Turn on the Blurb Machine!!!

Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860-1861 by Harold Holzer, released 21 October. "This detailed and gripping narrative..." etc. - James M. McPherson

Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief by James M. McPherson, released 7 October. "McPherson provides a definitive exploration " etc. - Harold Holzer * "McPherson brilliantly portrays Lincoln’s evolution" - Frank J. Williams

Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig L. Symonds, released 17 October. "With a compelling portrait of personalities" etc. - James M. McPherson * "This is an epic story" etc. - Harold Holzer * "Craig L. Symonds has filled a gap" etc. - Frank J. Williams

Google "symonds holzer mcpherson williams" - you'll get 76,000 hits.


ALPLM: the Rick Beard years, a retrospective

News Update

The elusive one, the cryptic mysterion - none other for it is he - has been released from his duties at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) pending a legal tussle over shoplifting charges. He was let go this week after they inventoried the museum.

Previously, the mysterion and his predecessor were used by the various governors of Illinois as window dressing for that sink of political patronage, the ALPLM. With the firing of this man of mystery, the previous precedent is reversed as a certified politcal hack now takes charge of the facilities to be assisted by a less visible technocrat.

With Janet Grimes front and center, you have an appointee who has been managing the state’s Capital Development Board for the last three years - the years that got Gov. Rod Blagojevich in such trouble - and can you imagine a richer patronage plum than manager of all Illinois capital expenditures? She now runs the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency, overseeing the ALPLM, and displaces its head, Robert Coomer. Coomer becomes a consultant assisting her as head of the library's foundation; he spent the first two years of his incumbency in her current job racking up violations of the Illinois Historic Preservation Act and breaking state directives on emergency purchases.

Needless to say, we wish them both well.

The Rick Beard Years: A Legacy

Blog coverage of the Beard years begins with the departure of Richard Norton Smith. The linked post fails to note the vital fact that Smith was leaving his job to take a part time position in Washington. The politicians had either tired of him or he of they.

The first post on Beard appeared on this day two years ago: Rick Beard, Man of Mystery. It offered the most extensive background information collected in one place. It set the tone for the cruel mockery to follow.

Sesquicentennial Mysteries noted the formation of the now defunct Kevin Levin website Blogging the Sesquicentennial and pointed out to Mr. Levin the need to focus on the self-appointed organizer of the Sesquicentennial, one Rick Beard. It notes that 27 days after his appointment, the ALPLM website carried no mention of the mysterion's name.

Rick Beard: the Mystery Continues puzzled over the interim appointment of Thomas Schwartz to the position to which the cypher had been named.

In Rick Beard Emerges, we discovered the elusive one had taken permanent occupation of a small office behind doors marked "Emergency Exit Only," leaving a subordinate in permanent charge of his own large director's office.

Rick Beard Makes a Move observed that Beard allowed someone else to lead the Illinois Lincoln Bicentennial.

Five months after his appointment, we noted that Beard had not merited a single newspaper article. It's Abe-a-Licious does find an ALPLM article that mentions Beard but it focuses entirely on the janitor in the museum cafeteria instead of the new director.

Google Scorecard for "Rick Beard" ran a search for articles on the mysterion and struck bedrock.

Rick Beard Sightings Increase noted that six months after his accession, the mysterious one had scored mention in three press releases.

Rick Beard Dons His Other Hat caught us up with the mysterion's zen-like stillness as self-designated leader of the Sesquicentennial.

"Setting the Bar" covered a fashion night at the ALPLM which Beard said set the bar for future museum and library activities.

CWPT and the Sesquicentennial explored Civil War Preservation Trust's interactions with the extremely secretive Sesquicentennial chief.

Rick Beard Plans a Lincoln Exhibit commented on the ALPLM's puzzling intentions to mount a major 20th Century race riot show in lieu of some Lincoln exhibitions.

From Multipurpose to Any Purpose visited the ALPLM gift shop with comments from Schwartz and Beard.

A Floating Signifier reported on Rick Beard's greatest legacy as ALPLM director, a traveling container.

Beard Spotting uncovered the first-ever-seen photos of Rick Beard 18 months after his appointment.

And the dénouement wraps up coverage, October 2006 - October 2008.

Thanks Rick. It's been even more fun than all those Richard Norton Smith posts.

Exit, Dr. Strange.


