12 February 2007 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 7 comments

J. D. and I got a letter from the guy in Westminster who accused us of plagiarizing. We spent a lot of time composing a response to him that pointed out all of the reasons why there’s no way that we could have stolen his work when we’d never seen it.

His reply letter indicates that he is now satisfied that we didn’t plagiarize from him, he apologized for the accusation, and then got all warm and fuzzy, pointing out a few factual errors we made in our work, and offering to show us around Westminster when we’re in for an event next month. Funny how the tone changes and he suddenly wants to be our buddy when he no longer views us as the enemy. Now, instead, he’s cozying up to us. It’s really pretty transparent. I haven’t decided yet how to handle the situation, but the whole thing still pisses me off.

Vindication–particularly where I knew that I had done ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong–is a very sweet thing.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 12th Feb 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Sounds like this turned out well for you. Glad to hear it, and I sure hope you don’t have to deal with this sort of thing again.

    Brian Dirck

  2. Valerie Protopapas
    Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 10:00 am

    It is wise to remember that there is in fact a plague of this ‘disease’ taking place in the literary world, often by authors of what are considered impeccable credentials. Little guys – like this fellow – are often VERY sensitive to the possibility that their work, unprotected as it is by a ‘big name’, might well be found and used by other authors. True, he was wrong not to contact you first to find out the truth of the matter, but his attitude is somewhat understandable given the present state of things as you yourself have recorded from time to time.

    Secondly, it is to his credit that he has acknowledged his error and apologized. Far too often these days, a person who makes this kind of mistake simply walks away or even continues to press the issue because he is not ‘big enough’ to admit to having been wrong. This fellow seems not only to have been ‘big enough’, but now willing to at least attempt to make amends by being helpful to you should you so desire.

    Was the man wrong? Certainly. But did he respond appropriately when he was PROVEN wrong? It seems to me that he has done so and that at least should be recognized. It takes a big man to admit his error and apologize an even BIGGER man to accept it in the spirit in which it is offered.

  3. Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 10:30 am


    I also have a post on my blog in which I acknowledge that he apologized and took responsibility for his actions. It remains, however, that it was very easy for him to have found out the facts before accusing us – there were two simple things he did not do: 1. Ask the Historical Society if we, or anyone, got a copy of his manuscript, and 2. Check our book’s footnotes and bibliography to see what our sources were (there was a blurb at the end of the CWT article that it was adapted from our book).

    All he did was read our non-footnoted article, then flew off the handle that we must have stolen from him. The onus of original responsiblity to have checked his facts first still remains with him, and everything could have been avoided immediately had he done the above.

    Therefore, his reaction (writing to and accusing us) is really not “understandable” in the sense that he didn’t do the minimum required before accusing someone of something. Also, he could have first written us simply with his concerns, and ask for an explanation, prior to then telling us in print that we are thieves and we did this or that.


  4. Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 11:31 am


    I tend to ignore people like this, although I do think he showed character by admitting error and apologizing – rather refreshing. I think addressing it initally was the right thing to do, now he’s apologized. I would move on and take him up on his offer. By fretting over critics (especially ones who have harmed what credibility they may have had), you give them undeserved stature.

    Just some friendly and well-intentioned advice. Besides, we all need mercy from time to time.

  5. Michael Aubrecht
    Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 11:58 am

    I would like to echo Richard’s sentiments. You are JD are men of high moral character and I don’t think that anyone of us ever doubted you. I hope that this individual uses this incident as a learning lesson and refrains from jumping to conclusions in the future. Take the high road. This incident ultimately damaged his own credibility far more than yours.

  6. Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks, Michael – that’s appreciated. See the “Apology Received” post on my blog from yesterday, and you’ll see it echoes your thoughts.

    We haven’t decided yet if we’ll tour with him (we all could probably learn something from it) but it might be good for all of us.


  7. Tue 13th Feb 2007 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks, guys. I have to agree with all of you, but vindication is nevertheless sweet.


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