New books

There's a new George Thomas book out today that strives to offer "a more balanced, nuanced picture than has previously been available." It also seems to use fog of war: "Einolf depicts the fighting from Thomas's perspective to allow a unique look at the real experience of decision making on the battlefield."

Also new (this goes into our baffler files), a title that collects essays from "the best-known Civil War historians" in order to present an "alternative view" of the ACW.

Let's see: the people most invested in a meme are going to rock their own boats. Sure.


Civil War cosplay (cont.)

Funny follow-up email from fellow blogger and anime guru Mitch Hagmaier on Civil War cosplay:
Hah! I used to run that anime convention. If the fanboy hordes we delivered to the Inner Harbor made your life ever so briefly more surreal, then our job was done.

In recent years, it's degenerated into an insanely bloated fun-house version of high school, and I got tired of playing bursar & over-aged hall monitor to a swarm of oddly-dressed, hypercaffienated teenagers.

If you want to see ACW-themed cosplayers, wait and see if somebody does a popular or semi-popular historical anime set during the period. There was Gun Frontier, but I think I was one of about ten people in North America to buy that series, to judge from their sale numbers. And the kids don't like to dress as random thug #2 (unless their costume consists entirely of a sign reading "random thug #2", which I have seen - lazy sod) but rather some distinctive supporting character or protagonist or love interest.

There is one guy on the artist alley circuit - he runs a fly-by-night manga adaptation company, or at least he did the last time I took note of him - who wears a butternut kepi. That's probably the closest you'll get to ACW cosplay - a Japanese guy named Bennett wearing a Confederate kepi & cross-dressing as "Sailor Venus".

A Sailor Venus otaku, top right, minus kepi. Shudder indeed.

"Lincoln on Communication" - no joke

Does this make you laugh out loud? It's a DVD: "Lincoln on Communication" ...
How would you feel if Abraham Lincoln could speak to your class or seminar, your course on business communication or interpersonal communication? You’d be thrilled, of course. Now you can do the next best thing. By showing Lincoln on Communication, you will enable your students to learn Lincoln’s communication secrets, the tactics and strategies that made him effective at interpersonal communication as well as a great writer and speechmaker.
January 15, 1862 - Stanton is appointed Secretary of War; General-in-Chief McClellan learns after the fact. Lincoln tells McClellan he felt no need to inform the general because Stanton was McClellan's "friend." (His "friend" didn't tell him either.")

February 9 - New York Times Editor Henry Raymond writes to New York BG James Wadsworth to tell him the decision has been made to relieve McClellan of the general-in-chief portfolio and that McClellan will be commander of the Army of the Potomac only.

March 8 - Lincoln confronts McClellan with charges of "traitorous intent".

March 11 - Orders demoting McClellan are issued by Lincoln. He sends the governor of Ohio to to tell McClellan.

March 12 - McClellan reads of his demotion in the newspapers. He writes a goodwill letter to Lincoln. He receives a "shape up" speech from the governor.

March 13 - McClellan learns of and protests the appointment of Wadsworth to the Washington defenses.

March 15 - Stanton offers the job of commander to the AoP to Ethan Allen Hitchcock who refuses.

April 2 - Stanton asks a senator to propose Napoleon B. Buford to Lincoln as commander of the AoP.

April 2 - Wadsworth and Hitchcock report that the capital is not safe.

April 4 - Lincoln and Stanton divide McClellan's old department into pieces without informing him. His I Corps is withheld. McClellan must now coordinate his operations with equals in the theater of operations. He is also placed in the department of John Wool, who retains department command. Wool insists he outranks McClellan.

Back to the DVD:
Discover the most powerful tool of executive leadership: effective communication

Develop interpersonal communication by finding out more about Abraham Lincoln's leadership style
And may heaven help you.


Come celebrate grumpy Wednesdays

This is one for Ted's or Sarah's blog. It's an author story.

On the day of publication of a certain book, Amazon and B&N give descriptions of the book but do not list its author(s). Meanwhile, I cannot find the book's publisher on the web. I post what info I have about the release on the day the book comes out with a note about not finding the authors. (This transpires at CWBN.)

One of the authors writes later to identify himself as such and to ask that the blog entry show his name and those of his co-authors. He says I can find the names of his co-authors at a certain URL.

Puzzling over this special task set for me, I go to the URL and see it is a publisher's site with no search function. I browse a minute, then write him back that I cannot find his book and can he name the authors in an email. He graciously replies with the names of the co-authors and directs me to Amazon, where they are now listed. (Amazon was not where he initially directed me.)

More authorial weirdness: In the first email exchanged, he referred to his book by a name other than its title. Perhaps it was the original working title; it confused my search efforts. In his second email, he referred to the title of his book by a different variant - still not the title.

I guess authors have as many nicknames for their books as they would for their pets.

Oh, you authors. Not as blackly humorous as this, but still.

Baldy Smith's quote

Reader Paul Martini has generously supplied the quote I was looking for here. He says it "came from Ernest Furgurson's Not War But Murder on page 235."
And it was Baldy Smith, the corps commander who had been farthest forward with his troops on June 3, who asserted years later that the concept of that assault -- "an attack along the whole line -- is denounced by the standard writers on the art of war, and belongs to the first period in history after man had ceased to fight in unorganized masses. Giving up the few advantages belonging to the assailants, it increases largely the chances of successful defense, and would never be adopted by a trained general, except perhaps under certain peculiar conditions, where also the attacking force had an overwhelming superiority in numbers."


