04 March 2009 by Published in: Rants 4 comments

Time for a major rant.

To avoid embarrassing the person, I will not identify him, and I will not identify the blog where it took place, but I just got done drafting a lengthy critique of an essay on the coming of age of the Union cavalry. There was so much that was factually incorrect about what he wrote that I could not resist the temptation to point out how much was wrong. I was not gentle about it, either.

I have devoted most of my adult life to the study of Union cavalry operations in the Civil War. I have published fourteen books and a couple of dozen articles on the subject. I’ve written more than a million words on the subject. Along the way, I have examined more than a thousand–probably closer to two thousand–separate sources on the subject. At this point, I think I know a little bit about the subject. And I’ve had a book published that addresses the coming of age of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps.

One lesson I learned very early in my writing career is that it’s very embarrassing to put stuff out there that is factually incorrect, because you’re going to get ripped for it. Since the very beginning, I have had others review my work to make sure it’s factually correct and to make sure I haven’t made any stupid gaffes. I’ve had lots of things pointed out to me as wrong, and I’ve made lots of revisions/corrections because of it.

The author of this piece obviously did nothing of the sort. I would never discourage anyone from researching or writing, but there are few things that irritate me more than people simply propagating and perpetuating things that are just plain wrong because they haven’t bothered to have someone else check their work or do their own primary source research. This particular individual clearly did neither, and it shows.

Boy, does that irritate me….either get it right, or please, don’t do it at all.

Scridb filter


  1. dan
    Thu 05th Mar 2009 at 5:17 pm

    > I will not identify him, and I will not identify the blog where it took place

    Eric!!! This seems grossly unfair… to your readers!

  2. Marty Hancock
    Fri 06th Mar 2009 at 1:36 pm


    I’m the author who seems to have displeased the powers that be. I’m a big boy, not worried about embarassment.
    I wrote a summation of the coming of age of the Union cavalry on the TOCWOC blog. So you know, I’m an amateur (as you’ll no doubt be able to tell) and make no pretense at being an expert and certainly have no delusions of being a published, paid author.
    Eric saw the need to let me know that I don’t know what I’m takling about. I’ve been ‘big-timed’ before, I’ll get over it.


  3. kevin a kearns
    Sun 08th Mar 2009 at 3:12 am

    a gallant reply marty.

  4. Jon
    Tue 10th Mar 2009 at 8:47 am

    “I would never discourage anyone from researching or writing”

    I think you just did.

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