Most obscure ACW reference on TV
I gasped. Wouldn't you?
Wife asked why.
"Most esoteric Civil War reference I have ever heard of in mass media," I said.
Would you agree? Can you imagine a print media reference to Galvanized Yankees?
I'd like to thank the television industry of 1957 for a personally gratifying "wow" factor.
Kenneth Milton Stampp "is a celebrated historian of slavery, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction. He was arguably the most influential historian in his field working in the post-World War II era, and is the dean of historians of the Civil War era."
James M. McPherson is "America's leading historian of the Civil War..."
Somebody call an editor.
Whitman's "hunger for stardom"
"The major reason Whitman became a celebrity later in life was that he started to exaggerate how neglected he was by the American public ..."
He was a pioneer in "the Culture of American Celebrity."
Lincoln as Radical
Here comes a new book:
Richard Striner takes deadly aim at some of the more vicious myths that have become almost axiomatically accepted in many circles concerning the outlook of President Abraham Lincoln: that Lincoln was a "moderate" and a "pragmatist" on the issue of slavery eradication; and that Lincoln was more concerned about saving the Union than abolishing slavery, and would have maintained the latter to keep the former.The reviewer outlines a controversy:
Striner acknowledges his debt to authors Henry Jaffa, William Miller, LaWanda Cox, and James McPherson, who recently published works debunking some of the Lincoln myths; he also refutes recent detractors including David Herbert Donald, TV journalist Ken Burns, historian Barbara Fields, Gore Vidal, Lerone Bennett, Jr., and others.Meanwhile, in the public arena, James McPherson seems to be intervening in the national policy arena. The current Administration argues a "Lincoln-based defense" of its war powers interpretation. McPherson credits Lincoln with "inventing" war powers.
Renowned Civil War historian James McPherson will deliver a lecture titled "Abraham Lincoln's Invention of Presidential War Powers" ...Not that that's a bad thing. But more heartache for Lincoln venerators?
(Rick Beard, speak to us! Allay our concerns!)
"Conditions" for commanding the AOP: part 4/4
McClellan has something relevant to say as well. In a memo drafted December 29 of 1881 located with the McClellan Papers at the Library of Congress he notes that before his spell of typhoid in late 1861,
... no party had been openly formed against me. [But] The Radicals had by this time become convinced that I was not to be used by themselves as a tool; they saw that my object was to restore the Union - while their's was the reverse..."The reverse" alludes to the "conditions" heard by Waud and Pleasanton and heard of by Porter - conditions in which Senator Ben Wade (right) figured.
Congressional radical George Julian, writing after the war, remembered Wade as taking the position that McClellan was prolonging the war to the benefit of the Democratic Party - that Democrats might be recalled to power to make peace with the South. The thought appears in T. Harry Williams' Lincoln and the Radicals and I don't have Julian's exact wording.
At first glance, this might seem to repudiate the "conditions" we have been discussing. I don't think it does. "Prolonging the war" - if those were the exact terms - could mean major delays in "shattering the South." Certainly it means endangering emancipation and Lincoln's re-election. To quote Plesanton via Kelly:
The terms offered were these: The war must not be ended until the South was crushed. Slavery abolished. And the President reelected.Slowness pertains to the speed at which the South is crushed and the conditions for emancipation are set up. McClellan and others could rightly feel - as a major portion of the electorate felt - that the Republicans were in no hurry to end a war that was a major asset to party building. Julian and Wade could wish for a different kind of slowness, a succession of battles embittering both sides, grinding down the South, and providing a steady stream of victories sufficient to win mid-terms and presidential elections for a reunion in due time.
Waud's recollection contradicts Julian's. In Waud's, Radicals think McClellan is moving too fast. And they don't want him positioned (via success) for the presidency. In Julian's, the Radicals again are represented as feeling he is moving too slow. But that slowness accusation hides a world of meaning.
What of Pleasanton's recollection?
Well, we know of Sen. Chandler's interactions with Heintzelman during McClellan's typhoid episode - they were of a sort such that Heintzelman could feel he had been offered command. Two years later (or more) we have Pleasonton feeling the same way after time spent with Wade.
What strikes the modern reader as odd is that someone could take seriously the offer of a senator in this. It would be a presidential matter. But we have to credit Heintzelman and Pleasanton. They knew how the government ran and they were not fools. This leaves us with a series of questions:
Was Wade freelancing when he interviewed Pleasanton for command of the AoP?