Rick Beard gets a headline

After years of avoiding the limelight, dodging reporters, evading photographers, and publishing nothing, the mysterion who replaced publicity hog Richard Norton Smith as head of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) - Rick Beard (for it is he) - has finally earned some news ink:
Lincoln library chief charged with shoplifting
Has record: Stole ties from Macy's
Richard E. Beard ... faces charges of taking a boxed DVD set of the Fox TV show "House" from a Target store in Springfield in August.

That follows a previous shoplifting conviction for stealing seven ties from a Macy's department store in Springfield and scuffling with security personnel in February 2007, public records show.

A third possible shoplifting case involving Beard, 61, is under investigation by the Sangamon County state's attorney's office.
Uh oh:
"There very well could be additional charges," said John Milhiser, first assistant state's attorney in the Sangamon County prosecutor's office.
Rick Beard is actually going to beat Rod Blagojevich to prison. And he was just starting to turn his life around.

The comments section under the story is especially cruel, as more experienced thieves weigh in on Beard's technique:
Poster: Richard Beard makes 150,000 a year and he doesn't realize that there are security camera's at all angles of Macy's and Target stores. This guy must have an intellectual IQ approaching 43.

Second poster: Clearly the guy is some kind of mental defective.
Hat tip (with flourishes) to the gentleman who pointed me to this story.

Can an author plagiarize himself?

As an author cuts and pastes his old work into a manuscript for a new book, can he be said to be plagiarizing himself? Or is he merely testing the limits of our familiarity with his previous work?

James McPherson wants to know! Here is a mere taste of what's simmering in his newest book, Tried by War:

* Here was a stunning reversal of the fortunes of war. Tried By War p 225
** This seemed a stunning reversal of the fortunes of war. Battle Cry of Freedom p 225

* As before, he advanced quickly and cleverly once he got started. TBW 193
** Meanwhile Rosecrans again demonstrated his ability to move a large army quickly and cleverly once he got started. Ordeal By Fire 335

* A soldier from Maine wrote to his sister that "the great cause of liberty has been managed by Knaves and fools the whole show has been corruption…" TBW 161
** A soldier from Maine wrote that "the great cause of liberty has been managed by Knaves and fools the whole show has been corruption…" OBF 317

* Lincoln overrated Banks's abilities, as future events would show. TBW 151
** Lincoln overrated Banks's command capacity, as future events would show. This Mighty Scourge 135

* But Emperor Napoleon III imposed impossible demands on the weak Mexican government. He sent additional French troops…TBW 188
** But Napoleon III imposed impossible demands on the weak Mexican government and sent additional troopsOBF 344

* McClellan remained their hero. For them as for him, it was an article of faith that they had not been outfought or outgeneraled, but beaten by superior numbersTBW 102
** McClellan remained their hero. For them as for him, it was an article of faith that they had not been outfought or outgeneraled, but beaten by superior numbersCrossroads of Freedom: Antietam 50

* Demoralization on the home front was bad enough. TBW 120
** Demoralization on the Northern home front was bad enough. CFA 86

* Grant's intervention was decisive. On the spur of the moment Lincoln decided to go to Virginia personally to join Seward for a personal meeting with the Confederate Commissioners. TBW 258
** Grant's intervention was decisive. On the spur of the moment Lincoln decided to go to Virginia to join Seward for a personal meeting with the Confederate Commissioners. TMS 181

* These were dark, dismal days in the North. "For the first time," wrote the Washington bureau chief of the New York Tribune... TBW 119
** These were dark, dismal days in the North — perhaps the darkest of many such days during the war. "For the first time," wrote the Washington bureau chief of the New York Tribune... CFA 85

(Ransom note courtesy this generator.)


Clausewitz: how unknown was he?

Harry Smeltzer has found me tangled in the net of a sweeping generalization. I had said, with respect to 1854, Clausewitz was unknown here. He counters:
Do you really think Clausewitz was “unknown” here in the US in 1854? Take a look at note #2 in the first chapter of Halleck’s “Elements of Military Art and Science”, written in 1846. The reader is advised to read “Bynkershock; Vantel; Puffendorf; Clausewitz; and most other writers on international laws and the laws of war.”
Perhaps I should have said, "largely unread" instead of "unknown." Harry adds:
I think people often forget that West Point cadets learned a good deal of French at the academy. The fact that a book had not been translated into English did not mean it was unknown to Americans.
I want to explore this point.

The earliest French edition of any of Clausewitz's writings in book form that I have been able to locate seems to have appeared in 1886. The compilers of the linked bibliography have included periodical references in other parts of the list, so we may tentatively generalize that they found no French serials with Clausewitz content that could have fallen into American hands.

