Today, being the 143rd anniversary of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, seems a good time to make an announcement.

In 1986, Ed Longacre published his book The Cavalry at Gettysburg. It won lots of awards when it was published–and rightfully so. It was a groundbreaking work, the first full-length study to focus entirely on mounted operations during the Gettysburg Campaign. There are a couple of problems with the book. First, and foremost, Ed’s never been known as a tactical historian. His works always deal with the big picture and seldom contain much in the way of tactical detail. Consequently, all of the campaign’s mounted actions, including the fourteen hour slugging match at Brandy Station, are covered in 338 pages. That, by definition, means that there is little in the way of tactical detail, and few maps.

Second, Ed’s book is now a bit dated. It no longer represents the state of the art. For one thing, the book repeats lots of myths as the gospel truth, including repeating the myth that John Buford’s troops were armed with repeaters at Gettysburg on July 1, when this is not the case. Lots of good new primary source material has surfaced since the publication of Ed’s book twenty years ago. As one excellent example, Ed lamented the fact that John Buford evidently did not pen an official report of the Battle of Brandy Station. Three years after the publication of Ed’s book, Buford’s report was found in the Joseph Hooker papers in the archives of the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, thereby changing the interpretation of the battle forever.

J. D. Petruzzi and I got to talking about things, and we realized that, between us, we have published on about 85% of the mounted actions during the Gettysburg Campaign, and that we had plenty of research material on the remaining 15%. We realized that if we combined all of our stuff and updated it, we could then produce a two-volume set on mounted operations in the Gettysburg Campaign that would hopefully stand as the definitive work on the subject. It will represent a lifetime’s work for both of us–probably thirty years of combined research and scholarship. Our proposed project will have the tactical detail that Longacre’s book lacks, and we will also be able to update the research and make it reflect the state of the art for the research.

John Heiser, who is technically retired from cartography, has agreed to make an exception for us and to complete our map set. Between the prior maps and the new ones, the set will have approximately 50 maps, and we anticipate somewhere in the vicinity of 100 period illustrations and probably 50-100 contemporary views of the sites involved. All told, the thing could approach 1,000 pages in length, and we hope that it will stand as THE work on the subject.

The working title for the project is To Horse!: Mounted Operations in the Gettysburg Campaign. It’s obviously going to take a substantial period of time to complete a project of this magnitude, so please don’t expect it to be done tomorrow, or in six months. I have to finish Dahlgren, and I have a book on John Hunt Morgan’s Indiana and Ohio raid of 1863 under contract that will have to be completed, too. We’ve approached Ted Savas of Savas-Beatie about publishing it, and Ted has expressed a definite interest.

We will keep everyone posted.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Randy Sauls
    Sun 02nd Jul 2006 at 10:57 pm

    Eric:

    Sounds like a BIG, and exciting, undertaking! My question is, with all of the projects you have going on, when the heck do you find the time to practice law, much less sleep? I stay pretty busy myself and a great deal of my time is devoted to Civil War projects of all sorts, though like you, my profession is the law. I guess when you have a passion for a subject you simply make the time to pursue it. It can become, I confess from my own experience, the driving force in your life at times. Keep up the good work, and try to get a little sleep now and again!

    Randy

  2. Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 8:54 am

    Randy,

    It’s not a big project, it’s a HUGE project, a lifetime’s worth of work. If it’s the last thing that I do, and I never write another word after it’s done, then that won’t be a bad legacy.

    Eric

  3. Mike Peters
    Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 12:20 pm

    Eric:

    I certainly hope it’s not the last thing you do, but I understand what you mean. WOW is all I can say.
    Good luck to you & Col. Devin.

    Respectfully,

    Mike

  4. Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 4:26 pm

    Thanks, Mike. We will keep everyone posted as to progress.

    Eric

  5. Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Eric and I have definite visions for this project, and what we hope it will ultimately be. That’s why, as he mentioned, that we already plan for two volumes. Besides the larger, well-known fights such as Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville, Buford on July 1, Farnsworth’s Charge and Fairfield on July 3, we are going to write up (and place in context) all the other cavalry-related scraps and events during those weeks. Having already done the book on Stuart’s Ride, and one on the Retreat that is due out this fall, these volumes will complete the story.

