01 April 2007 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 18 comments

Last Monday, I posted about my dilemma about what to do with my first book, Gettysburg’s Forgotten Cavalry Actions. I asked you for your opinions on three options:

1. Seek a new publisher for it as originally written.

2. Do a complete rewrite that adds some of the new material that has surfaced in the years since the book was published, add a walking/driving tour, and tighten up the prose.

3. Bag the whole thing altogether, let it go out of print, and save the rework for the three-volume history of the cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign that J. D. and I are planning.

A total of 17 of you responded here, and J. D. chimed in by e-mail. 16 of you voted here. Here’s the break out:

1. Let the work stand and find a new publisher for it as is: 4 votes

2. Do a completely new edition: 7 votes

3. Let it go out of print and save the good stuff for the 3-volume set: 5 votes

J. D. voted for a new edition that includes Hunterstown, so that would be a total of 8 votes out of 17 for the completely new edition.

I’m pretty much leaning that way, too.

Here’s the next question for consideration: The book addresses three mostly forgotten actions that took place on the third day of the battle: Merritt’s fight on South Cavalry Field, Farnsworth’s charge and death, and the Battle of Fairfield. The original concept was to limit the work to strictly July 3 cavalry actions WITHOUT addressing the fight on East Cavalry Field. The Battle of Hunterstown very much fits with the theme of forgotten cavalry actions, but it occurred on July 2. If I add it, it will definitely change the structure of the book by expanding it to actions that happened on a day other than July 3.

Here’s a corollary question: If the decision is to expand beyond just July 3, do I also include the engagement at McConnellsburg between troopers of the 1st New York (Lincoln) Cavalry and Imboden’s brigade that occurred on June 29, 1863? This action has never had a detailed tactical treatment written. Does including this little-known action stray too far outside the pale of what I’m try to do with the rest of the book?

Again, please feel free to weigh in. Your input on these questions and your comments are invaluable and I really appreciate them.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Scott Mingus
    Sun 01st Apr 2007 at 5:48 pm

    Eric,

    The McConnellsburg affair was touched upon in some other works, but only lightly (Ted Alexander perhaps has written the most on it). There are some fairly extensive notes and files from old newspaper accounts. This fight definitely needs some attention.

    Scott

  2. Chuck
    Sun 01st Apr 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Wil the proposed Hunterstown account for the book essentially be a rewrite of the “Plenty of Blame” chapter? Or is there more to tell?
    There are obviously many cavalry encounters throughout the campaign. Especially during the retreat phase. If you try to include them all you’ll be back to the multi-volume Gettysburg Cavalry project! 🙂
    Speaking of the retreat…..is the Gettysburg Retreat volume you and J.D. were going to release still on the schedule?

    Chuck

  3. Sun 01st Apr 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Scott,

    I agree. What perplexes me is how best to handle it.

    Eric

  4. Sun 01st Apr 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Chuck,

    It would be largely the same but with a couple fo new sources added in that have since emerged.

    We hope that the retreat volume will come out this year.

    Eric

  5. Steve Basic
    Sun 01st Apr 2007 at 11:57 pm

    Eric,

    I can see how you are leaning, but also know that the stuff on Hunterstown and McConnellsburg will be a part of the 3 volume history of the Cavalry actions during the battle. IMHO, adding those to the original manuscript of the book means you will have 2 books out on much the same subject. One updated, and one brand new.

    I would focus on including them in the new 3 volumes. You’ll be competing against yourself and that effort should be more focused on the new books.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Hope all is well.

    Steve

  6. Rob Wick
    Mon 02nd Apr 2007 at 12:28 am

    Eric,

    I’m probably the least qualified to comment on this, because of how little I know about each of the actions. That said, I have to agree with Steve. If you include the same information in both books, it seems to me redundant, unless you include lesser details in the updating of the first book and go into greater detail in the multi-volume history. If you do that, however, it seems to me you’re shortchanging the reader who may not want the multi-volume account.

