My Civil War Eyes Were Bigger Than My Civil War Belly!

Hello dear readers, I just wanted to pop in and let you know about some changes that I’ll be making.

Over the past couple of weeks, researching and writing the CWDG has become a mentally exhausting chore from hell. I attribute this to the fact that I was in the midst of the Maryland Campaign. As many of you know, I’m a little over four months ahead of the game. So over the past two months, I covered the Seven Days Battles, the Northern Virginia Campaign, the Maryland Campaign, plus the Kentucky Invasion and the Iuka Campaign in the West.

Keeping up with the blog the way I have been has become completely unsustainable. I put three or more hours of research and writing into this each day and that wears on me. At the end of last week, I basically decided to stop. I was going to pick an event (maybe the canning of McClellan or the release of the Emancipation Proclamation) and wrap it all up.

But the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to do that. With some encouragement from my friends (especially Ryan), I’m going to do my best to tramp on.

This will mean, however, some changes.

First, my posts are meticulously annotated. I love that I do this, but it takes quite along time. What I’ve decided to do is list the sources at the end of the post, similar to the way that the New York Times guy doing the Civil War posts does. As for the Official Records, I’d still like to give the specific volume and page numbers.

Second, I’ve noticed that readership on weekends is less than half of what it is on weekdays. I’ve also noticed that most of the people who skip posts on the weekends don’t read them on Monday. In light of that, I believe I’m going to scale back on posts that will appear on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. I’ll give a brief overview, of course, but will try to keep it under 400ish words (posts lately range from 1,000-1,300 words).

Lastly, I’ll probably be scaling back posts in general, especially when it comes to details. I love details. Growing up near Gettysburg, I’ve discovered that I wasn’t really interested in the Civil War as much as I was obsessed with Gettysburg. My favorite spot on the battlefield was Neil Avenue, my favorite action was the Battle of Hunterstown, followed by whatever was going on at Powell’s and Wolf’s Hills.

Details are my bread and butter. For example, I spent nearly thirty minutes trying to research whether Sterling Price actually wept on the battlefield at Iuka, or whether he did so after. This is ridiculous. Personally, I blame battlefield guides like Gary Adelman and Tim Smith and their obsession with minuscule and completely unimportant details that are, for me, endlessly fascinating and exciting.

Details are interesting (I’ve heard the Devil lives there). And so hopefully readers pitch some in via the comments section.

Though I’ll be making these changes now, you won’t actually see them for another four months.

This will hopefully give me some time to do other things, such as keep up with my other blog Hey I’m Over Here – a travel and photography blog that I do with Sarah about our treks around Washington and Oregon. There’s plenty of history here if you know where to look.

Thanks again for reading, commenting and supporting this overwhelming project of mine. I really appreciate it.

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My Civil War Eyes Were Bigger Than My Civil War Belly! by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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33 thoughts on “My Civil War Eyes Were Bigger Than My Civil War Belly!

  1. I just wanted to comment to say that I have been very much enjoying this site since last summer. I have made many a reference to it on both my blog and facebook. I appeciate it!

    At the same time, by all mean, tailor the scale of the project to what is workable. I, for one, would far rather have something than nothing!

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks! I’d rather do something than nothing. Hopefully, the changes will be mostly behind the scenes and few will notice.

    1. It’s pretty much exactly three. Oddly, I already have the last post planned out. I mean, I know the exact event that I will use to wind it all up.

  2. I have wondered how you kept the pace. I find it challenging at times to read each post daily, let alone research, compose, and publish daily. You are to be commended for your efforts to date. And any output you maintain going forward will be most appreciated. Follow your passion. If that means traveling with the Jackelope and Smartz, great. If that means studying the American Civil War. good for us. If it means something else, then I hope it is fulfilling for you. Thanks for what you add to our lives…

    1. I’m pretty sure that I can only keep this pace because of the weird hours that I work (5am – 1230pm) From 1pm to 4pm, I’m writing CWDG.

      Many travels with Smartz and Timer Rattler the Jackelope will follow. But I should be able to juggle the both of them (while juggling vegan donuts, of course).


  3. Eric–you do what you have to do–I do not want any more casualties added to the ever-growing total of Civil War dead! The otters need you!!

    1. The otters are always encouraging me! But up here, in Twin Peaks country, the Otters are not what they seem….

  4. You have done some excellent research over the time that I’ve been following your posts, and brought out many points that I was only vaguely aware of. I want to thank you for those herculean efforts.
    Take more time for yourself. You deserve it!

    1. Thanks so much. Honestly, I knew next to nothing going into this. So anything you’re learning, I’m learning too. It’s great fun!

  5. I totally understand. Your approach is so different from what I am doing. I’m just publishing content from 150 years ago, yet the shear volume can be wearing, especially now that I’m back to work full-time on a new contract. I do have a lot of material scheduled in advance, some past the end of the war, in fact.

    However, to do the research that you are doing for each of these individual posts is awesome. I didn’t realize that you had it done so far in advance. Great job!

    1. I never intended for this to be my approach. It kind of blindsided me. I was five months ahead when I started, so over the past (nearly) two years, I’ve only lost about three weeks. Not bad, really. If I have to – absolutely have to – I could skip a dull month that nobody cares about. Like February 1863. What happened then? 🙂

      Actually, I have no idea.

  6. As was said by commenters to date, do what you can and do what you have got to do to sustain it. We all love whatever energy you can throw at this endeavor.


    1. There will be no giving up! Probably. I mean, my life is ideally set up for this now, but I suppose that could change in unforeseen ways. If so, I’ll come up with a compelling and fantastic story as an excuse. 🙂

  7. Eric,

    I continue to read daily, and want to be able to help in come way. If you want a proofreader, I can so that for you. I can’t claim perfection, but who can? A second set of eyes will find things like “but it takes quite along time.” and return “but it takes quite a long time.”