Or was he a cutout for Lincoln?
Were the "conditions" inferred by Pleasanton or stated by Wade?
Did Pleasanton talk up the "conditions" such that they became legend even to such unfriendly ears as Porter's?
More questions than answers, I am afraid. What I am sure of is this: honest men believed in the conditions; dishonest men (writers and historians) have suppressed this part - and many other parts - of the Democratic case against the Republican management of the Civil War.
Rick Beard: the mystery continues
* On October 4, the governor of Illinois names an international man of mystery, "Rick Beard," to head the Lincoln museum/library complex. The announcement contained no hint that this may have an effective future date. It appeared to be for October 4 onward.
* After October 4, this so-called "Rick Beard" made no announcements, granted no interviews, and his "name" was omitted from publicity coming from the library/museum.
* A new announcement makes reference to "interim executive director" Thomas Schwartz ... almost two months after "Beard's" appointment.
Bulletin from Google News: Your search - "rick beard" lincoln museum - did not match any documents.
"Conditions" for commanding the AOP: part 3/4
Sculptor James E. Kelly (1855-1933) first visited Alfred Pleasanton on July 25, 1895. It is during his second visit with the general, undated, that the offer of command of the Army of the Potomac comes up. Kelly records the conversation this way (from Generals in Bronze):
Pleasanton: I was offered command of the Army of the Potomac.In the course or reminiscing with Kelly, Pleasanton tells a story involving a subordinate commander he seems to have favored named James Wade.
Kelly: Why didn't you take it?
Pleasanton: I wasn't like Grant. I refused to pay the price.
Kelly: Why, what was the price?
Pleasanton: The terms offered were these: The war must not be ended until the South was crushed. Slavery abolished. And the President reelected.
Pleasanton encourages Wade to apply for the command of a black regiment. Wade mentions something about his father and Pleasanton asks whom that might be. It is Ben Wade.
Kelly takes the trouble to interview James Wade on March 21, 1907. Wade says of Pleasanton, "we all seemed to feel a certain awe of him." Kelly asks Wade about Pleasanton being offered command of the Army of the Potomac. Wade responds:
That time, Gen. Pleasanton took me to Washington with him; I forget the time but it was after Gettysburg. My father, Ben Wade, wanted to meet him. He was stopping at his sister's home at the time. My father was very much interested in him and his manner of talking; and they sat up nearly all night. My father proposed that he should be given command of the Army of the Potomac. Gen. Pleasanton said he was sent for to go to Washington, and asked me to go with him; I told him it was not my turn by Yates'. He said, "both of you come." Yates was in the 4th Michigan Infantry and afterwards in the 7th Cavalry, and killed with Custer. So we went, but somehow or other it fell through; but it was understood at the time that Pleasanton had been offered command of the Army of the Potomac.Kelly asks Wade the $50,000 question: "I think something was said by Pleasanton about 'paying the price.'"
Wade: "I never heard of it, but it looks as if it may be true. Now I could not prove, for lack of documentary evidence, that Gen. Pleasanton was offered that command, but I feel morally certain that it was offered to him, and it was so generally understood at the time."
In the order of his interviews, Kelly missed an opportunity to develop this subject further. Waud had told Prime, "Genl. McMahon says he had some evidence bearing on the same subject at your service." (Same subject = conditions for ending the war.) Kelly does interview General Martin McMahon (on 10/11/79) but it is long before he becomes interested in "conditions."
To recap the chronology:
+ Waud memorializes Ben Wade and company's conversation: June 16th, 1886
+ Pleasanton tells of an offer and conditions: Sometime after July 25, 1895
+ Porter tells Kelly of conditions but not an offer: early 1898?*
+ James Wade tells Kelly of offer but not conditions: March 21, 1907
The time has come for me to make a claim about the "conditions" and I will do so in the last post of this series.
* The Porter memo is not dated but we can bracket it. General David Stanley recommends Porter for a bronze on what appears to be Dec. 14 1897. In his first meeting with Porter, Kelly references this Stanley recommendation. The following Porter entry is marked by editor Styple as the summer of 1899.
"Conditions" for commanding the AOP: part 2/4
In Alfred Waud's letter to W.C. Prime, we saw the elements of what could conceivably become conditions for command of the Army of the Potomac. These elements were voiced by a group of Congressmen including Wade, Washburne, and Wilson; also present was the Radical General Cochrane. We might summarize them this way:
* The war must not end before slavery is abolished.
