June, 2007

Dimitri Rotov has weighed in on the Gallagher issue on his blog. In an extremely well-written and insightful post, Dimitri does an excellent job of explaining why Professor Gallagher is just plain wrong. I will let Dimitri’s post stand as the last word on this particular subject, as there’s really nothing else to say. Thanks, Dimitri.

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I want to make this very clear, and I want there to be absolutely no ambiguity about this, so I will state it very specifically:

My post last night was NOT intended to stir up the whole hornet’s nest of amateur vs. professional historians. I don’t want to get into that–we’ve beaten that poor horse to death here in the past, and we’re not going there now. This is not a broad brushstrokes sort of thing. It’s about one person and comments made by that one person.

To repeat: We are NOT going to re-open the amateur vs. professional can of worms in this discussion. Any comments that do will be deleted.

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This evening, I got a call from J. D. Petruzzi, who wanted to share with me an interview with Gary Gallagher in the new issue of Civil War Times Illustrated magazine. The gist of it is that Gallagher doesn’t believe that microtactical history adds anything to the body of literature on the Civil War, and that there’s nothing to be gained by publishing more books on the Battle of Gettysburg. I vigorously disagree with him on this point, but the man is entitled to his opinion.

What REALLY bothered me is that he then proceeded to rip Plenty of Blame to Go Around by saying something to the effect of “who needs new books on Stuart’s role in the Gettysburg Campaign, as there’s nothing new out there?” That statement made it abundantly clear that he has not read our book, for if he did, he would know that there is actually quite a bit of new material in the book that hasn’t ever seen the light of day previously.

J. D. has written a rebuttal that appears on his blog this evening, and I commend it to you.

I’ve always admired and respected Gary Gallagher. I have to admit that I’m terribly disappointed to see that he’s publicly ripped our book in print when it’s quite clear he hasn’t read it. If he had, he wouldn’t have made sweeping statements about our book that were flagrantly untrue. It’s very disappointing indeed that someone of his stature would launch an unwarranted and inappropriate attack on a book he hasn’t even read.

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Major hat tip to Dimitri Rotov for pointing this out.

It seems that Google got a healthy taste of its own medicine. Check out Richard Charkin’s blog. That’s poetic justice if ever it existed.

And yes, Dimitri, I am very pleased. ๐Ÿ™‚

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My regular readers know I do a lot of conferences/seminars. I’ve tried to cut back over the past couple of years. It becomes too time consuming and keeps me away from the office too much at times. I’ve been trying to limit my participation in these events to a minimum, meaning that there are only a few that I will do regularly. One is the annual Middleburg Conference on Leadership in the Civil War, put on by the Mosby Heritage Area Association every October. Another is the annual Shenandoah Civil War Associates seminar, sponsored by James Madison University (this one starts a week from tomorrow, and I will be there; more on this later).

The other, which I try never to miss when I’m invited, is old pal Ted Alexander’s annual July Civil War extravaganza, sponsored by the Greater Chambersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. Ted invites me to present or lead a tour most years, but this year’s program is Antietam, and while I enjoy the Battle of Antietam a great deal, nobody would ever call me an expert on it. Consequently, I wasn’t invited this year for the first time in a LONG time.

This year’s event promises to be the ultimate Antietam fest. There are forty speakers lined up, including Ed Bearss, James McPherson, Dennis Frye, Jeff Wert, Ethan Rafuse, Mark Snell, Tom Clemens, and anyone who’s anybody regardng the Battle of Antietam. The conference runs from July 25-29, and is based in Chambersburg. There are numerous lectures and lots of good choices for battlefield tours.

This promises to be the Antietam event to end them all, and I can tell you from six or seven years of prior experience that Ted runs a first-rate operation. Next year’s event will be Gettysburg oriented, and J. D. and I will be doing a bus tour of the some of the sites associated with Stuart’s ridge, as discussed in our book Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg. If I didn’t have an event next weekend and another one the following weekend, I would really consider attending, but I’ve got too much on my plate as it is and I can’t afford the time away.

The cost is reasonable–it’s $685 for the entire program, which includes hotel, buses, tours, etc. There are also options to do part of the program. Ted has a lot of loyal folks who come back year after year. Part of the fun each year is catching up with the regulars. Ted also uses these events to raise money for battlefield preservation. Each year, there is a live auction, and there are multiple book raffles, and lots of money is raised for donation for good battlefield preservation causes.

I can’t say enough good things about Ted’s programs. Check them out. You won’t be disappointed.

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As promised, here is a brief sketch of Bvt. Brig. Gen. Pennock Huey. It is based in part on the information provided by his descendant, Pete Huey. Thanks to Pete for passing this information along. I did the rest. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pennock Huey was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania on March 1, 1828. He was the son of Jacob Huey and Sarah (Davis) Huey of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Jacob was a Quaker farmer, known as “The Squire of Kennett Square” by virtue of his ownership of quite a bit of land in the area. The Hueys were affluent, and Pennock worked as a commission merchant.

