Civil War bloggers - a durable bunch

Of the blogs launched in the last year, none have whithered away, all are interesting. That is remarkable, I think.

Andrew Wagenhoffer has been going through David Detzer's body of new work and makes some interesting points. I am a little more Detzer-friendly myself. For instance, I like idiosyncracy and take it wherever I can find it. Secondly, I like authors who do original research for the express purpose of embarassing the pompously ignorant authorities who have gone before them. Having said that, I don't like Detzer's recycling of the Centennialist "my way or the highway" tone.

I have to express personal appreciation to Brett Schulte for undertaking a massive (on the blog scale) analysis of Shock Troops of the Confederacy. I have the book, thanks to author Fred Ray, I understand it has major implications on how we interpret the history of the war's tactics, but tactics are beyond my competence. I will be following Brett's six-parter, for sure.

Kevin Levin wonders about battlefield ghost hunters: these historians are fantasizing about being on TV, I imagine. Or on a DVD narrated by Maxwell. Or on the cover of Fortean Times.

Eric Wittenberg is winning me over to his anti-Google position on scanning and storing books without permission. I have become more suspicious and distrustful of the company since he started his series. A couple of aspects of Google's stated positions: (1) If I can see it on my screen, I can save it to disk, no matter what back end technology may be running - count on it - and I'm not particularly technical. (2) If my scanned book is accessible in countries with low cost printing technology, then my books will be sold without reference to me or my publisher, given sufficient demand. I have seen bootleg editions abroad.

Brian Dirck has noticed that the new Lincoln book by Burnside's biographer maintains that Lincoln favored military solutions in the spring of 1861. That would make author William Marvel a member of the old J.G. Randall school of revisionists, who saw a generation of political blunderers start an avoidable war. I would note that Edward Ayers pointed out in his last book, historians like James McPherson have spent their entire lives fighting this thesis and they will not easily relinquish their victory over Randall and company.

Andy MacIssac has found the Medical and Surgical History of the War of Rebellion on CD and recommends it: I agree. He is fascinated by the medical material within; I am fascinated by the strength figures given and love matching them against inflated pop history numbers for Union strengths. Any eventual History of Absenteeism in the Civil War will owe much to the Medical and Surgical History.

David Woodbury considers writing that Irvin McDowell bio; go for it, I say. Tom Rowland had a contract do do one in 1999 for University of Missouri Press, I think, but it appears that project died. McDowell is not just interesting as a person, his Civil War persona is entirely wrapped up in the overwhelming politicalness of the ACW. Understand McDowell, and you understand the early war dynamic and the formed course of the later war. Unfortunately, we don't know where any McDowell papers might be. Writing a source-deprived bio, whatever it's uses, may at least produce McDowell family holdings - it's happened before. It's a no-lose scenario.

Mike Koepke has me wondering about the issues involved in saving exactly one half of a battlefield (Shepherdstown). Do you move heaven and earth to raise $1 million for a fragment? Shouldn't CWPT buy this? With Brian Pohanka's new gift?

Randy has a long post on the Gettysburg casino proposal making a crime argument: "Some of those who commit gambling related crimes will do so on the roads and grounds of the battlefield. This will tax already limited park financial and personnel resources." I assume this points to small-h hookers taking their Johns to the park - but I can't associate hookers with slots and day trippers. Moreover this mixes the moral with the financial. I hate that. Can someone point me to a clear anti-casino argument?

Michael Aubrecht needs to post more often. I expect his hybrid baseball/ACW blog will bloom pinstripes soon, leaving the dead foliage of Civil War posts a relic of winter.

Civil War author Mark Grimsley has done a spring thing - he redesigned one site and launched another. Refresh yourself.