Project: revisit the Patterson affair

I notice that David Detzer is vigorously defending General Robert Patterson in his new book Donnybrook; will see if there is enough detail there to compare and contrast with Russel Beatie's painstaking case against Patterson laid out in Army of the Potomac, V1. I long favored Patterson in the Bull Run matter until Beatie worked me out of my position.

Fun, fun, fun.

Sanitary commission websites

Would you believe there are two?

Here's one, here's the other.

Military demographics

As an old infantryman, I was outraged to read that
... Iraq has been declared a no-booze zone, and troops face harsh punishment if caught drinking.

Does this have something to do with legal drinking ages and Army demographics, I wondered. The same article says,
According to Pentagon statistics, only 6 percent of regular Army troops are older than 40, compared with 22 percent of Guard members.

The idea of fighting a war with 94% kid power seems like a fantasy novel premise, so I consulted my Civil War stats. Unfortunately, Ages of U.S. Volunteer Soldier, U.S. Sanitary Commission is not available on the Web in its entirety, but this fragment tells a story different from the Iraq war demographic:
The various breakdowns of age for the Federal Army during the Civil War:

• Age 13 = 127
• Age 14 = 330
• Age 15 = 773
• Age 16 = 2,758
• Age 17 = 6,425
• Age 18 = 133,475
• Age 19 = 90,215
• Age 20 = 71,058
• Age 21 = 97,136

From there it gradually goes down to the following;

• Age 45 = 7,012
• Age 46 = 967
• Age 50 and Over = 2,366

The missing piece in this quote is the 22-44 age range and that range seems to hold the bulk of the force. I think I can safely infer that the Civil War force structure contained well over 6% in the 40-and-over age range.

All this resonates with me because I have been reading a book where the "modern" (WWII) radically overlays the "old" (Civil War): Across the Dark Islands. It's the story of a National Guard officer (read US Volunteer) assigned to a National Guard regiment not from his state in a division dominated by Regular Army regiments. In other words, a man is fighting a war in personal "goat" status in a unit with Army "goat" status in a "goat" theatre.

Perhaps there are some things worse than being in a war zone booze free and under 40.
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Posting has been erratic

A number of posts have been lost this week as the technology becomes dodgier. Please bear with me through this glitch-ridden season.

In the meantime, did you know that Civil War publisher Theodore Savas has started a new imprint with Russel Beatie: take a look.
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Attention authors, publishers

Google is now including attributed book text in search results.

Please see this.

How to report losses

HNN has a very interesting article on the manipulation and distortion of public casualty data in WWII. A study in the Civil War field is badly needed; this piece helps set some parameters for it.

Lincoln Library opens in Springfield

The Lincoln Library has opened, with the museum slated to open later this year. The interesting thing about local stories (see this one, and this one) is that they have nothing at all to say about the library's holdings, present or future, or why a scholar might want to visit.

Also of interest: the late reporter who crusaded to have Richard Norton Smith made director of the facility has an oil portrait hanging in one of the rooms.

Draw your own conclusions.
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Chess rules of thumb on the ACW battlefield

American Grandmaster Lev Alburt published a book of chess rules of thumb last year. The fans hate it (see reviews on the linked Amazon page), but it seems, at times, to be speaking to ACW generals. See for yourself:

#5 Re-evaluate after exchanges - unknown
"Any exchange requires re-evaluation of the game."
Shiloh, day 2?

#14 Exploit temporary advantages immediately - Kotov
Get there first with the most - Forrest.

# 26 Accumulate advantages - unknown
Vicksburg, the final phases.

# 28 Play where your strength is - unknown
Moving the Rebel capital to Virginia.

# 64 You don't have to be perfect to win - unknown
Earl Van Dorn

# 68 Try to answer threats by combining defense with counterattack - unknown
Robert. E. Lee

# 70 Tactics flow from a superior position - Fischer
The Battle of Franklin

# 105 Don't launch premature attacks - unknown
Hooker at Williamsburg

#195 Position comes first, material next - unknown
Lee at Antietam

# 228 Find a plan ... don't just make moves
Pope in Northern Virginia

# 237 Some part of a mistake is always correct - Tartakower
Banks at Cedar Mountain

# 297 The threat is [always] stronger than the execution - Nimzovich
[Your thoughts here.]

Chancellorsville land sale - fourth in a series

Mr. Lee Garrison of Tricord called me to say that the "simple answer" to the question of what the transaction will be between Civil War Preservation Trust and Tricord is that it will be a fee simple land sale from Tricord to CWPT.

Sounds definitive to me.
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Chancellorsville land sale - third in a series

Here's a summary of what we know about the Chancellorsville battlefield deal as of Friday. I am distilling Bob Hagan's email, published here Sunday, and adding some points.

(1) The terms of the deal between Tricord and Civil War Preservation Trust enabling Tricord's battlefield land buy were still under discussion as of Friday.

(2) The deal, as it now stands, involves "the direct sale of 80+ acres [to CWPT] and an agreement to preserve an additional 55 acres currently zoned commercial" - in sum, 145 acres. "Preserve" suggests an easement on the 55 acres. Thus, protection will be split between acreage owned by CWPT outright and acreage under restrictive agreement.

(3) CWPT is making its (contingent?) transaction with Tricord first, funds from which will enable Tricord to buy the land from owner John Mullins.

(4) Mullins' offer to Tricord expires Dec. 31. This purchase option will not be renewed.

(5) Before then, the rezoning has to be approved by the Board of Supervisors (target date: Nov. 9); then a 30-day appeal period has to be observed; then appeals have to be dealt with; then the legalities of the deal between Mullins and Tricord have to be concluded (the closing has to occur).

(6) Tricord/CWPT sale or easement arrangements happen sometime after Tricord closes on the battlefield land.

Now these items of interest are gleaned from Mr. Hagan's email:

(a) "Mr. Mullins would not ... directly" sell to CWPT. As previously said in this corner, CWPT antagonized the seller, so we have this work-around. It is possible - I don't know this - that Mullins' intent to let the option die is a result of Tricord having brought CWPT into the picture.

(b) "I have spent several hours this afternoon (and up until a few minutes ago) working on the project as it relates to road access issues presented by VDOT. This has been an interesting process with as many advances and retreats as any Civil War Battle." If Bob Hagan loses his fight with VDOT, road access will configure the property in unexpected and perhaps unwelcome ways.

