Is it terribly wrong to be irritated when an author refers to McDowell's forces at Bull Run as the Army of the Potomac? Repeatedly in one work?
Any number of authors do this and it freaks me out every time. I stop for awhile. Can't go on. It casts a shadow on all that follows.
Some of you are thinking, "There were no army designations apart from the department then." Partially right. Scott was against divisions and armies. And what was McDowell's department called? The Department of Northeast Virginia.
I see from Eicher and Eicher that McD is department commander from 27 May and that he picks up a title from July 8 on, commander of the Army of Northeast Virginia. I want to know more about that, not less, and calling the Army of Northeast Virginia by another name is giving me less.
Here's another eye-opener that may indicate all is not well in Civil War history. McDowell co-exists as army commander with McClellan when McClellan is called east. McDowell does not relinquish his army command until 15 August; Mansfield does not relinquish his department until August 18. There's a major essay lurking in that.
I know this sort of arcana (names of armies, limits of command) places a terrible burden on history writers but we readers like to know true from false. Humor us.
You don't have to call it "The Army of Northeast Virginia" if that's going to confuse your editors. But don't call it the Army of the Potomac. Please.