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Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Only 9:50 a.m. and already a great day!
I just printed out the completed rough draft for “Confederate Encampments of Spotsylvania County: Campfires at the Crossroads” AND I’ve been busy this morning recording radio spots for AM 1230's TravelHost segments. (Plus there's bagels in the kitchen!) It doesn’t get any better than this folks.

UPDATE: In an effort to leave you, my beloved readers, with something that is actually interesting to read and not just a self-centered mention of my salivation over free bagels and a microphone, below is a short excerpt from the Winter Quarters section of my upcoming book “Confederate Encampments of Spotsylvania County: Campfires at the Crossroads.” This highly-original study is not all painful recollections of camp life and death. I also include some fun pieces and little-known events. For instance…

It is understandable that troops who were stuck in winter quarters would search for new forms of merriment in order to break up their day-to-day routines. Although a thick blanket of snow made for uncomfortable sleeping arrangements it did allow men to be boys. Sometimes snowball fights would erupt, pitting large groups of soldiers against one another. It has been said that the largest military snow exchange occurred in Northern Virginia on January 29th, 1863 when a group of Texans initiated a battle against their compatriots from Arkansas. The melee spilled over into other camps and resulted in a scuffle involving over 9,000 soldiers from the Army of Northern Virginia. Similar friendly engagements took place across the county of Spotsylvania.

Entry from the journal of John Elsten Cooke, staff officer with General J.E.B. Stuart, ANV Cavalry:

Camp “No Camp” (Spotsylvania, VA)

Jan 30th ’63 …A great snowball battle among the Brigades which was worth seeing. Yesterday Hood’s Texans & Georgians issued from their camp near Lee’s Hdqrs. and led by Gen. [Brig. Gen. Micah] Jenkins attacked and routed [Brig. Gen. Joseph B.] Kershaw’s SZ. Carolinians camped toward Mrs. Alsop’s. Inflamed with victory the Hood boys today advanced in battle array with flags flying and led by their officers against [Brig. Gen. Thomas R.R.] Cobb of [Maj. Gen. Lafayette] McLaw’s Div. (as Kershaw is). The camp is just back of ours in the pines. The scene was a lively and funny one. The Hoodites charged into the camp, drove out the Andersonites [Wofford] and put them to rout. But they rallied got reinforcements, and drove the Hoodites from the woods, across the Telegraph road, and into the fields, with storms of balls (snow).

What was the horror of the Hoodites to see Kershaw’s men, drawn up on their left flank, ready to attack. They halted and their leader rode forward and parlayed – he demanded assistance against a common foe – the Yankee Anderson [Wofford]. A long parlay, refused at first, but compliance at last, and the combined forces attacked the enemy. Anderson was drawn up on the crest of a hill, and fought with desperation but numbers overpowered him. He fell back in confusion, his foes pursued; and burst into his camp. “Come on boys!” was the cry “here’s your blankets, your cooking utensils, and everything!” Some thought they were in earnest. Then Hood as usual conquered.

The scene was a very good mimic battle. The men advanced and fell back, deployed, and charged – turned the enemy’s flank, and “carried on” generally like real fighters. They had guidons for flags; and the regiments marched in very good order to the battle. There were many officers galloping about with irresistible air of leading their men – others were shouting in furious tones to stragglers – and snow balls flew as thick as leaves in an autumn wind. I saw it from horseback and laughed heartily I think I will write it out for the Whig or the News.

Source: Trout, Robert J. With Pen and Saber: The Letters and Diaries of J.E.B. Stuart's Staff Officers (Stackpole Books, January 1995)

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 9:53 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 June 2009 12:48 PM EDT
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Saturday, 13 June 2009
Praise for receiving praise

Yesterday I received a wonderful email from Gary Thomas, one of my favorite Christian authors, in regards to my Civil War devotional “The Southern Cross.” This book seems to have touched a lot of people as I get more feedback on this particular work than any other title I’ve published. Gary is not only a gifted author who has found a way to write spiritually influenced books that help married couples and parents, he is also a nationally recognized speaker. His books, DVDs and curriculum are used by churches all across America. Gary is also a Civil War buff and at one time, he edited the Manassas RT’s newsletter. We had exchanged books a few months ago and it is a real honor to have him comment on my work.

Michael, I am now 3/4 of the way through TSC and enjoying it very much. Some of those stories will play really well in future sermons! I was familiar with several of the stories, but they're so good it was nice to be reminded of them again. And then you pulled in many less familiar ones as well. The Whitman quote really hit me; for some reason, it just never dawned on me that the injured could lie there for days, not just overnight. The Lee quote about feeling responsible for his students was so inspiring, as Lee always is. With my son going to Notre Dame, it was fun to read about one of the school's early presidents; never made that connection before. I LOVED the nurse's quote you came up with: "I have never worked so hard in all my life and I would rather do that than anything else in the world." The Confederate Prayer is amazing, and before your book, I never made the connection that Stonewall's bravery was tied so closely to his belief in providence. Lots of great stuff there.

Thank you Gary. Your validation is a blessing indeed.

Visit Gary Thomas’ website and get your own copy of TSC

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 4:10 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 13 June 2009 4:14 PM EDT
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Thursday, 11 June 2009
Short Flic

The Naked Historian: Behind the Scenes
This video explains my procedure for researching and transcribing source materials. It was filmed in response to viewers who are interested in my latest book for THP's American Chronicles Series. 

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 11:53 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 11:53 PM EDT
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Lights. Camera. History.

This afternoon I met with an associate of mine to discuss our upcoming TV spots for Stafford County public programming. Without giving away all the details, I was informed that we have been able to acquire a large collection of digital stock video footage from a generous donor that will be spliced together with the ‘live’ segments that we plan to shoot on site. In addition to ‘official’ tourism spots, we are also going to be producing some hi-end episodes of “The Naked Historian,” which is being expanded beyond the borders of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania to include Stafford County. This project will be fully underway by July. Before then, I’ll continue to shoot my own versions of TNH to entertain the masses. This weekend I’ll be out at Chancellorsville Battlefield shooting a special two-part episode. Stay tuned as I will be posting the videos here. This project is in addition to the documentary that I am helping to produce with a movie company out of GA. We begin shooting this summer with a full crew and local experts.

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 4:26 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2009 5:03 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 9 June 2009
Archaeological Resources Protection Act ?

Me: ...I am researching Confederate encampments in Spotsylvania County and the surrounding region. My friends at the National Park Service suggested that I query you in regards to obtaining copies of any information about registered sites, in the Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg region that were designated as Confedederate camps. It is my hope we can use this data to put together a general map of possible locations…

VA Dept. of Historical Resources: ...Thank you for your interest in Virginia's historic resources. Unfortunately, detailed information related to archaeological sites is protected under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act (1979). This information is only available to professional archaeologists or cultural resource management professionals...

Anyone out there a professional archaeologist or cultural resource management professional - whatever that means?

Posted by ny5/pinstripepress at 10:04 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 June 2009 10:48 AM EDT
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