Send in the clowns

David Detzer, in his new study Donnybrook, has a little fun with the absurd echo chamber we call Civil War pop history. Permit me to bullet his free-flowing text:

* "Civil war historians have agreed with the [Radical Congressional] Joint Committee [on the Conduct of the War], and many have postulated the reason for General Patterson's 'failure': he was too old.:"

* "Bruce Catton ... was 62 when he characterized Patterson as 'sixty-nine, a veteran of the War of 1812 ... handicapped ... by old age."

* "Shelby Foote ... calls Patterson 'a sixty-nine-year-old veteran of the War of 1812' - which, though true, is all Foote really says about that officer."

* "James McPherson ... describes Patterson as 'a sixty-nine-year-old veteran of the War of 1812.'"

* ... Allan Nevins was himself sixty-nine when he wrote: 'And who faced Johnston? A soldier near seventy.'"

I picture a child at the circus:
Q: Mommy, what kind of clowns are those, happy or sad?
A: Those are thoughtful clowns, dear.
Q: Why do they keep making the same mistakes, bumping into each other and running in circles?
A: They're trying to entertain us, darling.