As I mentioned in my farewell letter on May 31, we are working on a plan to benefit subscribers. We have had to retool our website to accommodate better communication with you and allow information on discount codes and other offerings to flow smoothly. Since our subscriber database is separate from our website, the first step toward receiving those benefits is for subscribers as of May 31, 2017, to register at this link (which also appears at the top of the online store page): Priority Subscriber Registration
I also want to thank everyone for the kind comments conveyed on the website, and through emails and phone calls. It was most gratifying and helped to ease an otherwise sad and painful reality.
I had just turned 30 when my late wife Robin and I launched the premiere issue of Blue & Gray. That was more than a third of a century ago. Then, a few years ago, as I entered my 60s, folks started asking about an exit strategy. Did I have one? My answer was no, I don’t. I will continue publishing Blue & Gray until someone tells me to stop. Well, that time has come.
The handwriting is on the wall. After the Civil War Sesquicentennial the subscriber base has declined to the point we can no longer afford to pay the printer and the post office, the costs of preparing the driving tour — which is the hallmark of the publication — and rising health care costs. Furthermore, our book business, which helped support our publishing efforts through the years, has all but disappeared with the advent of online discount booksellers, against which we simply can not compete. The staff at Blue & Gray headquarters for most of the last decade has consisted of just two people — my son Jason and me.
While there will be no more issues of Blue & Gray, we will continue to maintain the website. We are also exploring ways to convert unfulfilled subscriptions into credits that can be used for back issues and our book titles, while supplies last. So, continue to visit the website for updates.
This has been a very difficult letter for me to write. Since you’ve gotten used to me signing myself “The General” at the end of every driving tour, I’ll quote a real general, one who faced a far more difficult decision, and bid you all an affectionate farewell.
Each Map in Blue & Gray is placed on the page in several layers. During our review of the printer’s online digital proof prior to printing, we noticed the three two-page Battle Maps were marred by stray lines and marks. In the process of correcting the matter, the titles of those Maps were sent to a different layer and, unfortunately, did not print. The titles should have appeared as follows:
Map, Pp. 16-17, “Bentonville Battle Map 7, March 20, 1865”
Map, Pp. 58-59, “Bentonville Battle Map 8, March 21, 1865”
Map, Pp. 60-61, “Bentonville Battle Map 9, March 21, 1865”
The line of blue infantry crested the hill just as the officers gave the order to halt. Men caught their breath and then looked to their weapons in anticipation of resuming the fight. As his men enjoyed a few minutes of rest, Maj. Gen. Joseph A. Mower took stock of the situation. A veteran of Corinth, Vicksburg and the Red River Campaign, Mower had watched as his division shattered the thin Confederate left flank. He was now well beyond the Union position.
Mower stood poised to push even farther and inflict more damage in the enemy’s rear. Through the course of the attack, his brigades had lost cohesion, and he had been forced to break off the advance. The pause was fatal. Suddenly, in the distance, a line of infantry in ragged gray and butternut appeared, bearing down on their foe. Mower’s opportunity had withered away.
The End in North Carolina
We featured Bentonville more than 20 years ago when Mark Bradley’s and Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes’ books on the battle were published concurrently in 1996, followed by Mark A. Moore’s excellent maps in his Historical Guide to The Battle of Bentonville (1997). Since then there has been scant new material focused solely on the Bentonville battle and campaign. When one considers that Sherman’s campaign through the Carolinas that led to the Confederate surrender at Bennett Place is the Western Theater equivalent of Grant’s final campaign that led to Appomattox, there is a huge gap in the amount of literature between the two major theaters.
Formed from headwaters that flow through four states before passing the United States capital, the Potomac River has rightfully been called the Nation’s river. First used as a highway of exploration and settlement by European settlers, the river famously served as an avenue of invasion by British forces during the War of 1812. Forgotten today, between Spring 1861 and early Spring 1862, Confederate batteries effectively stopped all riverine traffic. While the Confederate Blockade of Washington, D. C., never realistically put the fate of the city in doubt, it severely embarrassed the Lincoln Administration, particularly during a time of repeated Union disasters.
Folks often call or email inquiring about upcoming issues. For callers, when I’d say the blockade of the Potomac, after a moment or two of silence the response most often was, “What blockade . . . there was a blockade of the Potomac River? When was that?” Truth be told, my reaction was similar when Rob Orrison, Virginia Historic Site Operations Supervisor for Prince William County (Va.), pitched the idea to me in February. I wasn’t sure there would be enough to warrant a “General’s Tour” treatment. Rob and his coauthor Bill Backus said there was. Bill is Manager of Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park in Prince William County. For the historical enrichment and enjoyment of us all, they were right. Read more
After a wild couple of days, the website and and online store are back to full functionality…shop away!
By Rob Orrison and Bill Backus.
Shown is a view of the Potomac River from Confederate fortifications at Freestone Point near Dumfries, Virginia