Simpson spots a ruse

I am very pleased that historian Brooks Simpson finds merits in my arguments against Civil War numerology. When this current separation from my notes ends, I'll resume the series.

Please take a close look, also at his posting on the persistence of a certain quote ("I can't spare this man") in Grant/Lincoln folklore. The key point here, if I can chip in, is that the phony Lincoln saying in question serves a literary purpose and is therefore irresistible to storytellers. Its use in advancing a storyline trumps historical truth. And this is one problem with Civil War history today - the story drives "fact."

Another easy example of this is that of the Gettysburg shoe industry attracting Rebel columns. Storyteller James McPherson, for one, won't give up on this one despite evidence against him (he argues that all that is needed is for Rebels to have believed in shoe factories, despite the absence of evidence for such belief). McPherson won't surrender; the dime-a-dozen Grant biographers won't surrender either. Myths that serve a purpose may be permanent.

Meanwhile, if you are open to the idea that the Grant-Lincoln relationship was difficult and nuanced, go with Brooks Simpson.