye to one of my childhood icons.  I’m one of those who sees Rocky Balboa as a real character in many ways – the underdog bozo who’s the brunt of everyone’s jokes; the whipping boy of everyone in the room who thinks they’re smarter and better than he.  Rocky was clever-dumb; he always knew when he was being made fun of, when others looked down on him.  But he’d just give that crooked smile of his, laugh it off, and let his fists do the talking in the ring.

If you loved the first movie, and haven’t seen this final one, do so.  In my opinion, the first (plus maybe the second) and the last movie are all you need to see.  The story will be complete even without the others.

Goodnight, Rocky.  Thanks for giving this Italian kid a little hope along the way.  You taught me how to take a punch or two once in a while, and what a terrible breakfast a glass of six raw eggs truly is (yes I and thousands of others tried it!).  You went out with dignity, and you peaked like you wanted.

It was a long climb.  I think you, and I, were both taught the climb down is just as long as the climb up.  And the former is not necessarily any easier than the latter.

Published in: on March 21, 2007 at 11:34 am  Comments (2)  

New book – “The Maps of Gettysburg”

Yesterday, I was notified by my publisher of a new book arriving soon.  “The Maps of Gettysburg” is by Bradley Gottfried, and published by Savas-Beattie LLC.  Ted Savas gave both me and Eric Wittenberg the opportunity to review sections of the book and the maps – especially those of the cavalry actions.  Eric and I were able to assist with the text regarding the cavalry actions, and to tweak the cavalry maps so that they’re very accurate. 

There’s an interesting history behind this new work.  Brad had contracted with two cartographers throughout work on the book, but found in the end that it was more feasible to do the maps on his own.  He was able to learn the software very well, and produced each of the 140 maps himself.  They look fantastic.  The book is set up to be easily used and understood – each left-hand page contains text that describes the action of an original map on the facing page.  You don’t have to flip through the book to find a map or follow the action – everything is right in front of you.

Eric and I were both honored to be asked to place our imprimaturs onto the cover jacket of the book.  In effect, I say (and confirm) that this book is the NEW field guide for Gettysburg, and both novices and afficianados (as well as the more expert) will love this book.  Finally – finally – we have all the Gettysburg maps under one cover. 

For all the graphics in this book, it’ll be very reasonably priced – just around $35 and it’s hardcover, large size – 7″x10″.  This book could well have cost twice that. 

Click here to see Savas-Beatie LLC’s page on the book, and reserve your copy today.  I see great things happening for this book, and it will be a must-have for the Gettysburg bookshelf, plus one you’ll never visit the battlefield without having handy.

Great work, Brad, and I really look forward to holding this one in my hands when complete.

Published in: on March 16, 2007 at 2:41 pm  Comments (1)  

Article on the Battle of Fairfield

The July issue of America’s Civil War magazine will feature my new article – which is about the cavalry battle at Fairfield, PA, on July 3, 1863.  It took place at about the time of Pickett’s Charge.  Fairfield is about 8 miles southwest of Gettysburg, and was behind Lee’s Confederate lines.  About 400 6th US Cavalry troopers under Maj. Samuel “Paddy” Starr fought against several regiments of Brig. Gen. William E. “Grumble” Jones’ Laurel Brigade, and the Federals were nearly decimated.  Over 250 of the Federal troopers were killed, wounded, or captured.

The fight was just a sideshow to the big show at Gettysburg, but an interesting scrap nonetheless – and two of the Federal troopers were eventually awarded the Medal of Honor for their heroism that day.

In chatting with the magazine’s illustration editor today, Lori Flemming, I learned that the issue is going to include photographs of some very neat items connected with the battle – I can’t reveal them, so you’ll just have to see for yourself!  The July issue should be available to subscribers and on newsstands about the middle of May, so please watch for it.

Published in: on March 13, 2007 at 6:51 pm  Comments (3)  

Welcome new blogger Scott Mingus

My good friend Scott Mingus has just started his own blog.  Called the Charge! Newsletter Blog, I assume Scott will be featuring his wargaming talents and the books he has written.  Scott recently released a terrific book on Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign, and is soon releasing a similar volume on Antietam vignettes.

