27 February 2006 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 4 comments

There are times when people amaze me. I can think of a number of instances when I have published something, and then somebody turns up and presents me with something pertinent that makes me say, “Damn! Where was this when I REALLY needed it?” Two good examples come to mind. One was a few months after the publication of my first book, someone gave me a letter by Williams Wells that is the only known account of Farnsworth’s Charge written by Wells himself. I wish that I could have had the letter when I wrote the book, as it definitely would have changed my interpretation of things. Likewise, a couple of weeks after my book on the Battle of Trevilian Station was published, I spoke to the Greater Pittsburgh Civil War Roundtable. A fellow came up to me and handed me a copy of his ancestor’s letter about the battle, which was a terrific letter. Again, the thought that went through my mind was, “Where were you when I needed you?”

Today, the fates smiled upon me. This morning, I got a phone call from a woman who is working on editing the letters of a trooper of the 6th Michigan Cavalry. Knowing of my work on the regiment, she called to see if I would be willing to read her work and comment upon it. I said sure, and she e-mailed me the manuscript. When I went to see what was there on the Gettysburg Campaign, sure enough, there was some REALLY good material on the June 30, 1863 Battle of Hanover. As I think I have mentioned here before, J. D. Petruzzi and I have written a book on Jeb Stuart’s controversial ride in the Gettysburg Campaign that includes the most detailed treatment of the Battle of Hanover yet written. The book, which is scheduled for release at the end of June, is in final preparation as I write this. Fortunately, Ted Savas understands, and gave us permission to hastily plug this new material into the manuscript, which we’re doing tonight. This new material, previously unknown, as it’s been in private hands, allows us to put additional meat on a portion of the discussion that was a bit thin due to lack of source material. We’re very fortunate that the timing worked out the way it did, and we’re even more fortunate that Ted is understanding and willing to be flexible, as it’s in his interests, as the publisher, to bring out the best possible book, just as doing so is also in our best interest.

It’s nice that this material surfaced when it did; another couple of days, and it would have been too late.

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  1. Sam Elliott
    Tue 28th Feb 2006 at 10:00 am

    Better to be lucky than good sometimes, Eric. That’s what it often takes.

  2. Tue 28th Feb 2006 at 10:11 am


    How true. I often say that I’d rather be lucky than good.


  3. Tue 28th Feb 2006 at 12:20 pm

    And I often say that “luck sometimes makes you good…” In this case, it’s quite true!

    The account that Eric mentions really fleshed out an obscure facet of the Hanover Battle – when Col. George Gray and his 6th Michigan literally stumble upon Jeb Stuart’s flank at a hill south of town. It’s a fabulous accounting of the action, and we’re very fortunate we were able to include the account at literally the last minute.

    J.D. Petruzzi

  4. Sam Elliott
    Tue 28th Feb 2006 at 11:13 pm

    That’s indeed a find. These new newspaper search engines are going to be a wonderful boon when they get more than the Hagerstown Herald from 1877 or the Davenport Review from 1933 in them. Lots of stuff buried in there.

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