(c) As late as Friday, Mr. Hagan's involvement in the preliminary Tricord/CWPT deal opened a window into what appears to be difficult talks ("I have spoken to both Tricord and CWPT several times today") the sale elements of which seemed to have taken distinct shape at the end of last week. That is a surmise.

Interesting, how long negotiations between Tricord and CWPT have gone on since this deal was publicized.

A countdown is in the offing with a starting pistol set to fire (or not) November 9. Stay tuned.

Peter Charles Hoffer: AHA renegade

I have twice previously noted a new book by Peter Charles Hoffer: Past Imperfect: Facts, Fictions, Frauds - American History From Bancroft And Parkman To Ambrose, Bellisles, Ellis, And Goodwin. I was a suspicious of the author, given his background as an ethics worker within the deeply corrupt and incompetent American Historical Association, a body recently headed by a popularizer, James McPherson, and incorporating the Society of American Historians, founded by Allan Nevins, a best-selling plagiarist whose appropriation of student work is still studied today in ethics classes.

This Boston review, however, is making Hoffer look very good, at least from the editorial perspective of this blog, which views Civil War history as a field crippled by dishonesty and incompetence. Consider:

Hoffer contends that his profession "has fallen into disarray" and aims a polemical blast at his fellow historians for condoning sloppy scholarship and an anything-goes ethical climate.
Hoffer accuses the American Historical Association (AHA), where he has served as an adviser on plagiarism and a member of its professional standards division, of abdicating its responsibility to enforce basic scholarly principles in both [popular and academic] realms.
Is the entire historical profession in America, as Hoffer wrote in a recent e-mail, "sailing close to the edge"?

If the history profession has a "town center" that would be the capital of U.S. trade publishing, New York City; and the question is whether Hoffer will ever eat lunch in that town again.

Meanwhile, I'll be looking for his book on lunch break today.

Postscript: bought a signed copy at Baltimore's B&N. Introductory comments promise deeper-than-hitherto look at the individual misdeeds of Goodwin, Ambrose, et al.

Franklin's war of words continues

As the fundraising to retire the battlefield golf course continues, so does the flow of letters to the editor.

Pro: The preservation community is not against the country club members. The country club sold the property. The current owner purchased the property to prevent it from becoming a residential development. The current owner has now offered it for sale. And, thank goodness, the preservation community has stepped up.

Con: ... there are more than 600 rounds of golf at no cost to the golf teams of Franklin, Centennial and Brentwood high schools. If this becomes a so-called battlefield, where are these young boys and girls going to practice their golf?

Pro: I submit that this expenditure by the city of Franklin may well be one of the most appropriate expenditures of our taxpayer dollars, supporting more needs of a greater society, than any ever attempted by our city government.
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Chancellorsville land sale - second in a series

The head of the Spotsylvania Planning commission, Bob Hagan, was good enough to write me Friday night about the TRICORD/CWPT/Mullins Chancellorsville battlefield deal as it stands at this moment. I'll do a deal analysis Monday evening as I am awaiting some more input on this breaking story.

The question I posed to Commissioner Montgomery was forwarded to Bob Hagan and it was whether 140 acres of battlefield land to be purchased by Tricord from Mullins would be bought outright from Tricord by Civil War Preservation Trust or whether CWPT would simply get a restrictive use covenant (easement) on that land.

The Washington Post and the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg have both reported that Tricord would sell 140 acres to CWPT after closing its deal with Mullins. My position, based on CWPT's official statements, has been that CWPT was seeking an easement on the 140 acres.

Mr. Hagan's answer is informative, newsworthy, and contains some interesting deal elements. Without, further ado, here he is to speak for himself:
Mr. Rotov,
The agreement is nearly completed (I have spoken to both Tricord and CWPT several times today) and would include the direct sale of 80+ acres and an agreement to preserve an additional 55 acres currently zoned commercial. The rezoning of the land behind the battlefield will be brought before the Board of Supervisors on November 9th and we expect the final paperwork to be provided for that hearing.

The purchase by the CWPT will occur once the rezoning is approved (hopefully on November 9th) and after a 30 day appeal period that follows. That will allow for the purchase by Tricord (who now holds an option on the land) from the land owner, John Mullins, before the expiration of the option, which is December 31st (and would not be renewed by Mr. Mullins). Once Tricord "seals the deal" they then are the rightful owners and would be able to sell the land to the Civil War Preservation Trust (which Mr. Mullins would not do directly).

I have spent several hours this afternoon (and up until a few minutes ago) working on the project as it relates to road access issues presented by VDOT. This has been an interesting process with as many advances and retreats as any Civil War Battle.

We can all see the end, but we are not there yet.


Bob Hagan
Spotsylvania Supervisor - Courtland District
"Always Try to Be the Person That Your Dog THINKS You Are!"


McClellan poetry hiatus

McClellan poetry Saturdays will be on hiatus until the new year. I have run down Internet resources in compiling these posts and am going to retreat into hardcopy until I can collect another year's worth of material. Will be back with more.


Chancellorsville land sale - first in a series

I sent a Spostsylvania planning commissioner the following email:

Dear Mr. Montgomery:

Is it your understanding that Tricord plans to sell 140 acres to Civil War Battlefield Trust or is it that Tricord plans to sell a restrictive covenant (easement) on 140 acres to Civil War Battlefield Trust?

The Free Lance-Star constantly refers to a sale of land as the last step in the preservation transaction, whereas the CWPT's press releases and letters refer only to "protection" and "preservation," never to land purchase outright.

Or perhaps this issue (sale of land vs. sale of easement) is yet to be settled?

Sorry to bother you, but the parties to the transaction are keeping quiet and I am trying to analyze the deal in my online journal, Civil War Bookshelf (http://cwbn.blogspot.com).

If you wish to answer off-the-record, that will be honored.

