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Blue & Gray Magazine Ceases Publication

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.

d roth sig

78 Comments Post a comment
  1. Chris Shelton #

    I just received an email stating that the last issue, on The Wilderness, will be available to subscribers as a digital download. I’ve been wanting to see a treatment go that battle for years. I’m just wondering what it would take to see a hard copy produced – if the spirit is willing.

    Like

    June 30, 2017
  2. Charlie Downs #

    Blue & Gray is the best! So sorry to see you have to cease operations. I bought my first copy while doing a tour of Manassas with Ranger Hank Elliott in 2011 and bought a copy of the First Manassas issue in the book store and have been a subscriber since. I just ordered several back issues and one day hope to have them all if I can find them at a reasonable price. I will definitely miss Blue & Gray, but it was a great run. Dave, hope you enjoy retirement and Jason, I wish you the best of luck in you endeavors.

    Like

    July 5, 2017
  3. Greg Sweatt #

    Wow! Just read the news today about Blue & Gray to cease publication. As a charter and continuous subscriber (starting back in the “old days”) I am sad to see the the end come. I was only a few years older than Dave Roth when the magazine was launched. Oh, how the years fly.
    Best to all at Blue & Gray in the years to come.
    Greg Sweatt
    July 10, 2017

    Like

    July 10, 2017
  4. Lawrence Nothdurft #

    As a charter subscriber this just kills me. I enjoyed the magazine so much…….

    Like

    July 11, 2017
  5. Brian Sandor #

    I just found out. I’m very sorry to see BG end, but its very understandable. Thank you for everyone of these great issues.

    Like

    July 20, 2017
  6. Paul Whitmore #

    Sorry to hear this! B&G was my favorite CW magazine. You’ll be missed, but I thank you for your New Market issue.

    Like

    July 26, 2017
  7. Troy Rhodes #

    Sorry to hear the magazine is ending. I really enjoyed it! Thanks to you and the BG staff for doing such a fine job for all these years. Best wishes to you all in your future endeavors.

    Troy Rhodes

    Jacksonville, Fla

    Like

    August 2, 2017
  8. Glenn Pitts #

    Dave, I’ve got every issue.
    I never subscribed because I wanted to ‘hand pick’ my issues at the newsstand and avoid possible damage in the mail.
    Sure, I had to buy a couple on Ebay and from you directly once I believe, but otherwise, I hand selected each issue.
    I wrote my own MicroSoft Access database application to catalog every issue so I could use my PC to search for any subject or individual and immediately identify each vol & issue the topic was in too. (Beats searching by hand)
    I will miss Blue & Gray – the definitive WBTS publication.

    Like

    August 6, 2017
    • Chris Shelton #

      Glenn,

      I don’t know a lot about the magazine business (other than it’s headed downhill), but I’m pretty sure that the more subscribers they have, the better off they are – especially with regards to what they can charge for advertisements within said magazine. I’d think that a company is more willing to advertise if they see that the magazine has a larger base of subscribers. It sounds B & G may still be going if they’d gotten more circulation.

      I hope the next time that you find a magazine you like, you will actually subscribe to it. And if you get a few issues/topics that you don’t care for as much, GIVE them away.

      Like

      August 7, 2017
      • Chris Shelton #

        And as for possible damage to your magazine, B & G always came delivered in a plastic sleeve. I’ve subscribed for years and never once did I get a seriously damaged issue – just slightly creased due to an overzealous postal worker. And if one had been damaged, I’m sure B & G would have replaced it free of charge.

        Like

        August 7, 2017
  9. James Reilly ( no relation to artillery NC regiment) #

    Keep my money for the enjoyment 6x per year was worth every penny. Sorry to read this.

    Like

    August 9, 2017
  10. James Reilly #

    Your Blue and Grey was the best publication in my lifetime. It was the best early morning read before work of all time. I will miss my 6X times per year but alas I have kept almost every copy since hmmmm 1991 or 1992 ? Don’t sweat the money if I have any left, use it for whatever expense comes your way.

    Like

    August 9, 2017
  11. Larry Meier #

    So sorry but truly understand. You unselfishly put out the finest. Thank you.

    Like

    August 12, 2017
  12. I just came across this and am very sorry to hear the news. As an on and off subscriber over the last few years, this makes me wish I’d have been more supportive. Your publication stayed focused and was refreshing as so many others have veered into the social history genre. Your magazine was an excellent one and, unfortunately, a casualty of our times. In addition to the reasons you stated, I also believe part of the reason for declining interest in publications like yours is the dismal state of history education in the United States. With the focus on politics and social issues, rather than soldiers, military leaders and battles, lots of potential subscribers aren’t interested in learning about the more traditional aspects of Civil War history. We see this reflected in the current maelstrom over Confederate symbolism and monuments. One CW publication even went to far as to recently give a platform to a “historian” advocating for not just removal, but actual destruction of these monuments. Another CW blogger is suggesting Confederate monuments be removed from Gettysburg. When you see that kind of focus coming from ostensibly credible quarters, it drives potential students of the CW (and subscribers) away.

    It is truly a sad state of affairs. I wish you and yours the best in future endeavors.

