The new blog

I have just set up the new “Hoofbeats and Cold Steel” blog on Google Blogger (BlogSpot).  The new link is here (  Please update your links and URLs.  I’ll keep this old blog up for a while as I import it into the new blog, then I’ll delete it.

WordPress’ software has been rather screwed up lately, and it became very difficult to use.  Blogger’s software is much better, easier to work with, and I’m happy with the new host.  See you over there!

Published in: on December 18, 2008 at 12:20 pm  Comments (2)  

White’s Ford Regional Park

I just received a note from Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority and who maintains a blog called Regional Parks.  The Authority is in the process of purchasing 275 acres of land owned by Confederate Lt. Col. Elijah Viers “Lige” White where White’s Ford stands.  The land is slated to be known as White’s Ford Regional Park.

Prior to the Civil War, White purchased a large farm there (he was originally from Poolesville MD across the Potomac).  A ford on the property became known as White’s Ford, and was used constantly by both Confederates and Federals throughout the war.  Following the war, White operated a ferry there called the “Jubal Early” – a ferry that is still in operation today.

I have always loved the nearby Leesburg VA area – I’ve been there many times, most recently this past summer when I spoke to the Leesburg Civil War Roundtable.  Whenever I make a visit, in addition to exploring the history of the area and surrounding Loudoun County, I never fail to make a stop at White’s gravesite in Union Cemetery and also at the ford to watch a ferry trip or two.

Elijah White, his 35th Battalion Virginia Cavalry, and cavalrymen and “guerillas” of the Loudoun County area have been a special interest of mine for many years.  I’m ecstatic that the Authority is able to purchase this land and save it for future generations – it is still pristine and can now remain so.

See Paul’s blog post here, including a beautiful photograph of the area.

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 12:32 pm  Comments (15)  

“America’s Civil War Magazine” March 2009 article

In the March 2009 issue of America’s Civil War magazine will be an article based on the Gettysburg Battlefield Rock Carvings section of the new book by me and Steve Stanley, The Complete Gettysburg GuideOur new book features about two dozen of all the known rock carvings on the battlefield.  Many folks are familiar with the most famous of these carvings, such as the inscription on a boulder atop Little Round Top indicating the rock on which Col. Strong Vincent stood when mortally wounded.  However, there are many other carvings (some done by veterans of the battle) not as well known, including some that were made nearly 20 years before the battle.   The magazine had chosen about a dozen of the carvings featured in our book.  Maps by Steve Stanley accompany the article, and will assist the reader to find the carvings.  Just like in the book, GPS coordinates for each carving are also included.

Please watch for the article – it will give you a sneak preview of that section of the new book.

Published in: on December 5, 2008 at 4:38 pm  Comments (4)  

“One Continuous Fight” 2nd Edition shipping now

I’ve just been notified by our publisher that the second edition of One Contnuous Fight: The Retreat From Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 is now shipping from the printer – a week earlier than expected.  We know that many folks have ordered it from publisher Savas Beatie, Amazon and other sellers – well over half the second edition is sold already – and are waiting patiently for its arrival.

You won’t have much longer to wait, and we very much appreciate your patience!

Yesterday, I received my copy of the Civil War News, and there is a terrific review of the book in there.  Eric, Mike and I very much appreciate it and all the kind words it has garnered.

Published in: on September 30, 2008 at 3:21 pm  Comments (1)  

“One Continuous Fight” to the bookclubs and a second edition

As our publisher Ted Savas posted today, One Continuous Fight: The Retreat From Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 by Eric Wittenberg, Mike Nugent and myself has just gone into a second edition.  60% of the second print run, as Ted reports, has already been sold through current in-house, Amazon, and other distribution orders.  We’ve been very humbled and appreciative of the success and reception of this book.

Both the History Book Club and Military Book Club have chosen it as an alternate selection.  A few days ago buddy Steve Basic sent me a copy of the club’s newsletters, and there was a great two-page spread on the book in it.   It is quite prestigious indeed to be selected by them and we’re very grateful for it.

Thanks to everyone again for all the kind words about the book and for the positive reception it has been getting.  I have heard from many folks who have taken advantage of the driving tours in the back of the book, and their enjoyment of them has truly been the most rewarding of all.

Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 4:28 pm  Comments (2)  

“Armchair General” interviews Ted Savas

Click here to read a 10-question interview of SavasBeatie LLC chief Ted Savas, in which Ted discusses his publishing scope and the company’s future directions.  One of the great honors in my life is to be a SavasBeatie author, and I commend this interview to you.  Check it out.