I received this response today:

Mr. Rotov,

Please accept my apologies for the delayed response, but I have been away from the office, with very limited office e-mail access. Because the Tricord rezoning application on which the Planning Commission acted Wednesday night did not include an in-hand agreement for battlefield preservation, the PC was careful to ensure that our vote was made on the application of record only. The vote (5-2 for approval) was based on the merits of the case as presented, with the understanding that a confirmed agreement for preservation could make the argument for rezoning even stronger. Discussions among the affected parties have continued since the PC meeting, but I have not been updated personally since that time and my knowledge of the status of any agreements or the lack of same is incomplete. I do not know if BOS Chairman Robert Hagan is yet able to speak publicly on the issues, but his understanding should be more current.


Hugh Montgomery

I interpret the response as saying that the deal details beteeen Tricord and CWPT and the County do not go as far as specifying a land sale versus an easement sale.

Please stay tuned - more on this is on its way.

Naglee naked

While looking for e-text of General Henry Naglee's 1864 election pamphlet, I ran into a naked self-portrait of the general/distiller using a bathtub to do pushups.

Oh, you Victorians.

And would you believe that...

At the height of his operation, Naglee could produce 170 gallons of alcohol per day. His premium product, "Naglia," was a colorless brandy which compared favorably in potency with the "white lightning" of the Smokey Mountains, and it made San Jose famous throughout the U.S.

Chancellorsville deal analysis - a slow start

It has proven difficult, so far, for me to prove for myself the Free Lance-Star's repeated assertion that Civil War Preservation Trust will purchase 140 acres of battlefield land from developers Tricord Inc. At present, I am assuming that this belief in a sale comes from off-the-record conversations the Star's reporters have had. The weekend may bring some clarifying emails and phone calls.

In the meantime, I note this passage from an older Star article:

"The lawyers just need to work out a few minor details," said preservation trust spokesman Jim Campi. "All of the major hurdles have been dealt with. It's a complicated deal, and it takes time to dot all the I's and cross all the T's."

The article says that CWBT is borrowing $3 million to close the deal; Central Virginia Battlefield Trust, meanwhile, is raising part of the money under its own banner.

Is joint ownership envisioned? And ownership of what, an easement or land?

Land sales can be complicated - but the business of working toward a land sale can be declared without endangering negotiations. That is, unless one party wants to sell an easement and the other party wants to buy land...
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Chancellorsville deal inches forward

The Spotsylvania County Planning Commission rezoned land on Chancellorsville Battlefield bought by Tricord Inc. The rezoning, which happened last night, must now be approved by the county's Board of Supervisors. That approval will clear the way for a preservation transaction between Tricord and Civil War Preservation Trust on some of the non-rezoned zoned land.

Gumshoeing it around Chancellorsville

It's been at least 10 years since I filed an actual news story with an actual news outlet but the gumshoes are back on again. I have calls and emails in to the principals in the deal between Tricord, Mullins and other parties in the Chancellorsville Battlefield deal.

Although I have deferred to the Free-Lance Star in their assertion that CWPT is buying 140 acres from Tricord for $3 million, I have not yet found any independent verification of this. In communicating with me and in their stories, they have given no source for this information.

My hunch is that an easement deal may have evolved into a sale; if you look at these early deal links, you see no hint that CWPT is buying 140 acres from Tricord. Check this preservationist statement:

They [Tricord] are to be applauded for their generosity in setting aside 140 acres of the Mullins Farm for preservation...

Here is CWPT's letter to Spotsylvania allies: it has the same passage as the one above.

Note the language in this story (scroll to page 4):

... talks began that resulted in an agreement that permits Tricord to build age restricted housing on 87 acres of the farm in exchange for the protection of the remaining 140 acres. CWPT is contributing $3 million toward the purchase of the preserved land.

This is not a transaction in which CWPT is buying the land from Tricord. Something happened in the dynamics of this deal. Something is probably still happening.

I'll be in touch as soon as I find out what.

Plan: Convert Antietam HQ to medicine museum

Is this a preservation move?

Directors of the Frederick-based museum [National Museum of Civil War Medicine] have signed a one-year agreement with the park service and are negotiating a renewable, five-year deal to turn the Pry House into a museum.

McClellan directed the battle of Antietam from this house.

The Pry House will provide additional display space for the museum's collections and more conference space, he said.

How convenient. But what about my collections? Is Longstreet's HQ still available for storage and display of my collections?

Someone has lost his mind. According to this it's a man named Howard:

Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John Howard on Tuesday called a planned Civil War medicine museum set to open next year on the Pry Farm a "match made in heaven." [...] "We're very supportive of it," Howard said. "We think it's a great idea.

The destruction of historical significance: a great idea. That's what a modern, up-to-date National Park service does.

And in a world crazed by heritage tourism, here's a switch:

Some Washington County Commissioners, however, weren't as excited. County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook told the museum group's executive director, George C. Wunderlich, during a meeting Tuesday that it wasn't likely the county could afford his request of $25,000 a year to help with the facility's costs. Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said she was concerned about traffic the center would generate near the battlefield and whether the museum notified the public of its plans. "Have you had any discussions with the neighborhood? Because this will increase traffic," Nipps asked Wunderlich. Wunderlich said he had not told residents of the plans because he wanted to notify the commissioners first. "I didn't want you all to read it in the newspaper first," he said.

Go, irate locals, go.
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Correction: they got it right

The Free Lance-Star, which has persistently reported that Civil War Preservation Trust is buying 140 acres from Tricord got it right. I said, based on CWPT's statements and press release, that the deal is for an easement on 140 acres, not for its purchase. I got it wrong.

Of particular inteest see here:

Under the deal reached with preservationists, Tricord would cluster 294 homes for senior citizens on about 87 acres and sell the remaining 140 acres to the Preservation Trust for $3 million, according to [Tricord's] Jones and [CWPT's] Campi. - Washington Post.

And to underline the point that this is a land sale, we see this new, desparate plea at Central Virginia Battlefield Trust:

Fundraising is now underway to pay for the 140 acres of hallowed ground recently saved on the Day One Chancellorsville battlefield. CVBT has pledged $250,000 as our part in meeting the $3 million purchase price, with $125,000 to be delivered by December 15, 2004, and the rest by March 31, 2005.

I am personally researching additional deal details and will publish a revised deal analysis this week. In the meantime, let me thank the Free Lance-Star for their accurate coverage of this matter and apologize for projecting my own faulty analysis on their reporters.