I wonder how many U.S. officers prewar, including Germans, read Clausewitz in German? There are publications of his works in German from the turn of the century onwards; the first edition of On War in German appeared in 1832. It went into a second printing in 1853 which would have made it fairly fresh at the time of the Delafield Commission's visit to Germany. I looked for Clausewitz in the haul of books brought back by the Delafield Commission that was donated to the War Department and have not found him (I am unsure about the completeness of the list I saw). Going through McClellan's writing, published and unpublished, I have not yet found him there either. He gets no mention in correspondence among other figures of the war that I've encountered and he seems to have been absent from Mahan's Napoleon Club at West Point.

There are, however, traces of him in the English literature prewar. From our bibliographic resource:
Clausewitz, Carl von. "On War." Trans./ed. unknown. The Military and Naval Magazine of the United States, v.V and VI (August and September issues, 1835). Originally appeared in The Metropolitan Magazine (London), v.13, May and June 1835, 64-71, 166-176.
Harry's argument is looking pretty good here. There's a little more in a minor vein:
Clausewitz, Carl von. The Campaign of 1812 in Russia. Trans. anonymous [Francis Egerton, Lord Ellesmere]. London: J. Murray, 1843
And here's a bit of a reach:
J.E. Marston, The Life and Campaigns of Field Marshal Prince Blucher (London: Sherwood, Neely, and Jones, 1815). (Marston's book contains what Peter Paret [Clausewitz and the State, p.240, n.46] has described as a "free rendering" of Clausewitz's study of the campaign of 1813 [Der Feldzug von 1813 bis zum Waffenstillstand. Glatz, 1813.])
Clausewitz: seen but not heard. Referred to but little read.

A closing note on Halleck and Clausewitz. Christopher Bassford, in his book Clausewitz in America, says:
Halleck's work on the law of war shows no sign of either Clausewitz's name or influence, despite many areas to which his arguments are relevant. On the other hand, Clausewitz's works are listed three times in the chapter bibliographies in Halleck's 1846 Elements of Military Art and Science, which repeat none of Jomini's negative remarks.
He seems to be a figure to be mentioned only in passing.

Jomini vs. Clausewitz in New York, 1854

The military theorist-in-chief of the American Civil War, Antoine-Henri Baron Jomini, had a number of unkind remarks to make on Clausewitz and On War. He wrote these in an open letter to the Russian Czar introducing the Russian edition of his own works in 1837.

I say "Russian edition" but it was in French, as French was spoken by the Russian nobility and the officer corps was entirely noble until WWI. This Francophone volume was brought out in English by Putnam in New York in 1854 with the letter to the Czar included.

This is the Jomini book most read by Civil War officers. Its comments on Clausewitz must have been baffling as Clausewitz was unknown here.
...the Prussian General Clausewitz died, leaving to his widow the care of publishing posthumous works which were presented as unfinished sketches. This work made a great sensation in Germany, and for my part I regret that it was written before the author was acquainted with my summary of the Art of War, persuaded that he would have rendered to it some justice.

One cannot deny to General Clausewitz great learning and a facile pen; but this pen, at times a little vagrant, is above all too pretentious for a didactic discussion, the simplicity and clearness of which ought to be its first merit. Besides that, the author shows himself by far too skeptical in point of military science; his first volume is but a declamation against all theory of war, whilst the two succeeding volumes, full of theoretic maxims, proves that the author believes in the efficacy of his own doctrines, if he does not believe in those of others.

As for myself, I own that I have been able to find in this learned labyrinth but a small number of luminous ideas and remarkable articles; and far from having shared the skepticism of the author, no work would have contributed more than his to make me feel the necessity and utility of good theories, if I had ever been able to call them in question; it is important simply to agree well as to the limits which ought to be assigned them in order not to fall into a pedantry worse than ignorance; it is necessary above all to distinguish the difference which exists between a theory of principles and a theory of systems.

It will be objected perhaps that, in the greater part of the articles of this summary, I myself acknowledge that there are few absolute rules to give on the divers subjects of which they treat; I agree in good faith to this truth, but is that saying there is no theory? If, out of forty-five articles, some have ten positive maxims, others one or two only, are not a 150 or 200 rules sufficient to form a respectable body of strategic or tactical doctrines? And if to those you add the multitude of precepts which suffer more or less exceptions, will you not have more dogmas than necessary for fixing your opinions upon all the operations of war?

