29 July 2006 by Published in: General musings 5 comments

Well, it happened again last night. Another previously unknown large set of letters by a trooper of the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry came to my attention last night. More about that shortly.

The lunch speaker at the conference today was Tom Carhart. He apparently reads this blog, as he was aware that I have described his book as a festering pile of garbage. He actually got in my face about it after his talk. I challenged his nonsensical theory with two very pointed questions, and he obviously figured out who I was, and came up to me. When I introduced myself, he actually got in my face. He made a big deal of telling me that since he has a big New York publisher behind him, he must be doing something right. Good for him.

I stand by my assessment of his work. After hearing his talk today–filled with errors, by the way–he actually claimed that one of Custer’s regiments was armed with Henry rifles–I’m even more convinced than ever that his book is intellectually dishonest and that it intentionally seeks to deceive the public. Another flagrantly false thing he claimed is that Kilpatrick went to Hunterstown to lay a trap for the Confederate cavalry. Never mind that it was a classic example of a meeting engagement. Because of his twisting of facts to suit his endst, I simply have absolutely no respect for his book or for him.

Don’t get me wrong–I support all authors, so long as they are intellectually honest and don’t distort and/or twist the facts. His theory does just that. Consequently, I have not been shy about stating my opinion, and I won’t stop now just because he doesn’t like it.

Anyway, back to the Lancers….

One of the other attendees of the LBHA conference is a lawyer from Dayton that I know named Rick Carlile. Rick represents Morningside, which is how I know him. Anyway, Rick and I were chatting last night, and he made the comment that he wished I would do another book on the 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry, because he had purchased a set of 106 letters by a trooper of the Lancers from a family member that he would love to see get used. He mentioned that other than a few people, nobody’s ever seen them, and that they are really excellent letters.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

I sent my publisher an e-mail last night with the subject line “You’re going to kill me…..” and told him what I’ve just told you. So, I’ve got time–the end of August–to incorporate the good material from these letters into my manuscript. It’s obviously going to be a big job, but from what Rick tells me, it will be worth it. Or so I hope. I will keep everyone posted.

I’m in Chambersburg as I write this. I visited another Dahlgren spot on the way out of Richmond today and then drove up here. I have my second panel discussion of the day at 10, and a talk tomorrow morning, and then I finally get to go home. I have to admit that I’m really looking forward to getting home.

There are big changes afoot in my life next week, and I’d like to get a decent night’s rest before tackling them.

Scridb filter


  1. Dave Powell
    Sun 30th Jul 2006 at 6:32 pm


    New stuff is cool when it shows up, no matter what the source. New material is fun to add, but I confess I like it best when new stuff enhances or corroborates already existing accounts, especially ones where you only have a single source for detail. I hope these kick ass.

    I would hate to have that little time to add material, however – I have found that I can go back to an account several times, and each time find small nuances that enliven other accounts, so I would like that stuff to gestate for a while. But you gets what you gets, so take it, I guess.

    Are the letters transcribed, or do you have to pick through handwriting?


    I have read enough of Carhart’s book to agree with you. A rambling, poorly thought out work that fails on several levels, and throws in a great deal of gratuitious military history from other periods that collectively, fails to enhance his point.

    However, I was amused when you said he threw the publisher at you. Jason Blair had a big publisher behind him, too:)

    More to the point, if his work could stand on its own, he could answer point by point and defend it, akin to a doctoral. Reverting to the publisher is that obnoxious “appeal to authority” thing that just screams diversion, to me.

    Poor you, a week of ACW immersion:)

    Dave Powell

  2. Sun 30th Jul 2006 at 8:01 pm


    It is definitely cool–there’s no doubt about that. However, this surfaced as close to being too late as is humanly possible.

    They’ve at least been transcribed, so that will help.

    And you’re absolutely right about Carhart and his crappy book.


  3. Mon 31st Jul 2006 at 10:20 am

    As we talked about, I’m glad you stuck to your guns with Carhart. Judging by the howling garbage in his book, and then the multitude of errors he made in his talk and in answering questions, it’s quite apparent that Carhart is YEARS away from having enough familiarity and grasp of his subject matter to even think about speaking or writing about them. He makes fundamental errors, time and time again, that no one familiar enough with these subjects would ever make.

    If he studies hard for about 10-15 years, does a lot of reading, and asks a lot of questions to those of us who know what the hell we’re talking about, maybe he’ll be ready to give a little 5-minute presentation on something.


    J.D. Petruzzi

  4. Rich
    Mon 31st Jul 2006 at 12:38 pm

    Having a big published behind you is impressive and does indicate Carhart is doing something right. However, McDonalds and Burger King are also doing something right but it doesn’t mean they make good hamburgers.

  5. Mon 31st Jul 2006 at 1:56 pm

    True, Rich – I think having a big publisher means that a big publisher printed his festering pile, instead of a little publisher printing his festering pile…



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