Huey was appointed captain of Company D of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry when the regiment mustered in in September 1861. He was excommunicated from the Kennett Square Meeting when he went off to war. After learning his trade with the rest of the regiment, Huey went off to war. Fortunately, the regiment’s first colonel was David M. Gregg, a member of the West Point class of 1856, who was a career cavalry officer. Gregg taught the men well, and the 8th Pennsylvania soon became known as a well-drilled and well-disciplined regiment.

Huey received a promotion major on January 1, 1862. When Gregg received a promotion to brigadier general of volunteers during the fall of 1862 and assumed command of a brigade, Huey, although still a major, ended up in command of the regiment, as there was no lieutenant colonel. In the spring of 1863, the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps was formed, consisting of three divisions. The 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry was assigned to a brigade in the Third Cavalry Division, commanded by David M. Gregg. Col. Judson Kilpatrick of the 2nd New York Cavalry commanded the brigade.

Although still a major, Huey led the ill-fated charge of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. On June 25, 1863, with a major battle looming, Huey was promoted to colonel and ended up commanding the brigade when Kilpatrick was promoted to division command. Huey led the brigade for the entire Gettysburg Campaign. Huey’s brigade spent the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg in Manchester, Maryland, guarding lines of supply and communication. It was called to join the rest of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry on July 4, and participated in the fighting at Monterey Pass during the night of July 4-5.

That fall, when the Second Division was reorganized, Huey returned to regimental command, a position he held for the balance of the war. On June 24, 1864, at the Battle of Samaria (St. Mary’s) Church, at the end of the Trevilian Raid, Huey and a number of his men were surrounded and captured. After a difficult march south, he was held prisoner at Roper Hospital, during the war a military prison, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Huey was eventually exchanged and returned to the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He received a brevet to brigadier general of volunteers for gallant and meritorious services during the war on March 13, 1865, and mustered out with his regiment. After the war he married for the second time (his first wife having died). His wife was Elizabeth Waln Wistar, the daughter of Joseph Wistar and Sarah Comfort of Philadelphia. “Bustleton” was the name of their place near Kennett Square.The Wistars were an extremely prominent and wealthy Philadelphia family; a cousin, Isaac Wistar, was a Union brigadier general of volunteers.

General Huey spent his post-war years as a merchant and an agent for the Pennsylvania Canal Company. Angered that he did not receive the credit for his efforts in leading the charge at Chancellorsville and that Alfred Pleasonton attacked him for allegedly not being present during the charge, Huey spent years accumulating evidence to support his contentions, and then published a small book titled A True History of the Charge of the Eighth Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville in 1885 that strongly defended himself and laid claim to credit for leading the ill-fated charge, and not his subordinate, Maj. Peter Keenan, who was killed.

Huey died at the age of 75 on September 28, 1903 on the family farm, Bustleton. He was buried in the St. Luke’s Episcopal Churchyard in Philadelphia.

Huey was a competent regimental commander, and also did a competent job leading a brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign. He was not particularly popular with his peers; one described him as “an overpowering damned fool.” However, he served his country well and had the respect of his men.

Here’s to Bvt. Brig. Gen. Pennock Huey, forgotten Union cavalryman.

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Forty years ago today, the Israel Defense Forces launched the ultimate blitzkrieg. In a matter of a few hours, the Israeli Air Force, in a lightning surprise preemptive strike, destroyed more than 400 Arab aircraft, with the majority of them being destroyed on the ground of their airbases. From that moment forward, the Israelis had virtually uncontested control of the skies. The Israeli army not only defeated three Arab countries in just six days, it completely humiliated Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. Hoping to gain a buffer zone to protect it from Arab fedayeen raids and to give the country a protective buffer from hostile enemies surrounding the country of Israel, the IDF seized control of the Golan Heights from Syria, the West Bank, including Jerusalem, from Jordan, and the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Desert from Egypt. Along the way, the Israelis proved that Soviet weapons were not so fearsome as portrayed, and they also demonstrated the superiority of Western ordnance and weaponry. With their stunning victory, the Israelis more than doubled the total land mass of the State of Israel, gave it buffers from the hostile Arab states surrounding it, and took on a huge Palestinian refugee population in the process, thus sewing the seeds for decades of political misery.

The scope of the Israeli victory was stunning, as was the absolute nature of the Arab defeat, which was complete and utter. It was, without doubt, the IDF’s finest moment.

At the same time, Israel’s greatest moment of triumph has proved to be its biggest problem. For one thing, the victory in the Six Day War made the IDF overconfident, and it was caught by surprise in October 1973 and nearly defeated by determined attacks by Syria and Egypt. Only hard, determined fighting by a desperate IDF kept Prime Minister Golda Meir from employing tactical nuclear weapons. That overconfidence continues to this day; one need only study the debacle of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon last summer to try to silence Hezbollah for an example.