Over the Topps

I once owned a few of these myself. Strong on narrative, weak on analysis.

Tom McMahon did a nice post on them back in June.


Will Civil War re-enactors eventually wander cities in uniform to congregate at streetcorners "simply for the objective of showing off their 'cosplay' capabilities and marveling at the outrageous attire of fellow otaku"?

If Japan is an indicator, yes.

p.s I was stopped at a light in Baltimore a couple of years ago and became fixated on reading and rereading the ungrammatical bumper sticker in front of me. It was trying to say, "In case of rapture, this vehicle will lose its driver." As I untangled the syntax, my car became surrounded by jaywalking otaku - ever increasing numbers of otaku. Ah, the rapture has arrived. After I came to my senses, I noticed the hundreds of insanely costumed strollers were filing into the convention center for an anime confab.


Holiday giving

If you are looking for Christmas or Hannukah gifts, you could patronize one (or all) of the small presses that specialize in Civil War titles.

This list is not inclusive but here we are:

Eric Wittenberg's Ironclad Publishing is well worth your time: I particularly enjoyed A Little Short of Boats and intend to buy Dave Smith's Pemberton book next.

Butternut and Blue keeps a low profile but this is a must visit for a copy of Tim Reese's High Water Mark, central to understanding McClellan's intended outcome for the battles in the gaps.

Morningside Bookshop is a book store that publishes a long list of titles. The quality of the paper and bindings exceeds the standards enjoyed in the heyday of publishing. My Baldy Smith bio came from Morningside.

The Camp Pope Bookshop is another retailer/publisher. The books look very well made and focus on regimental level material in the western theater.

Westholme publishes a lot of ACW titles, though it's not exclusively about the Civil War and it's larger than the publishers listed so far. I will be enjoying Stealing the General by Russel S. Bonds during my Christmas vacation.

Savas Beatie is like Westholme in terms of size and focus. We speak much here of Army of the Potomac, but this house publishes important Civil War books consistently. I'm a little bit off topic in my S-B reading currently with Indian War Veterans.

If you can encourage a Civill War publisher this season, why not do so?

Union corps commands - final installment

I am tallying the best corps turnover data I can from multiple sources and will make this "good data" the final post of the series when completed.


Union corps commands: chaos at the top, 3d/4

Apologies, apologies - the citations are not at hand.

I gave away my review copies of Ernest B. Furgurson's Not War But Murder and Gordon C. Rhea's Battle of the Wilderness after the hardbacks came out in the same season at least five years ago. In one or the other - I can't recall which - there is a fascinating quote from William "Baldy" Smith (right). He said the Army of the Potomac in 1864 had reverted to a form of warfare from the earliest period of human history. (This observation does not come from his memoirs, BTW, in which the same thought is formulated verbosely.)

Given that Smith had a grudge against Grant (and perhaps Meade) we should nevertheless consider the extreme terms in which Smith portrayed a regression from the early war in which he was a division commander and later corps commander. He could have called Grant or Meade imbeciles in the idiom of the day, but he chose instead to express the AoP's predicament not in terms of failed leadership, but with an institutional metaphor. That is a fascinating choice and has much to do with the insane turnover at corps levels.

As noted previously, evidences of regression in the AoP abound and they are not necessarily about personalities (Grant and Meade) - they are signposts of an institution in catastrophic disarray.

Consider incidents of the late war in the East. I bring them up in the order that I encountered them, as best I remember, and they are but a sampling.

Charles Wainwright, in his diaries, notes on May 8 1864 that his movements as commander of I Corps artillery reserve in a night march were blocked by a huge column of infantry moving 1/2 a mile per hour. A veteran of the 1862 Richmond campaign, he says "Never before did I see such slow progress made." Assuming that night marches implied urgency, he sought out Meade's HQ to report the obstruction and found Meade and his staff sound sleep. Meade - this is me speaking - was relying on corps commanders to execute his orders, corps commanders some of which would reach the extreme limit of their experience after two months.

Charles Wainwright, Furgurson, and Rhea all note the phenomenon of snarled traffic at crossoads in 1864. To an early war reader, this is simply incredible. The AoP commander had fixed this problem in 1862 on the Peninsula with protocols to be followed anytime different units encountered each other at crossroads. The Meades and Hancocks had successfully followed those protocols in the early war. By 1864 all was forgotten. The AoP was now tending toward the popular concept of imbecility. Nor is there any way for Grant and his Western imports to discern that this was happening, whether the disintegrated AoP of 1864 was any different from that of 1862.

Wainwright, messing with senior AoP officers on June 26 1864, took especial delight in encountering potatoes and fresh vegetables. Another show-stopper for early war readers. These had been introduced into the enlisted man's daily diet on the Peninsula in 1862 following the recommendations of the Sanitary Commission. By 1864, they had devolved into an eccentric novelty in the mess tents of the senior-most officers.