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 11:27 am  Comments (1)  

Hanover reenactment Introduction

Since several folks have asked me for a copy of the text of the Introduction that I gave at the reenactment of the Battle of Hanover on July 3, I’ve reproduced it below.  I had written it out in long hand earlier in the week, and when I got home I typed it out.  Here ’tis.  Should I need to use it again, I’ll likely make some edits to it, but I think it gave the spectators a good overview of why Jeb Stuart’s and Judson Kilpatrick’s troopers met at Hanover on the morning of June 30, 1863, and how the battle began.  It goes into a teaser of the first scenario that was reenacted, and then I narrated the scenarios ad-lib.

Good evening, everyone. Or should I say – good morning.

Welcome to the morning of June 30, 1863.

For the next hour or so, we hope to take you back in time – 145 years ago when the very ground we are standing upon reverberated with the sounds of Civil War cavalry – thundering hoof beats, gunshots, slashing sabers, and the thunder of horse artillery.

On that warm summer day – June 30, 1863 – the very day before the three days of bloodletting at nearby Gettysburg would begin, the town of Hanover, Pennsylvania stood squarely in the middle of the planned lines of march of two opposing forces: 

  • The Federal 3rd Cavalry Division commanded by Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick
  • And three brigades of Confederate cavalry commanded by Major General James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart

Upon nearby fields and throughout the town of Hanover itself, famous commanders showed their mettle and tested the fortitude of their men – men such as:

  • Gen. Jeb Stuart, one of the most famous men in America in 1863
  • Gen. Fitz Lee, a nephew of Robert E. Lee 
  • Col. John Chambliss
  • Gen. Wade Hampton
  • Gen. Judson Kilpatrick
  • Gen. Elon Farnsworth, who would meet his final fate at Gettysburg on July 3
  • And Gen. George Armstrong Custer

To put the Battle of Hanover in perspective, and how and why these two forces clashed here, let’s take just a moment to talk about the context of how this day-long battle erupted – one that was the longest, largest, and bloodiest fight north of the Mason-Dixon Line other than Gettysburg itself.

During the third week of June, Jeb Stuart proposed to Robert E. Lee that Stuart be allowed to take his three best brigades of cavalry, and six pieces of crack horse artillery, and parallel the Confederate army’s advance north through Maryland and into Pennsylvania.

Lee approved the plan, and ordered Stuart to maintain contact with the right flank of his army, do all the damage possible to the Federals, and link up with one of the Southern corps somewhere near the State capital at Harrisburg.

On June 25, Stuart started his ride north out of Virginia, getting into two large skirmishes at Fairfax Court House, Virginia, and Westminster, Maryland, and captured 125 Federal wagons at Rockville before camping his brigades on the night of June 29 on the road stretching from Westminster to Union Mills, Maryland.

During that night, some of Stuart’s scouts brought word that a large Federal cavalry force was camped at Littlestown – the cavalry division of Judson Kilpatrick, 3500 troopers in all. Stuart led over 5000 troopers among his brigades.

Kilpatrick was young – 27 years old – and was only recently promoted to brigadier general. His two brigade commanders were likewise young. Elon Farnsworth was 25 years old, and commanded the 1st Vermont, 5th New York, 1st West Virginia, and 18th Pennsylvania cavalry regiments.

George Custer was only 23 years old, and commanded the “Wolverine Brigade” of Michigan cavalry, the 1st, 5th, 6th and 7th Michigan regiments.

To avoid Kilpatrick and continue his march north, Stuart enlisted the help of a teenage guide, Herbert Shriver of Union Mills, to show him the way to Hanover on the morning of June 30.

Unknown to Stuart, of course, was that Kilpatrick planned to also march to Hanover that same morning – and Kilpatrick was completely unaware of Stuart’s presence in the area.

About 6am on the morning of June 30, Custer passed through Hanover with two of his regiments – the 1st and 7th Michigan – and was in Abbottstown by about 8am.

By that time, the column of Farnsworth’s brigade, led by division leader Kilpatrick, had arrived in the town square in Hanover and were being fed by the local citizens. The regiment in the rear of the column, the green and inexperienced 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, was strung out in a long line south of Hanover in the hamlet called “Mudtown” – locals know this area today at “Pennville.”

One of the rear guard patrols of the 18th Pennsylvania Cavalry, ordered to protect the rear of the column and guard against any surprise ambush by the enemy, was commanded by Captain Thaddeus Freeland. Freeland followed Kilpatrick’s main column a couple of miles behind, and took several side roads on both sides of the main road, watching for any signs of the enemy.