* The war must not end until the Southern leadership or upper class is shattered.
* The general who wins the war must share the principles of the Republican Party because he will be elected president.
Sculptor James E. Kelly (1855-1933) interviewed Fitz John Porter and part of one conversation is recorded this way in Generals in Bronze:
Kelly: I told Gen. Porter that Gen. Pleasanton told me he had been offered command of the Army of the Potomac, but had refused to pay the price, and that when I asked him what the price was ... he said that if he took command, that the war was to continue until the president was elected and some other terms which I forget, and that Grant accepted those terms.The significance of the "terms" originally mentioned by Pleasanton is that they appear to have come from a conversation with Ben Wade. But I'm getting ahead of myself - that is for the next post in this series.
Porter: I have heard that those terms were offered, but I do not believe that they were offered to Pleasanton.
Kelly: What were the terms? Do you recall them?
Porter: The terms were that the war should be continued till the South was crushed; slavery abolished, and the President reelected.
The interesting thing here is that Porter is able to recite Pleasanton's catechism (he disparaged P, by the way) independently of Pleasanton long after Kelly spoke to the old cavalry general.
Correction: In the first post in this series I mentioned that Waud's letter has languished in obscurity. Actually, Russel Beatie discusses it in Vol. 1 of his Army of the Potomac - that post has been updated with the correction.
"Conditions" for commanding the AOP: part 1/4
W. C. Prime organized a miscellany of the late George B. McClellan's writings for publication under the title McClellan's Own Story, a work that had him meeting and corresponding with the illustrator for that project, the famous Alfred Waud.
In a letter to Prime dated June 16th, 1886, Waud reported on the status of some drawings and then launched into an account of a subject "we spoke of." He adds, "Genl. McMahon says he had some evidence bearing on the same subject at your service."
Prime did not use the anecdote Waud provided; neither did Sears in his McClellan biography. Waud's letter appears in the McClellan Papers, Library of Congress, where it has languished in obscurity until Russel Beatie analyzed it in Volume 1 of Army of the Potomac. Here is the memo part of it, in his own spelling and punctuation.
One evening in the winter of 1861 being in the rooms of the New York Tribune at Washington in company with E. House, one of the correspondents, I found a number of members of Congress present. I did not know all of them, but I remember seeing Washburn, Wade, Wilson, Cochrane and others, in all twelve or fifteen.
In the course of the conversation it was plainly stated that it was not in the good of the interest of good statesmanship that the rebellion should be suppressed at an early date. It was agreed that the true policy of the country, and of the party, was to prolong the struggle, till the people of the North were educated, or exasperated into the point of demanding emancipation as one of the necessary results, and till the Southern power and influence should be so shattered, that the republican party would have no difficulty in retaining control of the government for many years.
It was therefore plainly necessary that no effort should be spared to get rid of McClellan, whose only idea was to make speedy end to the war, in which case he would be naturally, as a successful general, the choice of the people for president, but in no way an exponent of the dominant party. Being too popular with the citizens and the army to openly oppose, he must be assailed in other ways.
The meeting then broke up.
Savas on plagiarism (with comment)
As for plagiarism: I see it all the time in manuscripts, so what Carmichael is talking about I can’t say. I can often spot it in casual reading. Maybe I have a good radar for that. Goodwin got off; Ruhlman won’t.He adds:
I have confronted several authors over the past couple of years regarding a wide variety of submissions. Some apologize (falling back on the Goodwin/Ruhlman non-defense defense), others never respond, and a few are so clueless they ask what plagiarism means!Sounds like "some" are setting up a quibble. What is a "spotter" to do? Ted refers to an incident of two titles published by other presses.
In one, the thievery was largely corrected. In another, it was not and I alerted the press privately. I do not know the result of that notification, other than that a good seller did not go into the expected second edition.The difference between Ted Savas and some salaryman editing for a trade or university press is that Ted is that educated reader around whom the editor function in publishing was originally organized. (This could apply to many of my readers, as well.)
Kevin Levin had asked why University of Tennesse Press did not send the Ruhlman MS to Andersonville author Marvel for comment. I have two problems with that. First, it makes new writing hostage to old reputations (more on which in a minute). Second, if you don't have the in-house expertise to evaluate a manuscript like this yourself, yours is a house of generalists susceptible not only to plagiarism but trash.
