Thursday, May 28, 2015

Five Years of Blogging!

Today All Not So Quiet Along the Potomac turns five. When I began blogging in 2010, I wasn't sure what the future of this endeavor would bring. Looking back, I can truly say it's been an interesting, rewarding, and sometimes enthralling experience. I find it hard to believe that I've reached the five-year milestone in what has been one of the busiest times of my adult life.

That said, life's stresses and responsibilities finally took their toll on my blogging this year. For a number of reasons, including a new home, new commute, new daughter, and greater work responsibility, I just couldn't find the time to do a post or two every week, and so I adapted accordingly. I tend to post every other week now. Not that I won't go back to what I was doing a few years ago, but for now, the frequency is likely to remain a bit less than in years past.

At the same time, I've maintained a very active presence on Facebook and Twitter. Truth be told, I communicate more with readers through these social media platforms than through blogging. I also like the immediacy of posting live to Facebook and Twitter whenever visiting battlefields and other Civil War sites.

One of the best things about blogging is the ability to set your own agenda. In prior years, I wrote a heck of a lot about the Civil War encampments of present-day McLean, Virginia. But this year has brought an intense focus on the contraband camps of Northern Virginia. I've enjoyed sharing my discoveries on this little-known topic with my readers. My interest led to a speech before the Arlington Historical Society as well as a related interview with WETA-TV.

I also began to write more about my Civil War ancestor, Pvt. William Baumgarten of the 102nd Pennsylvania. In January, I had the pleasure of talking with William's living grandson, Richard, who happens to be one of my parents' neighbors back in Western Pennsylvania. Richard even gave me a framed photograph of his grandfather. I also took the opportunity to follow William's wartime experiences in 1864, culminating in my participation in a descendants' reception for the 150th anniversary of the Third Battle of Winchester.

And speaking of the Sesquicentennial, this year as in years past I wrote about numerous 150th anniversaries, both large and small. I also reported on my attendance at various Sesquicentennial events at places like Cold Harbor and Ford's Theatre. As the 150th commemorations wind down, I will miss this aspect of blogging, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I have a bit of burnout on all things Sesquicentennial!

At the start of 2015 I also launched a "Civil War Views" series, which has become a relatively popular feature. I have liked sharing and analyzing various photographs and sketches of the war in Northern Virginia and Washington. And believe me when I say that there is no shortage of rare and lesser-known images to discuss.

As an artilleryman with Cooper's Battery B, 1st PA Light Artillery at an event at the Langley Ordinary, McLean, Virginia in June 2014.
This year I continued to have enriching conversations with my readers and fellow bloggers, who have written to share research, ask advice, or discuss aspects of Northern Virginia Civil War history with me. I thank all of them for their continued interest and enthusiasm, which makes blogging so worthwhile. I also had a chance to participate in a living history event with my friend and reader, Keith Foote, of Cooper's Battery B. Helping to fire that Parrott gun was a true highlight of the year. And publishers continued to send review copies my way. (Look for a review or two in coming weeks....)

I am not sure what the future will hold, although I have a long and backlogged list of topics to cover. Some of these date to my time in McLean; others relate to my new home in Loudoun or random research ideas I've been meaning to explore. In addition, I have my eyes on a few non-blogging Civil War projects. If the last five years are any indication, I am sure that this year will be no exception.

Last but not least, thanks again to all of my readers. I appreciate the interest and am looking forward to the year ahead!


Unknown said...

Congratulations, Ron. I admire your commitment and quality of work. Your posts are always "must reads."

Now get to work on that backlog!

Ron Baumgarten said...

Thanks for the kind words, Craig! Likewise.