Furgurson and Rhea quote from the unpublished diary of Captain Washington Roebling (photo right), General Warren's ADC, who refers to the AoP's 1864 night marches as unguided lunges into Egyptian darkness (referring to the Egypt of Mosaic plagues) in search of positions never reconnoitered. Again, to the early war reader, this is beyond shocking: the AoP of 1862 was led by engineers and ADCs in to the precise position intended for them. In the Mexican War Meade himself had been such an engineer-scout for Zachary Taylor; McClellan would argue his ACW reconnoitering engineers into alternate positions after his own, personal reconnaissances of corps positions. Egyptian darkness = archaic regression.

In his military history classic, The Wilderness Campaign, author and park historian, the late Edward Steere, is continuously (and erroneously) baffled by what he considers to be Meade's errors in the field. But Meade is delegating to a changing cast of characters with no institutional memory at corps level - they are the corps commanders du jour, accidental battlefield tourists. Meade's failure - if I can interpose here - seems to be that he imagines himself in some sort of time continuum connected to 1862 whereas in fact he exists in a fractured time-space in which all that was known in 1862 has been irretrievably lost and must be learned again. Grant, if I can again interject, appears as would a Martian landing in the middle of the Eastern theater in 1864 with only day-to-day realities to guide him towards norms.

Meade does not know he has regressed; Grant cannot know Meade has regressed; the corps commanders - the pounding engines of regression - live from moment to moment until their 60 - 90 days of fame is up. They are the time travelers who bring the AoP back to Smith's earliest phase of human warfare.

And so we find in Steere provacative section headings: Awkward Dispositions; Meade Withholds His Blow; Meade Miscalculates; Faulty Communications; General Offensive Bogs Down; Defective Planning and Faulty Execution; Blame is Shared; An Abortive Offensive; Grant Stops a Panic. We find observations like "It therefore seems incredible that a tactician of Meade's ability..." But it is not about Meade and Grant. Their share of blame is dwarfed by a personnel fiasco in the general officer ranks. 1864 is about the total breakdown of institutional memory through turnover in the high command.

There comes a point in 1864, perhaps I'll calculate it sometime, when the Union's enlisted turnover exceeds 100%. There comes a point in 1864, perhaps I'll calculate it sometime, when the Union's corps command turnover exceeds 500%. This is the point of certifiable institutional imbecility. This is Baldy Smith's earliest phase of human warfare. This is the point where Smith, in his memoirs, puts the cherry on the cake:
The great Civil War will hereafter afford many texts to show the ignorance of military principles and the utter absence of military genius but it developed no new principles and has left few examples other than those that serve for warning to future generals.

My word

Renee Tyree likes the word "slapdash" to describe the ACW.

(I think she means the Union war effort since "slapdash" is from Catton and the Union's war was Catton's subject.)

My word to describe the Union war effort would be "jiggery-pokery."

A challenge worthy of evasion

Harry Smeltzer has double dared me to read the new Slocum bio. I'm going to browse it in a bookstore and then probably declare myself defeated without a full reading effort. Until about five years ago, I was compulsive about finishing a book regardless of how trashy. That is probably how I built up an endless rage against pop historians. He has made me afraid to read the new bio.

OT: I used to drive by Slocum's Bowl-a-Drome near Trenton (NJ) wondering about the strange name "Slocum." One day, in the company of an Englishman we passed the sign and he burst out, "Slocum! That describes how you bowl after a few beers."

If you are wondering how pop history ends up as trash, Harry gives a clue on his blog:
As I began my research, I asked the advice of some folks who have had success in Civil War publishing. I was told that my approach was all wrong. Rather than starting from square one and just letting the information lead me, I was assured that the only way to go about the project was to start off knowing what I wanted to produce (an article, a book), and to also have a pretty good idea of the story I wanted to tell. Needless to say, I didn’t take that advice.
I notice Harry has some Sprague material on his blog. I once took exception to Salmon Chase being called his daughter's pimp, but the more you learn about Sprague (who looks drunk in the picture on Harry's site), the more the circumstantial evidence mounts in favor of pimping. Let's see, richest man in America; needs cotton to stay rich; ACW cuts off cotton imports but Chase gets Lincoln to authorize cross-border cotton trading; Chase protege McDowell is put in charge of inspecting cotton transactions with Secessia; voila! Riches! Daughter has the means to take care of papa.

Shame old Sprague had to get mixed up in gun smuggling to the Confederacy but Stanton did well to hush that up. Then he had to go and divorce the belle of Washington.

Kate Chase-Sprague, a recent biography noted, ended her life selling eggs and milk to neighbors to stay out of the poorhouse. Her father ended on the Supreme Court as a Democrat. Sprague ended in the proverbial gutter.

Who says the Civil War is boring?

(Photo: Slocum's death mask. Apologies for linking his memory with a bowl-a-drome.)

Go team!

The Adams - Jackson feud lives on. It lives on through the internalization of the partisan politics of that day in the heart of a history writer who conveys an impression of "slaveholding imperialists like Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk" (those are the reviewer's words, not the author's). The vehicle is a new book, What Hath God Wrought.

The reviewer just quoted, perhaps a rabid sports fan, cannot take fandom out of the picture: Adams is "heroic" and "Jackson, meanwhile, subverted the rule of law, ethnically cleansed the South of its Indians, and hobbled the otherwise burgeoning American economy by destroying its federal banking system."

History: all about finding and promoting personal heroes. People in history are fashion accessories that help make that very special statement about you.