At the same epoch when Clausewitz seemed thus to apply himself to sapping the basis of the science, a work of a totally opposite nature appeared in France, that of the Marquis de Ternay, a French emigre in the service of England. This book is without contradiction, the most complete that exists on the tactics of battles, and if it falls sometimes into an excess contrary to that of the Prussian general, by prescribing, in doctrines details of execution often impracticable in war, he cannot be denied a truly remarkable merit, and one of the first grades among tacticians.
Ternay who?

More on Clausewitz vs Jomini can be found here.

Portrait: Jomini, in Russian uniform, by George Dawe.


Spielberg, Goodwin and "Lincoln" - splitsville in Lalaland?

In dealing with Hollywood projects more than a little Kremlinology is needed. Please standby for some outsized analysis of undersized data morsels:

The recent breakup and reorganization of Dreamworks Studio seems to have put paid to a 2009 Bicentennial release of the much anticipated Lincoln film for which Spielberg had bought the rights from Doris Kearns Goodwin. Remember, he bought those rights as soon as he heard she was working on a Lincoln bio. (More on this later.)

Variety reported on the 9th that filming is "slated for a spring start." It refers to this movie as "Lincoln." A day earlier, the Hollywood Reporter wrote that "DW aims to produce about six films per year starting in 2010" and "It's believed that DW will produce an untitled Lincoln biopic..."

I believe Variety was reporting the pre-breakup spring start date for filming Lincoln (I had seen it before) and that the Hollywood Reporter has the better information. As of October 8/9, the projects may not have been entirely divided between surviving entities, much less funded and scheduled.

That was the situation then and it was ambiguous. A week later, on the 16th, Hollywood Reporter told of the naming of two new co-presidents to run Dreamworks. We all know what happens when new studio chiefs arrive: projects get killed, new projects get started. It's another layer of fog on the Spielberg-Goodwin film.

Now it gets even fuzzier. In the same story, on the day of the naming of the two presidents, the Reporter tells us
"Lincoln," which had been widely reported as moving over to DW, will remain at Par[amount] as one of the group of projects that DW retains an option to co-finance and co-distribute.
Emphasis added. So, the day before the new bosses arrived, ownership had been settled but not financing and distribution. That puts things in 2010 territory, to say the least, without factoring in project reviews by the new chiefs. Goodbye, Bicentennial tie-in.

Are we also looking at goodbye Goodwin? Notice references to "Lincoln" - I understand that this could be project title shorthand but it severs the obvious marketing tie-in to Team of Rivals which would make just as good a working title. And how about that reference to "an untitled Lincoln biopic"?

Spielberg bought this book before it was even written. Goodwin seemed to be rewriting it endlessly, even recasting the material. Was she making it more movie-script friendly? Was Spielberg a collaborator?

Would that even be ethical in the history discipline? (Sound of derisive snorting off stage.)

If Goodwin conformed her history book to Hollywood ends and Hollywood is now casting about for a different sort of "story" than "Team," that in itself is the stuff of screenplays.

Goodwin's name was last spotted in a May story where Director Spielberg noted his script would merely be "informed" by Team of Rivals.

Expect it to include Lincoln and some sort of team.

(Goodwin pic via Pritzker.)


Presentism accounted for

In exploring James McPherson's expropriation of the "concentration in time" concept (and phrase), I let Jones and Hattaway's original repurposing of this Clausewitzian idea pass without censure.

Richard F. Miller is one of those rare authors interested in both rhetoric and military history and when he told me his feelings about what Jones and Hattaway had done, I had to agree completely:
What's involved here is the age-old vice of presentism. In this case, the exportation backwards of modern vocabulary (or even historical vocabulary if there's no evidence that the historical actor had any acquaintance with the historic vocabulary, as in your example of Clausewitz.) When historians do export a present term backwards, it is usually introduced by such phrases as, "or, as we say today..." or "as is now termed...."

Should this be an issue? Yes. For example, the problem with using Clausewitzian metaphors is that they imply a level of doctrinal abstraction that was missing from the Civil War mind set thus conveying a false impression of how the war, its tactics and strategy were conceived. The absence of abstraction is not necessarily a criticism--one can arrive at the same result by different mental processes. Jomini was ever-present of course; leading figures had translated his work for West Pointers and an argument could be made that a fair amount of Jomini's language and concepts do appear in Civil War thinking. But Jomini was not the genius Clausewitz was and in my opinion, few if any Civil War generals abstracted war in the great Prussian's sense. Instead, American generals proved the great pragmatists of logistics, (Grant at Vicksburg, Sherman to the sea), anti-paradigms (Lee and Jackson at Chancellorsville, and fortified defense, (the eastern war, 1864-1865.) Indeed, it was the lack of abstraction that may have prompted Bismark's sneer(attributed) that the American Civil War was conflict between "armed mobs."

