Hello, I’m Craig Swain. Perhaps instead of formal introductions, let me answer some background questions. After all, you didn’t browse here for my boring life story! Feel free to drop me a note by commenting here, or at my email address – caswain01 on gmail dot com.
What is this blog about?
I started this blog several years back for several reasons. Please browse the Purpose and Intent post for more information on what I was thinking at that time. Since then I’ve evolved the focus toward the topics of Civil War battlefields, artillery, and of course the markers and monuments. I’ll post from time to time about preservation and perhaps “newsy” posts about upcoming events. But for the most part I try to stay within those topics. I don’t wish to use this blog as a platform for discussing current events or frivolous personal updates.
What is Marker Hunting?
Simply put, marker hunting is a hobby of mine, and quite a few others. We find public interpretive displays that relate to historical topics (a.k.a. historical markers) and document the particulars. Those particulars include the text of the display, the location, who placed it, when it was placed, and where possible the story behind the marker (how it got there).
You will notice I reference the Historical Marker Database (HMDB) a lot in posts. I am an “editor emeritus” of that web site, having served on the editorial board and as the Civil War category editor in the past. Our goal is to “hunt down” historical markers across the US (and the world, as we are international now), and document them for the web oriented community.
Why Marker Hunting?
Because frankly, you’ve passed by them, often times without thinking. These markers document our history with a three-dimensional perspectives that books often fail to offer. To me, a marker helps place the facts within the geographic setting. In some ways, HMDB serves as a resource to see “what is on site” for those planning trips, or unable to actually visit in person. And beyond just the surface, since “markers” are relocated or replaced, documenting the location and text can provide a snapshot back in time. Further, it is interesting to compare how past generations interpreted historical sites.
I had some questions about the comments placed on this blog, and responded to that in a separate page. Bottom line is that while I value your comments and interaction, I have a need to keep things focused. I will respond to inquiries and requests even if those comments are not published. And if you prefer, please contact me at the email address noted here.
“To the Sound of the Guns”?
It’s an old military phrase. Shortened from “move to the sound of the guns.” Means to go where the fighting is most intense. At first I thought “Moving to the Sound of Silent Guns” captured my intent. But found that too wordy, and feared people would assume an unintended paranormal reference. Let me put it this way – when I visit a battlefield or any historic site for that matter, I want to spend time on the ground where the action or activity took place. Nothing against visitor centers. Certainly nothing against reading first hand accounts. But I find the terrain itself is often an important primary source (and often overlooked). So I go where the guns were fired.
Speaking Engagements? Site tours?
I have in the past spoke at Civil War Roundtables, or facilitated tours of sites. Please look on my “Speaking Engagements” page for a list of topics.
I’ve lead or assisted with many tours of Civil War sites over the years. But full disclosure, I am not, nor do I claim to be, a “professional” tour guide. Nor am I a licensed battlefield guide. Some of the sites where I’ve lead tours recently:
- Gettysburg Campaign through Loudoun County, Virginia.
- 1864 Winter Encampment in Culpeper County.
- The Civil War around Charleston, South Carolina.
- Brandy Station and Kelly’s Ford.
My stance is only to review books I’ve found useful and would recommend to others with similar interests. That implies I’ll buy the book myself for use and review (such also gets around the sticky issue with blogging, book reviews, and my taxes). If you have suggestions, recommendations then I’m all ears.
Oh, and About me….
I’m an information technology consultant – specifically a professional who builds collaborative solutions for customers. That’s my day job. I leave that behind for this blog, which is 100% hobby.
I didn’t come to the IT field by way of formal education. My formal background includes a bachelors degree in history. Before I left graduate school in pursuit of a paycheck, my studies there were also in the history field. I’ve spent eight years in the Army, both as a combat arms and a communications officer. Further, I’ve made many trips since then working overseas in remote places where “hot” is not always a reference to the ambient air temperature.
I am a strong supporter of efforts to preserve our Civil War battlefields. In addition to membership in the Civil War Preservation Trust, I have been and still am a member of several local/regional preservation groups. I am also involved with the Loudoun Civil War Roundtable.