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Yesterday finally ended three weeks of insanity.

On Friday morning, I hit the road for Virginia, headed for Culpeper. It’s nearly 435 miles each way, and it’s a LONG drive. I reached the Graffiti House at Brandy Station about 3:30, and then spent the next 90 minutes laying out a driving tour for my Brandy Station book, including shooting GPS coordinates for the stops on the tour (I ended up shooting 36 of them). I then went and checked into my hotel, had dinner in the hotel restaurant, and spent the evening watching the Pens beat the big, bad Red Wings to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup home to Pittsburgh. It was really pretty remarkable.

Last summer, I auctioned off a …

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12 Jun 2009, by

Crash and Burn

At 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, as I was busily working on a draft of a complaint, my laptop suddenly locked up. When I tried to reboot it, it would not boot; the hard drive just made a clicking noise, and I came to the incredibly unhappy realization that I had suffered the same hard drive crash that my wife had suffered 13 days earlier. Apparently, the Fujitsu hard drives that Apple was using at the time (and Sony, too) are prone to zero-sector damages, which lead to crashes.

Of course, my whole life is on that computer. Most of the important stuff had a recent back-up done, but I still panicked. Anything that was sone since the back-up the week …

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The Civil War Preservation TrustI’m now home from the annual conference of the Civil War Preservation Trust, which was held in Gettysburg this year. More than 500 people attended, by far the largest event I’ve ever been involved with. I finally got to meet a lot of the CWPT personnel that I’ve worked with over the years in person, such as Tom Gilmore, David Duncan, Melissa Sadler, and Rob Shenk. It was really nice being able to put faces with the names.

There were lots of big name historians present, including Ed Bearss, Kent Masterson Brown, Richard McMurray, Ted Alexander, Jeff Wert, Dick Summers, and others of similar talent. It just wouldn’t be a tour if Ted Alexander didn’t get a bus stuck, …

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Time for another of my infrequent profiles of forgotten cavalrymen. Tonight, we feature Colonel John Beardsley of the 9th New York Cavalry, a scoundrel if ever there was one. He’s one that probably should remain forgotten.

Colonel John BeardsleyBorn on October 12, 1816, in Fairfield, Herkimer County, New York, John Beardsley was appointed to the United States Military Academy in 1837. He graduated 17th in the class of 1841, which included such future luminaries as John Reynolds, Robert Garnett, Richard Garnett, Don Carlos Buell, Nathaniel Lyon and Israel Richardson, all of whom would become generals in the Civil War.

Upon graduation, Beardsley joined the 8th Infantry. Beardsley served in the Seminole War in Florida from 1841-42, and in Mexico. In 1846 with …

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I haven’t said anything about this publicly, because I wasn’t sure precisely what I was going to do with it. One thing I’ve learned about myself is that the best way for me to REALLY learn something is to research and write about it. Last year, after leading a tour of the Battles of Kelly’s Ford and Brandy Station for a busload, I realized that I didn’t know Brandy Station quite as well as I wanted. Consequently, I decided to do some more research on Brandy Station and to write about it in more detail than I’ve ever done previously.

My book The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 contains three chapters, totaling about 21,000 …

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I’m back home after Mother of All Gettysburg Seminars. It was a jam-packed few days. Here’s a run-down on the event.

WEDNESDAY: I put half a day at the office and hit the road at little after noon. It took me 5.5 hours to get to Chambersburg. JD beat me there–his trip is shorter than mine–so he was waiting for me. We had dinner together, and then there was an opening session. After it was over, we went to visit the traveling bookshop set up by old friend Jim McLean of Butternut and Blue. I spent WAY too much money on books this trip. It was good to see folks such as Ed Bearss, Jeff Wert, Tom Clemens, …

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The Civil War Preservation Trust released this statement today:

PRESERVATION TRUST MOURNS LOSS OF JOURNALIST AND PRESERVATIONIST DEBORAH FITTS

For many years writer served as the voice of the Civil War community

(Washington, D.C., 2/18/2008) – The Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) learned yesterday of the death of journalist, history lover and passionate preservationist Deborah Fitts, following a lengthy battle with cancer. CWPT President James Lighthizer made the following statement recalling Deborah’s work and legacy:

“Today the entire Civil War community mourns the loss of a truly beloved figure. Every individual with more than a passing interest in Civil War history was aware of Deborah’s byline and knew it stood for quality reporting. Her monthly work with the Civil War

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I’m home. Again. For three days again. And then it’s on the road again….

Here’s a report on the weekend.

I left here on Thursday morning. I left early, intending to spend a couple of hours at Cedar Creek on the way. Just as I hit Winchester, it started to rain, so my stop at Cedar Creek was just to see whether I could buy a pin (they don’t sell them). I remain absolutely horrified and repulsed by the decisions made by the Cedar Creek Foundation. Maybe it’s a good thing it was raining.

I got to Culpeper at about 4:00 (it’s a 7.5 hour drive of nearly 450 miles to Culpeper) and tracked down Mike Block, who is a …

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9 Jun 2008, by

June 9, 1863

I would be remiss if I didn’t at least acknowledge the 145th anniversary of the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent. Today is the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Brandy Station, and it was my honor to spend yesterday on the battlefield with Bud Hall. In the process, I got to see things that hardly anyone else ever gets to see. As we were in Bud’s SUV, we did some serious four-wheeling across farm fields to see some of the sites.

As just one example, we went down to the site of the Green farm, which served as Alfred Pleasonton’s headquarters during the winter encampment of 1863-1864. The house is gone, but Bud retrieved two …

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I’m sitting in the A.P Hill Room (yes, I thought of you immediately when I heard which room I’d been assigned, Jenny Goellnitz) in the very lovely Inn at Kelly’s Ford, meaning that I am again spending the night on a battlefield this evening. It was 97 here today, with high humidity, which is just ghastly. It’s hard to believe that it’s only June 8 with such weather.

Here’s a quick recap of the weekend. I left Columbus at 2:00 on Thursday afternoon, arriving at Dr. Dave Moore’s house on Herr’s Ridge about 8. We proceeded to sign 175 books and another 80 or so book plates for our special edition. I then went to Stan O’Donnell’s mansion …

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