Thank you readers for making July the 5th straight month that the Charge blog has exceeded 10,000 page views, and we have a chance to top the all-time record of 14,000 hits! We at the Johnny Reb Gaming Society appreciate the consistent support, and welcome your comments on particular topics you would like to see covered either in the hard copy wargaming fanzine or on this weblog.
This has been a very unusual summer for Debi and me. I have been on temporary work assignment in southern Ohio for much of the time, and Debi has been busy helping prepare for our daughter’s wedding. I have managed to squeeze in taking several business clients and colleagues on tours of the Gettysburg Battlefield, as well as tramp some Virginia fields I had not previously visited.
I managed to get some more anecdotes and stories written for Volume 3 of Human Interest Stories from the Gettysburg Campaign, and polished the final version of A Spirit of Daring: Hays’ Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, which was resubmitted to my prospective publisher for a second round of peer reviews. No word yet on a publication date for my book on John B. Gordon’s brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, but that publisher has maintained a frantic summer schedule of personal appearances.
On the wargaming front, I may get a chance to stop by Historicon a couple of evenings to wander around the gaming tables and take in the spectacle of America’s largest miniature wargaming convention. There are a series of Johnny Reb games being presented by some excellent gamemasters. Of particular interest should the “Johnny Reb Academy” being run by Curt Daniels using terrain and figures my master modeller Doug Kline of Battlefield Terrain Concepts. The goal is to expose new gamers to the venerable rules set, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary (see the May issue of Charge hard copy for an interview with game designer and author John Hill).
Rehabilitation continues at the nearby Gettysburg National Military Park, with several new fences having been constructed. This fall will see a resumption of the tree cutting and clearing, which has simply been amazing in restoring some semblance of 1863 sight lines (sorry to all you tree-huggers that hate to see the trees cut! As a scientist in the paper industry, I can tell you that far more trees are planted than are harvested each year, and overall in the U.S., more acreage is returning to trees as small farms are abandoned and allowed to return to the wild). In Gettysburg, this phenomenon of farms being overgrown with woods is exactly what the park service has been reversing, but in most of the rest of Pennsylvania (and elsewhere), there are much more woods than thirty years ago, and that is good for the environment as trees contribute to the photosynthesis process and emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So, chop away at Gettysburg, but encourage the preservation and expansion of woodlands and wetlands elsewhere.
The new Visitors Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park has been very crowded nearly every time I have been there (6-7 times so far). I met some business colleagues there this past Monday afternoon to head off for a few hours of touring, and it was difficult to find a parking spot, despite the large number of lots. I expect the crowds to dramatically thin as September approaches and the tourist season wanes. I noticed that the old relief map of the battlefield that used to be in the Cyclorama building is now on display in the new VC, leaning against a previously barren wall. There are a few new interpretive markers explaining its history and showing it on display at an old early version of the World’s Fair. Another marker talks about its creator, E. B. Cope, a member of the Gettysburg Battlefield Commission and a cartographer. The restored Cyclorama reopens in September, and I can’t wait to see how it’s being displayed, with foreground dioramas fading into the painting itself (which I understand is how it was originally presented to the public a century ago).
For those of you visiting the battlefield later this month or in early August, don’t forget to take advantage of the two-hour, ranger-led battlewalks. These free walks / talks are similar to the popular anniversary walks, but without the PCN camera crews and the huge crowds. These are more intimate and give you an excellent chance to openly discuss the events, terrain, people, and tactics with the experts. The walks are held every afternoon about 3:30; a daily schedule is available at the new Visitors Center.