BLOG, or DIE. Author Bio
Thursday, 13 August 2009
I can hardly wait...
This week I humbly accepted an invitation to speak at a banquet dinner for the Civil War Home Chatroom’s 2010 Muster. The CWHC is a wonderful organization made up of extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic Civil War buffs from around the country. Each year, members of this group gather together for an extended weekend at one of the country’s historic CW sites. For 10+ years they have visited hallowed grounds in both the western and eastern territories. Next year’s event is taking place in June and will encompass sites along the Shenandoah Valley.
Now these “musters” are not your ordinary tours by any means. This is a first class organization that spends a great deal of time coordinating a one-of-a-kind experience. From custom-designed commemorative shirts and hats, to special tours, member awards and a book exchange, the CWHC does it right. They also tap historians and experts with local networks that enable them to access sites that the general public cannot.
On the final night of each muster they hold a special dinner and I have been given the honor and privilege of giving that evening’s presentation. This year’s focus will be New Market, Port Republic, Cross Keys and Lexington and I will be speaking about one of my favorite subjects, “Stonewall” Jackson. The title of my piece is “Jackson’s Journey: Stonewall in the Valley” and it will present a look at a brilliant military campaign that forged the legacy of a lion.
As many parts of the weekend’s tours, especially those in Lexington, will cover Jackson’s family, friends, and personal life, I will be focusing on how the success of the Valley Campaign helped to re-define Jackson as a military giant. I plan to recap each engagement and offer a look at how Jackson’s actions were received on both sides. It’s quite different from talks I’ve done on ‘Stonewall” in the past (most have focused on his spiritual life), but I love the challenge of examining an old friend in a new way.
Jackson’s Valley Campaign has been heralded as one of the greatest military maneuvers in American history and rightfully so. Over the course of this mission Jackson’s 17,000 men marched over 600 miles in 48 days and successfully engaged three Union armies (52,000 men), preventing them from reinforcing the Federal offensive against Richmond. The campaign not only secured a series of crucial victories for the Confederacy, it also solidified Jackson’s reputation and a swift and savvy commander.
My talk will examine Jackson as a leader and I am really looking forward to including some great maps I’ve come upon to reinforce his troop’s remarkable achievement. Quotes from firsthand accounts and recollections will make up the conclusion of the piece. Of course I will have my usual PowerPoint visuals and I am bringing some of my own books to do a signing after the festivities are over. (I am also hoping to join the group for a prior tour and have solicited the assistance of my good friend, author and historian Richard Williams.)
Events like these, and the passionate groups that hold them, are a major reason I started writing about CW history in the first place. There is nothing better than sharing our collective knowledge to gain a better understanding and appreciation for our nation’s story.
Tuesday, 11 August 2009
A bright shining star emerges
Special thanks to proud mom Kathleen Warren for sending me this article. I am so very proud of young Richard and I am looking forward to his performance above all the rest of us "boring old farts."
Salem boy portrays soldier in Civil War documentary (The Roanoke Times)
Richard Warren, a 10-year-old from Salem, recently turned actor for a part in a Civil War documentary. Warren portrayed the young Richard Kirkland, a South Carolina soldier who earned the nickname "The Angel of Marye's Heights" when he volunteered to cross enemy lines to take water to wounded Union soldiers during the fighting around Fredericksburg. A Georgia-based filmmaker recently came to Salem to shoot the scenes involving Richard.
Here's what Kathleen tells us:
About a year and a half ago, my son, Richard had a chance to do a living history presentation for a school project. He enjoys studying Civil War history (both sides) and decided on Richard Kirkland, someone that is not very well known in some circles. Remarkably, he did a great job for a 9 year old...so much so that Michael Aubrecht, a Fredericksburg author and historian put the video I did on his blog. He has since had the opportunity to give his portrayal for two 4th of July celebrations, a New Year's party, in front of the Stonewall Jackson Shrine and on the Sunken Road in Fredericksburg. (You can see this on youtube if you type in Richard Kirkland.)
Later, a Savannah filmmaker decided to do a documentary on Kirkland. Filmmaker Clint Ross contacted Aubrect, the Fredericksburg author, and through that connection, a film crew recently came to Salem to shoot the scenes involving Richard Warren as the 10-year-old Kirkland.
Here's what the filmmaker has to say about the project:
Basically, close to a year ago I contacted Civil War Author Michael Aubrecht after I had seen a piece he had written regarding Richard Kirkland "The Angel of Marye's Heights". I spoke with him regarding the idea of shooting a short screenplay about the event that launched Kirkland to national acclaim. I thought the story was captivating and left my mind and heart troubled by the complexity of the situation. "What would I have done?" was my question. It made me question war and the nature of men. In the words of Megan Hicks from her audio book What Was Civil About That War... "I do not understand the nobility of men... I must say, I am truly mystified." Michael and I hit it off from the beginning, we just naturally were propelled to tell this story. I went to the Film and Television's dean at my school, Chris Auer, and asked him if I could film this story for my Thesis. BTW, my school is Savannah College of Art & Design - www.scad.edu. Along with him and the overseer of my Thesis, Michael Nolin, I was granted permission to first do a documentary about Kirkland.