If you agree with the idea of shopping new manuscripts to the established experts, I urge you to listen to Gerald Prokopowicz interview Keith Poulter, former editor of "North & South" magazine. Poulter, like any editor, rejected a lot of work. However, there was a category of work the content of which he was not sure about. Was it revisionism? He describes a system by which he would send such submissions to subject matter experts. Gerald astutely asked how many of these got through this expert screening process. Poulter answered none. That would be zero among (IIRC) 40 such.
I know university presses routinely do this kind of review. I question the value of it. Some cases - not routine evaluations - will of course demand outside advice. Set boundaries for advisors or you will wind up a gatekeeper for your advisors' reputations.
Meanwhile I do take heart that privately contacting a thief's publisher may forestall that second edition.
New Civil War blogs
J. David Petruzzi on the Ruhlman scandal: "When you explore this story through articles and links on other sites, you’ll see the comments about Ruhlman’s doctorate apparently coming from a diploma mill (the University of London) ..." This was a good laugh on me because my app to the University of London was recently rejected. I need a diploma mill with lower standards!
Jim Beeghley is "Teaching the Civil War with Technology" and has been at it since July. Sorry I missed him.
Maggie Maclean is running "Civil War Women." Her format features vignettes of lives rather than personal diary entries or reviews. Reminds me of my youth when Dorothea Dix was a particular interest of my father's. We still have a doorknob of hers rescued from the wrecker.
Ron Coddington has a blog called "Faces of War." It's not clear to me if he is reprising his "Faces of War" column from "Civil War News," or promoting a book by the same name. The postings are shorter than a magazine column, so maybe these are works in progress or works that did not get into print.
The Maryland Line CSA started publishing anonymously 10 days ago and is book-centric. "My collection consists of about 1500 books that mostly deal with Confederate units or biographies. I also own a lot of Americana titles that are of Maryland or Delaware interest." I have been researching the war in Delmarva myself in a haphazard way for a few years now.
I'm not sure John Banks' blog is a Civil War blog per se, but he's going through a spell where the postings make it look like one.
(Hat tip to Brett's blogroll for filling some gaps. Sorry if I have missed a few.)
More on Ruhlman
He is answered in part by Peter Carmichael of the University of Tennessee Press: "I can't imagine how one checks for plagiarism when reviewing a manuscript. Unless you happen to be familiar with a book (like Marvel was with his own study of Andersonville) it is not realistic to expect a press or a reviewer to catch plagiarism."
But he has been told how to check. And there is another way too. The University of Tennessee's academics have access to (and may use) software that checks for student plagiarism. It's simple software that searches using strings from the student's paper. Academics who don't have such software will use Google to do the same thing.
Eric Wittenberg says: "I also hope that the UT Press gets over its black eye, but that it tightens things up a bit to ensure that this sort of flagrant rip-off doesn’t happen again."
But Peter is telling us they can't and therefore won't.
Isn't he? I smell budgets!
Bulletin for heritage tourism
I’ve pondered the question for years of how to attract more people to the study of the Trans-Miss theater, and I have found that unless you had an ancestor who fought here or you yourself live here, you don’t really care. Interest in the Trans-Miss cannot be manufactured.This "unscientific poll" cited by Eric Wittenberg suggests the same.
Restoration and history
Expecting the worst, I asked the guide taking me through the Trent House (circa 1709) a few years ago exactly what restoration had been done. Her answer was delightful: "The city tore down a new wing that had been added in George Washington's time."
Would like to apply that ethos to some of the historical fakery in brick and mortar that prevails now. Would love to hear the docent say on some tours, "We are raising funds to tear down this ridiculous imitation so that visitors can see the original foundations of the structure."
Andersonville commission ms found
Bloggers receiving books
But I do have a problem with bloggers who are not being honest with their readers. How many bloggers who have taken part in this whole Thirteenth Tale exercise have stated that they are doing so on their blog? How many have put up their hands and said, look, S&S emailed me about this contest, so I'm taking part? How many have made it clear that the book they are reviewing is a FREE copy?(Unfortunately, the books mailed to Mark and myself had no lucrative contest attached.)
Miss Snark, a literary agent, laughs at all this.
