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This is the archive for September 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


I’m sorry to say I missed the opportunity to meet blogger Harry Smeltzer of “Bull Runnings,” who participated in the 2:30 p.m. “Potomac River Wading” and battlefield tour held on Saturday, September 19th and sponsored by the Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association. I was originally scheduled for the same tour, but willingly agreed to switch to the 3:30 time slot to allow another person, who could only attend the earlier tour (probably Harry), to participate. I found out about Harry dipping his toes in the Potomac by reading his blog, of course. On the other hand, I’m sure, if, on the off chance he reads this, he’ll probably experience a sense of relief he successfully dodged me.

The best part of switching to the 3:30 tour was the opportunity to meet Tom McGrath, author of "Shepherdstown: The Last Clash of the Antietam Campaign, ” who successfully led us through dangerous waters and to safety on the West Virginia shore, as only one in our group actually went under water. I concur with Harry's opinion that the “River Wading” is a totally unique experience and one that participants won’t soon forget. Well, maybe the guy who took an unexpected bath on the 3:30 tour would rather forget, but the good news for all from the SBPA is the possibility of expanding to three tours next year, thereby allowing an additional 25 people the opportunity to feel the ebb and flow of the mighty, mighty Potomac first hand, not to mention feet, ankles, thighs, and waist.

I haven’t posted about the tour yet, because something's planned that’ll appear in very near future. No, there won’t be any details or hints right now, so you’ll just have to keep checking back in the next week or two. I know everybody’s quivering from sheer excitement in anticipation of it all, but cut the quivering and pull yourselves together for God's sake.

Having finished the first four volumes devoted to 1847 to 1861 and before plunging into Allan Nevin’s next four volumes, which are devoted to the, ahem, War between the States, I finished Petruzzi and Stanley’s “The Complete Gettsyburg Guide,” re-read McGrath’s very fine book on Shepherdstown, and another totally unrelated to the war. Sometimes you just have to get away and clear your mind. But I'm struck by this thought: you can tell a truly great book, because it creates silence for the reader upon its conclusion.

Next up, before resuming Nevin’s operatic ode, is Eric Wittenberg’s biography of Ulric Dahlgren, which I actually started yesterday. That’ll be followed by Jim Schmidt’s Lincoln’s Labels. I purchased that title, not only because it was ordered at the same time from the publisher of Eric’s book, but the idea behind how companies that survive today got their start, by supplying the Union army, is personally fascinating and should make for fun reading.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Riding past an athletic complex last night and observing soccer and softball games being played on adjacent fields, I wondered if I was being chauvinistic in hoping the former never outstrips baseball, football, or basketball in popularity in this country. I can appreciate the athletic skill of those who play the world's most popular game, but my deeper appreciation for the game of baseball continues to grow with each passing year. Of course you know you're getting old when you remember a player as a rookie and his son is now in the twilight of his career. Look at Junior Griffey's career numbers, factor in his injuries, and you can't help but say to yourself, my God, what could have been. And you also have to wonder where Albert, if he stays healthy, is going to take the game before he hangs up his spikes.

Enough of baseball for now. Let's talk about what has to be one of the truly great quotes to emerge from the Civil War era. With rumors sweeping through Washington that secessionists were plotting to disrupt the counting of Electoral College ballots on February 13, 1861, by seizing and destroying them, Winfield Scott, after securing the city, repeated this promise:

"I have said that any man who attempted by force or unparliamentary disorder to obstruct or interfere with the lawful count of the electoral college vote should be lashed to the muzzle of a twelve-pounder and fired out of a window of the Capitol. I would manure the hills of Arlington with his body!"

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Humankind has been around, for what, about 12 to 15,000 years. And over the course of existance the ability to conceive truly unique and original ideas has become more and more challenging. With rare exception the overwhelming majority of us either borrow or refine the thoughts and ideas of others. If you have a thought floating around in your head, dollars to donuts, there are probably dozens, if not thousands, of individuals on the face of this planet who share that same thought, though probably not at the same time. It makes you wonder if thoughts, like wow, really, like wow, do leak out into the atmosphere. Nah, it just means we're not in any way, shape, or form as unique and individualistic as we like to make ourselves out to be. Humbling as that thought may be for those overwhelmed by their own sense of self, or who aspire to flaunt their intellectual superiority, remember, I'm a Bozo, you're a Bozo, we're all, with rare exception, just plain old Bozos riding the same bus to the same finish line.

If you read yesterday's post and then weigh it against this comment from J. David Petrucci, co-author of the "The Complete Gettysburg Guide," I guess I can now rest my case.

Don,

LOL - we can't thank you enough for, uh, wanting to destroy The Guide :) I hear ya - lots of folks have told us that, since no softcover edition is planned at the moment, they plan to get a second copy and cut it apart to re-bind. That's very flattering, obviously, that folks find it valuable enough to make such a reference out of it.

Tell ya what - meet us in Gettysburg some time, and we'll autograph that torn up copy for you, too :)

Best wishes and thanks,
J.D.

We'll see you at Gettysburg sometime J.D. I'll bring the Sharpie. Maybe I could even, like, pull it out of my sock for dramatic effect. Now that's an original thought for you.