    Don’t doubt for a minute that hundreds, even thousands, more than comment appreciate this blog and the efforts you put into creating it.



    1. Thanks for the offer. I’m not sure about proof readers at this point. I’m certain I need an army of them, but I’m weird about stuff like that.

      I definitely pay attention to the stats and am humbled that so many people regularly follow the CWDG. It’s beyond what I ever dreamed of.

  8. And your Civil War belly is still sometimes bigger than my Civil War eyes. I’ve commented before about the remarkable effort that clearly goes into CWDG. Reducing that effort until it once again becomes fun (or reaches zero) seems most sensible. I read every post although I do it mostly via RSS so don’t show up in many stats. And I’ll admit that my reading is occasionally part skimming. My skimming is actually rather rare and is most likely to occur following a road trip when I’m way behind. While I’m on the road, there rarely seems to be time to read CWDG or any other blog so there is a mountain of reading awaiting. But a mountain of reading is nothing like a mountain of writing (and meticulous research) and, as I dig and skim my way through it, I marvel even more at the effort you’ve put into it.

    Musicians who enjoy performing are inherently more fun to see than those who grind out notes with eyes on their watch. Same with writers. When CWDG stops being fun there’s a pretty good chance it will also stop being good.

    1. I admit that my writing is sometimes skimming. Sometimes I’ll look down and have 300 words and have no idea where they came from. Not saying that I’m channeling some divine spark – I just go on auto pilot.

      But writing is something that I really want to work on. I’d love to fit the phrase “scaling parapets of their own dead” into something. I mean, why not?

      Being on the road takes precedence over anything. I’d really like to get back on the American Highway forum. But time… yow…

      Very very true about fun = good. You’ll see that a bit between the battles of Second Manassas and Antietam. It stopped being fun and I’m betting the quality dropped. These new measures will help that quite a bit, I hope.


  9. I would continue to peruse a Reader’s Digest version of the CWDG, maybe even welcome it as others have commented, it’s a challenge to read daily, let alone research, write and edit it daily! I enjoy reading The Civil War Day By Day by E.B. Long yet Eric’s blog blows that away! We are only in year 2 of the War, Eric will burn out early if we don’t allow him to adjust accordingly. Eric, do what you need to keep this baby humming. BTW I donated some books a few months ago through Amazon Wish List, the least I could do to help the war effort!

    1. Oh hopefully it wouldn’t become a Reader’s Digest! I’ll condense, but not THAT much!

      And thank you so very much for helping out with the donations. They’ve gotten me through most of September 1862. Thank you so much!

  10. this is one of the few civil war blogs that i actually look forward to reading- and if your caught up till september- take a month off or so-regroup-refit-and youll miss it so much it will be beter than ever[if thats possible-cause your doing very well] anyway good luck with ever you decide

  11. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and I can’t fully express how much I enjoy it and appreciate it and am in awe of the work you do on it. Please continue and make whatever scaling down is required. In the end you could be compensated by compiling it into a book, The Civil War Day by Day? It would be a great book.

      1. Are you kidding?!?!? I absolutely LOVE the maps. It continually impresses me that you find good maps to clearly indicate movements and position to those of us who have never visited the battlefields you are describing!

        1. Oh the maps themselves are great! The Library of Congress has preserved them well. My additions, however… well, I do my best.

          I love maps, so this is a wonderful treat – an added bonus that I had no idea would be a part of this project.

  12. You’ve done a remarkable job and I marvel at how you’ve been able to keep up the pace. I struggle to keep up my blog and it doesn’t involve nearly the writing yours does (more reading the O.R. and figuring out what to use each day).

    A historian friend of mine told me last summer the real test would be what I’d feel about the effort by the time I got to Cold Harbor. I think I understand now better what he meant. The first year was relatively easy because I’d have days with only 30 or so pages in the O.R. to go through and now that all heck is breaking loose in 1862 it is alot more effort.

    The payoff, though, is we’re experiencing the Civil War in real time. Here we are on the Peninsula and there is no Robert E. Lee in the field. But by September he’ll be a legend. You don’t get a feel for that pace and the twists and turns unless you study the war in sequence. Taking it a day at a time has been much more rewarding than I would have imagined.

    Don’t forget your blog is read by other people but it is for you. Move ahead in whatever way you find enjoyable. I think you’ll be surprised to find even if you have times where you aren’t able to put as much in people will understand and still read and enjoy it. Good luck to you no matter how you decide to move forward.

    1. Cold Harbor? Just wait until August 1862! Too much going on. It seems to die down towards the end of Sept though.

  13. Question. Is there life during blog? They sure do take up a long time, even if enjoyable time. A true labor of love.

    Keep up your fine work regardless of what shape it may take.

    1. There is absolutely life during blog. For proof, check out my road trip blog or even my personal blog (though I wouldn’t say there’s much life there).

  14. Just read that you had thought about giving this up for all the time and effort it is taking. Just want you to know how much I appreciate what you are doing. Reading about the Civil War on a day by day basis puts an entirely new perspective on it. You have given me new insights I never would have had. I just purchased “Lincoln’s Abolitionist General” which you put me onto. It’s a little dry, but still very interesting. I am particularly interested in reading about his presiding over the trial of Lincoln’s assassins after the recent movie about Mary Surat which was critical of the trial.

    Please keep up the good work. It starts every day for me.

  15. Eric,
    This is great but I agree with the posts above that you have to follow your heart. If it gets so you dont enjoy it, take a break from it. But I, for one, would really miss it. I am STILL trying to catch up. Way behind just in reading it, so I cant imagine how difficult and time consuming your research and writing is.
    Keep up the good work!!

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