Here's a MAJOR clue for everyone who gets "free books". Publicists pull up a list marked "fiction outlets" or "romance outlets" or "true crime outlets in Romance, Arkansas" from their ten thousand name data base and they send a form email. Or a book. Or an offer. Sometimes all three.They are ecstatic if 10% of the places they send books even mention them, let alone say something akin to "you should buy this". The idea that a reviewer or a blogger cares about keeping a publisher happy demonstrates a very skewed idea of how publishing works. Talk to any publicist in any publishing company. They're pretty sure their job is to keep reviewers happy.Not to say I don't feel guilty about slamming books sent gratis. After the 1,000th or so incident of that, the conscience does numb a little, and it gets easier.
Snark adds, "If you look and sound like a shill for crap, we'll only assume you've been paid off rather than you're a bad writer or an idiot with no taste. You can make the same assumption about me."
Sounds like a plan.
Plagiarism stories continue
A sample of the offenses committed:
Marvel, p. 36: "Mrs. Wolf was a perfectly respectable Methodist lady whose husband had recently died, leaving her with two small girls."
Ruhlman, p. 77: "She was a respectable Methodist lady whose husband had recently died, leaving her with two daughters to raise."
Dark hearts and book reviews
But here's the tricky part. When I was younger with time heavy on my hands, I would humor the lady book review editors of the local newspaper and take on books that were easy review fodder: lots of problems, lots of weakness make entertaining reviews.
Nowadays I tend to avoid much new work. The publicists are good enough to query first and I discourage their sending material I know I will denounce. (Exception: I reviewed McPherson's Antietam souvenir for newspapers when it came out because it was emblematic of bad public history, opportunism, and the failure of a certain type of aggregation.)
Thus, I am now more sparing in the reading of bad books and I suppose it hurts this blog. The tendency is to welcome books one might like.
Ethical dilemma: hard-working publicists are hoping for mention of work in a field where one is lucky to get a review or two 18 months after a book comes out.
Bloggy solution: put up multiple posts alternating good with the bad. Print reviewers can't do that and no book is all bad or all good.
Time/motion study: the savings a reviewer achieves on the price of buying a new hardback (say $35-$40?) can in no way compensate for the time invested in reading the book carefully and then writing about it. Even if we were writing for newspapers and taking the usual $100 honors per review in addition to the free copy, it would not work out in terms of incentive.
Suspicions are unwarranted. Praise tends to be real in this medium. Trust your bloggers.
28 Civil War blogs
Author pulls a Goodwin, busted by Marvel
Big local report here. Skimpy AP story here. Supplemented AP story here.
Ruhlman uses the Doris Kearns Goodwin defense:
He said he greatly admired Marvel, had read his work extensively - "perhaps too much" - and obviously used it multiple times as a source for his own work. Ruhlman said that he was a novice and innocent of willful plagiarism but acknowledged grave oversights in crediting the work of Marvel.Marvel:
"I would characterize the extent as 'pages and pages' of text that has been lightly rearranged and doctored to appear original, and without counting the work of other historians that he has appropriated," Marvel wrote in an e-mail.
He added, "I should also note that Ruhlman's alleged manuscript research duplicated my own almost exactly, with the exception of four documents relating to one Confederate surgeon. In one instance I found him repeating the only bibliographic error in my entire book, and it would be incredibly coincidental for him to have made that transcription error through his own research."
Civil War publishing: dilution?
They appear in an anonymous blog, POD-DY Mouth, where the author has been developing a dilution meme to explain what is happening to book sales figures. His particular target, if that is not too harsh a term, is the print-on-demand business:
And let's go with the average number of sales for a POD book (which I think is too low) of 75 units ... So, 50K times 75 units is 3,750,000 books. Now add on the average price of $17. That means over the past couple of years, POD has stolen just shy of $64 million dollars from New York ... And the truth is this is probably double that. The publishing industry has become incredibly diluted.(Of related interest is a survey that shows, "... agents’ collective opinion is that a publish-on-demand book seriously hurt an author’s chance at being commercially published." Hmm.)
Back to the POD-DY, however. Our author notes:
Regarding Neilsen Bookscan's tracked sales of books for 2004 (1.2 million), here are the results:I can say for certain that the "99 copies and under" in no way applies exclusively to POD. Furthermore, the lit agent calling herself "Miss Snark" says that Nielsen figures refer to ISBN number scans. Different ISBNs are assigned to the same "title" via re-issues, tape books, hardback and paper, etc. She also notes that these are hardback numbers and a partial coverage of paperback.
