Monthly Archives: February 2011

Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable Site

I’m pleased to direct your attention to the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable web site.

We’ve actually had the site up since December, but held off an “official” opening until the spring.  Our aim is to use the site as a complement to our normal monthly newsletters, and also reach out to many in the Northern Virginia area who might not know about the roundtable.  If you are associated with other Civil War and preservation groups in the area, please contact me about link exchanges.  The more the merrier.

From a technical side, you’ll note it is… yes… another WordPress site.  Other similar organizations have opted for the platform.  WordPress is cheap (free) and offers a great number of flexible theme options.  I plan to document what features work, and those that don’t really apply to the “roundtable” venue.  Later on I’ll post some lessons learned for those also interested in applying social networking and web 2.0 to support roundtable or preservation groups.

While I don’t think we’ll start any “twitter revolutions,” I think Civil War groups and the preservation community can use many of the inexpensive tools out there to establish a significant public presence.  Not Madison Avenue significant, perhaps, but enough to get recognition in the audience where these subjects resonate.  Certainly cheaper than could be done just a few years ago.

After Action Review: 12th Annual Civil War Seminar

Another outstanding Civil War Seminar at Longwood University on Saturday.   I’m a little late posting my “after action review,” choosing instead to spend my day visiting Richmond area sites on the way home.  But here’s my take.

Let me say first, for those who didn’t attend but have in the past, the hosts moved the event to a larger auditorium with better facilities this year.  Jarman Hall has a full A/V suite to include a very large projection screen… which came in handy for several lectures.

After the introduction by Dr. David Coles, the first speaker, David Ruth, discussed Fort Sumter as the center piece of the secession crisis.   I thought Ruth’s presentation well-balanced.  At one point in the presentation, Ruth discussed the linkage between the South Carolina forces and Tredegar Iron Works – thus “bringing it home” to the predominately Virginia audience.

John Hennessy presented next, discussing many commonly held myths about First Manassas.  Of course he detailed the whole “Stonewall” Jackson bit.  For the Appomattox boosters in the audience, he quickly brought Wilmer McLean in proper perspective.  But Hennessy also covered the notion of civilians accompanying and impeding the army on the field.

Patrick Schroeder gave a rather detailed presentation centered on the 11th New York Infantry, better known as the Fire Zouaves.  He prefaced the history of the unit with an introduction to Zouave units, the National Guard Cadets, and of course Elmer Ellsworth.  But Schroeder spent considerable time detailing the movement of the Fire Zouaves on the field of First Manassas, to include action against J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry… which leads to the next speaker.

Jeffry Wert’s presentation was a year late.  Originally scheduled to speak last year when all things cavalry were on the slate, Wert could not attend due to weather.  Our loss, as Wert’s overview of J.E.B. Stuart’s military carer certainly would have complemented – or contradicted – those of Eric Wittenberg, Clark “Bud” Hall, and Scott Patchan. Always good to get different angles on the subject!

But I must say Mike Gorman’s presentation analyzing wartime images of Richmond stole the show.  In addition to a long list of credentials, Gorman also runs the Civil War Richmond web site.  What you see on the site is just a “tease.”  During the presentation Gorman “zoomed” down to the fine details of the photos, mostly taken in the days shortly after Confederate evacuation.  Perhaps the most important lesson I walked away with was the level of composition the photographers put into their work.  There’s a reason the state capitol often showed up in the frame with the ruined industrial heart of Richmond.

Yes, five good speakers with great topics.

Dr. Cole announced March 3 as the date for next year’s seminar, and the focus on 1862 subjects.  Speakers currently listed include John Hennessy (2nd Manassas), Tom Clemens (Maryland Campaign), Thomas McGrath (Shepherdstown), and Frank O’Rielly (Fredericksburg).

See you there next year!

Navy Museum faces Location Questions

Today I’m at the Civil War Seminar hosted by Appomattox Court House National Historic Site, at Longwood University.  So light posting today.  Hope to resume on Sunday.

While I’m down here along the banks of the Appomattox River hearing about the first year of the Civil War, there is one bit of news that may have escaped readers’ feeds.  The US Navy Museum’s future location faces some questions with proposals to either leave it as is, or move to a more accessible site along the DC waterfront.

Several of us Civil War bloggers have posted entries noting the Civil War related exhibits at the museum.  While dwarfed by the World Wars exhibits, the museum offers an interesting and important array of Civil War artifacts ranging from parts of the USS Hartford to guns captured during the course of the war.

Fascinating and well worth the side trip, the main problem with the current location of the museum is just that  – location.  On the plus side, the current site at the historic Navy Yard.  But it is several blocks from a metro station and not in the best part of the city.  In addition, the “Yard” is a functioning military headquarters and lacks space for museum expansion, and parking for visitors.   And as a functioning base, security restrictions sometimes prevent access.