October, 2008

Featuring superb animated maps by master cartographer Steve Stanley, this presentation on the web site of the CWPT makes it abundantly clear why it is so important to stop the quarrying of the Cedar Creek battlefield.

It also amplifies and puts into graphic terms the magnitude of horrendous failure of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation to protect the battlefield it is supposed to steward.

Please take a moment and click the links to generate a letter to Carmeuse making your opposition to the expanding mining operation known. It will cost you a few minutes and a $.42 stamp, but perhaps it will help to prevent the loss of pristine battlefield land to a limestone quarry. Once that land has been quarried, it is gone forever, so time is of the essence. Please act now, while there’s still time.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

The Philadelphia PhilliesI’m 47 years old, and a lifelong Philadelphia sports fanatic. It’s been 25 years since a Philly pro team won a world championship. In my lifetime, there have only been 5 of them (2 by the Flyers in 1974 and 1975, 2 by the 76’ers in 1967 and 1983, and the Phillies in 1980). Consequently, a true Philly sports fan is defined by pain and suffering and heartbreak. We know suffering, and we know heartbreak. “There’s always next year” is the constant refrain. In 1973, the 76’ers went 9-73 for the season, the worst record for a professional team ever. The Phillies are best known as the only team in the history of professional sports to roll up 10,000 losses, a dubious record of futility at best. The other defining moment in Phillies history is the epic collapse of 1964, when they had a 6.5 game lead with 12 to play, lost 10 in a row, and finished third. That’s also not a happy memory.

With such a history of heartache, it’s often hard to get excited about it when teams do have good seasons. A few years ago, when the Eagles went to the Super Bowl, I was very blase about it, because I knew they weren’t going to win. It’s hard not to be terribly cynical about it when you’ve been disappointed so many times.

At the same time, few memories of my youth are more vivid than watching Tug McGraw strike out Willie Wilson to end the 1980 World Series and the joyous chaos that erupted as the Phightin’ Phils won the only championship in franchise history. I was 19 years old, and I always thought that there would be more such moments. I was wrong.

Last night, for only the sixth time in the 125 year history of the Philadelphia Phillies, they won the National League pennant and are headed to the World Series! Completing an utter domination of a scrappy Los Angeles Dodgers team, the Phillies won 5-1 behind the dominant pitching of Cole Hamels, Ryan Madsen, and Brad Lidge and slammed the door on the rest of the National League.

Somewhere, the late, great Tug McGraw’s Irish eyes are twinkling this morning, he’s patting his heart as he always did after a narrow escape, and he’s saying “YA GOTTA BELIEVE!”

This time, I do.

LET’S GO PHILLIES!!!!! Scridb filter

Continue reading

Please forgive my being quiet for the past couple of days. I had a major deadline to meet yesterday–I had two different briefs due yesterday, and had to allow my job to get in the way of my hobby. One brief was time-stamped 4:53 and the other 4:54–the Clerk of Court’s office closes at 5:00–meaning that I met the deadline. Now it’s back to business as normal.

Book CoverI want to recommend a great book about a true American hero to you. Gunnery Sergeant Nick Popaditch enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1986 and served his country with great honor for 18 years. A photographer snapped his photo in Baghdad in 2003, smoking a victory cigar, with the downed statue of Saddam Hussein behind him. He became known as the “Cigar Marine” as a result of that iconic photograph, which appears on the dust jacket of the book.

In 2004, while commanding a tank in Fallujah, Iraq, Gunny Pop, as he’s known, stopped a rocket propelled grenade with his face and lived to talk about it. Although he was awarded a Silver Star for his valor that day, Nick lost an eye and was critically wounded, but he survived. He was medically discharged from the Corps in 2005.

Gunny Pop has written an amazing memoir of his ordeal titled Once a Marine: An Iraq War Tank Commander’s Inspirational Memoir of Combat, Courage, and Recovery that was recently published by Savas-Beatie. Because of my relationship with Ted Savas, I’ve known about this forthcoming book for quite a while, and had the good fortune to read the manuscript before it was published.