* Of those 1.2 million, 950,000 sold fewer than 99 copies.
* Another 200,000 sold fewer than 1,000 copies.
* Only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
* Fewer than 500 sold more than 100,000 copies.
* Only 10 books sold more than a million copies each.
* The average book in the United States sells about 500 copies.
Okay, we all know the bulk of the "99 copies and under" category came from POD publishers. What's really disturbing is that only 25,000 books sold more than 5,000 copies.
I think you can reach a level where generalities from numbers like these become unmanageable. Remember always that as book-buyers, we control Civil War publishing quality and quantity ... at least until the next TV or movie phenomenon floods the market with work seeking the lowest common denominator.
Canadian history lesson
Wasn't his father a general in the Canadian Civil War?
(Hat tip to the Torch.)
Don't get Lincolned!
I’d phrase it differently. Writers on the subject are fond of saying that McDowell “succumbed to political pressure”. McDowell did not succumb to political pressure. He succumbed to pressure from the commander in chief, or more accurately just followed orders. He was not asked to plan for any alternative to moving forward, only for a plan where prompt forward movement was a given. McDowell did not “want forward movement”, “the people” wanted forward movement – at least, that’s what those in power thought the voice of “the people” was telling them. So I think it would be better to say that the author “Lincolned” himself, or probably best to say that the author “Greeleyed” himself.This discussion reminds of a verb coined by Grant in a talk with Schofield. Grant said he would not be "McClellanized" after going East. He used it in the same sense as "Lincolned."
A lot of Union generals got Lincolned in the Civil war.
Civil War Gazette
Immediate advance or more preparation?
One Michael Patrick Leahy has launched a new blog about getting a Civil War novel published. He put his synopsis online and it starts,
Fort Desperate follows the lives of three men and their wives from 1846 to 1863. The men are central players in the Civil War campaign to control New Orleans and the Mississippi River Valley.
That opening is dead. It does not pique the least interest and Leahy should not expect to hear from the lit agents to whom he sent this. Suggestion:
Fort Desperate is an historical novel which will appeal to two major markets at once: Romance novel readers and the Civil War fiction buyers. It combines the plotting and character elements that have won so much success for Carmen Smith's Woman in a Ripped Bodice series while stoking Civil War readers' love of gore, derring-do, and over-the-top melodrama.
Oh no, you say. This is a synopsis not a cover letter, you say.
My friends, cover letters get misplaced and as the estimables in a Mamet play have been made to say, "Always be selling." Our author blogs tellingly :
Did I send it off to Ms. Vater before it was ready ?
So why did I do that ? Why didn't I spend a day making the synopsis so good it would make Ms. Vater cry for Felicie and Andre ?
Because I wanted forward movement.
Michael Patrick Leahy has McDowelled himself!
Catching up to Jeff Davis
A new post, Global Guerillas in the UK, ties a couple of Robb's advanced "fifth generation of warfare" themes, open source warfare and networked guerillas, to news from Britain.
For the advanced Civil War reader these concepts might evoke Jefferson Davis's May of 1865 plans for continuing the war.
When Britain's chief of MI5 says, "my officers and the police are working to contend with some 200 groupings or [guerilla] networks," and characterizes them as "resilient networks," we are immediately reminded of Winik's argument that Davis envisioned networks sustaining a small Continentals-style CSA field army that would travel the South striking at fixed Union positions, property, and collaborators until Northern will collapsed.
The "open source" part of Rebel warfare of late 1865, then, might take the form of bands of men capable of organizing new, temporary militia units ("flash mobs"?) based on opportunity and local conditions in parallel with the sustained effort of Davis's small band of "Continentals."
The war ended under the only terms it could: the physical apprehension of Jeff Davis. Even that was not final because members of his government (Kirby Smith among them) were determined to continue the fight. Happenstance precluded Davis's "fourth generation" warfare experiment.
As I have said many times in this space, the Army we have today is "second generation" - a Civil War institution overwhelmingly concerned with synchronization, alignment, hierarchy, direction, control. Actually, I said it better in an earlier post: it is a system committed to "alignment, synchronicity, spatial management, and the micromanagement of undertrained subordinates," and all new technology is put at the service of these values. In that same post we saw John J. Pershing proposing a third generation alternative: "Open warfare had irregular formations, comparatively little regulation of space and time, and the greatest possible use of the infantry's own firepower to enable it to "get forward ... [with] brief orders" and "the greatest possible use of individual initiative."