This last point--America's great contribution to Western war being pragmatic rather than theory driven--is obscured by rewriting say, how Halleck, Lee or Jeff. Davis understood the war that they fought. (That theory-driven thinking has its limits would be better understood by Prussians after the failure of the Schlieffen Plan.)

In any case, it seems to me that historians have an obligation to notify readers when they are exporting presentisms backwards. I would never want to imagine my beloved, cranky, profane and eccentric Civil War generals sporting monocles, wire mustaches, or impossibly high, starched collars!
(Note to readers: J&H as a team do attribute "concentration in time" to Clausewitz where McPherson does not. However Jones, in Civil War Command and Strategy, commits Richard's presentism by elevating the idea to a self-contained paradigm actively informing Lincoln's military thinking. McPherson then revives Jones' mistake in his own new book.)

Inactive or not, here they come

Speaking of Lincoln not being a quick study, Drew Wagenhoffer pointed out to me the ever-popular "Lincoln's masterly inactivity." Enter this into Google and get 1,090 hits:

Lincoln "masterly inactivity"
Drew says:

"Masterly inactivity" seems to be a much overused phrase in the Lincoln literature. I thought it originated with Russel McClintock's recent book but a google books search finds it used in the same context in McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" and MANY earlier books, and within an emancipationist context in Quarles's "Lincoln and the Negro".

I'm sure there are some fairly sober, almost respectable writers who have lapsed into this kind of cliche-driven treatment of their subject (Lincoln) without realizing it. Lincoln, the subject, has this effect on people.

The ridicule and scorn Lincoln endured in life is now endlessly reprised - triggered if you will - by the provocative behavior of his admirers. One is struck how Lincoln attracts "masterly" triteness, vaudevillian re-enactment, and all variety of flamboyant, baroquely craptastic phenomena.

There's no comparable figure in kitsch historiography.


"Lincoln was not a quick study"

The New York Times hired none other than Jean Smith to review Tried by War. Is that not hilarious?

Meanwhile, I've been kind of wondering if Lincoln was a quick study.

New York Times (Smith): "As McPherson points out, Lincoln 'was not a quick study but a thorough one'."

History Wire (Steve Goddard): "'He was not a quick study,' McPherson argues, 'but a thorough one.'"

Newsweek (anticipating McPherson): "Like Darwin, Lincoln was not a quick study."

Darwin's Blog: "He [Lincoln] was not a quick study." (Wonder where he got that from.)

Uh oh. This one didn't get the memo...

Charlotte News-Observer: "Though a quick study, Lincoln faced a steep learning curve..."

You have to laugh.

McPherson's "concentration in time" (cont.)

Yesterday's post was about James McPherson's unattributed use of the ideas of Clausewitz, Jones, and Hattaway in his new book. This post is about a more conventional type of plagiarism.

Take another look at the phrasing below:

** To oppose the enemy's ability to concentrate in space, Lincoln early prescribed the concentration in time of simultaneous advances. - Archer Jones: Civil War Command and Strategy, 1992, p 100

** This concentration in space could be overcome only if the Union employed … concentration in time. - James M. McPherson: Tried by War, p 70

** Another hallmark of Lincoln's conception of military strategy and operations… concentration in time by simultaneous advances… - James M. McPherson: Tried by War, p 269

For decades, McPherson was compelled to enforce Princeton University's plagiarism rules. Here are three examples of plagairism his students would have had to be familiar with. Example one speaks for itself: direct quotation without citation, reference, or quote marks.

Example 2: “Inserting even short phrases from the source into a new sentence still requires placing quotations around the borrowed words and citing the author.”

Example 3: “Almost nothing of [the] original language remains in this rewritten paragraph. However the key idea, the choice and order of the examples, and even the basic structure of the original sentences are all taken from the source.”

McPherson appears to be in violation of Princeton's definition of plagiarism.

McPherson's record on plagiarism is interesting. He defended Stephen Oates against Michael Burlingame's demonstration of Princeton's Example 1 type in a letter to the press. The letter said, "We find no evidence of the appropriation of either the ideas or the language of other scholars without attribution -- the only legitimate test of plagiarism." This link shows Burlingame's extensive, shocking side-by-side evidence against Oates (to which McPherson was reacting).

