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March, 2006

I got an e-mail from Ted Savas about five minutes ago indicating that the printer has fallen behind and that the estimated shipping date for my book has been shoved back from March 21 to April 6. While I certainly understand the delay, and am well aware that it is not Ted’s fault, it nevertheless doesn’t much please me.

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The published eulogy for Ulric Dahlgren has been a mixed blessing. On one hand, it’s been a treasure trove of useful information, much of which has found its way into my manuscript. On the other hand, it’s been one of the most excruciatingly frustrating sources I have ever used.

My issue with Major Morrison has been well-documented here. Thanks to help from all of you, I was actually able to solve that particular riddle. Last night, another especially frustrating one re-surfaced.

Here’s the latest tantalizing and frustrating tidbit from the Reverend Sunderland’s eulogy, which refers to a two month period that Ulric spent with his father in Charleston, beginning mid-November 1863 and ending January 22, 1864, after the amputation of Ulric’s right leg due to his combat wound. After returning to Washington, he had about three weeks before reporting for what became the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid, in which he was killed:

“During ths time, he composed an article detailing the operations before Charleston in a style at once so calm, so clear, so comprehensive, as to silence all cavil and dispel the groundless complaints of the ignorant and impatient. This article, which has been printed since his death [on March 4, 1864], sounds to us now like a voice from the mouth of the grave. It was published over the signature of ‘Truth,’ which was ever more to him, by far something more, than simply a nom de plume; it was the substance of his character, and the animating spirit of his whole life, and never more conspicuously did it shine forth than in this last complete vindication of the siege of Charleston–a paper freighted in every line with a candor, a majesty, and self-evidencing power which only belongs to the truth itself–and which, being at the same time a work of filial affection, as well as a patriotic and public defense of the national prowess, might well stand for the crowning work of all his intellectual efforts–for the last-written testimony of his hand, which alas! he was so soon to seal by the offering up of life.”

How’s that for a tantalizing tidbit? Since I first read the eulogy a couple of years ago, I’ve been trying to locate this article. Obviously, I would love to be able to at least quote this article in the book, and even include it in full in an appendix. However, many months of searching have been fruitless. My researcher and I have reviewed every Washington, DC newspaper between January and April 1864, as well as all of the Philadelphia papers and the three major New York papers (Times, Tribune, and Herald), and we cannot find any evidence of this article anywhere.

This eulogy has truly been a mixed blessing. Although it’s provided some really good material that has never been used by anyone else, it has also been an astounding exercise in frustration. I’m open to any and all suggestions as to where else to look to try to find this article.

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6 Mar 2006, by

Update

I couldn’t get an appointment with my doctor’s office until tomorrow afternoon, so I don’t have a formal medical diagnosis. However, thirty years of unpleasant experience with sinus infections tells me that the symptoms I’m experiencing are those of a nasty sinus infection and not just the common cold. I felt so bad today that I actually left the office at 12:30 and came home, which is something I never do–I think I had one sick day in 2005, and then it was the flu. I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus–did anybody get its number?–and am in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. Hopefully, starting antibiotics tomorrow will get me back on the road to feeling like myself again.

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6 Mar 2006, by

Success!!!

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my frustration with being unable to identify a Major Morrison mentioned in the published eulogy of Ulric Dahlgren. I was frustrated because Major Morrison is featured in a terrific anecdote that I want to include in my Dahlgren biography, and without being able to do so, I didn’t believe that I could legitimately include the story. The inability to identify Morrison really frustrated me. When I did that, I did so hoping that one you might be able to help solve this terribly vexatious problem.

Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Several of you chimed in, including Lee White. Lee did a database search and identified one likely candidate: Maj. Charles J. Morrison of the 1st D.C. Infantry. Bryce Suderow, who assists with my research in Washington, D.C., was able to locate several of the annual circulars published by the Rittenhouse Academy in Washington, and sure, enough, the name of Charles J. Morrison appears in the 1856 circular, along with the name of one Ulric Dahlgren. The eulogy mentions a chance meeting between Dahlgren and Morrison on the road to Harpers Ferry, and the 1st D. C. Infantry was assigned to the defenses of Harpers Ferry. So, it appears that we have solved this particular mystery, although I have to admit that I did not expect to ever do so.

There’s just one problem. Maj. Charles J. Morrison resigned his commission in April 1863. The eulogy, given in late April 1864, makes it clear that both Ulric Dahlgren and Major Morrison were both dead by then. So, although I am about 90% certain that this Charles J. Morrison is my guy, I’ve ordered his service and pension files from the National Archives, and if the pension records confirm his death between April 1863 and the delivery of the eulogy, then there will be absolutely no question that this is my guy. As it stands, the evidence is strong enough that I would be willing to take this case to a jury and feel good about my chances of winning the case.

So, to my loyal readers, I owe you one. Thank you very much for taking the time to not only indulge my rantings, but to help me solve seemingly unsolveable mysteries, too.