Freeland led his patrol off the main route, and took an old road which today is called Lovers Drive. This road is currently a closed, private road, located on land owned by our hosts, Peter and Sharon Sheppard. Upon entering a road known today as Narrow Road, Freeland soon unexpectedly ran upon a patrol of the Confederate 13th Virginia Cavalry, and this little confrontation touched off, and was the very first shots of, the day-long Battle of Hanover.

One young member of the 13th Virginia Cavalry was killed in a field along the road known as Dresher’s Field – the very first casualty of the battle.

This is the first scenario that is going to be reenacted for us.

Published in: on July 10, 2008 at 1:34 pm  Comments (2)  

Hanover battle reenactment raises $7,500 for Adams County Land Conservancy!

The following article is from the Hanover Evening Sun of July 8.  The July 3 Battle of Hanover reenactment, which I narrated and helped coordinate, raised $7,500 for the Adams County Land Conservancy.  The article estimates that over 700 folks attended, a terrific crowd.

The link to the article is here.

Battle of Hanover re-enactment raised $7,500

Evening Sun Reporter

Article Launched: 07/08/2008 11:30:08 AM EDT


Organizers of one the biggest re-enactments of the 145-year-old Battle of Hanover ever held here said they were delighted with the outcome and said they are looking for more of its kind in the future.

Last Thursday’s “living history” battle at the Sheppard farm south of town featured 200 re-enactors, from all across the country and as far as England and Germany, who re-created Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart’s delay in getting much-needed help to Gen. Robert E. Lee in Gettysburg.

Some historians contend the Hanover battle, though critical to the Civil War’s outcome, is often overshadowed by the Battle of Gettysburg.

The re-enactment not only gave the estimated 700 people who attended an up-close journey through Hanover’s past, but netted about $7,500 in proceeds to benefit the Land Conservancy of Adams County.

“I hope everyone had a good time,” said Sharon Sheppard, who along with her husband Peter, donated their property and time to the event. “After it was over, everyone had a smile on their face.”

Sheppard and her husband’s own ancestors played a key role in the June 30, 1863, battle and she said she was particularly pleased at the historical accuracy of the re-enactment, which started Wednesday with an encampment at Union Mills, Md.

The four-part 50-minute re-enactment was narrated by noted Civil War author J. David Petruzzi of Brockway.

“I think having the battle scene narrated with the element of historical accuracy made it a far more enjoyable product,” Sheppard said.

She attributed the event’s success to teamwork involving re-enactors, including Charlie Doutt, of Roaring Spring, Pa., who played an instrumental role in bringing the event to fruition. She also thanked Union Mills officials, vendors and local municipal officials who cooperated with the logistics, such as dealing with the traffic to ensure safety.

Re-enactors on horseback Thursday morning made a 10-mile trek to the Sheppard farm on a route close to the original.

Sheppard said she was also very grateful to landowners who allowed them to travel through their properties as they made their way to Hanover.

Mark Clowney, vice president of the Land Conservancy said his organization was “very proud” to be involved and thanked the volunteers who made it possible.

“We are new to the Civil War re-enactment world, but find that both conservationists and re-enactors have similar goals,” he said in an e-mail.

“We can respect them for their love of history and portraying an important part in our country’s past and they can respect us for trying to protect the land on which history took place.”

Contact Patty Poist at

Published in: on July 9, 2008 at 11:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Six days in Gettysburg

This Friday, June 27 (after playing in a golf tournament in Ligonier Pa!) I’ll be heading to Gettysburg for six days of intense activity.  Beginning at 10am on Saturday, I’ll be signing books at the Butternut&Blue table at the Gettysburg Relic and Book Show at the All-Star Complex.  There will be several of us Savas-Beatie authors there. 

On Sunday, I will be meeting Capt. Charlie Doutt of the 2nd US/9th VA Cavalry reenactment organization to go over the Battles of Hanover and Hunterstown Reenactment.  We’ll meet at the Sheppard Farm along the Long Arm Reservoir near Hanover, the site of the event.  I am narrating the reenactment, and we’ll be laying out the scenarios to synchronize everything.  It’ll be great to meet Charlie, who runs a terrific organization of living historians.

Monday will be a “free” day for me.  However, it will be full of “work” on the battlefield – I have a lot of work to do to prepare for some upcoming books, and also working with Steve Stanley for several map projects.  I’m glad to have a full day that will allow me to get a lot done around the battlefield.

Tuesday, July 1 will be a day full of book signings.  As it’s the first day of the anniversary of the battle, there will likely be pretty good visitation in and around town.  I have two signings at the Farnsworth House Bookstore on Baltimore Avenue – the first from 12 noon to 2pm, the second from 6pm to 8pm.  From 3pm to 5pm, I’ll be signing at the American Civil War Museum and Gift Center on Steinwehr Avenue. 