    It’s definitely a huge undertaking, but luckily between Eric and I, we’ve already written about 1/3 of this work. We have a terrific base on which to begin.

    J.D.

  6. Scott
    Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 10:51 pm

    Eric:

    Sounds like a sure fire winner. You have to be one of the best and most prolific Civil War historians of our time. Monroe’s Crossroads show your ability to move beyond your traditional Virginia cavalry base and now this Gettysburg work will cement your legacy.

    Scott

  7. Lanny
    Mon 03rd Jul 2006 at 11:02 pm

    Dear Eric,
    I hope your publisher will not throw stones at me, but have you thought that such a project (and I hope you and J. D. will be able to do it as it sounds it would be a benchmark work) would be of interest to a publisher like Simon and Schuster (who does Jeff Wert’s books). Such a book, published by a larger publisher, might allow you to begin to move from your cover as a lawyer to reveal you new identity as a full-time Civil War author. Just a thought.
    Best wishes always,
    Lanny

  8. Charles Bowery
    Tue 04th Jul 2006 at 3:40 am

    Eric,
    I wish you and J.D. good luck with the project. In the same vein as the latest post, have you thought about a university press? Savas is outstanding, though, and I understand your loayalty to them.

    One of my CW ancestors, PVT John Bowery, served in Company D, 3rd Virginia Cavalry, and was mortally wounded at Williamsport during the retreat. I hope to read all about it in your book! Cheers, Happy Fourth. My wife and I are about to celebrate our third consecutive 4th of July out of the United States. In Germany, it’s just another work day, but at least we get the day off!
    Charles

  9. Tue 04th Jul 2006 at 10:25 am

    Scott,

    Thanks for your kind words. Unlike you, I’m not burdened by having to chase kids all over the earth, which makes it much easier to get things done.

    Eric

  10. Tue 04th Jul 2006 at 10:27 am

    Lanny,

    The thought certainly has crossed my mind. The problem with the big boys is that without an agent, you don’t get in. I don’t have an agent, and frankly don’t want one. I’d rather stick with one of the smaller presses–that way, my book won’t be remaindered four months after it is released.

    Eric

  11. Tue 04th Jul 2006 at 10:28 am

    Charles,

    I’ve written extensively about university presses here. My concern there is with marketing–or lack thereof.

    Eric

  12. Christ Liebegott
    Tue 04th Jul 2006 at 1:09 pm

    Eric,
    Your proposed book is an exciting project. For purely personal reasons, I’d sooner you put Dahlgren and Morgan on the back burner, and concentrate on this book. It is a long over due tactical and updated work, and, at age 68, I can’t wait too long for it (LOL).
    Christ

  13. Wed 05th Jul 2006 at 1:52 pm

    Hey Christ,

    Well, we’d better hurry up then! :-) We will very soon have an outline for these volumes complete, and as we’ve both mentioned, luckily we don’t have to start from scratch. Between Eric and I, we already have about 40-45,000 words on Brandy Station and Buford on July 1. This first volume will take the rest of the year to complete, but considering the magnitude I don’t think that’s too bad.

    We will get there, we promise!

    J.D.

  14. Mike Pierce
    Fri 20th Apr 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Sir,

    Extremely interested on reading of your plans! Best of luck, and, of course, hurry it up!!

    I am an avid amateur ACW historian as well as a wargamer. I belong to the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society East, a group of about 5,000-7,000 folks from all over the Eastern US. We get together 3 times a year for 3-4 day convetions where we re-fight historical battles on carefully created ministure terrain using miniature figures. In most cases, we agaonize over accurate orders of battle and terrain detail.

    I and a couple of friends plan on fighting Buford’s action at Brandy station. But we could use some help, especially on OOB and tactical maps.

    Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated!

    Regards,

    Mike Pierce
    Haymarket VA

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