If this kind of polemically loaded recounting of history looks familiar, the reviewer takes the trouble to mention his admiration for James M. McPherson and the possibility that this book, What Hath God Wrought, could serve as a prequel for McPherson's polemically loaded Battle Cry of Freedom.

Got a museum?

If you have a museum with humidity control, the National Archives would like a word.

Irony fails me

DVD Review: Horses of Gettysburg. 116 minutes.
... unlike most documentaries about this battle, which focus on the military and human components of the war, this film focuses on the 72,000 horses and mules that took part in this conflict.


An officer of the Polish Brigade (CSA)

Soldiering for Glory: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Frank Schaller, Twenty-second Mississippi Infantry

This is a very well written (and edited) collection featuring the life struggles of a Jewish German Rebel officer whose early career embraced the CSA's Polish Brigade.

Considering that one of the co-editors here is descended from Frank Schaller, the tone of this work is refreshingly critical. Schaller is rarely taken at his own self-worth and yet the reader develops a sympathy and curiosity that keeps the pages turning. Well worth a piece of your leisure-reading schedule.

(Cross-posted from Civil War Bookshelf.)

New "Lincoln" pic

A man, in a stovepipe hat, with beard, photographed from behind, at Gettysburg, real real blurry.

Try to control your euphoria.


It looks like the "potato masher"

I've been meaning to run this badly scanned image for some time. It's a Rebel hand grenade and appears in Never for Want of Powder. The pressure detonator has been withdrawn and is the pin-type of assembly to the left. In the German stick grenades, the detonator was the entire head assembly.

Unlike the "infernal devices" left at Yorktown, this model was designed to be thrown. Interesting that each one comes with a canvas strap attached.

Union corps commands: chaos at the top 3c/4

The note introducing this post is here.

June 17, 1964:

The attack this afternoon was a fiasco of the worst kind: I trust it will be the last attempt at this most absurd way of attacking entrenchments by a general advance in line. It has been tried so ofen now and with such fearful losses that even the stupidest private now knows that it cannot succeed, and the natural consequence follows: the men will not try it. The very sight of a bank of fresh earth now brings them to a dead halt.

June 26, 1864:

I found that the loss of this army since we left Culpeper Court House is very generally set down at 90,000; a perfectly fearful amount. Gibbon says that the Second Corps has lost thirteen brigade commanders.

August 2, 1864:

Burnside made no arrangement for his column to get out of his own works! Nor did any of his subordinates think of it. ... no arrangements having been made ... the men could not get through without breaking ranks or marching by the flank. Imagine an assaulting column with a frontage of four men!

Where was the common sense of the division and brigade officers who commanded the assaulting column, that they did not themselves see that such a matter was provided for? Surely such a lot of fools did not deserve to succeed...

- A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865.


Interesting new books

Out yesterday:

Revisionism by Mark Neely.

Also, Diehard Rebels: the Confederate Culture of Invincibility.


Union corps commands: chaos at the top 3b/4

One of the striking things that personnel turbulence does is that it makes units stupider over time regardless of personalities, seasoning, or common sense. In 1864, the veteran AoP behaved bafflingly compared to the rookie outfit of 1862.

Failure was not a result of Meade's brainpower or Grant's newness or the stressful dual command system, it was the inevitable whirlwind reaped by all institutions at all times whenever subject to massive, constant, turbulent change.

As an infantry officer managing the transition from a draft army to VOLAR, this theme resonates with me. As a "Vietnam-era veteran" who heard endless complaints about the six-month tour of duty in Vietnam, I know a little about the ill effects turnover. Lucky was the Union corps commander who lasted six months.

In the next series of 1864 posts, the focal point is not the shortcomings newcomer Grant but amazing failures of the 1862 veteran Meade; and it is not Meade whose personal shortcomings are highlighted but the institutional effects of catastrophic levels of "normal" change in the AoP.

Meade ran the AoP. Meade was a model, indisputably a great fighting commander. At the AoP level, Meade commanded strangers who hardly knew their jobs or him or their subordinates. His situation, managerially, was terrifying.

28 May 1864:

I do not see why we are so long getting at our new position. It was just so when we went to North Anna; starting the first day with a forced march, and then dwindling down to what could be done in a few hours. They talk about McClellan's slowness getting up the Peninsula. It was quite as rapid as our movements here, without the excuse which he had of green generals and an unorganized quartermaster department. I do not believe our corps has met anything besides cavalry today, yet our corps has not averaged over three miles; the Ninth has not moved at all, and the others cannot have gone far.

- A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865.


Union Corps Commands - chaos at the top 3a/4

April 15, 1863:

In numbers, we are about 30 percent stronger than McClellan was in front of Yorktown... Not one of the old corps commanders remains: and but two of those now commanding corps had more than a brigade a year ago.

April 23, 1863:

The two-year regiments, of which there are near 40 from New York, will soon be going home, as will the nine-months' men raised last summer. It will reduce this corps nearly one quarter in number, most of the loss falling on the First Division.

- A Diary of Battle: The Personal Journals of Charles S. Wainwright, 1861-1865.


ALPLM: multipurpose museum-type facility

Over at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM), management understands that the Civil War, Lincoln, and slavery are boring topics that get old real fast, so stand by for "The Art of War: Posters in World Conflict,” a show opening this week to run until May 26. The show will feature posters from WWI and WWII.