Scott has also written a fantastic scholarly account of Early’s Confederate Division’s advance into Pennsylvania prior to Gettysburg, called Flames Beyond Gettysburg, which will be another volume in Ironclad Publishing‘s Discovering Civil War America Series.  Some of you may know that I am an owner of Ironclad, and we are very excited to release this volume shortly.  We intend to have this one available by the July battle anniversary.

Check out Scott’s blog – and I’ve added it to the links section here.  Congratulations, Scott!

Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 11:14 pm  Comments (2)  

“Have you read all these?!?”

That’s usually the question posed to me by someone who visits our home and sees the shelves of books in my library for the first time. 

I don’t have an actual count of the number of books on my shelves – but it approaches somewhere near 3,000.  One wall, measuring about 14 ft x 8 ft high, has built-in shelves from floor to ceiling. There are 8 shelves on it, completely filled.  There are also 2 sets of bookshelves that set the room off from a front room, also completely filled.  One more sits beside my computer desk, also filled. 

That’s not all, and it usually garners an even wider-eyed reaction from visitors when I open the double folding doors along the back wall and reveal a closet (about 6 ft deep and 20 ft wide) also filled with bookshelves.  Most of my original books and reprints are shelved out in the library, and in the closet are binders full of copied books, plus all the copies of manuscripts, letters, etc – all the errata that makes up a researcher’s “stuff.”

When the above question is posed, I usually give a pat “yep.”  But honestly, there’s more to the answer.  I should actually admit that I’ve read perhaps half of the books cover to cover – many of them I’ve purchased for research only.  The latter books, though, I have skimmed through, or did a “speed-reading” in order to look for potentially useful material.  When someone pulls one of the books off a shelf, they’ll invariably see a whole bunch of those yellow Post-It notes sticking out of it, with notations written on them.  Years ago, I found this practice necessary in order to be able to find something later.  I got tired of the old “I know I read that somewhere” feeling – at least with the notes, I cut down the time of a search considerably.

The past few weeks, I’ve been making a considerable effort to organize the many boxes and files of loose papers and internet-printed books I’ve been accumulating.  I’m gearing back up for what I call my “writing season” – starting now and going through about October.  Probably many other writers here in the wicked-winter northeast take advantage of the cold months to write, but I’m just the opposite.  There’s usually so much going on around here during the holidays that I may only write an article over the 4 or 5 months, or devote the time to research and reading.  I work, then, just as hard at it, but I find it difficult to write much over the winter.

I thought about bringing this topic up tonite because of a post on a Civil War chat board I’m a member of (Eric Wittenberg’s Civil War Discussion Group or CWDG) that was posed recently.  One of the members asked what other folks planned to do with all their books someday, how many they’ve read, and how authors find time to simply read for pleasure.  Plus, recent visitors to our home have thrown that headline question at me recently while looking at my shelves, so I guess I have books on the mind tonite.

As to what to do with all this “stuff” once I shake off this mortal coil, I found that an interesting question.  One thought is to donate much of it, especially my Cavalry-Gettysburg Campaign material, to the Gettysburg NMP.  The new visitor center and research facility promised to be a real wizz-bang, and perhaps someone can benefit from all this stuff one day.  Being intimately familiar with what is currently at the Park’s library, especially concerning the cavalry, all this crap would definitely deepen their resources.  So that’s one thought.  But if one day I had a familiar member or close younger friend who showed as much interest in all this as me, leaving it to them might also be an option.  I have seen in several cases where historians have left their resources to various libraries and repositories for the use of other students, and I’ve always admired that.

Ooops… gotta run.  Looks like the Girl Scouts are at the door to deliver the cookies we ordered.  Hhmm, maybe they’d like to see the library before they go…

Published in: on March 7, 2007 at 9:33 pm  Comments (17)  

Another book on Stuart’s ride

Following some thought after some good advice from a friend (thank you, Michael), I decided to delete the last couple post here, made concerning the new book at left.  Called “Jeb Stuart and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg,” it’s by Warren C. Robinson, an economics professor at Penn State University. 

After getting a copy and reading it, as I posted previously here, I can’t recommend it for various reasons.  However, as pointed out to me, this particular book can be seen as “competition” for my book on the subject, and I don’t want folks to think that my negative comments about it are simply a reflection of that.  I have my specifics reasons for not recommending this book, based on its content and source material, but it’s fair to let folks decide for themselves.

If anyone would like to discuss it, I’d be happy to.

Published in: on March 1, 2007 at 12:13 pm  Comments (4)