I can’t say enough good things about this particular book. Fast-paced and extremely well-written, Gunny Pop has written a simultaneously fascinating and incredibly moving narrative that details his military career and the ordeal of his wounding and recovery from that horrible wound. A husband and father, his memoir tells all about how that day in Fallujah affected his life and the lives of his loved ones. Gunny Pop represents the best that the United States Marine Corps has to offer, and we all have much to learn from the lessons of his life.

Although there’s obviously a great deal of difference between modern warfare and what we study in the Civil War, those of us who study the Civil War, and in particular, those of us who study the stories of the common soldiers who fought the Civil War, Gunny Pop’s story has a lot to offer. The impact on his life and on the lives of his wife and children of the disabling wound that he suffered translates well to the ordeal of the common soldier of the Civil War, and there is much insight to be had as a result.

Do yourselves a favor and read this unforgettable book.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

They say that all good things must come to an end, and that, unfortunately, includes our vacation. We’re got home from North Carolina last night–it’s a wicked long drive, nearly 700 miles. It rained here while we were gone, and I had two weeks worth of lawn to mow this afternoon after we picked up the dogs from the place where we boarded them while we were gone. So much for vacation…..

The trip was fabulous. I did very little with respect to the Civil War. We visited a few of the handsome monuments erected by Dare County regarding the Burnside Expedition that captured the Outer Banks and to speak to the Outer Banks CWRT on Tuesday night. That went well; I had about 30 people there and it was a good, attentive crowd. Mostly, it was walk on the beach, relax, read, do a bit of writing, and just hang out. We had one bad weather day–it rained on Friday–but most of the week was spectacular weather.

I dread the thought of what will be waiting for me when I get to the office tomorrow….

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Waves off Ocracoke There is simply nothing like the sound of the ocean. It’s a sound that is at once relaxing, reaffirming, and tantalizing. There are times when just hearing the sound of the waves crashing into the shore are what I need to get myself back in kilter and back in balance.

Due to job fluctuations and having to pay for care for my parents, Susan and I haven’t had a vacation since May 2006. Until now, that is. We’re in the Outer Banks of North Carolina this week, staying in a beach front house with some friends. I spent about an hour just flying a kite on the beach today. It was great therapy.

Other than to speak to the OBX Civil War Roundtable on Tuesday night, I am neither working nor doing anything Civil War while I’m here. This is about rest and recharging batteries, so don’t expect to hear from again until we get back to Ohio a week from today.

Enjoy the respite from me while I enjoy the respite from the world.

And go PHILLIES!!!!! Scridb filter

Continue reading

Yesterday, I mentioned that Mort Kunstler had called me to discuss a painting he’s planning on doing of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry. Today, Don Troiani e-mailed me to let me know that he’s finally ready to begin working on a scene of the charge of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry at St. James Church during the June 9, 1863 Battle of Brandy Station that he’s been planning for the better part of ten years. He asked whether I’d be willing to help and answer questions for him on it, and I agreed. I’ve already given Don pretty much everything that I have on this episode, but I am nevertheless more than happy to help.

That makes two scenes of the Lancers by two prominent artists in two days. How cool is that?

Scridb filter

Continue reading

I had a very interesting but surprising telephone call this morning. Renowned Civil War artist Mort Kunstler phoned me this morning, out of the clear blue sky. Mort has gotten interested in the Rush’s Lancers and figured out that I know something about them. He’s planning to do a painting of the Lancers, and got hold of me to see if I might be interested in helping. I’ve worked with Don Troiani, Don Stivers, and Dale Gallon in the past, and enjoyed each instance. So, I readily agreed to help Mort.

I quoted him my usual fee for helping: a copy of the print personally signed to me, and we had a deal.

I’m looking forward to working with him, and am especially looking forward to seeing my favorite regiment honored. I will keep everyone posted as to the progress of the project.

Scridb filter

Continue reading

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress