March, 2010

31 Mar 2010, by

Upcoming Tour

I have agreed to do a tour for David Woodbury’s Historical Tours company in September. The tour will focus on the Battles of Kelly’s Ford, Brandy Station, and Trevilian Station, and will be based in Culpeper, Virginia. I’ve done this tour previously, and it’s a good one. The cost of the tour is $270, which includes everything but lodging at the Best Western in Culpeper. For those interested in cavalry actions, this will be a good opportunity to learn about the evolution of the Union cavalry, as it evolved into one of the largest, most effective mounted force the world had ever seen. We will visit the sites of the two largest cavalry battles of the Eastern Theater of the Civil War in Brandy Station and Trevilian Station. The first twelve registrants will get an autographed copy of my new book on the Battle of Brandy Station as a premium for registering.

My friend Patrick Schroeder, the chief historian of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, will be leading an excellent tour for David of sites off the beaten track at Appomattox on June 4 and 5. I had a private version of that tour a few weeks ago, and it’s well worth the trip.

David’s doing a great job with these tours, and I commend them to you. Check them out.

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29 Mar 2010, by

Interview Posted

A couple of weeks ago, I gave an interview to to Nate Delesline, III of the Culpeper Star-Exponent regarding my new book on the Battle of Brandy Station, which has now run in the paper. I thought I would share it here.

Examining the Civil War’s Battle of Brandy Station

Nate Delesline III
(540) 825-0771 ext. 110

Published: March 28, 2010
Updated: March 28, 2010

Author Eric J. Wittenberg thinks history buffs and casual readers alike will enjoy his newest work.

“The Battle of Brandy Station: North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle” was recently published by Charleston, S.C.-based The History Press. This is Wittenberg’s 16th book.

“I worked on gathering the research material that makes up the part of that book for the better part of 15 years,” he said.

Before dawn on June 9, 1863, Union soldiers broke through the fog near the banks of the Rappahannock River to ambush the Confederates. The confrontation of about 20,000 troops between Union Gen. Alfred Pleasanton and Confederate Gen. JEB Stuart lasted all day and is the largest cavalry battle ever fought on American soil.

“What I’ve tried to do is to give people a good, solid tactical narrative that gives some details but is not overwhelming,” said Wittenberg, an attorney in Columbus, Ohio. “If people are interested in hearing the soldiers’ own stories in their own words, they will find plenty of that in this book.”

A native Philadelphian, Wittenberg is an award-winning Civil War historian. His specialty is cavalry operations, with a particular emphasis on the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps. His works have been chosen for study by history and military book clubs.

Wittenberg, who travels, lectures and regularly leads Civil War battlefield tours, also has authored more than two dozen published articles on the war’s cavalry operations. His work has appeared in Gettysburg Magazine, North & South, Blue & Gray, Hallowed Ground, America’s Civil War, and Civil War Times Illustrated.

Online, Wittenberg runs a blog (Rantings of a Civil War Historian) and moderates a popular Civil War discussion group.

He expressed appreciation to local historian Bud Hall for his assistance in bringing the book to fruition.

“I like to consider myself one of his disciples,” Wittenberg said of Hall’s expertise.

The book also includes maps, illustrations and GPS coordinates to help visitors plan a walking or driving tour of the publicly accessible battlefield areas.

About the book

“The Battle of Brandy Station: North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle” by Eric J. Wittenberg is now available in paperback for $24.99. The book, 272 pages, can be purchased at or

More online: Read author Eric Wittenberg’s blog at

BSF dinner
The Brandy Station Foundation annual dinner will be held at the Brandy Station Volunteer Fire Department Hall, 19601 Church Road, Brandy Station, Friday, April 9th, beginning at 6 p.m. A wine bar will be featured before dinner at 7 p.m. The cost is $25 and the public is warmly invited. Call Mary Tholand 825-5534 by April 1for reservations. Eric J. Mink will present “Stonewall Jackson in pictures and art.“ Carolyn and Jack Reeder, who have written about the people of Shenandoah National Park, will sign copies of their book about the Civil War letters of William C.H. Reeder.

And there you have it. I had the pleasure of sharing the program with my mentor Bud Hall at Liberty University this past Saturday. More about that tomorrow.

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Time for some periodic housekeeping on the blog roll.

