September, 2006

Having grown up in the Philadelphia suburbs, I am a life-long, die-hard, long-suffering Philadelphia Eagles fan. The Eagles won their last NFL championship in 1960, about 90 days before I was born. They have not won one in my lifetime, although they have lost in the Super Bowl twice, 1981 and 2005.

I’m wearing my Donovan McNabb jersey as I write this. I’m always really excited at the beginning of the season, and I pay for the NFL Sunday ticket package on DirecTV so that I can watch every game. I spent the afternoon watching the Eagles beat the Houston Texans 24-10 today. McNabb is healthy again, and their new wideout, Donte Stallworth, made a large and immediate impact today.

Once again, I’m optimistic for the chances of my Eagles, although they will, undoubtedly, end up breaking my heart again, just as they do every year. For now, though, I’m going to enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

And let’s hope that Terrell Owens pulls his hamstring again, and that he misses most, if not all, of the season. I hate Dallas as much as I hate the New York Yankees, and now that Owens is there, it gives me all that much more reason to hate them intensely.

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This afternoon, JD and I got an e-mail from Ted Savas letting us know that the first printing of our book is completely sold out, one week after the books shipped from the printer. What’s more is that Ted told me that he has a very substantial lot of backorders pending, too. He’s going to be ordering a second printing of the book next week.

JD and I both had a pretty good idea that this book was going to sell well, but it’s done better than either of us could possibly have hoped.

There will be a difference between the first printing and all subsequent ones. For some reason, the same photograph of Alfred Pleasonton appears twice in the first printing. Somehow, it slipped by all of us until I noticed it the other night flipping pages. The second printing and any subsequent printings will have a different image where the Pleasonton photo appears the second time. All of us were amazed that it got by Ted, J.D., me, and Lee Merideth, the indexer. It just goes to show you that things sometimes get through, no matter how hard we try to catch everything.

I’m just blown away by the reaction that this book is receiving and with how well it’s doing. Thank you to each and every one of you who has made this happen.

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7 Sep 2006, by

Dahlgren Update

I continue to plug away at editing/revising the working draft of the Dahlgren biography. I have now completed two full passes at the manuscript. I have one pass left to go before finishing this phase of the editing/rewrite process. I have added a couple of paragraphs so far, and I’ve cleaned up nearly all of the unwanted and excessive use of the passive voice.

I’ve also continued to tweak and modify the discussion of what Lincoln may or may not have known about the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. I added a whole paragraph to it tonight. Reader Pete Vermilyea made an excellent point in an e-mail to me about this topic that makes a lot of sense. So much sense, in fact, that I added a paragraph. The gist of Pete’s point–and the gist of what I added tonight–is that Grant’s promotion to lieutenant general was approved by the Senate on March 2, 1864, the very day that Ully Dahlgren died. Given that Grant’s promotion was in the works when the raid was ordered, and given that Grant was promoted in order to permit him to assume command of the all of the armies of the United States of America, it does not make a great deal of sense for Stanton to have been closely involved in the plans spelled out in the Dahlgren Papers. Why would Stanton have ordered something that would have created absolute chaos just as Grant–the Lincoln Administration’s chosen savior–was assuming command? As Pete quite correctly points out, this defies logic. It certainly is a powerful argument against the involvement of either Lincoln or Stanton.

Thanks very much to Pete Vermilyea for bringing this fascinating point to my attention. I’m glad he did, as I hadn’t even considered the timing of Grant’s promotion vis-a-vis the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid.

Next up: Begin the third pass at the manuscript. When I’m finished with that, I will take my handwritten notes and enter the revisions into the computer. Once that process is completed, I will then forward the manuscript to my select group of readers who are kind enough to donate their time and effort to reviewing my work for me. When I get their comments and incorporate their revisions, I then make a final pass at the manuscript, and then it’s done.

I’m making good progress, and will continue to do so.

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6 Sep 2006, by

They’re Here!

If you will indulge me in a little shameless self-promotion for a moment….

I’m pleased to announce the release of Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg, published by Savas-Beatie Publishing, and written by J. D. Petruzzi and me. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s out. When I got home from work tonight, there were sufficient boxes on my side porch for a couple of hundred copies. If I’ve got them, that means that the orders received by Amazon, Savas-Beatie, etc., are ready to be filled.

J. D. and I are also proud to announce the launch of our new web site, devoted to this book. Please visit.

It’s still a thrill every time that I see one of my books for the first time, and I’m especially proud of this one.

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A number of months ago, I told all of you that Susan and I had broken ground on a new house, at least in part because we have nowhere else to go with books in our present house. The new house is nearly finished, and should be finished within four weeks. They’re doing the trim work now.

Two major problems have arisen. First, Susan’s hours were cut in half for a number of months earlier this year, which made financing the new house an issue. Second is my new job. Had I stayed at the old firm, I would have had about a 20 mile drive to work each day, give or take. However, the new firm is a lot farther away. As it sits now, I have a 25 mile drive each way to get to work, which takes a good 45 minutes each way. If we were to move to new house, my drive would increase to 40-45 miles each way, which is just not acceptable. I am unwilling to spend more than two hours per day driving. So, we’ve decided to put the house up for sale as soon as we close on it. It’s 3100 square feet with two bonus rooms on three-quarters of an acre, so it should move quickly. We can’t start looking for something in earnest that’s closer to my office until this situation gets resolved.