    Like

    August 16, 2017
  13. Captain Dave Sulin #

    Dave, I have been with you from the start and cannot thank you enough for your efforts to educate those of us who have an interest in all things Civil War. Your “tours” have been eye opening experiences as I have followed the directions given and read with interest the sort of “rest of the story” interpretation of events. You have accomplished much to be proud of and I know that there are many others like me who will be carrying dog eared copies of Blue & Gray with us for years to come as we traipse around battlefield sites trying to get a better handle on the action. Thanks again for doing such a great job for as long as you did. Your publication will be sorely missed, believe me!

    Like

    August 16, 2017
  14. Pete Wallace #

    David, I spoke with you earlier today. It saddens me terribly to find out my favorite publication is having to shutter its operations. I have subscribed since the beginning (or at least the time I knew of your publication) and never was I disappointed with even one issue.
    I have learned so much about a war that I thought I knew a lot about already from you. I subscribed to every Civil War magazine published at one time but yours was the last and only one that I kept up my subscription to until the end. Yours was the only one worth my money.
    As someone mentioned above too many of the others became about blaming and chastising history. Something that cannot be done.
    I will miss those plastic envelopes containing Blue & Gray terribly but sadly all things come to pass. As you well know it’s just the good ones that hurt so much to lose. Know that you will be missed and that I appreciate every issue that you published. As for the future maybe something good will come of all this nastiness that prevails in our country today. Possibly a reawaking of the desire to learn more about the second most important event in our nations history may spur a renewal of interest of your magazine that your and Robin’s son Jason may be able to use to reestablish Blue & Gray. We may not be around to see it but who of us knows?
    Again THANKS for all of the Generals tours, if I win the lottery some day I plan to dig out all of my old issues and follow every step of them (that is if there are any Civil War parks or monuments left to see.) Thanks for devoting your time so that we all could learn about the “little things” that the soldiers went through. It’s been a fun ride sorry to see it end.

    Pete

    Like

    September 5, 2017
    • James Reilly #

      Pete Wallace those were nice comments. I laughed when you mentioned that ” plastic” cover with the new B and G issue. Boy I miss it so much.

      Like

      September 5, 2017
  15. Mark Merritt #

    I’m so sorry to see this. I haven’t been paying attention when I realized I did not get my subscription in the mail the past few months. Been a subscriber since 1985, I will certainly miss this magazine! Good luck, I’m sure glad you were part of the landscape.

    Like

    September 30, 2017
  16. ARTHUR CANDENQUIST #

    I was a charter subscriber of B & G, and just learned—-in November—that the magazine has folded. So sorry to see it go. Thankful that Dave and Jason agreed to publish my two-part article (August 1991 and August 1997) on keeping time during the War, before Standard Time was established in 1918. I admit not really paying attention and missed a notice about publication coming to an end.
    You’ll certainly be missed.==AC

    Like

    November 8, 2017
  17. Charlie Townsley #

    Dave…. yours was the best CW magazine hands down, as a charter member from issue # 1 I always looked forward to your issues. The General’s Tour was always carried along on my civil war excursions. Thanks once again…you will be missed!!

    Like

    November 26, 2017
  18. It was with a heavy heart that I read of the discontinuation of B&G. Even though 34 yrs is a good run, still, I was looking forward to more insightful issues; particularly those that would touch on my home state of Virginia. I did a lot battlefield tramping over the years and B&G was a constant companion. Thank you Dave and to your late wife Robin, and to Jason for your service. You will be sorely missed.

    Like

    November 30, 2017
  19. Bob Elliott #

    I also will miss Blue & Gray. It was the best magazine for those of us who like to see where the history took place. I found the sad news when I called David to see if per chance I had allowed my subscription to expire since I hadn’t received an issue in a while.

    For those of you who appreciate on-site visits of Civil War battlefields and worry that they may not be around much longer, please consider becoming a member of the Civil War Trust.and help us preserve that Hallowed Ground so it will always be available to tour. The Trust has saved over 47,000 acres in 24 states so far and has several more purchases for which they are currently seeking contributions.

    As Jim Lightheizer at the CWT ends all his letters: “til the battle is won”.

    Like

    December 13, 2017
  20. As a former military officer, your magazine with the accompanying maps explained the battles so clearly that it was a delight to read and study. Keep my money that you might owe back. VR. Lt. Col. Jeff Addicott

    Like

    December 18, 2017
  21. Art Candenquist #

    I am a charter subscriber to B&G Magazine, and I’m sorry to see the ceasing of publication. I believe I had about a year to go on my subscription—I always renewed for more than one year each time, so I’m curious to see how the subscription issue will be handled. Best of luck, Dave and Jason, on the future.

    Like

    December 18, 2017
  22. David Robinson #

    I think i started getting the B&G in the early 80s and over the years my family grew up lugging issues of these sacred scrolls in the very footsteps of my ancestors thru Virginia, West Virginia,.Maryland and Pennsylvania.Oh those many nights after a day on the battlefields the 5 of us sitting in our motel room rehashing what we had seen of that day’s travels,matching it too the most excellent B&G photos.Dave and Jason a part of my life, just like a part of your life has run its course.I hope you take as gospel the fact that THE BLUE AND GRAY magazine was manna for our love of the late unpleasantness. The perfect template of what a magazine on history should be.May the spirits of those true men of the 1860s protect you.

    Like

    December 23, 2017
  23. T W Englehart #

    Dave,

    As a Blue&Gray subscriber from the start, I will miss your excellent and informative publication. You have brought incredible joy to this Civil War History buff over the many years. I commend you on your dedication to preserving history and to passing on your love to so many. Godspeed and a heartfelt THANK YOU!

    Like

    January 11, 2018

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