Give credit to management for understanding how fed up you, the public are, with all their tedious Lincolniana: they promise, "The ALPLM is developing a series of programs that will accompany the [poster] exhibition."

About time! Man, that Rick Baird continues to "set the bar."


When caught, invoke the Goodwin defense

A journalism professor has been caught repurposing published student text as his own. As the search continues, so far six of his columns appear contaminated.

He has invoked the Goodwin defense, however. This consists of two parts. In his own words: (1) "Careless, I'll admit, but not intentional," and (2) "... never before have I been accused of plagiarism."

Meanwhile his newspaper editor is staging the tried-and-true James McPherson defense of plagiarists: "...the ethical equivalent of a misdemeanor, not a felony."

Cotton bonds

We touched on the Confederate trade in gold instruments on the Amsterdam exchange last week.

Reader Bob Fugate was kind enough to share this link to a paper on the Confederacy's financial dealings in London. Highly recomended.

Battle lines drawn from metal detection

Color me dubious. I hope this doesn't morph into battlefield tours and then historical accounts.

Savas-Beatie blogs

Two new blogs have been started at Savas-Beatie publishing:

* Ted Savas's "A Publisher's Perspective"
Thoughts, musings, observations, practical advice, and not-so-gentle chidings from an inside perspective gleaned after years of managing an independent publishing company.
* Sarah Keeney's "On Marketing (Working with Authors)."
Tips, insights, real-life examples, and behind the scenes info on what works (and what doesn’t) in the marketing world of publishing, based on working for an independent publishing company.
They have daringly included comments and email addresses. Don't make them regret it....


Armistice Day

From the array of helmets depicted above, even the mousse-haired kids running Google know that today is not "Veterans Day," but a day reserved for the commemoration of the end of WWI.

As most of the world remembers November 11, the ceremonies on European battlefields seem to lack a certain participant, a major power belligerent ... one that is off on its lonesome doing its own multipurpose, cover-all the bases thing stateside.

Maybe politicians, looking at the record of that day, decided it better that Americans not remember the armistice:
"I met several subordinate officers who were wounded on November 11, some seriously. Without exception, they construed the orders which forced them to make an attack after the armistice as murder and not war." - Sen. Royal Johnson to General Hunter Liggett


Union corps commands - chaos at the top 2/4

The data we saw yesterday (added, divided, arranged in tables) was the quartermaster general's own. It appeared in a book called Commanders of Army Corps, Divisions, and Brigades in 1887. That book was "blended" in modern times with another 1887 title, Flags of the United States in order to produce Civil War Battle Flags of the Union Army and Order of Battle.

There are completeness issues (and other issues) with the data, which is why I did't bother to refine my figurings. The net outcome of shortfalls in the quartermaster's data is that turnover at the corps commander level is much, much worse than summarized yesterday.

Let me present the quartermaster data for I Corps as an example. It starts with a unit history. I have deleted the ordering authorities for brevity:

Ordered March 3, 1862; Announced March 13, 1862 GO 101; Merged into the Dept, of the Rapahannock April 4, 1862; Recreated September 12, 1862 GO 129; Announced GO AoP, September 28, 1862; Transferred to Vth Army Corps March 24, 1864; Recreated GO 287 November 28, 1864; Corps discontinued July 11, 1866.
Notice the lifespan of the corps is shorter than presented in yesterday's table. The right way to do the calculation would be to count corps lifetimes in days, not months.

The reason for draft calculations will begin to appear now as we move into personnel and dates. This is how it displays in Flags and how it was calculated yesterday:

Note that Flags is counting Hancock's invalids, the First Veteran Corps, as if it were the legal successor to I Corps, AoP.

Now look at the list in Dyer's Compendium:

First Army Corps
Created March 3, 1862. Announced March 13, 1862. Discontinued April 4, 1862, and merged into the Department of the Rappahannock.

Commander: Irvin McDowell Major General March 13, 1862, to April 4, 1862

First Army Corps
Re-Created Sept 12, 1862, From 3d Army Corps, Army of Virginia, Discontinued March 24, 1864, and merged into the 5th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac.

Joseph Hooker, Major General, Sept. 12, 1862, to Sept 17, 1862.
George G. Meade, Brigadier General, Sept. 17, 1862, to Sept 29 1862.
J. F. Reynolds, Brigadier General, Sept. 29. 1862, to Jan. 2, 1863.
J. S Wadsworth, Brigadier General, Jan. 2, 1863, to Jan. 4, 1863.
J. F. Reynolds, Major General, Jan. 4, 1863, to March 19, 1863.
J. S. Wadsworth, Brigadier General, March 1, 1863, to March 9, 1863.
J. F. Reynolds, Major General, March 9, 1863. to July 1, 1863. Killed.
A. Doubleday, Major General, July 1, 1863, to July 2, 1863.
John Newton, Major General, July 2, 1863, to March 24, 1864.

The invalids have gone away, the Reynolds and Wadsworth interludes are shown interleaved, which makes them clearer, and Hooker and Doubleday now appear on the list. We have grown the list. There is also much more instability than we originally calculated over a shorter lifespan.