That means that we’re stuck here for the time being. We’re still completely out of space for books, and the problem is, if anything, now worse than before. Books are piling up on the floor in my office because there simply is no more shelf space for them. I hate doing that, and it looks awful to see piles of books all over the floor. Our basement tends to have dampness issues, so it’s not an option. There simply is nowhere else to put any more bookcases here.

So, the primary problem remains. We will still have to move in order to accommodate our library. It just means that we will be moving in another direction. And, for the time being, my library will continue to overflow.

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The last several days when I’ve tried to click on the link for Adam Hendel’s blog, I’ve gotten a message that indicates that it can’t be found on Blogger’s site. That means that it’s been deleted from Blogger’s system. As a result, I have deleted the link to it from this site. If anyone knows where Adam’s blog can be found, I will be happy to put up a new link.

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I’ve added a link to Michael Aubrecht’s blog, Pinstripe Press Blog. Michael is a regular reader of this blog, and I’ve enjoyed interacting with him.

There are two reasons why I haven’t added his blog previously.

First, and foremost, it’s only partially about the Civil War, and the Civil War posts often delve into religion, an area that, to be very honest, holds very little interest for me. However, Michael has some good and interesting insights, and I think that it’s appropriate for me to share those with you since I read them myself.

Second, it’s in part devoted to the New York Yankees, the greatest team money can buy. As someone who firmly believes that George Steinbrenner is, without any doubt at all, THE single worst thing to ever happen to the game of baseball (which is one of the great loves of my life), I despise the New York Yankees with a deep and abiding passion exceeded only by my hatred for the Dallas Cowboys and George W. Bush, which makes them all pretty poor company no matter how you slice it. I have an absolute and inviolable rule: no matter how much I might like a player, the instant he joins the Yankees, I MUST hate his guts. Thus, I find myself hating Bobby Abreu, whom I loved when he wore a Phillies uniform, and Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson, who was one of my very favorite players for many years until he sold out and signed with the Yankees. I can’t support or endorse anything associated with the Yankees.

So, Michael, I’ve added you as a link in the blogs I like section, but that only applies to the Civil War portion. However, until you develop better taste in baseball teams, I can’t endorse that aspect of your blog. 🙂

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One of my partners in the new law firm practices only in the realm of sports and entertainment law. In other words, he’s an agent. Most of his clients are NBA coaches, but he also works with some entertainers as well. He recently took on a new client, a female reporter at our local NBC affiliate.

Our law firm is brand new. It was only formed 90 days ago. The suburban community where we’re located has been trying to attract new business, so it wholeheartedly supported my partners when they decided to light there, offering goodies such as tax abatements and the like to sweeten the pot and make it worth their while to do so. The town fathers wanted to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate our launch, which was held on Thursday night. We decided to make it a small open house, and invited some clients and friends.

Since the reporter had been in the office earlier today meeting with my partner, he invited her and her husband to the open house. I’d met her briefly earlier in the day, but was in something of a hurry and couldn’t do much more than have a brief conversation on my way to a meeting on the other side of town. When she and her husband came to the open house, we got to talk quite a bit more. I asked where she’d gone to college, and when she told me Virginia Tech, I asked if she had ever taken a course with either Bud Robertson or Jack Davis. She then mentioned that her first job had been with a station in the Harrisonburg, and I mentioned how much I love the Shenandoah Valley. With that, she got a big smile on her face.

It turns out that she is a native of the Shenandoah Valley and grew up in a town that was destroyed during Sheridan’s burning of the Valley in October 1864. Her father is a reenactor, and she told me in an e-mail tonight how much she likes the Cedar Creek battlefield and Belle Grove Plantation. It truly is a small world. Who’d have thunk it?

Everywhere I go, I meet people with fascinating connections to the Civil War. I think that’s what I enjoy most about my travels in the Civil War community, and why I love talking to the people I meet along the way. It’s what makes what I do rewarding.

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Although I’ve devoted most of my life to the study of the Civil War and I have visited lots of battlefields, there are still plenty I have never seen but definitely want to visit. That list includes, in no particular order:

1. Stones River
2. Pea Ridge
3. Champion Hill
4. Most of the battlefields around Atlanta (or what’s left of them, anyway)
5. Nashville (or what little bit is left of it)
6. Franklin
7. Brice’s Crossroads
8. Aiken, SC (site of another instance where Judson Kilpatrick was badly surprised and barely got out with his command intact)
9. Sailor’s Creek

And there’s one place that I’ve only visited once for a total of five hours–nothing remotely close to enough time to do it justice: Vicksburg.

There are other battlefields I’ve only visited once, but would like to see again in greater detail. They include, in no particular order:

1. Shiloh
2. Chickamauga
3. Most of the Seven Days
4. Perryville

These two lists pretty much reflect my eastern theater bias, don’t they?

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