13 December 2006 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 16 comments

In 1994, I decided to gather material on the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, also known as Rush’s Lancers. I wasn’t sure that I was going to do a regimental history, but I was intrigued by this regiment, which was armed with a strange and cumbersome weapon. As I started learning more about the unit, I realized that it really deserved a modern regimental history. The original regimental history, based on the war-time diary of the regimental chaplain, was published in 1868. I decided to gather material and see if I could come up with enough to write a regimental history about a year later.

I spent more than twelve years researching and writing about this regiment. Along the way, one volume of soldier letters was published, and I have identified a second set that I expect will be published by the University of Tennessee Press as part of its Voices of the Civil War Series.

About 1998, I learned that Ed Longacre was also planning to do a history of the Lancers, and that he had signed a contract with the now-defunct Combined Books to publish the book. I knew that there would not be sufficient demand to warrant two different histories of the same regiment, so I contacted Ed. He agreed to make it a collaboration, and so did the publisher. I was to do the first half–up to and including the Battle of Brandy Station–and Ed was going to do the rest. I got busy writing and got my half done in about a year. I then sat and waited and waited and waited.

About two years later, Ed informed me that he wasn’t going to be able to participate. So, I took the project on myself. In the meantime, Combined had been sold to Da Capo, and I had no interest in having my book published by them. The last thing I wanted was for my book to be remaindered 90 days after being published, so I arranged to terminate the contract, paid back the paltry $250 advance, and was free.

I then had to write the second half of the book, which proved much harder than I ever imagined. To my great surprise, there was much more and much better primary source material available for the first half of the war than the second. It was much more difficult piecing the second half of the story together than was the first part. I finally found an appropriate publisher, Westholme Publishing of suburban Philadelphia. Bruce Franklin, the publisher, does high-quality scholarly books, and he’s also demonstrated a gift for getting attention for his books from major media outlets, so it was perfect. I signed a contract early this year.

One of my conditions was that Bruce use all of the nearly 90 illustrations that I had accumulated, as well as my maps, and he agreed. If you count the maps as illustrations, the book has about 110 illustrations.

Then, as I thought I had wrapped the thing up, I found another set of letters at the University of Pennsylvania. Bruce was kind enough to push back my delivery date for the manuscript to permit me to incorporate them, and I did. Then, after I had turned it in to Bruce to begin the production process, a second set–this time, in private hands and none of them ever before published–surfaced. They were far too good not to include, so we had another delay while I hurried to incorporate the good stuff. All of this meant that the book, which was supposed to be published in October, was pushed back.

If I might be so bold as to toot my own horn for just a moment, I’m proud to announce that, at long last, more than twelve years after beginning the project, my new regimental history of the Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, Rush’s Lancers: The Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Civil War, has been published and is now available for purchase.

This is my thirteenth book. I probably have more of an emotional attachment to this one than any other, as I have so much of myself invested in it. I’m thrilled to finally see this in print. I can only hope that I have done the boys justice.

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Comments

  1. Wade Sokolosky
    Wed 13th Dec 2006 at 9:57 pm

    Eric,

    Congrats my friend it is a fine example of a true labor of love. 12 years is some dedication. Look forward to reading it.

    Wade Sokolosky

  2. Wed 13th Dec 2006 at 10:08 pm

    I look forward to reading this I remember you talking about it before, I love a good regimental history. Congrats.

    C

  3. Wed 13th Dec 2006 at 11:21 pm

    Eric,

    You’ve been talking about Rush’s Lancers for so long in the blog that I’ve become very interested in who they were and what they accomplished during the war. Are you selling some of these through Ironclad or should we go to Westholme to get a copy? I guess I’m wondering how to most easily get my copy signed… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Brett S.

  4. Wed 13th Dec 2006 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it. Chris, since you’re working on a regimental yourself, you know what’s involved in doing one of these.