Let's move on to Eicher and Eicher's monumental Civil War High Commands. There we find Dyer's list with additional names. I summarize:

McDowell: 13 Mar 62 - 4 Apr 62
Hooker: 12 Sep 62 - 17 Sep 62
Meade: 17 Sep 62 - 29 Sep 62
Reynolds: 29 Sep 62 - 2 Jan 63
Wadsworth: 2 Jan 63 - 4 Jan 63
Reynolds: 4 Jan 63 - 1 Mar 63
Wadsworth: 1 Mar 63 - 9 Mar 63
Reynolds: 9 Mar 63 - 1 Jul 63
Doubleday: 1 Jul 63 - 2 July 63
Newton: 2 July 63 - 12 Mar 64
Wadsworth: 12 Mar 64 - 14 Mar 64
Newton: 14 Mar 64 - 24 Mar 64

Eicher and Eicher break out Hancock's invalids on a separate list. Here, they capture additional turns by Wadsworth and Newton, too. If we regard Eicher and Eicher as an improvement over Dyer's and match the Eichers' changes of command against the quartermaster's, here's what we get:

* Recognizes only Keyes as AOP IV Corps commander

Changes at this rate engender massive dysfunction. Given enlisted and NCO attrition rates on top of this manic command turbulence, an organization could emerge from a war less experienced, less professional, and less capable than when it set off on its first campaign. Some testimony about regression in the AoP next.

Joe Bilby's new book

Joe Bilby has a new book out today: Small Arms at Gettysburg.


Union corps commands - chaos at the top 1/4

As February turned into March of 1862, Henry Halleck's strenuous efforts to supersede U.S. Grant with Ethan Allen Hitchcock (right) bore strange fruit. The pro-Hitchcock arguments so arduously pitched at McClellan and the retired Scott (and presumably through them at Lincoln and Stanton) had morphed into a project to replace McClellan with Hitchcock.

As most readers outside the orbit of Centennial history know, this development reached its final stage in an interview with Hitchcock in March of '62 during which he was offered the general-in-chief's portfolio and the AoP by Stanton.

Hitchcock rejected the idea of replacing McClellan and deployed a metaphor. His diary tells us that he said, in this interview, that an army was like a living organism and to remove the head of the army was to do irreparable damage the whole.

If we extend that metaphor we could say that the individual organs of this system are also terribly affected by such changes.

As with many things in Civil War history, the reader understands this with head but not with heart. The march from McClellan to Pope to McClellan to Burnside to Hooker to Meade to Grant/Meade is often viewed as a necessary evil. But to look at the tenure of corps commanders in the east - the layer under these chiefs - is to immediately understand that Lincoln and Stanton unleashed untold trauma upon their own cause - repeatedly.

This is what struck me perusing unit data in Civil War Battle Flags. It is presented visually in a striking way: any HQ (for corps, division, etc) is shown with a series of commanders and a series of incumbency dates (change of command dates). Where a reference like Eicher's and Eicher's Civil War High Commands shows incumbency dates by person, Flags gives a snapshot of the turnover by unit. The personality-centered view of the Civil War is here switched for a view of the institutional health of the corps and division formations.

The Flags information shows violent turbulence.

The first table below processes rough data I collected from Flags. It has been calculated and arranged to produce a multi-corps view (in order of corps designation). I rounded and shaved fractions to ready a quick posting.

The second column shows how long the corps "lived" in months, with rounding for partial months of existence for a corps formation. My bias was on the side of longevity, not brevity (and in at least two cases I did not bother to factor in brief hiatuses when the organization's existence was suspended). This means my average tenures are longer than the reality. The third column shows the number of persons who commanded while the fourth column shows the instances of command, in other words changes of command. Since a commander could be reassigned and then return to the corps, column 3 will be less than column 4 in many cases. The numbers of changes of command (column 4) include temporary command situations and are the truer indicator of instability than the number of commanders (persons commanding).

Note that two units stand out with longer average tenures, VII Corps and VIII Corps: for much of the war, these were actually departmental armies generally outside of the AoP structure. They were not affected by new appointments to the AOP nor by shifts stemming from campaign results. In fact, have a look at the same table reordered to show unit by tenure ranking:

The overall average tenure for a corps commander in these eastern outfits is a grotesque 5.16 months, with a laughable two months at the top of the instability scale. If we take away Dix's and Wool's VII and VIII Corps, the average tenure in the remaining nine corps drops to a shocking average of 4.3 months per corps before commanders changed.

This is a record I believe to be unique in American history. It represents a catastrophe in the personnel management of the Union high command.


Movies and blogs keep coming

Scott Mingus has discovered yet another Civil War movie. Meanwhile, CWi has discovered a new Civil War blog.

Rotten bastards of the Mexican War

G. W. Smith: Stood by a soldier with unsheathed sword threatening impalement if he faltered while performing the manual of arms. Kicked a sergeant down a ravine for pausing during a march.

B. Bragg: Ordered floggings and beatings of offenders on the spot. Survived two fragging attempts by his men.

W.S. Harney: Dragged a newly-made double amputee out of a hospital tent to hang "the son of a bitch."

T. W. Sherman: Ordered a civilian camp follower (a U.S. retired veteran in his 70s) flogged with 50 lashes. Bucked and gagged the sergeant who questioned the lawfulness of the order. Bucked and gagged the next five soldiers who refused the order. Obtained a death sentence for the sergeant who questioned the lawfulness of the order.

From The Rogue's March: John Riley and the St. Patrick's Battalion, 1846-48.

Fourth generation warfare theory

Fourth generation warfare theory is going mainstream if - as we see here - academic publisher Routledge is distributing edited compendiums on the subject. Would the difficult, cantankerous Col. John Boyd be proud? I think so, as he was dedicated to the dissemination of his ideas, not to the ownership of them.

Recall that under the Boydian analysis, ours is a Civil War military (second generation) which has not yet reached John J. Pershing's 1918 idea of and hope for maneuver warfare. I don't know what good it does to talk of step four when you have not taken step three.

If we're stuck in 1865, we'll not soon move into 2065 as a result of some seminars and books.

Untangling the proposition

On the occasion of yet another article on the economic causes of the Civil War, let us remind the partisans on both sides of this issue (slavery vs political economy) that the principal cause of the war and the principal reasons men fought represent totally different things. The first is an historical conclusion, the second a personal reality in historical time.

I don't understand the confusion.


A memorial for Confederate prisoners who died in captivity in Alton, MO, has been defaced.
"Kids come in, try to have fun for an hour and it ruins the whole place... We've got pictures of these guys, we know what they look like. They're not just a number on a rock somewhere."


Sequel mania

Yesterday, Rhett Butler's People was #5 at Barnes & Noble's website.

Today it was released.

Army embroiled in Goodwinism scandal

You cut and paste a little too fast, and you cross a line.

On one side of this new controversy, you have a critic who says the Army is not allowed to plagiarize in its manuals - and if the plagiarization is then reprinted commercially by a university press for its own gain, the damage has been aggravated.

On the other side, you have a defense in the form of Attribution rules do not apply to us. We are practitioners, not academics. What a strange defense, especially given that those failing to attribute (or more thoroughly paraphrase) were themselves academics!

Small Wars Journal has the whole sad story.

How to avoid representation

Between Thursday and Monday, agent Nathan Bransford got 81 queries. A grand total of 28 were personalized.

Civil War ghosts = traffic hazards

Hat tip to the reader who passed this on:
The man, who doesn't want to be identified, says he and his teenage son were driving through Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield the night of October 8 when they spotted something about to cross the road in front of their car. Both Civil War buffs, they say the rider appeared to be a Union Army cavalry officer complete with a sabre in his hand.

Oliver P. Buell

Have encountered "Oliver P. Buell" linked to the title "general" and the description "Civil War veteran." The New York Times archives make this Buell part of the Tammany Hall machine. As Don Carlos Buell's father was a New York resident until late in life, I wonder if this is a relative. Oliver seems to have died in the 1910s.

Today's puzzle.


Shepherdstown backsliding

The Jefferson County Commission remains undecided on whether it will give $100,000 to help save a Civil War battlefield near Shepherdstown, W.Va. [...] Although there was overwhelming support for county funding for the battlefield at a public hearing last Tuesday, there also was concern about spending taxpayer money on such a project...

There were loyalty oaths in the ACW

But those were child's play compared to this.

Amazing how totally disengaged the parents of college students are.

(Apologies for this intrusion of political psychosis.)

Amsterdam's Civil War predictions, 1863-1865

Over the last few years, economists and political scientists have developed an interest in the use of markets as predictors of political events (see here) or, more modestly, as predictors of what people believe the future holds politically (see here).

Now a couple of bright guys (with an interest in the Civil War and the ability to discount cashflows) have plotted Confederate gold bond trading in Amsterdam. They use these prices as indications of foreign confidence in Confederate victory.

This is a fun paper, so forgive me a few quibbles. First, trading volume data was not available. Not only is that a challenge in itself, it puts our authors in hot water when they reach for conclusions like "The probability of a [perceived] Confederate victory would have been even higher if the bonds did not actively trade at this point of the war and there was a liquidity premium built in the price of the debt security." I don't see how you can classify trading as active or not without volume data; nor do I see how you detect a liquidity premium without volume data to set against sales data.

And so, I don't quite understand why the $60 bond trading point is pegged to a 42% victory probability - the high point of Confederate chances on the Amsterdam market. It's also disconcerting to see headline writers confusing the issue of whether the Confederacy could win with the issue of what Amsterdam traders thought about the Confederacy winning (see here).

There are bright spots in the study, including indications that foreign bond traders then were better informed than many of today's Civil War history writers on the election of 1864:
The analysis provides little empirical evidence to support the hypothesis that European investors believed that George McClellan might be elected President of the United States on a peace party platform in 1864.
If you think you would enjoy seeing news events (Gettysburg, Spotsylvania) linked to overall victory probability ratings incident-by-incident, this is the study for you.

p.s. Don't fear the formulas.


Tyrrany invokes Lincoln

The news from Pakistan:
Musharraf sought to placate the United States by evoking comparisons between himself and Lincoln, whose 1865 assassination made him in many people’s eyes a martyr for the ideal of national unity.

“As an idealist, Abraham Lincoln had one consuming passion ... and this was to preserve the union because the union was in danger,” he said, even quoting from a letter the American president wrote as he battled opponents during the height of the Civil War.

“Toward that end, he broke laws, he violated the constitution, he usurped arbitrary power, he trampled individual liberties.”


