27 November 2006 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 5 comments

Ephrata, Pennsylvania lawyer Larry B. Maier wrote Gateway to Gettysburg: The Second Battle of Winchester, published by Burd Street Press in 2002.

Burd Street is an imprint of White Mane Publishing. For those unfamiliar with White Mane, it’s far from my favorite publisher. For every good book they publish, there are ten really awful ones that had no business being published in the first place. This company is known for using crappy materials (thin, poor quality paper), indifferent production values, and no editing. My biggest complaint about it is that they do nothing to ensure that there is no plagiarism or copyright infringement. I am aware of at least two instances where authors who are friends of mine had their maps stolen and reprinted in White Mane books without their permission and without being paid royalties for the use of the maps. If that’s not bad enough, the management at White Mane takes the position that, by the time that someone finds out about the infringement and does something about it, they don’t care–they will already have made their money from the book. I sent a letter to the publisher on behalf of one of those authors complaining about the theft of my client’s maps, and didn’t even get the courtesy of a response. To me, that sort of attitude–a complete lack of business ethics and a total disregard for the law–speaks volumes for why this company has such an atrocious reputation. I’ve often said–and meant it–that if faced with the choice of never publishing another word again or having White Mane publish one of my books, I would choose never publishing another word again. I’ve heard rumors that White Mane is swirling around the drain, and I can only hope it’s true.

So, we begin with the proposition that Mr. Maier’s book has two strikes against it right out of the box. That’s a shame, but it is what it is.

Prior to the publication of this book, there was one other monograph dedicated to the Second Battle of Winchester. Charles Grunder and Prof. Brandon Beck published a short book on the battle as part of the H. E. Howard Virginia Battles and Leaders Series. Their book is decent, but it lacks depth. With only 85 pages of text, it simply cannot go into a great deal of detail. The best thing about their book is the walking/driving tour at the end of it.

The book itself is disappointing. While the coverage of the battle is reasonably thorough, the scope and depth of the research is disappointing. A review of the footnotes indicates that many of them cite to secondary sources, which indicates that Maier did not do the sort of research that he could have done in order to cover the topic completely. Many of those footnotes cite to the book by Grunder and Beck mentioned above, and not to the primary sources. Conversely, on the flip side, there are footnotes and not endnotes, something that I much prefer.

It also spends too much time discussing Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy. While Milroy is the central player in the drama, the book does not get to the topic of the Second Battle of Winchester for about 100 pages. Given that it’s a 330 page book, it means that about 1/3 of the book is devoted to stuff that doesn’t go to the heart of the subject. I actually blew off much of that stuff.

There are plenty of maps and illustrations, much to the author’s credit. He draws some solid conclusions, but the book fails to give the depth that serious historians crave. In short, this book left me wanting more, and also left me wondering how good it might have been if a real publisher with a competent editorial staff had brought it out, and not the incompetents at White Mane.

As stated in a previous post, the Second Battle of Winchester still has not had a definitive treatment, and continues to cry out for one.

Scridb filter


  1. Don H.
    Tue 28th Nov 2006 at 4:58 pm

    Hello I’m new to your blog and I’m enjoying it very much. Not sure this is the best place for this question. Recently noticed that E. Longacre has ground out another biography, Joseph Wheeler. This one is soon to be released. I wanted to get your opinion and perhaps other blogger’s opinions concerning his vast number of books. What do you think of his books? I think most of his subjects needed biographies, just not sure he was the right person to do them?

  2. Tue 28th Nov 2006 at 8:06 pm


    It’s definitely not the right place, but I will be happy to answer your question.

    I fed Ed some groundbreaking material on Wheeler that has never before been used. I presume that he made use of it in writing the book. If so, it will have some excellent material in it.

    As for Ed’s books…there are good points and bad. Ed’s a terrific writer, and I enjoy his way with words. However, if you’re looking for tactical detail, you’re not going to find it in his books.


  3. Paul Taylor
    Tue 28th Nov 2006 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Eric,

    Like you, over the past few years I’ve seen several White Mane books that made me scratch my head as to how they ever got published. Books that featured very little primary source research, had undecipherable maps, blurry illustrations and the like. I am aware of the two map instances you write of and both left me dumbfounded. That said, I’d like to think that my White Mane book was one of the good ones! For whatever it’s worth, allow me to share a few of my personal experiences.

    In 2003, White Mane published my book entitled “He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly), September 1, 1862.” As a postscript to Second Manassas, this nasty little battle was fought partially in the dark, in the middle of a ferocious thunderstorm, and was one of the few Civil War fights where the bayonet was liberally employed, due primarily to much wet and useless ammunition. The book sold reasonably well and garnered positive press.

    With regards to copyright protection, I was required to provide proper permission-to-use documentation for the three photographs I used that were not in the public domain. I was told these “permissions” had to be submitted before that part of the publishing process could commence, which I did. The same held true for the dust jacket’s 19th-century painting, which was privately owned at the time.

    Being an avid bibliophile, one of the reasons that prompted me to consider White Mane was their use of sewn bindings and acid-free paper, as stated on the copyright page. I have a handful of White Mane books in my library and all, including mine, state the following on the copyright page: “The acid-free paper used in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longetivity of the Council on Library Resources.”

    As to editing, my original ms. was returned with a good number of grammatical and spelling errors corrected, as well as some sentence structure changes. I was told, but cannot confirm, that the ms. was sent out for a private review and that it came back with a thumbs up.

    On the flip side, I know what you mean about not getting the courtesy of a response. Since I had a favorable experience with them, I thought I’d give them the right of first refusal for my next project. I inquired if they might be interested in publishing the book ( a regimental history) as it neared completion. I was given an enthusiastic “yes!”, and to please submit the ms. when ready. This I did, but to my surprise and disappointment, I never received any type of reply. Zip, zilch, nothing. Even my followups garnered no response. Oh well.

    Again, let me stress that this was just one guy’s experience and perhaps times have changed. Certainly others may have a different perspective.


    PS. Hope Susan is recovering nicely.

  4. Art Bergeron
    Wed 29th Nov 2006 at 9:16 am

    For what it’s worth, the Jasper County (IN) Public Library has digitized Milroy’s papers and put them up on their Web site.

  5. Wed 29th Nov 2006 at 11:24 pm


    Thanks very much for the insight. It’s greatly appreciated.


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