Leaving us: Brian Dirck hasn’t had a new post since October 19. As much as I enjoy Brian’s insights, it appears that his blog has once more faded to black (for the second time now). Old friend Duane Siskey hasn’t posted since September 28. Those two blogs will be deleted from the blog roll. If they resume posting at some point, I will add them back into the blog roll.

Joining us: My friend Scott Patchan has launched a blog in support of his studies of Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, and old friend Tom Clemens has launched a blog on the 1862 Maryland Campaign in support of his work on the Ezra Carmen manuscript. Welcome to the blogosphere, guys. I’ve added you both to the blog roll and will be a regular reader.

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18 Mar 2010, by

It’s Out!!!!

The Battle of Brandy StationI got my copies of my new book, The Battle of Brandy Station: North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle today, and I have to say that I think that my publisher, The History Press did an excellent job with the book. It’s a handsome volume, and they did everything that I asked them to do.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Clark B. “Bud” Hall, who is my mentor for all things Brandy Station. What I know about the battle, I know because of Bud Hall. Bud’s lifetime of research and intimate knowledge of every bump and every corner of the battlefield has been the source of much of what I know. His research also provided the basis for the excellent maps by master cartographer Steve Stanley that grace the book. Finally, Jim Lighthizer, the president of the CWPT wrote the excellent foreword at the beginning of the book.

In short, I am grateful for the input and assistance of a lot of people, all of whom went a long way to making this book what it is. Enjoy.

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This past weekend, I got to do something I haven’t had to do in a VERY long time, which was to spend some time in Gettysburg with no agenda and no real commitments other than to enjoy myself.

The trip had its genesis in a speech to the Allison Antrim Museum in Greencastle last Thursday night. I gave a lecture on Ulric Dahlgren, and had a large crowd. Although I didn’t know it, the mother of one of my law school classmates (whom I have not seen since graduation day) was in the crowd, and I got a nice note from him last night. It was nice re-establishing contact after all these years. I also sold $600 worth of books, which was a pleasant surprise.

We then had the weekend in Gettysburg. Unfortunately, it was like a monsoon the whole time we were there, so I didn’t really get to spend any time on the battlefield. Nearly every stream was out of its banks on Saturday, and it was bad. Friday, I met Nick Redding of the CWPT and filmed a piece for the Trust on why the proposed site of the casino is so horrible. It was a challenge in the rain, but we got it done. We then had dinner with some friends, went to Mine for a few a laughs, and had a really good day. It was especially nice getting caught up with Mark Snell on Friday evening. I always enjoying busting Mark’s chops.

Saturday, we had no commitments at all. We did some shopping (I picked up a set of the 1904 edition of Pennsylvania at Gettysburg for $64–an excellent price), laid out the driving tour of the Battle of Fairfield (and had to contend with flooding to do so), made a lap around the battlefield, and then spent the afternoon with old friends Rick Allen and Christina Moon, just enjoying each other’s company. Saturday night, we had a group dinner (14 of us) at one of Susan’s very favorite restaurants in the world, Dave and Jane’s Crabhouse in Emmitsburg, and then adjourned to the Mine once more. It was good to see old friend Duane Siskey and his fiance Laurie.

After another group meal on Sunday morning, it was back to Columbus. This is the first trip that I’ve had to Gettysburg where I didn’t have to work or lead tours in nearly five years. I’d forgotten just how much I missed it. And I didn’t even get to do any battlefield stomping.

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And for the winner of this month’s Dumb-Ass Reenactor of the Month Award, I give you this brilliant Montana school superintendent. From the March 8 edition of the Billings Gazette:

Superintendent accidentally discharges muzzleloader in class

ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff | Posted: Monday, March 8, 2010 10:19 pm | (60) Comments

Dwain Haggard’s high school history lesson on Friday backfired.

Haggard, who used to be a Civil War reenactor, was showing the five students in Reed Point High’s American history class his replica antique black powder muzzleloader when the gun fired and lodged a ball in the front wall of the classroom.

“I can’t explain how it was loaded,” Haggard said.

Haggard has been district superintendent since 2007, and each year he’s visited the high school’s American history class to show off his Civil War-era equipment. When he shows the muzzleloader, he finishes the demonstration by firing a cap, which makes a small “pop” when he pulls the trigger, he said.

But this time, “when I dropped the hammer on it, to all of our surprise, it went off,” he said.

Jake Bare, a junior at Reed Point High, was in the class when the gun fired. He said it caught everybody off guard.

When Haggard pulled the trigger, there was a loud bang,and the room filled with smoke, Bare said.

“Holy criminy, you just shot the map,” he said.

Indeed, the ball shot through the “o” in the word “North” at the top of the map and lodged in the wall, Haggard said.

The gun was never pointed at the students once Haggard inserted the cap. He was facing away from the students, pointing the gun toward the ceiling when he pulled the trigger.

The students were “never really in danger,” he said.

After settling down the students and dismissing class, Haggard said, he called the school board to explain what happened and then called the parents of the five students.

“None of them were upset with me,” he said.

One father, he said, laughed until he cried.

The board and his staff have been supportive, he said.

He described the incident as “bitter irony.” As superintendent, Haggard has worked with the school to increase safety at the school, updating its drills and the training staff receives.

Hat tip to John Maass for bringing this priceless little gem to my attention.

Can you say “dumb-ass,” boys and girls?

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9 Mar 2010, by

Interview Posted

I’ve given an interview on my new book on the Battle of Brandy Station that has been posted on the CWPT website that can be found here. The CWPT is offering the book for sale as part of its regular fund raising efforts. I really appreciate the support given my work by the CWPT, and it’s likewise my pleasure to do what I can to assist with the Trust’s ongoing efforts. Jim Lighthizer, president of the Trust, wrote an excellent foreword to the book that explains why we work so hard to save these battlefields, and I commend it to you. Thanks also to Rob Shenk of the Trust for wanting to have my insights included on the Trust’s website.

For those of you who buy through Amazon, please click through the CWPT link, as the Trust receives a small commission on every sale that originates from its site. Every penny helps. Thanks.

And enjoy.

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I had something pointed out to me that needs to be clarified out here. It’s critical that credit be given when and where it’s due, and that’s the purpose of this e-mail.

As I mentioned the other day, the release of my Brandy Station book is imminent. The book features maps that were done by master cartographer Steve Stanley. The maps are owned by the CWPT, as Steve did them for the CWPT as a work for hire. The CWPT gave me permission to use the maps, provided that they are credited to Steve and to the CWPT. We readily agreed to do so, and that’s how the credit will appear in the book.

What I didn’t realize, but now know, is that those maps were done in conjunction with, and are based upon, the research of my good friend Clark B. “Bud” Hall. I probably should have known that, because in retrospect, it’s obvious. Honestly, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize that, but the fact is that I didn’t. However, nobody had told me that, so they are not credited to Bud in the book, as they should be, and I regret that a great deal. The purpose of this post is to attempt to set the record straight and give credit when and where it’s due.

And that’s wrong. I firmly believe in giving credit when and where it’s due, and it’s due here. First and foremost, Bud has years of research invested in them, and without his expertise, Steve would not have the detail and accuracy that he has in them. Second, the maps were drawn with the intention of appearing in Bud’s forthcoming definitive work on Brandy Station, and I didn’t know that, either. It means that I have unintentionally stolen his thunder. Such was never my intent, and I feel very badly about doing so. I owe a great deal to Bud, who has long been my unflagging supporter and mentor, and the last thing I would EVER want to do is to keep him from getting the credit that he is due. My book would not exist but for him and his work and teaching of me.

It’s also very important to note that I claim absolutely NO credit for the maps. The only input I had was to ask Steve to do one new one that he had never before drawn, which he did. These are Steve’s and Bud’s maps, not mine, and I wanted to be sure that all of you know that. I have asked my publisher, The History Press, to do what it can do to make sure that Bud gets proper credit. Since the book is well into the printing/binding process, it’s too late to add something to the first printing, but we are doing what we can to make sure that proper credit is given where it’s due.

So, when they appear in Bud’s book, you will see them when and where he intended them to be. I am grateful for the opportunity to preview them for you.

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For those of you who are interested in my forthcoming book on the Battle of Brandy Station, the publisher informed me today that things are on schedule, that the books are scheduled to ship from the printer on March 17, and that they will be in The History Press’ warehouse on the 19th. For those of you who have been waiting, your patience will be rewarded in just a couple more weeks. Thanks for your patience and support.

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