Fisking "South Mountain" - 2

Having stated his purpose, "to set the historical record straight regarding the nature or character of the Battle of South Mountain," the author of "South Mountain," Steven Stotelmyer, then sets out in summary form several of Timothy J. Reese's arguments about the battle. These are arguments developed – as the footnote shows – in four of Reese's letters and two of Reese's books. He says of Reese's points that his "historical allegations may seem to warrant merit, they are in fact bald assertions with little or no historical basis to back them up."

Historical "allegations" are not developed in the course of two heavily footnoted books and four letters – substantial arguments are. It is anyone's privilege not to be convinced by arguments but to denigrate Reese's level of research and demote the arguments themselves to "allegations" shows a level of personal feeling that raises our distrust of what Mr. Stotelmyer plans to say. Deeply suspicious too, is his aversion to identifying Reese by name in the text of his essay.

Stotelmyer says:

Adherents of the tenet of separation often state as fact their belief that Crampton’s Gap and South Mountain are well documented as two wholly separate engagements, or 'battles,' that the linking of the two battles are merely literary and administrative conveniences that have only been employed in recent times.
Who are these adherents? Are we still hitting at Reese here, or is there someone else in the picture?

It has been alleged that all campaign documents support this tenet of separation. In support of this premise it has been asserted that the participants of the engagement at Crampton’s Gap set it apart from South Mountain and recorded it as such in their after action reports. However, an actual inventory of the available Union reports reveals otherwise.
Stotelmyer should nail down this putative error with a who said what when and where.

Having set up the debunking of the idea "that all campaign documents support this tenet of separation [of Crampton's Gap from the other battles]" our author elaborates a little: "… there are a wide variety of terms used by the participants to name the 'battle,'" he begins. So this is going to be a nomenclature analysis? But the question is not one of nomenclature per se, it is whether "all campaign documents support this tenet of separation," whether they do so via nomenclature or any other way.

But let the chicken-counting begin:

Indeed, out of the twenty-three reports there are six that call the engagement “the Battle of Crampton’s Pass.”
Count six for the defense of the claim that all campaign documents support the "tenet of separation. "

There are five reports that use no name at all; they simply record the movements and events of the unit involved.
Count five that do not not lump CG in with actions at Fox's or Turner's thus passively supporting the claim that all campaign documents support this tenet of separation.

Of those left, four use the term "engagement,"
Which is irrelevant unless enagement explicitly subordinates to battle; count four more that do not not lump CG in with actions at Fox's or Turner's thus passively supporting the claim that all campaign documents support this tenet of separation.

three refer to it as the “action on the 14th”,

Too ambiguous to count, I think, although there was a lot of action of the 14th.

two use the term "operations,"
"Operations" marks a higher level of art than "battle" when not used generically; operations are conducted by independent commanders. Count two more for the contention.

one simply calls it "the battle of the 14th instant," one refers to the unit being "employed on the 14th instant,"
Too ambiguous to count, I think.

and one refers to it as "the storming of Crampton’s Pass."
This is specificity in defining a discrete military action and linking it to a geographic site - as plain as calling it a battle. Count another for the claim of "all."

Out of the twenty-three then, only six (nearly one-quarter) use the terminology "the Battle of Crampton’s Pass."
This is supposed to be the blow that undoes the argument.

I would say, on the contrary, that out of the 23 reports, 18 divide the action from the battles for the northern gaps either actively through specific language or implicitly by ignoring the northern actions and that five accounts are phrased ambiguously but do not subordinate Crampton's Gap.
We can therefore confidently say NO campaign documents explicitly support the idea that CG was part of another battle. We can also say that all campaign documents support this tenet of separation by NOT explicitly linking CG to the other battles.

Jesuitical hair splitting? I think not: the idea that 23 accounts can be reduced to six because of the use the magic phrase "battle" in connection with Crampton's Gap misses the point entirely.

Debunking unbunked. More to come...