    Brett–Ironclad didn’t publish it, so Ironclad won’t be selling it. I’m working the logistics of how I will be selling them. Westholme will definitely be offering signed copies. I should know more in a day or two.

    Eric

  5. MarylandReb
    Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 2:17 am

    It must feel really good to have this labour of Love finished….that is untill another set of unpublished letters turns up. ๐Ÿ˜€ J/K Eric,as I’ve told you before…..I’m looking forward to reading this one, and the one on Dahlgren and the one on Morgan’s Raid…..and the one on……oh well you get the idea. Keep up the good work!

  6. Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 3:18 am

    I look forward to reading this book. I will be picking up a copy shortly. I also like your new blog design.

  7. Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 9:32 am

    Mark,

    LOL. I really need to take a break. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Thank you, Joshua. After a year plus, it was time for a change of scenery.

    Eric

  8. Randy Sauls
    Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 10:08 am

    Eric:

    Ever think back to what your life was like when you started this project so long ago? Undoubtedly lots of changes since then, but one thing remained constant for you, your interest in the war and in this project in particular. It’s that way for me, and I suspect, for many of your readers. My life has taken lots of twists and turns in 49 years, but that trip to Fort Macon when I was 6 years old sparked an interest that remains strong to this day. I change, but my passion for that time and those events never diminishes. Congratulations on the completion your long project.

    Randy

  9. Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 11:36 am

    Randy,

    Thanks. You’re correct, of course. We’ve had lots of changes in our lives and in the world over the course of those 12 years. I stuck with this project and was thrilled just to get it finished after all of these years of work.

    Eric

  10. Don
    Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Eric,
    Congratulations on getting this project put to bed, I’ve followed the developments with great interest. I’m really looking forward to reading it, but am in the middle of Plenty of Blame to Go Around right now and am absolutely loving it. You and JD did a great job on that one! Hope to start this one soon. Keep up the good work.
    Also, I saw your review of McKinney’s Brandy Station book. Do you know if Bud Hall is still planning on publishing? If I recall correctly, he recently dontaed a great deal of his research to the Foundation. If he isn’t, have you considered expanding on The Union cavalry Comes of Age and providing the definitive work?

  11. Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Don,

    He certainly is. Bud’s had some personal stuff to deal with over the last couple of years that has, sadly, further slowed the project. However, he certainly assures me that the plan is to complete it and get it out there sooner than later.

    Eric

  12. Russell Bonds
    Thu 14th Dec 2006 at 10:44 pm

    Eric:

    Warmest congratulations on lucky #13! I know that this has been a long time coming for you, and I can’t wait to see the finished product–including the last-minute material! (It’s great that Bruce at Westholme worked with you to get that stuff in there.) I’m even looking forward to the illustrations (I love that Winslow Homer painting of Rush’s Lancers).

    Best regards,
    Russ Bonds

  13. Valerie Protopapas
    Fri 15th Dec 2006 at 6:17 pm

    Eric, it wouldn’t have anything about Mosby in it, would it? I know that the regiment was in Virginia and almost caught Stuart at the end of his ‘ride around McClellan’, but I don’t know if they were one of the units that attempted (unsuccessfully) from early 1863 on to put an end to the ‘depredations’ of the 43rd Battalion Partisan Rangers.

    Thanks.

  14. Dave Kelly
    Sun 17th Dec 2006 at 12:14 am

    Dang!!!

    I just finally got around to getting your three last published books amazoned to me and here come the lancers…

    This has been quite a year for ya…

    Congratulations are in order – and a sincere thank you from a humble (sometimes) ehthusiast ;).

  15. Tue 19th Dec 2006 at 6:00 pm

    Val,

    It does. The regimental quartermaster was killed by some of Mosby’s men, and there are a few mentions.

    Eric

  16. Tue 19th Dec 2006 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks, Dave. It has indeed, and I’m actually quite humbled by the whole thing.

    Eric

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