The new breakthrough in battlefield preservation

We have reached the point at which "Civil War battlefield preservation" has not only broken free of its meaning but now indicates the exact opposite - "Civil War battlefield development." This first happened with the Civil War Preservation Trust's Tricord deal at Chancellorsville.

The genesis of this deal, as we have seen in this blog, was in a failure to buy certain land called "Mullins Farm" at Chancellorsville battlefield. As an improvisation after its failed purchase, CWPT arranged a payment to a developer to buy the land for nursing home construction; that developer, in turn, promised to make a restrictive use covenant on part of the battlefield not wanted for nursing homes.

As with many institutional failures, this ugly piece of redress was hailed as an important success and a new model for cooperation between preservers and developers.

Other developers read these articles, and not thinking past the reportage, took CWPT's face-saving comments at full value. They are now shopping for preservation partners to help them get zoning they would otherwise not have access to in exchange for easements and some walking-around money.

These developers in Spotsylvania County are modeling CWPT's deal near the Jackson Trail East:

The companies needed the rezoning for higher density on the site, and sweetened the pot with a $5 million cash proffer. Another carrot dangled before county officials was the offer to donate 181 acres to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust after the first house was built.

Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is of smaller means than CWPT and fell into supporting CWPT's Tricord deal. Perhaps, to developers, this is like standing under a lamp-post in a red dress.

[Note: don't believe this bit quoted above about donating 181 acres without more evidence; it's probably about donating an easement on 181 acres. The article is from the Free Lance-Star, which consistently confuses easement sales with land sales.]

So, the red dress catches someone's eye:

In addition, the Trust was to receive $100 per house to be used for acquiring historically significant land in Spotsylvania. Preservationists were excited about the prospect of acquiring land adjacent to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

One shudders to think that a preservation society would enable construction like this. And would you believe the state Park Service is in this as well:

The Park Service was an ardent supporter of the original plan, saying the preservation benefits outweighed traffic concerns.

The Park Service was advocating high-density residential construction adjacent to the Jackson Trail East. Ardently. It's the Battlefield Development Bureau. "How may we be of service, Mr. Developer?"

Read it and ponder.
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Do-it-yourself monumentalism

I don't care for the style of painting at all, but it's a nice thing that someone wanted an epic painting of Chambersburg burning, so he went out and commissioned one.

Lincoln's hyperreality - gallery 2

In looking through the current Robert E. Lee iconography, I found nothing like the derangement prevalent on Lincoln's side.

Conclusions anyone?

If you have the stomach for it, here's another gallery.


A blend of both.

Which do you prefer? Reality? The market is calling you a liar.
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Lincoln's hyperreality - a picture gallery

This British professor gets it wrong:

[Hyperreality refers] to the idea that it is no-longer possible, in a media-saturated world, to distinguish between what is real and what is not ... Hyper-reality, therefore, is a situation in which nothing and everything is "real"; it is a situation in which we have lost the ability to distinguish reality and fiction.

The whole point of this thread is that it is eminently "possible, in a media-saturated world, to distinguish between what is real and what is not." That is Baudrillard's point, too. He is calling on us to recognize and preserve meaning.

Baudrillard says that in a state of hyperreality, the term (or icon, or symbol) has broken completely free of its meaning and is now free floating.

We can map the stages: Lincoln becomes an icon, then an image, then a motif, then an amusement, then an attention-getting device. In the end, Lincoln is a totally senseless, even absurd, figure:

A child dresses like a a vaudeville comedian in order to recite the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln and a businesswoman share a copy of the Wall Street Journal.

Lincoln helps a shopper buy golf clubs.

Lincoln helps photograph tourists at the Kremlin.

Lincoln drops by the office for a chat.

You have become Lincoln but still look like yourself.
I find this a little far-fetched:

A study by the Washington group found that tourists at the seven battlefields it studied (including Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, Shiloh in Tennessee and Virginia's New Market and Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania sites) generated nearly $157 million in total visitor expenditures last year, and $22.4 million in local and state tax revenue.
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A McClellelan poetry outburst

A long-time reader of various message-boards, I have never seen an ACW discussion thread break out into a succession of poetry posts, much less poetry written by the poster. But that is what happened in July in a thread discussing Antietam. See for yourself.

When on the board, click the Prev Topic and Next Topic buttons to sample the normal tenor of discussion.


ACW hyperreality - 2

The missing piece in Baudrillard's analysis of hyperreality is human agency; he talks in Hegelian terms of one state overtaking another. But where the real is replaced with the false, someone is replacing it.

If we look at an example we can see the human factor at work.

The Lincoln Museum in Sprigfield has "professional staff," perhaps even a "staff historian." This staff solicited ideas and then approved an exhibit featuring Lincoln's boyhood cabin. There were many ways to go on this: build a reproduction, or move the actual cabin if it exists, or exhibit images of the cabin, or show models, or floor plans.

The professional staff opted to import a cabin from Virginia, not Lincoln's, in dimensions not matching Lincoln's, from a time generally guessed at. A newspaper writes:

The cabin will be part of "The Journey: A Walk Through the Life of Abraham Lincoln" - a portion of the museum that will give visitors "an immersive, walk-through experience" of significant periods and events in Lincoln’s life using "you-are-there" settings and historically accurate environments.

Boyhood home = any cabin, from anywhere.
Lincoln = a timestamp, a broad era.
A cabin standing during Lincoln's youth = Lincoln's boyhood cabin.
A physical metaphor for Lincoln's home = an historically accurate environment.

"The first thing visitors will see when they enter Journey One is Lincoln reading a book near the fireplace of his boyhood cabin in Indiana."

If you read those words and are still sane, consider that there was an historian in the museum's decision mix. He blessed this. Perhaps enthusiastically.

More on this next week.

Georgia educators may allow ACW to be taught

Georgia's Board of Education, which was considering starting US history after Reconstruction, has revised its draft curriculum to allow the Civil War to be taught in public schools. The draft has yet to be voted on. The story is here.
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Hyperreality and the ACW

Received the oddest book in the mail, a review copy. It was an anthology of Civil War fiction written for magazines during and shortly after the ACW.

The book has been sitting around for a couple of weeks at least. Don't have the stomach to read it: can't understand people, in wartime, overwhelmed daily with real war reporting, knowing war participants, having easy access to battlefields and hospitals and veterans sitting themselves down to concoct war entertainment for the armchair brigade.

In trying to rationalize this monstrosity, I've come up with a few items: Perhaps people were not seeing their own interpretations of events represented in fact. Perhaps this was an expression of how remote and detached from the war the home front could be, psychologically and culturally. Perhaps a war setting simply advanced an entirely different story.

Or perhaps, as early as the 1860s, simulation began to displace reality as a personal preference. That's where I fall back on Baudrillard.

In our time, the business of the false displacing the real has been the meat and potatoes of French social commentator Jean Baudrillard. I want to borrow a passage from him that appears on this website and apply it to our case. Look at these "successive phases." I have inserted text for clarity [in brackets].

The image is a reflection of basic reality.
[In time] It masks and perverts the basic reality.
[After more time] It masks the absence of a basic reality.
[At last] It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.

We can apply this to phenomena in the ACW and Lincoln field. Consider:

The image is a reflection of basic reality. In this stage, we enjoy contemporary photographs, battlefield sketches, reports, memoirs. We're collecting artifacts, shooting buck and ball with black powder, and arguing map accuracy and deployments.

It masks and perverts the basic reality. Now we are consuming polemical products that try to influence or view of events: hagiographies, Lost Cause analysis, heroic paintings and anything that "sets the record straight." We're preparing meals from a Civil War cookbook using modern ingredients; we're experiencing the Gettysburg Address delivered by an animatronic machine at the World's Fair; we're giving Pulitzers to storytellers who can do the best job of compressing five years and millions of lives into 300 pages.

It masks the absence of a basic reality. At this point, we are in the Lincoln Museum playing with "historic" toys in "Mrs. Lincoln's attic," assuming she ever had an attic or kept toys there; we are asking a Lincoln holograph in the museum questions and getting answers invented by scholars to sound authentic; we're visiting Lincoln's boyhood home at the museum, except that it is someone else's authentic home from the same period; we're reading a 20th Century Confederate history by Harry Turtledove; we're preserving land adjacent to battlefields as if it were hallowed ground.

It bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum. Now, we are on the streets of Springfield with a city map hunting down dozens of identical plastic Lincoln statues, each of which has been colorfully decorated by a local artist or merchant. We're staging mock battles with armies of our own devising on whatever land is convenient and calling the thing by the name of an historic battle held in an historic place. We're buying a conservation easement to preserve "viewshed" of a battlefield whose landscape now is nothing like what it was then.

The spiraling dynamic of unreality has this result, says Baudrillard: "When the world, or reality, finds its artificial equivalent in the virtual, it becomes useless."

Which means that many of the projects that justify themselves through history are destroying history.

More ACW hyperreality tomorrow.
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Resembling your ancestor

Before I read the news story, I scanned the picture and immediately recognized Wallace Guerrant, a total stranger.

It's because I own this book.

The two photos show the face in the same aspect, which may be part of this spooky effect.

Bivouac Banner

I have long intended to pass one of these notifications on. Here's the latest in full:

We are currently seeking submissions for the upcoming issue of The Bivouac Banner, the quarterly online Civil War magazine. We anticipate publishing the next issue on or about December 15. Submissions may be original compositions, transcriptions of period documents, photographic essays, fictional short stories or almost anything else related to the Civil War. Our editorial staff would be happy to work with you to include your material in our next issue. Please review our submission guidelines at:

In addition to our feature articles we also have a research request department and an events calendar. If your organization is planning a Civil War related event in January, February or March please consider submitting it.

Kindest Regards,
Joel Craig
The Bivouac Banner
email: jcraig@bivouacbooks.com

The ultimate anti-Lincoln site

Lew Rockwell, whom I briefly knew in an earlier life, has compiled the ultimate anti-Lincoln site. You may want to get the Digitalis ready before visiting the King Lincoln Archive.

Rockwell is a Libertarian Party man and these good people have the disadvantage of believing that a paradigmatic analysis is nothing less than philosophy. The result is an inflated polemic based on false certainty. Lincoln is not spared.

This list of Libertarian articles on Lincoln is one I have yet to fully plumb, but superficially, based on the few pieces I've read I want more

* Criticism of Lincoln as a Natural Rightist or as a Lockean, not as a statist;
* Analysis over rhetoric, especially in the management of evidence;
* Criticism that does not overwhelmingly rely on the Southern experience of war.

The biggest single need seems to be for an historic - not political - sensibility.

Some of the articles have been extensively criticized and/or deconstructed by scholars in other forums. Nevertheless, if you have good filters and enjoy a contentious counterview, you can get a lot of enjoyment out of the site.

(p.s. Tip of the hat to author Trask for his Hawthorne article. It's a nice thing that reminds me of Marion Montgomery's wonderful book.)
NEWS | Descendant investigates Lawrence killing * Ill man forms Civil War centered band * Civil War cannon specialist tours with replica, PowerPoint


Scouts topple ACW headstones

This is not unrelated to yesterday's story about decorate-your-own Lincoln statues to be scattered around Springfield:

...the Lincoln Cemetery Project Association expressed concern about a pattern of disrespectful behavior being displayed by visiting Scouts toward the cemetery. Betty Myers, secretary/treasurer for the association, said that includes an incident she witnessed Sept. 25 when a Scout toppled the headstone on the grave of Lloyd Watts, a prominent community leader and Civil War veteran.

The volunteers who run the cemetery have had it with "heritage tourists" on self-guided tours. They want out. It's that bad.

This is how close we are

... to the ACW. One generation removed.
Posting after 6:00 pm (EST) tonight. Thanks for visiting.
NEWS | Civil War-era Mississippi cemetery will be restored * Historian solves Connecticut flag mystery * 120-year old Gettysburg print found in Wisconsin


Cow, icon. Lincoln, icon. Art, art.

The confusion between artisan processes and public art was never so pronounced as in that pathetic paint-your-own-cow show.

To add another layer of pathos, try importing this big-city art event idea into your little town. Then, switch out the cows for Lincoln.

The "Abe on Parade" public art exhibit [in Springfield] is scheduled to run from April 2005 to September 2005. "Imagine a Picasso Abe or a Monet Abe?" reads promotional material for Abe on Parade. "Consider an Abe decorated with flowers for a floral business? Maybe your bank could cover him with pennies?"
Businesses may display the decorated Abes inside or outside their doors. Schultz also plans to have a map printed that will give the locations for each of the statues.

Springfield is the town that breaks all the barriers in heritage tourism. Hat tip to these folks.
NEWS | Civil War private may be eligible for headstone * Confederate Historical Association of Belgium breaks hangings story * Indiana dedicates new ACW monument



Runaway slave ads

Clayton Cramer has a post rounding up blogs that publish runaway slave ads. Very interesting.

More on plagiarism, Harvard, and the AHA

I talked about plagiarism this month but missed three interesting items.

(1) Ironic history. In a recent post on historiography and plagiarism, I mentioned that Peter Hoffer has a book on the way analyzing history plagiarism scandals; he is described by his publisher as "a member of the American Historical Association's professional division, which audits the standards of academic historians' work." While noting that some of the essays in his book address AHA member transgressions, I neglected to highlight the weasel words, "audits the standards of academic historians' work." That might exclude a Goodwin or an Ambrose since these are trade authors. And since the AHA was founded with the trade market in mind, who in the membership is eligible for an audit, ever?

The biggest equivocation here is "audits" because in May 2003, the AHA ditched its investigation mandate.

That's one way to seperate your organization from a public scandal involving the professionalism of its members.

Hoffer does not seem to have had a hand in that decision; I hope he discusses it in his book, as well as explain what these "audits" are all about.

(2) Ironic administration. In mentioning Harvard Law's faculty plagiarism disaster, I failed to note that in May of this year a young lady's admission to the undergraduate division of the university was rescinded after she became embroiled in a plagiarism incident involving columns penned for the local newspaper. It may have also harmed her case that 2,700 high school classmates petitioned Harvard to keep her out. She appears to be a divisive personality, but the exclusion should have given warning to a faculty that insists on rationalizing its own academic crimes and misdemeanors. (See here, here, here, and maybe here).

(3) Cheating is a growing phenomenon:

Surveys consistently show that cheating among college students is rising. For instance, while 10 percent of students said in 1999 they cut and pasted unattributed material directly from the Internet to their papers, the percentage rose to 41 percent in 2001, according to the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University.

Those are admitted cheats.

The good news here as that the software applications colleges use to catch cheaters are commercial products. They can be sold to anyone and applied to the work of professors and pop historians, too.

You see, there's always a bright side to the darkest story.

The sandwich was invented by a military man

... don't you know? Not that he ate these after a battle, however.

This is in response to the young lady who caught re-enactors scarfing down hoagies in a Subway shop.

[After the battle] Denise Flagg found herself surrounded by Confederates on her stop in to get a sandwich. "I figured they should be cooking at the campfire or something," she said. "Not eating at McDonalds or Subway."

Give these Rebels a break, lady: by rights, they should have been simulating slow starvation for the previous two days. See here.

Franklin Battlefield update

The race is on:

[Franklin] City leaders said Tuesday that they wanted to go ahead and commit [$2.5 million] to the funding to show the city is ready to step up and pay for a share of the land. [...] According to committee's recommendation, that matching commitment would be open until July 2005. So far, the [preservation] group has raised just under $1 million, according to Mary Pearce, executive director of The Heritage Foundation of Franklin and Williamson County.

With the matching funds committed by the city, fundraisers will have an easier time; they have less than a year to come up with another $1.5 million.

Meanwhile, displaced golfers face choices:

Tennessee, like the rest of the country, has too many golf courses and not enough golfers to fill them. It's a better time to be a golfer than to own a course right now.

The future of self guided tours

Boston has figured out a role for cell phones in self-guided tours. Will the National Park Service take a cue?
NEWS | Man writes ACW novel despite Parkinson's * Group to host Civil War relics show * ACW cannon stolen in Pennsylvania


The dilemma for roundtables

A few years ago I experimentally attended a couple of meetings of the Camp Olden Civil War Roundtable near Trenton, NJ. Despite being well attended and occasionally helped in fundraising by local writer James McPherson, the group is a kind of weak sister to the better-known, -funded, -organized, and -attended Robert E. Lee Roundtable in North-Central Jersey.

I encountered the Robert E. Lee group years ago as a guest speaker, part of a monthly schedule. My topic was McClellan's national, multi-theatre plan for winning the war in 1862 and its rejection by Lincoln. This obscure topic drew well, earned an honorarium, a souvenir coin, and even a video recording of my talk. Clearly, the Lees had been doing this thing for some time. I was not/am not a celeb, but I do count as an outside speaker.

My Olden meetings were those of an outside attendee. The Oldens alternated programs of member talks with chats from special invitees. My two visits came on the cusp of executive elections and I noticed a division in the membership.

The issue was whether the purpose of a Civil War roundtable was to offer a forum for member papers and discussion or whether the roundtable was to be a venue for celebrity speakers.

I notice that Olden is hosting a regional roundtable conference. From the looks of this press release, the scale in this argument has tipped in favor of the local faction:

In addition to Dr. McPherson, others scheduled to appear include, Dr. David Martin, Jeffry Wert, Troy Harman, Patrick Falci, George Wunderlich, Jane C. Peters Estes, Stanley Saperstein, Joe Bilby, Craig Caba, and the African-American performance group, Seven Quilts for Seven Sisters.

Saperstein (listed above) was the Oldenite favoring local talent in those meetings I attended. McPherson is again acting as angel and probably made the Princeton venue available.

ACW roundtables are susceptible to the worst of pop culture - movies, Ken Burns, trashy nonfiction ... all these drive membership and agendas. A self-centered roundtable points to the possibility of an ACW history revival; constant external orientation bodes ill. It's not as if there is a great pool of ACW scholars to draw on. There may be 6 - 12 active. You draw your own water on a farm like this.

The Lee way suggests high attendance and a kind of "entertainment" ethos. The Olden way, if this is what it is, may produce good history as well. This Mid-Atlantic event suggests an emphasis on grass roots that may be healthier for history in the long run.
NEWS | Racing star is Gettysburg fan * Memorial service slated for Iuka veteran * Historical society rescues Civil War era documents


Maxwell to discuss Last Full Measure

... among other things. This is a PSA for ACW movie buffs able to visit Waterford, Virginia. According to a press release posted on the unmoderated Usenet Civil War newsgroup, "Noted filmmaker Ronald F. Maxwell will be the guest speaker on Sunday, October 17 at 4pm at the Old School in Waterford, VA." Although this is part of the Waterford Foundation's George Bentley Lecture Series, there is no mention of it on the Waterford site.

Excerpt from PR:
Maxwell is currently working on two film projects: Joan of Arc and The Last Full Measure, both of which he is producing and directing, and for which he has also written the screenplays, The latter will follow all the characters from Gettysburg and 'Gods and Generals' from July 1863 to April 1865. Newly added characters will include U.S. Grant, Sheridan and Sherman.

The release itself is here.

"The PT Barnum of presidential libraries"

That's how the Lincoln Library and Museum's Richard Norton Smith is described in this exellent piece of reporting from the State Journal-Register. Some points that struck me (in story order):

* The Springfield and Sangamon County Economic Development Council as of last month had not yet figured out if attendance at presidential libraries increases or declines over time. "It's normal for it to shrink," Smith replied.

* Smith appears to be battling expectations raised by flawed heritage tourism studies. "Smith is wary of studies that, as he told the EDC, 'tell you what you want to hear.'"

* Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal (deceased) had led a "crusade" against the previous (Republican) governor for turning the complex into what Smith called a "patronage dump."

* There is considerable tension between Illinois and Smith: "I've felt almost every day since coming here that I've been walking into buzz saws," he told EDC members.

* Smith's relations with the University of Kansas and its Dole center were troubled. "I don't think he gets universities. It's part of his personality."

Anomalies, paradoxes, and bizarre statements:

* "If this is just a tourist attraction, we failed," Smith warned.

* "Frankly," Smith said, "it [the Lincoln Library and Museum] had escaped by the skin of its teeth from becoming a patronage dump.

* Smith said his primary struggle has been state government rules making it difficult to hire more minorities.

There is much more here. Tip of the hat to Abraham Lincoln Online.

A note of thanks

... to Evan Wililliams for the technology that allows me to do this every day. Good luck to you, sir. Thanks also to Google, which has made the technology better and provided a revenue stream for blogging.
NEWS | Confederate flag removed ahead of NAACP event * Civil War labor organizer gets national status * Grant given to preserve Northwood Civil War document


Plagiarists and procrastinators

Here's news of the latest plagiarism scandal from the world of nonfiction ("history") bestsellers.

Meanwhile, how many edits on an eight-minute Lincoln Memorial video does it take before you've exceeded $200,000 in expenses? Hat tip to HNN.

Johnny Nuance - Antietam veteran

Johnny Nuance is a western peacemaker whose Antietam experience comes in mighty handy:

I learned to play poker the same time I learned how to fight - back in Antietam. The memories are seared, seared into my memory… me and my band of brothers were taking a clandestine canoe mission up Cripple Creek for a showdown with Johnny Reb, when…

Cripple Creek, eh? This "TV scriptwriter" needs to hit the books some more.

You don’t have to tell me about friendship, Pierre. I learned the meaning of friendship back in Antietam, from my beloved band of brothers. They know the real truth, that my medals are real, that I was unjustly branded by the Ironclad Veterans For Truth, that I…

Depending on your politics, you might find this funny.

Plagiarism and grad student ghost writers

Very much on target although "law" in front of "professors" is too restrictive.

Since academia refuses to enforce any sort of norm that would require law professors to write their own articles and books, we have to take up the slack by making sure that the publications they do produce only steal ideas and expressions from their research assistants.

Thanks to Class Maledictorian by way of the Harvard Plagiarism Archive.

Chancellorsville - overloading a shaky deal

While looking through an old Mullins Farm article I found a couple of points that tie things together.

You may have seen in this blog last week that Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Hagan (who helped push the Chancellorsville easement deal among Tricord, Civil War Preservation Trust, and landowner Mullins) was on a junket to Pamplin Park, near Petersburg. He pronounced himself well satisfied with that privately owned Civil War tourism magnet. I was wondering what the point of his trip was.

In this article from Sept. 16, Hagan told Fredericksburg's paper that he would like to see a museum on the Tricord property. CWPT seems to have no comment on Hagan's wishes, suggesting instead that it "wants to develop educational signs and walking trails that cater to both tourists and residents of the planned Tricord community." They even suggest re-enactments might be possible - that cannonades and musketry could surround a nursing home.

Broadcasting uncoordinated ideas suggests that the use of the easement on Tricord's property was not defined in the current agreement and that there is a variance of opinion here.

It would seem that the sequence of events flowed this way: reach a vague, verbal understanding among the parties; negotiate a deal with Tricord, including some ill-defined easement piece; plan to negotiate easement clause interpretations with Tricord after the fact .

Hagan's vision is quite specific:

Hagan would model such a facility [museum and center] on the privately owned Pamplin Park near Petersburg, which features costumed interpreters and interactive exhibits on the lives of actual Civil War soldiers.

How this would co-exist with a nursing home, on land owned by the nursing home, is baffling, as is the question of what private entity would build and then run this expensive facility.

Now this museum idea became prominent after Tricord signed the deal. A surprise?

Even with its more modest idea of "educational signs and walking trails" (not to mention re-enactments), CWPT probably far overreached land use possibilities acceptable to Tricord.

Did Tricord simply think it was getting cash from CWPT in order to preserve greenspace?

The idea of attracting thousands of tourists to tramp around private property that shelters feeble and disabled seniors, the idea of violating their quiet, privacy, and safety would be a very strange agreement for Tricord to make. And if such provisions have not already been built into the Tricord/CWPT deal, why talk about them hypothetically?

Conclusion: CWPT is mobilizing public opinion to soften up Tricord for negotiating such arrangements. So is Hagan.

Hagan has the last word on zoning and he has the most complex idea; CWPT has a simple idea that is a non-starter; the trial balloons are being floated in public rather than discussed privately with Tricord.

These are the ingredients for busting a deal.
NEWS | Thousands re-create Battle of Franklin * Park Service database lists Civil War soldiers all in one place * Wilson's Creek bill may be approved before Congress adjourns


McClellan poetry: Charles Graham Halpine

SATURDAY | One of the enduring associations of the Civil War in pop history is that of General George B. McClellan and the Irish Brigade of the Army of the Potomac.

One of the more successful literary careerists in that brigade was a junior officer, Charles Graham Halpine, who wrote verse under the pen name of Private Miles O'Reilly. O'Reilly's poems appear in Harper's and such before being collected into book form in 1864: the Life and Adventures, Songs, Services, and Speeches of Private Miles O’Reilly. His life's work is still in print and can be purchased for a mere $450.

Halpine was a McClellan partisan. In his poem, "Soon We'll Have the Union Back" he offers,

A million swords to back our words
Beneath M'Clellan gleaming,
And soon, you know, Jeff D. and Co.,
For France they would be steaming.

Note that this cultivated man has assumed the voice of an Irish-American private. His views of Lincoln are what we would expect:

A ruined land that once was grand
Is not a joking matter,
Though Abe, we know, the more our woe,
The more his jokes he'll chatter;
Oh, M'Clellan,
Georgie B. M'Clellan,
Shall we have the Union back?
Tell us "Mac" -- M'Clellan.

Today I wanted to share a more restrained O'Reilly poem from 1862, one that is simple but less like the usual war doggerel. This is dignified and carries some force.

The thing that interests me most about this poem is that it so well represents the vocabulary and sentimentality of McClellan's daily, personal interactions with his privates - Irish or not.

Song of the Soldiers

Comrades known in marches many,
Comrades, tried in dangers many,
Comrades, bound by memories many,
Brothers ever let us be.
Wounds or sickness may divide us,
Marching order; may divide us,
But, whatever fate betide us,
Brothers of the heart are we.

Comrades, known by faith the clearest,
Tried when death was near and nearest,
Bound we are by ties the dearest,
Brothers evermore to be.
And, if spared, and growing older,
Shoulder still in line with shoulder,
And with hearts no thrill the colder,
Brothers ever we shall be.

By communion of the banner,
Crimson, white, and starry banner,
By the baptism of the banner,
Children of one Church are we.
Creed nor faction can divide us,
Race nor language can divide us,
Still, whatever fate betide us,
Children of the Flag are we!


Plagiarism and fraud

As the Harvard Law school plagiarism meltdown continues (scroll down for this week's blog entries), we find indications that a Utah State University professor manufactured evidence to support the authenticity of typography in the CBS memos. It was a good effort: you can see for yourself because he (or his grad students) left their project/cut and paste folder on line in the university's directory system; the materials were captured and saved by bloggers.

It will all turn out to be a terrible, terrible misunderstanding, one hopes.

All this university fraud fuss reminds me of the corruption and degradation in the field of Civil War history, which is why I bring it up.

More specifically, it motivates me to write a series of Civil War posts I've wanted to put out for a long while. It's theme is "tracings." I plan to take the verbatim formulation of a specific editorial insight on the war from the editorial pages of an 1860s newspaper and then trace it through generations of Civil War histories, where it is repeated by the author without attribution. I first noticed it in a work by Catton, where he repeated, as his own insight, the thought expressed a hundred years earlier by Swinton of the New York Times - the idea about how much better it would have been for McClellan had he accepted the Pennsylvania USV commission than the Ohio USV commission.

ACW pop history is crawling with these little acts of fraud but my library is in storage until December. A Christmas present, it will have to be.

Thank you, Harvard and Utah State, for reminding me and energizing me. You don't have to keep it up, however.

Red China or Taiwan: who's the Rebel?

... even the most basic understanding of the American Civil War would show that Beijing is actually the Confederacy.

"You are the rebel." "No, you are the rebel." Save this piece for happy hour.

Sun Tzu considers McClellan and Lincoln

Thanks to Sonshi's translation of the Art of War, Chapter Three: Planning Attacks.

Generally in warfare, keeping a nation intact is best, destroying a nation second best;

keeping an army intact is best, destroying an army second best;

keeping a battalion intact is best, destroying a battalion second best;

keeping a company intact is best, destroying a company second best;

keeping a squad intact is best, destroying a squad second best.

Therefore, to gain a hundred victories in a hundred battles is not the highest excellence;

to subjugate the enemy's army without doing battle is the highest of excellence.

Therefore, one who is skilled in warfare principles subdues the enemy without doing battle, takes the enemy's walled city without attacking, and overthrows the enemy quickly, without protracted warfare.

A general is the safeguard of the nation.

There are three ways the ruler can bring difficulty to the army:

To order an advance when not realizing the army is in no position to advance, or to order a withdrawal when not realizing the army is in no position to withdraw.

This is called entangling the army.

By not knowing the army's matters, and administering the army the same as administering civil matters, the officers and troops will be confused.

By not knowing the army's calculations, and taking command of the army, the officers and troops will be hesitant.

When the army is confused and hesitant, the neighboring rulers will take advantage.

Therefore, there are five factors of knowing who will win:

One who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot fight, will be victorious;

one who knows how to use both large and small forces will be victorious;

one who knows how to unite upper and lower ranks in purpose will be victorious;

one who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious;

one whose general is able and is not interfered by the ruler will be victorious.

These five factors are the way to know who will win.

No strategies please, we're politicians (cont.)

I don't recall if it was ACW historian Herman Hattaway or his colleague Archer Jones (or the two in tandem) who explained the politically optimum course of the war for Lincoln and the Republican Party would have been to fight and win an incremental series of battles leading to the demise of the Rebellion.

This was given in the general context of why Lincoln and/or Congress were so strategy-challenged and why their thinking seemed so odd from a military science viewpoint.

In Civil War texts, the people we style "military professionals" are pictured in opposition to this simplistic thinking; the civilian generals, attuned to the political, embrace it.

With the extensive politicization of the U.S. military during Vietnam and since, with the officer class now giving the political thinking of their civilian masters pride of place in warfighting, the situation is altogether different. I sometimes think of this in reading current news through the lens of Boydian military analysis.

Col. John Boyd's friend William Lind was recently at an Armor Shool conference whence he summarized the higher-level Army mentality, post-Iraq using the Hattaway/Archer insight:
... the assumption behind almost all the briefings was that if we can only accumulate enough tactical victories, we are certain to win strategically as well.

Good heavens, is it 1861? It is something worse if senior soldiers believe this.
NEWS | Fitz John Porter statue rededicated * Civil War opera house restored in New York * Flag restoration work nearing end * Virginia battlefields come to light in mapping project