Further, the occupied territories have been nothing but a thorn in the side of one Israeli regime after another. Two intifadas have followed, terrorism has become standard operating procedure, radical Islam has gained a foothold, and the great Israeli victory made the Yom Kippur War of 1973 inevitable. In a stunning juxtaposition, that great moment of triumph for the Israelis has turned into the biggest thorn in their collective side and has caused years and years of strife. While Egypt and Jordan eventually made peace with Israel, it took the Yom Kippur War for it to happen, and it cost the lives of Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, both assassinated by radical citizens of their own countries opposed to peacemaking. It has made Syria an even more intransigent enemy of Israel, and has caused organizations like Hamas–sworn to the destruciton of the Jewish state–to gain extensive popular following among the Palestinian refugees and sympathy on the rest of the Arab street. The phenomenon of the suicide bomber has its roots in the conflict over the occupied territories. One might even say that the attacks of 9/11 have their roots in the Six Day War, since radical Islam’s use of terrorism as a weapon stems directly from the loss of the occupied territories.

Thus, the Six Day War, which provides some really useful and remarkable tactical lessons for the military historian, also provides a classic study of how war impacts geopolitics, and that those geopolitics can have far-reaching and unforeseen consequences.

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I sent Wayne Motts an e-mail today, asking for an update on Mike’s condition. Wayne called Mike, and here’s what he had to say in response:

Mike is back home at Fort Hood, TX which is his HQ base. He is now making appointments to see doctors. It is not known at this time whether he will have full use of his arm. He of course will have to go through rehabilitation. His future in the military at this point is uncertain. He is lucky to be alive.

At least he’s home, in one piece, and out of harm’s way. Let’s hope that he continues to improve and that he doesn’t lose the function in his arm. Get well soon, Mike.

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The primary source material from the Civil War that continues to surface never ceases to amaze me. It also makes me wonder what else like it remains out there, unknown and languishing….

As you may recall, I posted three consecutive posts on the significance of the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 1-3, commemorating the anniversary of the battle. The third and final post discussed the similarities between the Battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and suggested that nobody can ever truly understand the Battle of Gettysburg without having a solid understanding of the Battle of Chancellorsville. The last comment received on that post, which was posted on May 22, was by a fellow named J. Wistar “Pete” Huey, III. Pete wrote, “I`ve got a file cabinet full of great grandfather Pennock`s papers, correspondence, etc.. One of these days I hope to get it all in some semblance of order and donate it to the Chester County Historical Society.”

Needless to say, that got my attention. I chronicled the charge of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry at Chancellorsville in my book The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863 in detail, and I’d done a great deal of research into the charge. Pennock Huey wrote a small volume on the charge that was published in 1885 (I own a first edition as well as a replica reprint of the second edition), but I was completely unaware of any colleciton of Huey’s papers anywhere. I recognized that locating a set of Huey papers was a significant find, as Huey was breveted to brigadier general of volunteers and commanded a brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign. Any papers would be useful for J. D.’s and my forthcoming three-volume study of cavalry operations during the Gettysburg Campaign.

I wrote to Pete, and we’ve engaged in an exchange of e-mails. Here’s how Pete described what he’s got: “Most of what I have is correspondence relating to his book, to and from various participants in the ‘Charge’ before the book was published, while he was working on it. I`ve also got a fair amount of his military paper work and four gold coins he kept sewn into the hem of his trousers while a POW at Roper Military Prison in Charleston. After the war he had them made into cufflinks, which I wear from time to time when I don my ‘formal’ kilt getup. I`ve also got his ‘excommunication papers’ from the Society of Friends, who took issue with his taking up arms, and other stuff I`d have to actually examine to describe. As mentioned, it about fills a file cabinet and is in no order at all. Quite a bit is in the form of packets of letters tied in ribbon, some of which I haven`t read.”

Wow. Talk about a find….

Biographical information on Huey is almost impossible to find. I’ve tried, and I wasn’t able to find much of anything of any substance. I had no idea that he was a Quaker until I read Pete’s e-mail to me.

The upshot is that I’ve asked Pete to give me a couple of paragraphs of biographical information on Huey, and then I will do one of my “forgotten cavalrymen” profiles of him here once I get that material. I’m also re-visiting the Chancellorsville episode. J. D. and I are going to update my prior work by including some of Pete’s stuff (with his permission, of course) for an article for one of the magazines, and pertinent information will be incorporated into our three-volume study of the cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign. So far as I can tell, I will be the first person outside the family to even see any of this material, which is just mind-boggling. I’m looking forward to it.

So, if this stuff is out there, what else is lurking in attics and basements?

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