Despite Davis and later Pershing, we see yet another Armistice Day with the same ancient "second generation" values holding sway in our armed forces.
Armistice day tomorrow
(See Wasted Lives on Armistice Day.)
On November 11, 1918, Armistice Day, the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) on the Western Front in France suffered more than thirty-five hundred casualties, although it had been known unofficially for two days that the fighting would end that day and known with absolute certainty as of 5 o'clock that morning that it would end at 11 a.m.
Pershing (b. 1860) later told Congress that he could not know what the Armistice foretold, whether it would stick. He also said it was bogus.
To Pershing the very idea of an armistice was repugnant. "Their request is an acknowledgment of weakness and clearly means that the Allies are winning the war," he maintained. "Germany's desire is only to regain time to restore order among her forces, but she must be given no opportunity to recuperate and we must strike harder than ever." As for terms, Pershing had one response: "There can be no conclusion to this war until Germany is brought to her knees."
Kearny and life
It subsides over the decades but it never goes away. It's contrary to Christian teaching but it never goes away. It can work against one's own best interests but it never goes away.
I was therefore delighted to find this Phil Kearny quote in Beatie's Volume III of the Army of the Potomac, an instruction to his leaders:
Estimate the laggard, brand the coward, and direct the brave.Indeed.
Highlights from the Gettysburg Address (aftermath)
Highlights from the Gettysburg Address
And now, friends, fellow-citizens, as we stand among these honored graves, the momentous question presents itself, Which of the two parties to the war is responsible for all this suffering, for this dreadful sacrifice of life, — the lawful and constituted government of the United States, or the ambitious men who have rebelled against it?
... can it need a serious argument to prove that there can be no State right to enter into a new confederation reserved under a Constitution which expressly prohibits a State to "enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation," or any "agreement or compact with another State or a foreign power"?
The people of loyal America will never ask you, sir, to take to your confidence or admit again to a share in the government the hard-hearted men whose cruel lust of power has brought this desolating war upon the land, but there is no personal bitterness felt even against them. They may live, if they can bear to live after wantonly causing the death of so many thousands of their fellow-men; they may live in safe obscurity beneath the shelter of the government they have sought to overthrow, or they may fly to the protection of the governments of Europe...
But the hour is coming and now is, when the power of the leaders of the Rebellion to delude and inflame must cease. There is no bitterness on the part of the masses. The people of the South are not going to wage an eternal war for the wretched pretexts by which this rebellion is sought to be justified.
... these bonds of union are of perennial force and energy, while the causes of alienation are imaginary, factitious, and transient. The heart of the People, North and South, is for the Union.
You now feel it a new bond of union, that they shall lie side by side, till a clarion, louder than that which marshalled them to the combat, shall awake their slumbers. God bless the Union; — it is dearer to us for the blood of brave men which has been shed in its defence.
... wheresoever throughout the civilized world the accounts of this great warfare are read, and down to the latest period of recorded time, in the glorious annals of our common country there will be no brighter page than that which relates THE BATTLES OF GETTYSBURG.
From Edward Everett, "Gettysburg Oration," 19 November 1863
Civil War Book News is relocating
Good-bye and good riddance to to cw-book-news, a terrible URL concocted in 1997 as the concluding element on a string that ran www.hopewellagency.com/cw-book-news. Some years later I moved it to cw-book-news.com, thinking that was a better URL.
Here's the joke. Dead websites with a lot of inbound links make money for businesses that reregister them with no content but lots of ads. The Tucows empire snapped up my Hopewell Agency URL and has been making money from it ever since. It will be interesting to see who grabs cw-book-news.com.
The Web is a strange place.
McPherson's editor has died
One hopes he had nothing to do with that preposterous picture book issued in 2003.
(Note: this post was put up earlier in the day but Blogger did not publish it. If it shows twice later, I'll delete this repost.)
Where Blamey is due
Why not honor accuracy and locality by labeling someone a Blamey or a Rowell instead?
That Civil War reality show...
Competitions for the Sabers and Roses contestants will be based on tasks relevant to the Civil War era. Challenges for the men include loading and firing a musket three times in one minute, firing a cannon towards a target, riding a horse into battle, marching long distances barefoot and sabotaging an enemy camp.
Harry's new blog
He's not messing around with Blogger, either, having gone to the more sophisticated publishing WordPress system. Two things we can expect, I think, once he gets a grip on the technology: lots of ACW content (an intense ACW focus) and lots of sharing from his voluminous research.
