Harry posted some unfortunate news yesterday – the passing of Dick Weeks.
I can’t say that I’d met him in person, formally that is. Very likely he and I crossed paths a time or two, given our geographic proximity and mutual interests. It is my loss. And a profound loss.
Dick maintained a website that was, I think, a evolutionary step for Civil War in the web-facing world in the days before blogging was established. I don’t know when Shotgun’s American Civil War Home Page first started. I recall sometime in 1998 stumbling across the site and adding the bookmark. And there it has remained, through computer upgrades and four different preferred browser platforms.
What made Dick’s site better than the rest was how he aggregated content. Back in the day, most websites were single faceted with respect to content. Some were simply a webmaster’s interpretation of a battle. Others were collections of primary materials. Others were simply fronts for message boards. And don’t forget the chat rooms with their supporting boards and sites. Even the UseNet for those willing to wade into circular, pointless arguments. What Dick did is bring some of that into one place, well organized for the casual browser yet with enough cross-links to aid those looking for the details.
A good example of the collection of materials is the Strategy and Tactics page – primary source materials, essays from historians, a chat log, and short excerpts from books. Pick a battle or topic. Find the appropriate section on Shotgun’s site. Get to reading.
Yes, the format is showing its age (and that is relative to the web world where “old” is more than 12 months, mind you). But I dare say if you desire to build up your background knowledge of a particular subject, a good place to start reading is Shotgun’s site.
Dick Weeks may be gone, but he has left us with a gift which I hope is maintained in the years to follow.