Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Four Years of Blogging!

Today All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac turns four. At this same time in 2010, I was preparing for the arrival of my twin boys, and my wife was wondering why in the world I was spending so much time in front of the computer! Once the kids were born in June, the blog provided a nice outlet from the stresses of nascent parenthood. I had no idea how long All Not So Quiet would survive. I just knew I wanted to try my hand at writing about the Civil War, one of my longstanding and most passionate interests. Well, here I am at four years, and still going strong.

Since 2010, I've written nearly 300 posts, largely adhering to a schedule of publishing once a week. My social media presence has become an expanding part of my on-line activities, and as of today, I have 347 Facebook fans and count over 1,000 Twitter followers. I am also thankful that All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac recently was added to the Civil War Trust list of Civil War blogs. (That very webpage in part inspired my own entry into blogging!)

Over the last four years, I've aimed to introduce readers to some interesting and more obscure aspects of the Civil War in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. My occasional focus on the McLean area has helped to develop a picture of how the conflict impacted civilian life in Northern Virginia. I have tried to provide insights on other topics as well, including antique book collecting and Civil War-related sites in locations farther afield, both at home and abroad.

I've always appreciated the personal interactions that I've had with my readers, and this past year brought a few very meaningful experiences. Last June a woman wrote to me about a Sunday school tract that was taken from the "House of a Rebel" near Lewinsville, Virginia by Sgt. William A.C. Oaks from the 7th Pennsylvania Reserves. She was kind enough to send me the book, which has become one of my most cherished possessions. (It even appeared on the pages of Civil War Times in April!) This spring a distant relative also contacted me after reading a post I had done about family history. She confirmed my relationship to William Baumgarten of the 102nd Pennsylvania, and even sent me a picture of William and his brother. I was very moved to learn that I had a Civil War ancestor and have since been following in his footsteps throughout the Overland Campaign. I also have had the good fortune of meeting historians like Gene Schmiel, author of a recent bio on Gen. Jacob Cox (more on that soon); Roland McElroy, a local expert on the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church; Todd Berkoff, a master of all things Army of the Potomac; Susan Gray, curator of the Fairfax Museum; and Candace Gray, a graduate student with a passion for the story of freedmen and women. And as always, I have enjoyed interacting with my fellow bloggers, who serve as a constant source of inspiration to me.

Out on the Bristoe Station Battlefield for the 150th with fellow blogger Craig Swain of To the Sound of the Guns (middle) and Todd Berkoff (right). Thanks to Prince William Historic Preservation Foundation for capturing battlefield stomping in action.

This past year has also led to a deepening of my interest in Northern Virginia's contraband camps, and I have continued extensive research and writing on the subject. The story of the contraband camps is an often overlooked part of the war around here, and I am immensely pleased that I have been able to get the word out through the blog and otherwise. The Fairfax Museum & Visitor Center featured some of my research as part of the Fairfax 1863 exhibition. I was also honored to give lectures about the camps at the Fairfax Museum and before the McLean Historical Society. Needless to say, I've just scratched the surface of this topic, and many additional posts are in the works for the upcoming year and beyond.

Given that we are in the middle of the Sesquicentennial, I've also continued to provide coverage of 150th anniversary events like those at Bristoe Station and Spotyslvania. I've also tried to follow a Sesquicentennial timeline for Northern Virginia and Washington. Now that the Alexandria Gazette is available for on-line at no cost, my ability to discuss happenings in "real time" has only improved!

Overall, it's been another wonderful year. As I've said before, the blog is a labor of love. When I am tired at 10 p.m. following a hard day's work, bedtime often beckons. But the passion for the Civil War is always there, motivating me to put in the extra time digging through old documents, checking secondary sources, and drafting posts. Learning about the war, and spreading that knowledge, is immeasurably rewarding. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to the year ahead!


Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Ron! I look forward to more posts.

Harry Smeltzer said...

Congratulations, Ron!

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Harry and Craig!

Todd Berkoff said...

Ron, congrats on the milestone and thanks so much the shout-out! Keep those posts coming! Did I hear something about the US 2nd Corps??

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Todd, and glad to give a shout-out. 2nd Corps? I will have to see what I can do!

Jim Schmidt said...

Congratulations Ron! Aren;tthe personal interactions great? I've had some great exchanges with descendants of people I've featured on my blog and have been told some great stories as well. It's a privilege. Keep up the great work! :-) Jim

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks, Jim! I find the interactions to be one of the most rewarding aspects of blogging, so much so that I have tried to keep track of them all in an email folder!