Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Three Years of Blogging!

Today marks the third anniversary of All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac. I am sometimes surprised that I've managed to find the time and discipline to keep this self-published endeavor going. Then again, researching and writing about the Civil War is a labor of love, and I couldn't be happier that the blog provides an opportunity for me to share my passion with those who are also drawn to the study of our nation's most trying ordeal.

Three years have given me plenty of time to refine my style and hit my stride. I average around one post per week. I'd love to do more, but developing posts is time-consuming, and I only have so many hours in the day. Moreover, I am often balancing the blog with other Civil War-related pursuits, including reading, book collecting, and touring battlefields.

Yours truly at Burnside Bridge at Antietam during the 150th commemoration in September 2012. Since the start of the Sesquicentennial, I've used the blog to cover some of the forgotten aspects of Civil War history in Northern Virginia. For example, during the 150th of the Maryland Campaign, I examined the role of Franz Sigel's corps in manning the defenses of Washington while the Army of the Potomac was off  chasing and fighting Robert E. Lee in Maryland.
This past year I decided to increase the blog's presence on other social media. Twitter and Facebook allow me to share observations, ideas, or quips in real time. I also like to use social media to spread the word about various Civil War events in the DC metropolitan area or to share news articles and posts from other bloggers. During the first two years, I tended to rely on my blog posts to perform such functions, but I find that Facebook and Twitter have an immediacy and reach that sometimes works better. As a result, I tweeted and posted on Facebook a lot more over the last twelve months than I had ever done before.

I view blogging as my way to make a contribution, however small, to the field of Civil War history. I often write about lesser known aspects of the war in Northern Virginia and DC. People from across the country, and around the world, have read my blog, and I am touched that so many individuals care about what happened in this area during the war. Knowing that people are interested makes blogging that much more rewarding. I also greatly appreciate the interactions that I have with my fellow bloggers, who share the same Civil War obsession with me. Your excellent work serves as an example to follow.

Blogging has also led to opportunities to contribute off-line. A few local historians have reached out to me in search of more information about topics that I have covered on my blog. I even provided research materials in connection with the development of a museum exhibit in Fairfax. People who are researching their ancestors also email me from time to time. I like hearing about their family ties to the region, and I hope that I am able to offer them insights on the Civil War history around here. I've also become active in the McLean Historical Society (MHS) and was invited this past winter to give a lecture on the Union encampments in the present-day McLean area. This talk, my second before the MHS, was the culmination of the extensive research and writing that I've done on the camps since starting the blog. Most recently, I was elected to the MHS's board of directors and look forward to helping the organization in the year ahead.

Blogging also gives me a voice to advocate on behalf of the worthy cause of historic preservation. Readers know that I've taken a keen interest in the future of Salona. This historic property in McLean once served as a campground for the famed Vermont Brigade, and Gen. Baldy Smith used the main house as his headquarters. I've argued that the land should be developed in a manner that best comports with the historic preservation component of a conservation easement purchased by Fairfax County. My on-line advocacy led to an interview with the Fairfax Times, and I was subsequently quoted in an article on the controversy that appeared in the Fairfax Section of the Washington Post. On other fronts, I was invited to be a Blogger Ambassador for the Partners in Preservation program, in which 24 historic sites in the DC metro area competed for grants from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. I used my blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter, to campaign for Colvin Run Mill, which came in fourth place and won a $75,000 preservation grant.

Overall, it's been a great three years, and the last twelve months have been particularly fruitful. More than anything else, I'd like to thank my readers. Your engagement and interest means a lot, and you make this thing they call blogging that much more satisfying and rewarding! I look forward to sharing many more posts with you in the months and years to come.




Ben Simon said...

Ron -

Love the blog, and thanks for the effort you put into it. Living in Arlington, VA, I'm amazed at all the history you dig up in my backyard.

Keep at it, I've still got tons to learn :-).


Harry said...

Congratulations, Ron!

Ron Baumgarten said...

Ben--Thanks for reading, and I am glad you are enjoying the blog! On the way to work this morning, I was just thinking about how many topics I still need to cover!

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Harry!

Anonymous said...

Keep it up, Ron! It seems the more you scratch the surface, the more topics you find to dig into! Ken.

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Ken! I couldn't have imagined all that I would find when starting the blog three years ago. Quite the voyage.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your blog...the info is great!

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Sharon! Glad you like it.