In our battle-centric misuses of Civil War history we often encounter historians passing judgements on the basis of military science. The extent of the historian's military science tends to be very poor, infantile almost, being limited to evaluating a straight-line sequence of top-level orders (where these are even available).

This is one reason I like Debris of Battle: the Wounded of Gettysburg, a new book by Gerald Patterson. All of the phenomena associated with neglect of the wounded on a massive, unimaginable scale are here put into play and include army organization, military decisions, command transitions, headquarters' culture, and personalities. The light this volume sheds on the quality of the command and staff of the Army of the Potomac is remarkable.

It takes a major breakdown to make this level of insight available.