Wednesday, July 2 is the day of activites at Hunterstown, about 4 miles northeast of Gettysburg.  Beginning at 11am at the Tate Farm (owned by Hunterstown Preservation Society officers Roger and Laurie Harding) there will be the dedication of the new monument commemorating the July 2, 1863 cavalry battle of Hunterstown between Judson Kilpatrick’s forces and those of Wade Hampton.  There will be various presentations, including one by yours truly of the episode of Custer staffer Norvell Churchill helping his golden-haired commander out of a tight fix during the fight.  I will have a signing of both my books on the porch of the historic Jacob Grass hotel during the afternoon, and with me will be one of my co-authors on the One Continuous Fight book, Mike Nugent.  There will also be a walking tour of the battle, a pig roast at the Tate Farm, and a whole lot of other great stuff.  If anyone will be around I encourage you to come along.

That evening, Mike and I will head to Union Mills, Maryland, to the historic Union Mills (Shriver) homestead.  There we will meet up with Capt. Charlie Doutt and the cavalry/artillery reenactors. 

On the morning of Thursday, July 3, Mike and I will be at the pancake breakfast at Union Mills with the reenactors.  After that, the column of approximately 200 mounted cavalry and artillery will march the several miles to the Sheppard Farm near Hanover.  There, a large encampment will be set up.  When the battle reenactments begin in the early evening, I will be narrating the action for the spectators.  We’ll begin with a brief synopsis of Jeb Stuart’s ride into Pennsylvania to place the events in context, and the reenactors will be recreating the initial skirmish (of the morning of June 30, 1863) at the Gitt Farm that began the Hanover Battle.  The Sheppard Farm is on the very same ground, so the event will truly resonate with history!  Both the battle of Hanover and Hunterstown will be reenacted. 

Sometime very late that night, I’ll be packing up for the three-and-a-half hour drive home.  I need to get back for the Fourth of July festivities here at home – our hometown has a large celebration of the Fourth, plus a lot of family is coming here for the day.  Hopefully I’ll get some sleep sometime!

Below are important links for many of the various events over those days, and I hope to see many of my friends… plus make lots of new ones!

Stuart’s Ride to Gettysburg Reenactment Home Page
Capt. Charlie Doutt’s Updates for Stuart’s Ride event
Spectator Tickets for the Stuart’s Ride/Hanover event
Union Mills Homestead and map
Hunterstown Preservation Society Home Page
Hunterstown Schedule of Events

Farnsworth House Inn and Bookstore
American Civil War Museum/Gift Center Events

Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
One Continuous Fight: The Retreat From Gettysburg and The Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863

Published in: on June 25, 2008 at 9:54 am  Comments (7)  

Hanover and Hunterstown events, July 2-3

This morning I had the great pleasure of speaking with Capt. Charlie Doutt of the 2nd US/9th Va Cavalry reenactor unit.  Charlie is in charge of the ride/reenactment/living history of the “Stuart’s Ride to Gettysburg” event taking place at Union Mills MD and near Hanover PA this July 2 and 3.  Please see the unit’s webpage on the event here.  (Be sure to see Captain Charlie’s updates page here.)

Charlie is putting together three terrific reenactment scenarios for the July 3 event – the initial encounter at Gitt’s Mill between Jeb Stuart’s horsemen (the 13th Va Cavalry) and a rear guard of the 18th Pa Cavalry of Judson Kilpatrick’s division; the Battle of Hanover (June 30, 1863); and the Battle of Hunterstown (July 2, 1863).  I am very honored and humbled that Captain Charlie asked me to narrate the events for the crowd that day.  There will be a PA system set up for the narration so the spectators can easily hear and see everything.  The events will be taking place on the historic Sheppard Farm.  Be sure to see the website for details, and also my previous post on this event here for information on how to attend, how to get tickets, and the schedule.

On Saturday June 29, Captain Charlie and I will walk the Sheppard Farm grounds and set up the battle scenarios and coordinate the narration and action.  I’m very much looking forward to participating in the event.  Up to 200 mounted cavalrymen, as well as a few artillery pieces, are expected to be there – if you really want to be impressed by a top-notch, serious cavalry reenactment unit, please come and join us!

In addition, I’ve asked my buddy Mike Nugent, who will also be attending, to conduct some seminars at the cavalry encampment on cavalry equipment, weapons, tactics, etc.  Charlie and I will also be working out the details of that.  Mike, a former armored cavalry officer, is extremely knowledgable in these areas and spectators will get a world-class education about what made the mounted cavalry tick during the Civil War.

I’ll post more updates here soon, and please consider attending this event – the “boys” are sure to impress.


Published in: on June 11, 2008 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment