Here’s why…

…I decided to delete everything here dealing with the Gallagher issue after sleeping (often fitfully) on the whole thing.

Like many controversial issues I get involved in, I will admit things got pretty quickly out of hand.  And I’ll admit my blame in that.  I’ve always been a debater and quick to defend myself.  Not many people know, but back in my senior year in High School in 1983, I was named the #2 rank in debate in the United States.  That after 3 years of also being nationally ranked.  Probably shoulda been a lawyer, maybe, but my penchant for expressing myself about things I’m passionate about has definitely been one of the things I bring to my writing.

Anyway, I’ll only speak for myself in this latest issue.  Did I say some stupid things I’d rather take back?  You betcha.  I fear that even relationships among us bloggers, writers, historians, students, and readers have been irreparably harmed, and no one – not me, Eric, Gallagher, or anyone else ever wants that to happen.

I deservedly had some of my own comments thrown back in my face.  If you are going to withstand criticism, and take part in debate, you have to be able to tolerate that and deal with it.  David Woodbury recently commented to me, and rightly so, that some of my very own recent comments mirrored that which I find so distasteful about Gallagher’s.  Thank you, Dave – you were quite right.

The silver lining in this whole recent mess (there’s always a silver lining, ain’t there!) is that all of this proves there’s passion in the world of the American Civil War.  Thank you, God, for that.  If there weren’t it would mean it were dying on the vine like some claim.  There’s still passion.  It’s our passion that motivates us to read, study, learn, and write in the first place.  Whoever says that interest in the details of this great conflict need only consider what took place the last few days.  Just a few words by one historian can ignite a firestorm of comments of all types.

I also realize that at the same time, Professor Gallagher deserves the utmost respect through the process, which is no less than I’d want for myself.  I’ve said some things in the heat of that passion that I really don’t think I’d want directed at me if I were in his shoes.  We should give him the benefit of the doubt that surely he didn’t mean to hurt anyone by what he said – he was expressing his opinion like we all do every day.  I don’t agree with that opinion – in fact, I find them to be possibly injurious to the genre – but he should be personally respected and nothing less.

Beyond just the few dozen or so of us that participated in this discussion, I’m quite certain that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of our readers who watched this whole thing take place among us with utter dismay.  Let’s admit – most of our readers don’t give a hoot about what just took place.  They come to our blogs, our websites, and read our writing hoping to learn something.  I hope I didn’t lose too many of mine, and if anything I said offended you personally, I truly apologize.  Chalk it up to defensive passion.

We all deserve respect.  Eric deserves respect for the passion he displayed, as does everyone who supported us and hammered us.  Respect is a two-way street. 

We two, with our publisher, just submitted our response letter to Civil War Times.  As I said, it’s respectful to all parties, and reflects how this debate should have proceeded, I think.  Gallagher should be given the chance to respond to it – rather than be subjected to the admitted shots I took at him.  The former is how dignified debate takes place, the latter… well… that’s how wars start, ain’t it?

So I’ve cleansed this blog of everything on this subject up to now.  So I apologize to those folks and their blogs that now have several dead links.  But since our response letter reflects how we really feel, and how we recognize such debate should respectfully proceed (and because I’m Boss around here!) I blew them away.  I’d rather be judged by the content of that letter than some less judicious comments I’ve made along the way.

And if nothing else, I can blame my temper on the end of the Sopranos.  I still haven’t gotten over that one🙂

Published in: on June 13, 2007 at 10:07 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. J.D.:

    I just posted this on Eric’s blog:

    Eric:

    I returned from Germany the other day to discover this “Gallagher Affair” in full cry. My first impulse was to stay out of it. Gary is a friend and mentor, Kevin is a friend, and through our cyber-correspondence I consider you a friend as well. I don’t know J. D., or I’d add him here too. Nothing good is going to come from my getting involved, I expect.

    On my walk this morning, however, I remembered a germane point that might help bring this to resolution. I attended the original SCWH Gettysburg talk in Atlanta. Gary was preceded by Lesley Gordon and Steve Woodworth, both of whom suggested that the Gettysburg theme was not exhausted. Much of what Gary said was in the form of good-natured rejoinders to them. Then–and this is the critical point–Gary as I remember made the same comment about unnecessary books about Stuart at Gettysburg. Unless he has the power to see the future, he wasn’t referring to J. D. and you. Frankly, I took it as a second jab at Carhart. I can’t read his mind as it existed during the Carmichael review, but it seems to me that the evidence suggests that for better or worse he was simply repeating a line he’s used for years. I hope the letter and anticipated response will clear that up.

    Some of your readers might also like to know that Gary went on to mention by name several authors whose works on the battle were good but in his view unnecessary, adding nothing to what we already know. Every person he mentioned was an academic. So much for that old divisive argument.

    For the record, four of my ancestors took part in the cavalry battle at Gettysburg (16th VA Cavalry) and a fifth rode with Stuart in the 9th VA until he was captured after Antietam. So the subject interests me, but at the same time I do think that there’s more to the war than Gettysburg, which as I remember was Gary’s big point.

    Finally, if I may, I’d like to hold up the example of Michael Aubrecht. Mike and Kevin sadly were at odds for some time. Mike’s response was to design a new banner for Kevin, which Kevin graciously accepted. There’s a man who does more than talk about his faith. At least in the secular/cyber realm, maybe all of us should take a deep breath (as J. D. has done today) and try to be more like Mike.

    Fire away, gentlemen.

    Ken

    http://civilwarcavalry.com/?p=507

  2. JD – you and I said the same thing… about passion being a positive here. I posted this over on Eric’s blog:

    Thanks for the compliment Ken. I appreciate it very much, but I’m far from a perfect example.

    It pains me to see these guys at odds. There is one “positive” example that can come from this… Obviously Eric, JD, Kevin, and Gallagher truly care about the material because if they didn’t, they would not comment, argue, and defend it so passionately. This proves to me that they really and truly value their subject matter, which ultimately leads to more great work. If no historians commented on this debate (or Gary’s interview), I would be more bothered by the lack of interest.

    I would also like to add that Eric’s absence from the blogoshpere would be greatly missed and I ask him to reconsider. His insights (and friendship) are always valuable and we all benefit from his work no matter what Mr. Gallagher or anyone else thinks.

  3. Regardless of what transpired, assessments of who’s right, etc., I commend the spirit of humility and civility in this post, traits we need more than ever today in public/private debate. BTW, I find fascinating both microhistory (eg Bloody Angle: Hancock’s Assault on the Mule Shoe Salient, May 12, 1864) and grand survey (eg The Confederate War).

  4. Thank you, Jack. It’s amazing how a good (or lousy) night’s sleep can make a difference. I took shots, and got shot. There was a lot said to and about me that was plain idiotic, but I have to take blame for many dumb things I’ve said.

    Like those old Clint Eastwood movies, the bad dudes shook when looking down his barrel – once he pulled the trigger, there was no more reasoning with him. I think maybe we all need to remember that we’re all in this together – it is all of us students of this conflict that keep its study alive.

    It’s quite obvious Gallagher was referencing our work and works like it in his comments. No one has made even a half decent case otherwise IMO. So, he could have been more judicious in his comments. And so could I have, in spades. And I realize that. He’ll have his opportunity to explain more about what he meant, and he deserves that.

    J.D.

  5. JD,

    I hope this all passes over sooner, rather than later.

    I’m pleased to see that you have decided to continue with your blog, and truly hope that Eric returns to the ‘sphere’ in the near future.

    As always, best wishes,

    Mark

  6. J.D.

    Hitting ‘send” has gotten us all into hot water from time to time…yet another reason to not have nuclear weapons.

    By the way Eric says that you two are thinking about a Sharpsburg trip. E-m ail me at museumofamerica@myactv.

    It’ll be a good day.

    Mannie

  7. Mannie,

    Indeed! I will admit I may not be the best candidate to have my finger on that button🙂

    We will be there next Sunday – looking forward to hooking up with you and living rangerously! I’ll email ya.

    J.D.

  8. […] has explained most of the reasons why we both overreacted in this excellent post. I don’t have a lot to add, other than to say that I’ve admitted here that I tend to be […]

  9. 🙂 I go to Tennessee for a week and all hell breaks loose, and am sure J.D. was glad I was AWOL for those 7 days.🙂

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve

  10. See, Steve – you shouldn’t have left. Everything goes to pot when you’re not around to keep an eye on things😉

    J.D.

  11. J.D.,

    Last thing you need is me to keep an eye on things.🙂

    Steve


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