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5 Mar 2006, by

Sick

Well, I seem to have come down with either a really bad cold, or, potentially worse, a sinus infection. I feel atrocious as I write this. My head feels like it’s in a vice, and my sinuses are pounding. So, please forgive me if I don’t write much for the next few days until I get to feeling better. Thanks for understanding.

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I need to take a moment to rant about people abusing the privilege of posting comments to this blog. I had an episode today that requires a response by me.

Note to the Nathan Bedford Forrest fan who apparently doesn’t like my take on his boy: you do NOT get to insult me on my own web site and expect me to approve your comments so that they are posted for the world to see.

Feel free to disagree with me. I welcome the challenge. Feel free to use facts to demonstrate to me where I’m wrong. I’m usually the first to admit that I’m wrong and tip my hat to the person who points it out. However, if you really expected me to approve comments where you personally insulted me, you clearly are smoking something less than legal.

For the rest of my regular readers: this particular individual, whom I have never heard of before today, doesn’t like my take on Forrest and attempted to post some really personally insulting stuff in the comments section to this blog. Stuff to the gist of “you don’t agree with me, so you must be an idiot,” only more insulting and far more snide. The beauty of this, of course, is that this is my web site. I pay for it, so I get to make the rules. One the most basic, most fundamental rules is: people who are not related to me do NOT get the privilege of insulting me on my own web site. If that somehow infringes upon First Amendment free speech rights, sorry about your luck. Consequently, I exercised my prerogative and deleted the guy’s comments.

Those of you who’ve been around here for a while know that I welcome dialogue and that I readily admit it when I’m wrong. I find the give and take fascinating, and I really enjoy it. That sort of exchange will always be welcome here. However, please use some common sense. If you’re going to launch a personal attack on me, you can reasonably expect that I won’t appreciate it, welcome it, or react very well to it. Call me crazy if you like, but those are the rules on MY web site.

The comments are set so that anyone who hasn’t posted a comment previously must have their comment approved by me before it will be seen by anyone but me. Once you’ve passed that muster, they post automatically, but you have to earn that privilege. And it is just that–a privilege. It’s not a right. Needless to say NBF Boy won’t be getting that privilege.

There is only one thing that pisses me off more: people spamming my blog. There’s this lovely little trend of companies trying to insert spam in the comments section of blogs using spam bots, and I get several every day (three today). I’ve taken to reporting the spamming to their Internet service providers as their reward for wasting my time. Just my little way of returning the favors.

Sorry for the rant, but people abusing the comments section to this blog really anger me.

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Dimitri Rotov astutely points out that I have two books being published by Savas-Beatie Publishing in a period of about ninety days. While that’s certainly a true statement, it was never intended to be that way. I thought I would take a moment and explain how it happened.

My own publishing company, Ironclad Publishing, was originally going to publish the Monroe’s Crossroads book. However, a little over a year ago, we, the owners of Ironclad, made a unanimous group business decision to publish only those books that are a part of our The Discovering Civil War America Series for the time being. Because the Monroe’s Crossroads battlefield is stuck in the middle of the drop zones at Fort Bragg, it definitely does not lend itself well to the history/tourguide format of The Discovering Civil War America Series, so I volunteered to withdraw it from consideration, and it fell out of the publishing queue. I approached old pal Ted Savas about it, since Ted has had a lot of success with Carolinas Campaign stuff, and he readily agreed to take it on.

The book was originally supposed to be published last October, but when Ted got into laying it out, he determined that the series of nearly 30 maps for it were unacceptable. They all had to be re-done. When the cartographer had health issues, the whole damned thing got thrown off track, and what should have taken a few weeks ended up taking nearly three months, and perhaps even a little longer (I’ve lost track). Ted then scheduled it for the end of January, and we missed that date also as a result of the cartographer’s health issues. So, what this means is that instead of an October 2005 release date, we’re now looking at March 21, 2006 (which cannot come soon enough).

In the interim, JD Petruzzi and I were plugging away at our book on Stuart’s Ride during the Gettysburg Campaign, and it was rapidly coming to its conclusion. It was originally intended for inclusion in The Discovering Civil War America Series, and was originally planned as a volume in the series. However, the farther we got into the project, the more aware we became that in order to do this the way we wanted to, it needed to address the controversy over the ride, too. Once we got into that, we realized it needed to be a hardcover book, and that took it off the radar screen for Ironclad for the reasons stated above. Hence, we took it to Ted, and he grabbed it up, too. We decided to push to get it out in time for the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, so that meant a short time frame in which to edit it and lay it out, and we are on track to meet the projected release date early, due to an event in Westminster, Maryland the third weekend in June (we have a detailed treatment of Corbit’s Charge at Westminster on June 29, 1863 in the book, and the organizers of the annual re-enactment have invited us for a booksigning that weekend).

There was supposed to be a nine-month gap between the two books. Obviously, that’s no longer going to be the case. It is an interesting scenario, and we will have to see how it plays out.

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