It was here that Michael became my co-producer and we adventured along to tell this story. We decided to showcase the event that occured at Fredericksburg and the memory of Kirkland. We looked into the ways Kirkland has been commemorated since th event in 1862. I phone interviewed Civil War artist, Mort Kunstler, award-winning audio book writer Megan Hicks, National Park Service Ranger Donald Phanz, historian and author of "The Long Role" Joseph Matheson, Civil War Historian John Cummings, and Civil War Author Michael Aubrecht. All these people brought a unique element to the Richard Kirkland story. I am including original music composed by Canadian Bluegrass musician Will White who wrote a song about Kirkland called Fredericksburg 1862. I have also included several dramatic scenes to capture Kirkland at his childhood, the night he contemplated leaping the wall, and his actual running across the battlefield. All in all, I am hoping this will turn out to be a quality film that is worthy of the story it is telling.
Those involved in the film were myself - Clint Ross (Director/Co-Producer), Michael Aubrecht (Co-Producer), Zach Graber (Cinematographer), Nazar Loun (1st AC or Camera Operator), and Clayton de Wet (Sound Mixer). We filmed in Camden, SC - Kirkland's hometown - Fredericksburg, VA - Where the battle took place and where Kirkland's act occured, and Salem, Va - Scene from Kirkland's childhood, which includes Richard Warren age 10, your son.
I am expecting to have this film completed by Dec.12th - the night before the Battle of Fredericksburg.
"Off the Beaten Path" segment
My latest radio spot for AM 1230: Spotsylvania Confederate Cemetery
Monday, 10 August 2009
BIG NEWS for the NCWLF
As many of you know, I am the Vice-Chairman of the National Civil War Life Foundation. Today I am VERY pleased to share the following announcment:
The National Civil War Life Foundation Awarded Prestigious Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services
August 10, 2009: Fredericksburg, VA - Thanks to a $150,000 grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), The National Civil War Life Museum will be able to support the design, fabrication and installation of two exhibits, Life in Camp and Technology and Armament and War. Life in Camp will focus on recreating camp life with objects used daily by soldiers. Technology, Armament and War will include artifacts and newspapers of the time period highlighting the influence of the industrial revolution, involvement and diversity of civilian factory workers, and innovation and ingenuity of the Civil War era. Both exhibits will become permanent installations in the museum’s Civil War Life Gallery. The project coincides with the 2011 Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration.
"The Civil War is the defining event in American history since the founding of our Republic. Many of us have studied its history, battles, tactics and strategy; some have delved into the fundamental causes and the dominant political, economic, and human rights issues. However, we cannot truly comprehend the magnitude and impact of the Civil War era unless we take time to understand the bravery and sacrifices, individually and collectively, of those who fought on both sides, and all whose lives that were indelibly shaped and affected before, during and in the aftermath of this epic struggle. To this day we still live with the legacy, outcome, and consequences of the Civil War." - Col. Horace McCaskill Jr., USA, (Ret) – Chairman of the Board, National Civil War Life Foundation.
"As repositories of our nation’s treasures and our nation’s history, museums are positioned to play and integral role in the education of their communities. Museums for America grants support projects and ongoing activities that build museums’ capacities and help these institutions serve their diverse constituencies to the best of their abilities." - Dr. Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services
IMLS received 433 applications requesting more than $48.4 million. Of these 167 projects were selected to receive $19,176,000. The projects selected represent a wide spectrum of activities that will help museums serve their communities better through increased education programs, community outreach programs and behind-the-scenes projects.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.
Hot off the press
I just finished typing up my review of “The Last Days of Stonewall Jackson” for the Free Lance-Star. I’ll post a copy here when it goes to press. An updated version of a previous publication, this new book is truly a homegrown title. Researched and written by NPS Volunteer Chris Mackowski and Ranger/Historian Kris White, it was produced by local graphic-designer Jackson Foster and funded by the Friends of Fredericksburg Area Battlefields. According to John Hennessy, Chief Historian and Chief of Interpretation at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, this book is the first in what will be a series of publications to come out jointly under the NPS and FOFAB logo. Also in the pipeline are titles on the Wilderness and Ellwood, Chancellorsville, Chatham, and Clara Barton. Each will be produced locally and released through Thomas Publications. I find this extremely exciting as its always great to see regional histories flourishing.
On a related note, I just spoke with my rep at The History Press and they have begun production on my newest title as part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial Series. Today the marketing dept. officially settled on the title: “The Civil War in Spotsylvania County: Confederate Campfires at the Crossroads.” Projects like these are extra-special to me as it's an opportunity to share history on a local level. (Stay tuned for updates as the finished piece progresses.)
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