In a more recent embarassment, McPherson bestowed the praise of uniqueness on the central idea of the book of one of his students, Tom Carhart. Eric Wittenberg posted on this (see the comments especially). So did Scott Hartwig and a New Jersey intellectual property lawyer (here and here).

Was McPherson - a high-end Gettysburg tour guide - unfamiliar with the literature of Gettysburg? That should not surprise.

In the case of Oates, McPherson's endorsement of plagiarism was perverse. In the case of Carhart, it was probably ignorant. In his own relationship with the material of Clausewitz, Jones, and Hattaway, his takings appear willful.


James McPherson's "Concentration in Time"

To oppose the enemy's ability to concentrate in space, Lincoln early prescribed the concentration in time of simultaneous advances. - Archer Jones: Civil War Command and Strategy, 1992, p 100

This concentration in space could be overcome only if the Union employed … concentration in time. - James M. McPherson: Tried by War, p 70

Another hallmark of Lincoln's conception of military strategy and operations… concentration in time by simultaneous advances… - James M. McPherson: Tried by War, p 269

These extracts (above) from James M. McPherson's new book Tried by War hover dangerously close to plagiarism. However, this post will not be an exploration of any plagiarism of phrases but rather the appropriation of ideas.

In writing of "concentration in time by simultaneous advances," McPherson bypasses entirely the secondary literature exploring that subject (see below). He does not cite it; there is no bibliography showing it; and none of the authors' names appear in the text or index.

Instead, he makes general reference (not cited in the end notes) to Lincoln's correspondence with Halleck and Buell, which the secondary literature of the 1980s and 1990s also used in developing the same insights. By making "concentration in time" a "hallmark" of Lincoln's strategic thought, McPherson makes emphatic claim both to its importance and to his own observation of its importance.

The relevant war communications were couched in the idiom of the day. They spoke of "simultaneous advances." There is no reference to "concentration in time" from Halleck or Buell because that phrase emerges after the war from translations of Clausewitz, who was not published in English stateside before or during the war.

Nor is McPherson quoting ACW sources when he uses quote marks around neologisms, as he does on page 70:

Lincoln grasped sooner than many of his generals the strategic concept of "concentration in time."
"Concentration in time" did not exist as a phrase or notion in the Civil War; it is part of a more elaborate postwar Clausewitzian construct that would become known later in the U.S. military. (Clausewitz's name does not appear in McPherson's new book either.)

Civil War strategists thought in terms of simultaneous advances and used that expression. To attribute to them "concentration" is an anachronism; and this phrase being such an oddity, it gives us a marker.

In 1983, Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones presented their How the North Won the War. There, they advocated the importance of Lincoln's championing simultaneous advances. I count seven discussions of this topic, none of which substitute "concentration in time" for "simultaneous advances" – it's all in the correct idiom. For example: "Halleck and the staff effectively implemented Lincoln's plan of simultaneous advances, especially in the well synchronized offensives of December, 1862." (p 689)

I have not found an earlier development of this idea, of Lincoln's special insight into simultaneity and making it a core component of his strategic thinking. I believe Hattaway and Jones own it.

In 1986, they repeated and strengthened their argument teaming with other authors:
In the spring of 1862 the Union armies of Halleck and McClellan had made simultaneous advances (concentrations of forces in time, Clausewitz had called them). […] Lincoln and Halleck again wisely applied the principle of concentration in time, that is simultaneous advances, in the fall of 1862. - Beringer, Hattaway, Jones, and Still: Why the South Lost the Civil War, 1986, p 287
This fragment is taken from a chapter titled "Union Concentration in Time and Space." For the first time (to my knowledge) Clausewitz is injected (with attribution) into analysis of this bit of Union strategy. After a few uses, "concentration"- the term - is retired as the authors return to the more natural "simultaneous advances" to explain Lincoln's true framework.

Hagerman's ACW appeared in 1988, justly crediting Hattaway and Jones and their idea of Lincoln as advocate for simultaneous advances. Hagerman does not use the word "concentration" and he offers his own view of the effect of this strategy:
In adopting a strategy of simultaneous advances east and west, Halleck and Lincoln redefined the role of the Army of the Potomac to hold Lee's army in place so that it could not send reinforcements to the West. - Edward Hagerman: The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare, 1988, p 68
It is not until 1992, when Archer Jones' Civil War Command and Strategy appears that the repeated, wholesale, anachronistic application of "concentration" (attributed to Clausewitz) displaces "simultaneous." Jones again stresses Lincoln's centrality to simultaneous operations and he is relentless in calling simultaneity "concentration in time." "Concentration" is Jones' signature and stamp on Lincoln's involvement in synchronous operations:
"… the Union planned and successfully executed its first concentration in time…" (p 101); "A comparison of the two forms of concentration" (p 101); "…concentration in time had the disadvantage…" (p 101).
We haven't even left page 101 and the concentration is overwhelming.