    Best
    Rob

  7. Don
    Mon 02nd Apr 2007 at 9:26 am

    Eric,
    I have to agree with Steve and Rob. Update the actions already discussed in the book as it currently exists, and save the other engagements for the multi-volume history. To do other wise is really more of writing a new book than it is publishing a second, updated edition.

    Don

  8. Mon 02nd Apr 2007 at 11:38 am

    Eric,

    I would keep McConnellsburg out of it, since it’s a “Gettysburg Campaign” action and not one on or near the battlefield. And since it happened on June 29, it’s not a battle action (July 1-3). It more properly belongs in our 3-volume history.

    As for Hunterstown, to be a little more specific about the thoughts Eric and I had about that, I’ve recently found some new sources that didn’t make it into our Plenty of Blame book – such as several letters from 18th PA troopers about it, and some other writings that the UDC complied years ago. Anything on Hunterstown in Eric’s book would be an update of our Plenty of Blame chapter, with several new sources in it.

    But I can also see the folks’ point here – maybe updated Hunterstown belongs in our 3-volume history after all. Otherwise, that would be 3 writings of it (Plenty, GFCA, and the 3-volume), all basically the same. And it’s out of your July 3 original theme for the GFCA book.

    Perhaps an updating of the original volume as-is is in order after all.

    J.D.

  9. John Mills-Darrington
    Mon 02nd Apr 2007 at 11:59 am

    Speaking as a brit with a great interest in ACW cavalry operations I would love a 3 volume history, have all your books so would say don’t rewrite concentrate on a complete history. Can’t wait.

  10. Mon 02nd Apr 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Hi John,

    We hope to get pretty far along with the first volume this year – between the three, we will cover in detail dozens and dozens of cavalry actions during the campaign, most of them pretty obscure and hardly treated at all.

    It’s an ambitious project that we hope will plow a lot of new ground, and add much to the story of the campaign. Eric and I have a mountain of untouched primary sources just waiting to be showcased.

    J.D.

  11. Brooks Simpson
    Tue 03rd Apr 2007 at 7:18 pm

    Given the primary sales point of the original edition (Gettysburg), I’d be more inclined to advise that you revise the actions you cover (I’d go a different way and add the ECF, but that’s me). Hunterstown is the coin flip, in that it does take place during the battle of Gettysburg, and has an impact on it. But keep in mind that this should be primariliy a revised and slightly expanded version, no more.

  12. Tue 03rd Apr 2007 at 9:00 pm

    I’d vote for option 2, especially if you have Savas publishes it. They do some nice work, I really enjoyed that book!

  13. Tue 03rd Apr 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Brooks,

    My book Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkeroff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field covers ECF in probably the most detail ever published, and I don’t have a whole lot to add to it. If I plugged it into the GFCA, there would be two identical treatments o the same battle.

    Eric

  14. Tue 03rd Apr 2007 at 9:06 pm

    After a lot of contemplation, I think that McConnellsburg should definitely be left for the campaign study. I also think that Hunterstown is best left out, as it’s covered in detail in our Stuart’s Ride book. Hence, I think that the approach to take will be to update the text with the new material that I’ve uncovered over the past eight years and add a driving tour.

    Thanks for the input, everyone. You have all been a big help to me with this.

    Eric

  15. Brooks Simpson
    Wed 04th Apr 2007 at 12:34 am

    Eric–

    My comment on thinking about including ECF would be that a concise treatment would not be out of place … still, I think that on the whole just revising what is already a fine book while keeping one eye on the larger prize is the best deal you can cut with yourself.

  16. Wed 04th Apr 2007 at 7:55 am

    Brooks,

    I agree..

    Eric

  17. Rick Allen
    Wed 04th Apr 2007 at 3:40 pm

    Me too.

  18. James Durney
    Thu 05th Apr 2007 at 12:57 pm

    I would like to see you spend the time on the 3 vol set. I have a copy of the book and enjoy it as published. ISTM, that Ironclad could add it to the ACW series they publish w/o hurting the series or takinf to much of your time.

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