Is a preview a review?

Jim Schmidt takes me to task for "reviewing" a book I hadn't read and notes that this isn't the first time. Well, it isn't the first time I have heard this criticism, which is in error.

When I'm linking to a description of a book and I use terms like "looks like" or "it seems" I am signalling that I have not read the book and am reacting to the marketing of the book: the description of its content, the blurbs, it's positioning in the marketplace. If a book is sold on the basis of how Ohio won the war, I don't have to read it to be provoked. The provocation is in the marketing. The publisher is trolling.

I am going to make this previewing impression more explicit in the future so that there can be no mistake; let people criticize me on sounder ground than faking a review.

Dead spaces in the narrative

I couldn't agree more with Harry Smeltzer about the dead spaces left in story-driven history. Where you see it, you have caught dishonesty in action, a sure indicator that tricks are being played.

I spoke to the Meade Society in Philadelphia once. They were quite amazed about the gap Harry mentions in his post.

The last word on Glass's "Appomattox"

A beautiful post from David Woodbury.


OT - Format change

In reformatting this blog, links were lost. If yours is one of them drop me a line.


Spielberg's Lincoln: gayful and Goodwinless?

The movie project based on rights to Doris K. Goodwin's Team of Rivals is inching forward.

According to this March report in Variety, a new Indiana Jones film was to begin shooting in June and director Steven Spielberg (right) intended to start shooting the Lincoln pic after Jones wrapped. If this is true, the Lincoln pic is behind schedule with the first draft of the script not yet delivered.

For a screenwriter, Spielberg (or the studio) tapped Tony Kushner (right), writer of the seven-hour Broadway play "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes." The Jewish Journal says, "all of Kushner's work is as defined by his Judaism as by his gay identity." Kushner says (in the same piece),

I think everyone assumed I was doing the film because of the gay angle, that it was going to be the 'gay Abraham Lincoln.' But I have to say that while I think the Tripp book is very interesting, I don't think there's enough evidence one way or the other to make a definitive statement about Lincoln's sexuality.
That comment was published on October 26. It sounds like he's closed the door on "gay Abe." But he hasn't because before Oct. 7, he had told the Louisville Courier-Journal, in answer to a question about a Lincolnian love affair with Joshua Speed,

I would rather not discuss that right now. I will feel freer to talk about the specifics when the movie is on the way out. I don't think Steven would want me to talk about it. It's too much in an early phase.
Don't know about you, but that goes into my Aha! file. Kushner continued,

All I can say is that I have read the Tripp book and I'm a very good friend of Larry's, and I have read all of that discussion with great interest. I think everybody assumes that because I'm gay and I'm writing it that I am going to write a film about Lincoln being gay. Let them assume whatever they would like to assume -- and buy a ticket.
Let them - you see, I am fully authorized to suspect a gay Abe angle here. ("Larry," by the way, refers to a screewriter who advocates the gay Lincoln meme.)

Another interesting comment was Kushner saying to the Jewish Journal "The big problem with the subject is that it's so vast," in response to the interviewer saying, "More books have been written on Lincoln than perhaps any other person except Jesus Christ -- it must be a daunting project."

Neither the question nor the answer makes sense sense if Kushner has been tasked with adapting Goodwin's Team of Rivals to a screenplay. There should be no vastness there, just one source book. There should be no literature survey, and Goodwin should be prominently mentioned. She's not. When the Courier-Journal mentions her, Kushner breezes right by the reference. The word "Goodwin" never escapes his lips.

My sense is that this playwright - The Jewish Journal actually asks him why someone of his stature stoops to work with Spielberg on a film script - this playwright is not working off of Team of Rivals, he's developing his own material. (If the matter of writing an original screenplay is a step down for Tony Kushner, then adapting a piece of cash-cow hackwork should be more embarassing still.) Note also that Goodwin never cracked the gay door in her tome. An adaptation of her work would have taken "gay" off the table and provided Kushner with a pat answer - it's not in the book and I'm adapting her book.

Remember the controversy when Goodwin announced she was writing a Lincoln book? Spielberg had already bought the rights when she was just getting started and she had to stamp out rumors that she was going to write the first gay Lincoln biography. We had Spielberg in the equation, we had Goodwin in it (who opposes the gay Lincoln meme) and that produced a gay Lincoln rumor. Interesting math problem: derive the rumor. Now we have a gay icon collaborating on a script with Spielberg with Goodwin pushed well off to the sidelines. And the gay questions surface again.

Call me suspicious. And expect DKG to reap a weak film credit like, inspired by a bestselling nonfiction work by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Meanwhile, Kushner's involvement complements another recent public decision to star Sally Field as Mary Lincoln. Outside of Hollywood, the decision is laughable but like Kushner, to the industry, Field is an award-winning, box office heavyweight; she and Kushner could reasonably be expected to be Oscar contenders. Spielberg is lining up the heavy artillery.

But Spielberg's camapign may have been fatally delayed. Kushner told the Courier-Journal last month that he's not sure the production can premier before Lincoln's birthday in February '09. It seemed a tight schedule to him. If the screenwriters' strike comes, the already tight schedule will explode. There will be no Lincoln film during the Bicentennial, neither gayful nor gayless.

Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century

It's a blog.