If the term "concentration in time" does not appear in the primary sources, if the application of this Clausewitzian expression to Lincoln's strategy is unusual and a hallmark of Jones (also Hattaway plus Jones), has not James M. McPherson transgressed? Has he not also transgressed in taking the theme of Lincoln's "hallmark" as his own?


This museum needs a consultant

How do you wind up in the museum business if you don't validate dubious holdings? What college do you go to in order to recruit generation after generation of curators who feel that inventory and validation are a waste of time and resources?

Stupidest Civil War story this year: Civil War surrender document is not a photocopy.

Calling Nancy Drew:
...museum officials examining the document recently noticed that the indentation of pens into the paper was visible. He said they also noticed that the ink on the document was darker and lighter in places, as would be expected with the pens used at the time.


Sinking down into the depths of "public history"

One could stage a contest asking people to send in links showing just how low public history is willing to go to "educate" and interest the uneducated and disinterested.

This would be an item:
If Abraham Lincoln's in-laws were alive today, "they would probably be throwing chairs at each other on the Jerry Springer show," according to a visiting professor at Chico State University.
Bravo, professor.

"Helping the amnesiac"

George Will is excited by the new Gettysburg Visitor's Center. He sees "something resoundingly right that will help a normally amnesiac nation to long remember. "

I see an abhorrent reversal of good order. The National Park Service, federally funded to keep up the grounds in its charge, attends instead to the content of the battle, interpreting the battle, explaining how to think about the battle and the war while private persons and groups attend to the physical upkeep.

The private and public marketplace of ideas have been replaced by a virtual government storehouse of memes and talking points. Meanwhile the physical storehouses and meeting places have been collapsing.

NPS and its private enablers at Gettysburg illustrate the prevalent chaos of our time: again and again, departments abandon their own mission to do some other work.

(Just last week an undersecretary of the Army said he was going on a buying spree that would launch the commercial electric car industry in America and that his department intends to earn money by erecting wind farms to sell electricity to local U.S. communities).

Government here is the amnesiac. If the NPS cannot care for Gettyburg, if the burden sharing arrangements as they stand cannot be overruled or reversed, the park needs to be sold to those who will care for it.


"George B. McClellan & Civil War History"

It was 10 years ago next month when the hardback came out, George B. McClellan & Civil War History. This month, the paperback edition has finally been released. From the preface:
The study of George B. McClellan that follows takes its form from my conviction that another standard biography or campaign study would serve no useful purpose. The literature is replete with such works. What was needed, in my opinion, was an analytical review of the literature itself. The format of this book, then, is many things but none of them exclusively. It contains biographical campaign narrative elements synthesized from the excellent studies already written. In undertaking a review of the existing literature it becomes a historiographic work, thus the obvious reliance on secondary source material. And it is revisionist to the extent that it both challenges well-established Civil War doctrine and suggests alternative mechanisms of reinterpretation.More precisely, I wanted here to examine the literature that emerged in the last half century, for it is here that the consensus opinion of McClellan has taken shape. And it is here that we find the evolution of McClellan as a seriously flawed general and individual. The writers of this period, whom I will refer to as Unionist historians, have thoroughly dominated the academic evaluation of McClellan's Civil War career and have directly influenced the popular perception in the process.


Attribution in talks - how much is enough?

In my grand total of two public speeches to Civil War audiences, I attributed each unique insight presented to the author who originated it, with recommendations that listeners seek out that author. The speeches were entirely about "new thinking" in ACW literature, so I was locked into an attributory mode whether I wanted to give credit or steal it.

Likewise, Scott Hartwig (top, right) faces a similar situation tonight when he does a compare/contrast talk matching Gettysburg history against the novel Killer Angels. Virtue is mandated, otherwise the talk is senseless.

The question that nags me lies outside of the framework where one has to attribute. It is about plagiarism in public speaking when the format of the talk is wide open.

