9 April 2012
Update April 2012: He’s back. Thank goodness! Now subtitled Civil War Generals in Black and White, but with very similar layout and still at the address generalsandbrevets.com. Thank you, Mikel.
Original post of 30 Jan 2010, “Generalsandbrevets Gone”: As I’m sure you know by now, the excellent web gallery Generals of the American Civil War is offline. The site was a comprehensive online collection of photographs of very nearly every Confederate and Union General (about 1,000 individuals) – plus most of the 1,400 Federal officers who were made General by brevet. It had operated since 2001 as generalsandbrevets.com, and I remember it being up under another url for at least a couple of years before that.
When I first noticed the loss back in March 2009, I asked site owner and collector Mikel Uriguen about it by email. He could only tell me that he could no longer keep it going. I asked if I could help in any way. I also offered to host and maintain the site on his behalf, but have no further reply.
On the original site he wrote:
I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Mikel Uriguen and I live in Bilbao, a city in the Spanish Basque-Country. I’m a long-time enthusiast of the American Civil War. On this site I’ve tried to collect pictures of every general officer of the War. It’s usually interesting to put a face with a name.
In another section of this site you’ll also find the pictures of those officers appointed to brigadier or major general by brevet.
I realize that this type of site might be a little dull to some visitors. But we have to remember the real value of data-base sites: they assemble related material (in this case pictures) in an organized way and offer it to those who are interested.
He’s absolutely right about the tremendous value of his online collection. For that reason, I’m having trouble simply accepting that it’s gone. I think it’s too useful to too many people to let it go extinct.
As an experiment in PHP programming I’ve prototyped a database-backed site that might reprise the concept of generalsandbrevets. I have excess capacity on my own server and I could make some time over the coming months to re-gather and index the photos and push them into the database. It wouldn’t be difficult with a good picture “scraping” script – or help from online friends. Given that all the pictures he so carefully collected and posted are in the public domain, there’s no legal reason I couldn’t build another website home for these Generals’ faces.
The problem, of course, is that it was Mikel’s site – and his image collection – and he’s chosen (or been forced) to take it down. The reasons are none of my business, and his privacy is key. I feel I’ve already intruded enough and don’t want to badger him again.
So. What to do, what to do. Swoop in like some kind of vulture? Just let it drop?
Either of my readers have a thought?