These professionals are starting to get good
Donald B. Connelly is associate professor of joint and multinational operations at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. A retired U.S. Army military intelligence officer, he has also served as historian at U.S. Special Operations Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.The general run of people writing history for military instruction is awful, recapping insights swiped from the worst kind of pop history. It was a disgusting brew of sentiment and instinct served to me way back when and it is still laughable now. (See here.)
I have mentioned previously that Connelly, in this new book about John Schofield, ruptured the divide between political and military history in Civil War literature and established a new paradigm for this branch of nonfiction. A couple of more good deeds are worth mentioning.
Connelly is not only aware of Archer Jones' conclusion that you cannot destroy a Civil War army, he raises the issue repeatedly in dealing with the aftermath of Thomas vs. Hood at Nashville.
For the majority of readers locked into the concept of battles of annihilation, for those of the "lost opportunities" school of blame and anger, debunking annihilation hurts. It strikes at the very root of reading enjoyment.
I would occasionally, in days past, present the Jones view to a Civil War forum where the objection would be raised, "But what about Hood at Nashville." Connelly uses Hood at Nashville as that very example that tests and proves Jones' idea.
Are we through with this idea yet? Not as long as there are talespinners getting book contracts, but thanks to Connelly for bringing this essential point to a larger audience.
Connely is also on the job in identifying the source of the annihilation error. It is a Napoleonic idea, then current among newspapermen, Jomini readers, and politicians. It was a case of fighting the last war or even the one before that. He commends those generals, like Halleck, who (based on experience) abandoned it early on. He seems to regret that Schofield is not one of these.
Kin to the annihilation error is the less extravagant "decisive battle" doctrine. Connelly tags this as out-of-date as well and unusable in the Civil War context. Bravo. He deserves praise for gently chiding those generals who, in pursuit of the phantasmic "decisive battle" make the enemy army their object, an unlikely objective in 1861-1865 and a mark of professional innocence and inexperience.
Schofield was down on McClellan for what he perceived to be McClellan's Richmond fixation. In fact, McClellan was selecting sore bunions - like Richmond - to step on such that the foe had to stand and fight offensively against a superior Union defense ... quite the radical modification of Schofield's (and Lincoln's) quaint Bonapartism.
This last (Mac) point was beyond the scope of Connelly's analysis but is worth mentioning.
Even two years ago I despaired of Civil War authors assimilating Jones' analysis. Times are changing so fast.
*I mean by "military professional" an historian who teaches history to the military, not necessarily one wearing the uniform.
Army of the Potomac: McClellan's First Campaign
Nice blurb from Ethan Rafuse. Seems to come from a review of Vol 2: "Like the first volume in this series, this study is distinguished by a research effort in primary sources that is impressive beyond words..." I think that sums it up in a nutshell. There is a "wow" factor on nearly every page of every volume if you are a deep reader and have gone through the underlying sources yourself. There are times when I will simply sit and read the bibliography and sources information for an hour or so.
Rafuse continues, "What seems beyond debate is that by the time Beatie is done with the landmark multi-volume study, he will not only have provided Civil Warriors with an incredible mass of information, but with plenty of food for thought - and fuel for debate - as well."
I'll probably start posting on this volume with the topic that ends it - the Battle of Williamsburg. That may be my contribution to debate since I have never seen the battle analyzed to my liking (on the micro or macro level) in any account of the ACW; it will be fun to see how Beatie manages a matter that has stumped generations of ACW writers.
Shades of 1864!
The Republican National Committee in 1864
Most of what passes for Civil War history today simply repeats story lines developed in the Times 1861-1865.
So Morgan gave up his party chairmanship in 1864 and picked it up again in 1872. That could have been due to the weakening of the Weed machine :
In 1862, Thurlow Weed tried to secure the New York State [party] gubernatorial nomination for [General John] Dix. He [Dix] lost the Union nomination to General James Wadsworth, whose views on slavery and the war were more radical.
("Union" here refers to a Republican front organization, a fusion party designed to split Democratic voters.)
Will report back on this Raymond-for-Morgan business.
Pale Fire indeed
It was a good spoof of naturalism in literature and it is one that Civil War author Tom Wheeler needs to read. He's written a history of the Union war effort from the perspective of a telegraph line. The joke's now on him.