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  • Writer's pictureDerrick

The Western Theater Initiative

I really can't believe that I have neglected to post something like this, but here we are. The complexities of "things" these last several months have definitely made life interesting and different, which has affected my posting here on this blog. Naturally, I tend to post more when I have the time to actually put in some good research and then compile that into some sort of narrative. That usually only happens when the weekly reading load for my master's classes is light, or during a break. But another thing has pulled me away from here since July, and that is The Western Theater of the Civil War.

Two years ago, I didn't even have Facebook, and when I did create an account, I naturally joined as many of the Civil War groups that I could find. I eventually unfollowed several due to their lack of quality, overall etiquette, and lack of material that I found interesting. There were several groups that focused on particular battles and campaigns of the war that I loved, and still do. They are excellently managed, and the discussions are enlightening. But...there are several aspects of the war that I want to learn more about, and there wasn't a place that I could go that wasn't flooded with Gettysburg or Lee (Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love learning about both, but there is only so much I can take while scrolling through Facebook). I looked for something on the Western Theater...and to my chagrin, I couldn't find a group that was based just on what I consider to be the most important theater of the war (There actually was, it's just that it never popped up in my searches for Western Theater for some reason). Since I perceived this to be a void in online discussion, I decided to create my own group, The Western Theater in the Civil War. After two years, we have grown to over 3,200 members.

My goal in this group was to have decent discussions that pertained to the campaigns, leaders, battles, books, individual soldier stories, and the battlefields themselves. So far, I think that has been a success. Earlier this year, I began to think that we could do more for the Western Theater. What if I could get experts on several aspects of the Western Theater to come together and contribute short blog posts on different Western Theater topics, all on one site? This is not something I wanted to do on my own, since I am naturally pretty reserved, and working full time, completing my masters in history, and being a full time husband and father, would greatly restrict the amount of time I could devote to such a project. I needed a partner, so I reached out to Darryl Smith of the Ohio at Perryville blog. I first met Darryl in 2019 when he invited me on a battlefield trip to Shiloh with a bunch of like-minded guys, and toured the park with authors Dave Powell and Tim Smith. It was an absolute blast. Knowing his ability to organize, plus his people skills, I asked him to enter into this endeavor with me. The Western Theater in the Civil War website was born.

See the mobile version of our site below:

We began reaching out to different NPS rangers at the Western Theater battlefields, the battlefield Friends organizations, authors, and bloggers who all have a focus on the Western Theater in some way. We have nearly twenty contributors that have agreed to write at different times for the site. So far, we have had several posts by excellent researchers, young historians, authors, and bloggers, with more excellent content on the way in the coming months.

We also have several upcoming learning opportunities and tours! In December, the Western Theater site will host its first "exploratory tour" of the Battle of Hartsville, Tennessee driving tour. This brilliant victory by John Morgan's combined cavalry and infantry attack against a Union brigade is quite something. Go to the site to sign up, and join us as we tour the area together. We have something similar planned for April 2021 for Tebb's Bend and Munfordville. Join us in central Kentucky as we have a great day of touring and fellowship! Like Hartsville, a sign up link can be found on the site. The one I am most excited for, and nervous, is "On to Richmond!" This tour, led by myself and Darryl Smith will tackle the portion of the Kentucky Campaign as it ran from Cumberland Gap to Richmond, Kentucky. This is a two day venture, so be sure to sign up. It also has a fee that we will use to donate to the Battle of Richmond Association. Be sure to RSVP!

Below, I have posted links to my own work on the Western Theater site, and I hope you check them out! I think you will definitely find the new site extremely helpful and enjoyable. If you are a fan of the Kentucky Civil War work I've been doing here the last few years, don't worry, I am not completely stepping away from here. My book is finally complete (!) and I will need a place to help spread the word when it is finally printed!

I have several more articles on the way, including one on the Battle of Hartsville to coincide with our exploratory tour in December, and one on a Brown Water Navy expedition on the Ohio River.

The book! I can't end this post without some exciting news on the book! If you've read the blog for long, you may have noticed my mentioning of why this site exists in the first book! Last week, I finished the manuscript and it is now being read by a publisher. I'm hopeful that when I hear back sometime in the next few weeks that they want to publish it. All I can do now is sit here and wait!

I want to thank you all for your support and the kind messages you have sent me over the last few years. It is truly touching to know that the work on here has been appreciated. As details emerge on the book, I will be sure to include that as well! For now, I wait...


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