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Saturday, March 21, 2015

ADDING VALUE TO YOUR CIVIL WAR BATTLE/CAMPAIGN HISTORY

Part 1: Let Your Fingers Do the Walking!

One way to add value is to let your fingers do the walking and research as much as you can online.  Many books and manuscripts are now online. 
 
When I wrote the first edition of my book twenty years ago, the published material at my disposal consisted of the volumes I could get at Chicago's Newberry library, the tomes I could order interlibrary loan, and the books available at the libraries to which I could drive.  This time I did much of my research online.  I used sites such as openlibrary.com.

When I was writing the first edition of my book and I wanted to review the Official Reports, I would drive up to the Bedford Park Public Library and take out the volumes I needed.  Rewriting the book, I accessed the Official Reports online at http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/m/moawar/waro.html.  I also drew upon this source for periodicals such as Southern Historical Society Papers.  Writing the first edition of the book, I had drawn upon the Newberry Library for such periodicals.

Many repositories have put online their collections of unpublished manuscripts.  Writing the first edition of my book, I was given transcripts of some of the James H. Lane Papers at Auburn University.  Since then, Auburn University has gone online.  Direct access allowed me to observe mistakes in the transcripts I had and I was able to quote them accurately.

Writing more than twenty years ago, it required research at the National Archives to obtain personal information on individual soldiers.  A few years ago, when Hampton Newsome, Esq., Dr. John Selby, and I were annotating Civil War Talks: Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans, we were able to go online to get personal information about individual soldiers.  Writing the new edition of my book on the August 1864 Weldon Railroad Battles, I resorted to http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/search-soldiers.htm.  Many other sites are available.  Google civil war soldiers!

Likewise, if I did not want to rely upon my publisher's stock of photos and illustrations twenty years ago, I had to write to a library for a photo.  This time I accessed photos and illustrations at the websites of the National Archives and the Library of Congress.  Maps are available at these websites as well.