Friday, January 05, 2007
I contacted Al, asking if he remembered anything else that might help me clearing up Jimmy’s name and although he told me he didn’t off hand, he offered to send my a copy of his book. Not only did he send it to me right away - he wrote a really nice inscription too.
At this point I want to give Al a big PUBLIC THANK YOU!
Although he didn’t remember off hand – his book just made my day. Specifically pages 42 – 44 and a few endnotes that go along with it.
Jimmy is going to be cleared of some major injustice and in large part due to Al and his book. I have a bit more work but this little bit goes a very long way!
Do me a favor and help me thank him by buying his book or one of his many others.
Before finding these specific pages, I did my normal thumb-through to preview the book. It has some great maps and lots of pictures of the cast of characters and the stages they played on. Plus the writing I have read so far has been top notch. I especially like how Al – for the most part – starts with the battle that leads to Zook’s death, works his way back in the war and then goes to what happens after the war. (Donald – I told you starting with the end could work for the 18th).
Need more prompting? Both Frank A O’Reilly and John J Hennessy have quotes of support that appear on the jacket.
Monday, January 01, 2007
Times like that, I either stop completely or look for other things of interest. Lately it has been looking for information on General James Barnes.
You may remember the post in November when I discussed finding some information that cleared his name a little bit. During the post, I mention that there are a few blemishes on General Barnes’ name that I feel are unwarranted and I hope to disprove them and clear a good man’s name. If I am unable too, then I at least have given it my all.
One of the blemishes is that Barnes’ division had a good, strategic post but as first Historicus put it:
Barnes' division, of the Fifth Corps, suddenly gave way
This was later followed by another Historicus letter, quoting General Birney,
He (Barnes) moved to the rear from three to four hundred yards, and formed in the rear of the road which passed from the Emmettsburg Road to the Round Top
In Birney’s official report, he claims that
But during the hottest of the fight he withdrew this force, saying that his men could not see to fight in the woods, and formed them some three hundred yards farther in the rear.
Not quite as damning but still pretty bad.
The question on why Barnes moved seems to be glossed over in most books and articles, with Historicus’ version generally being received as gospel.
When members of the 18th Massachusetts Reenactment group had dinner with me this summer, Tom Keenan of the group brought up that he felt that General Barnes, must have seen Confederate troops coming up from the side that others did not – which would have imperiled his own troops.
This is something that is mentioned in Barnes’ official report but does not seem to be picked up on by others.
After some time, during which the firing was very heavy, the enemy showed himself in great force upon our right flank. He had penetrated through the unguarded space there, and commenced pouring in a destructive fire from the advantageous position he had gained, and without changing my front there were no means of checking his advance toward my rear. Colonel Tilton, commanding the First Brigade, which was on the right, was immediately directed to change his front to the right, and the order was at once executed, deliberately, yet promptly, and in good order. Colonel Sweitzer, commanding the Second Brigade, on the left of the First, was immediately notified of this change upon his right, and directed to fall back in good order, and to take up a new position a short distance in his rear, for the purpose of co-operating in opposing this heavy attack upon the flank
Last month while looking through books at a local bookstore, I found a similar conclusion proposed by an author but with no real indication of where this conclusion came from.
Then while on a break, I came across a book from New York – Historicus’ presumed identity of General Daniel Sickles’ home state no less. New York at Gettysburg by William F Fox, published by the New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga
two fine brigades of Tilton and Sweitzer were withdrawn while Kershaw was making his attack. These troops withdrew to a position in rear of the road, Tilton taking position there in support of Bigelovv’s Battery. Tilton was ordered to withdraw because one of Kershaw s left regiments, which was advancing towards the open space between the knoll and the Peach Orchard, threatened Tilton’s right flank.
That seems a bit better until the author plays Monday Morning Quarterback -
But any withdrawal on this account proved unnecessary, as this regiment of Kershaw’s was driven back, with terrible loss, by a canister fire from Bigelow and Phillips.
Of course, you will never guess who was the chairman of the Monuments Commission - yes, Jimmy’s friend, General Dan Sickles. Was the unneeded withdrawal statement thrown in because of Sickles? We will never know but we have a bit more knowledge on why Jimmy decided to pull his brigades back.
So, although not completely clearing General Barnes, another bit of information comes out from the present, backed from some period sources.
Another baby step towards clearing Jimmy – I hope I get to take a few more…..