The issue first arose for me when I noticed Doris K. Goodwin talking up "her" insights into Lincoln's leadership when, as Brian Dirck explains, these insights are all taken from Lincoln scholars. Even if Goodwin had attributed justly in Team of Rivals - she did not - on her speaking tour she is forever in position to convey her "authority" as source of her insights.

The issue has arisen again in a report on James McPherson's grand tour of speeches promoting a new Lincoln book. McPherson, as I have explained endlessly here, is a compiler and synthesizer but (unlike Goodwin) one who properly attributes in print. A good McPherson book would be one in which he seamlessly and elegantly lays out the current state of knowledge in some field, generalizing it for the reader. If the underlying material is good, McPherson will shine. If the source material is compromised, as it was when he wrote Battle Cry, the project is ruined.

Only a fool would trust a news report and I don't trust this one to represent exactly what McPherson said recently. I did cry out when reading it. Where the charmingly naive, star-struck reporter wrote the words (paraphrasing McPherson), "Key to this success was Lincoln's grasp of what is called 'concentration in time,'" I shouted "Archer Jones and Herman Hattaway!"

Hattaway and Jones took this concept and made something of a big deal of it vis a vis Lincoln in How the North Won the War. Jones (pictured right) also developed it in his solo books. They credited Lincoln for grasping (via Halleck and reading) this Jominian paradigm and for trying to leverage it in different phases of the war.

Can a speaker (hypothetically) explain Hattaway and Jones's point in a talk without mentioning them? Do plagiarism norms apply to orals? I ask this in general, not to embarass McPherson particularly - in this case he may even have mentioned them without the reference making it to print.

I would say that there is a general difficulty in reading news reports of McPherson's speeches because the reporters deliver one borrowed insight after another without attribution and indeed, in their slack-jawed awe of McPherson, they tend to imply attribution to him where he is intentionally recapping synthesized sources.

Jones was quite acerbic and I appreciate his evaluation of Stephen Sears as "more flash than substance." The same could be said of anyone on the speaker's circuit collecting laurels for others' ideas.


The Battle of the Nueces: revision emerges

Long article:
“Paul” Burrier ... based on his findings after 14 years of research, said he can dispel a number of myths about the battle and other details that have circulated for nearly 150 years. He put his evidence in a 300-plus page book, “A Perfect Reign of Terror, Insurgency in the Texas Hill Country 1861-1862”.

The next phase of heritage tourism

Not sure if this is a viable economic model, but if your heritage tourism site isn't getting enough traffic, you pay schools to ship in the kids.

Stealing the General goes into paperback

Congratulations to Russell Bonds on seeing his Stealing the General cross the hardback-paperback divide. An excellent an worthy book - now in a cheapskate edition!


Guelzo reviews Krannawitter

Caution: current politics are front and center.

Them big wheels keep on a rollin'

"Once you enter the 'Abraham Lincoln: Self-Made in America' exhibit, it’s easy to forget you’re standing inside the back end of a big rig."

How easy?


Rutherford B. Hayes saves the Union

And you never heard of the Battle of Opequon Creek?
"It was a huge victory for the union," McClary said. ... [Hayes and the 23rd Ohio] and their fellow Union troops pushed the Confederates back and ultimately saved Washington from rebel invasion.

New Lincoln letter

It supposedly reveals "anger." I don't see any.

Reporters seem to have unlimited license to characterize.


Specialization on parade

A geologist plies his trade:
The question, says Whisonant, is whether a correlation exists between the geology of the battlefield and casualties taken there. For some battles in the Civil War, the story told by the shape of the land is clear: soldiers were at greater risk in some areas because the underlying geology created a more dangerous terrain.
The infantryman is himself quite the geologist. I speak from personal experience.


Dismal September

The publishers, through whatever forecasting tools they may use, made a rare unanimous decision. In planning their fall catalogs, they reckoned that no one would be buying Civil War books in September.

In the 10 years I have been tracking ACW releases, I have never seen a month like this.

Apart from any self-published work I may have missed and setting aside any commercial titles scheduled but not released, my count stands at 13 books issued in the Civil War genre for 9/08. Consider, how broadly I define the ACW genre. Consider also this breakdown of the 13 titles:

- Eleven were nonfiction; one was a novel and one a picture book.
- Five were reprints, if we include the collected works of Mort Kunstler.
- One was a pomo gender study.
- Two were Lincoln books riding the Bicentennial wave.

Shocking. The same hand is not being dealt in October, fortunately.


Jim Miller issues a "Bravo" to Russel Beatie for McClellan Takes Command.