About J. David Petruzzi

I’m J. David Petruzzi, American Civil War author and historian (in my spare time from business).  I’ve written for popular Civil War magazines for a few years, and my first book appeared in September 2006, the second will be released June 2008, with several more in the works.  I’ve been both a reenactor and living historian for some time, portraying a Federal cavalry officer.  I’m a staff author with America’s Civil War Magazine, and also write for such periodicals as Civil War Times, Blue&Gray, and The Gettysburg Magazine.

Published on October 19, 2006 at 6:03 pm  Comments (11)  

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  1. Mr. Petruzi –

    I’ve enjoyed perusing your blog for the past several months. Given your knowledge about ACW cavalry operations, I figure I would pose a question to you that has been rattling around in my brain for a little while.

    QUESTION: In using ACW cavalry for intelligence work, all other things being equal, how many cavalrymen does it take to “screen” a certain area of land?

    Or, to put it differently, how great an area would be considered too much of an area for a set number of cavalry (say, for example, 1,000 men) to screen effectively?

    I’ve wondered if there were any sort of “formulas” put together for figuring this sort of thing out (i.e., a general with 2,000 cavalry at hand looks at a map and says, “Well, with 2,000 I could screen X amount of ground on my left/right flanks or as pickets before the main line, but if the amount of ground is Y, they’d be stretched too thin and might ‘miss’ the enemy entirely.”)

    Obviously, the character of the chief of cavalry would factor into this (ex: Pleasanton has almost 10,000 cavalry during the Gettysburg Campaign but does a shoddy job of recon for Hooker—Buford has to take up much of the slack on his own—while in the West Forrest has a much smaller force but is able to provide better intel for Bragg—when they’re not at each other’s throats of course).

    But again, assuming that the opposing cavalry chiefs are of the same level of ability…how much ground could one mounted man be expected to screen effectively?

    Thanks for taking the time to help with this;

  2. Hello Mr. Petruzzi,

    I am a student at Columbia University and I’m writing my master’s thesis on Civil War battlefields that are being overrun by suburban sprawl. While I realize that my topic is not the exact focus of your blog, I wanted to see if you had any thoughts on the steady loss of these historic places, or if you could point me in the direction of someone who may be more directly involved with this issue.

    This project will be a major effort on my part, and I am going to try very diligently to get it published upon its completion. The impact of the work will depend mostly on how authoritative my sources are, and for that reason I would greatly appreciate your assistance, as you seem to be regarded as an established and respected authority.

    If you could spare a few minutes, I would like to arrange a telephone interview.

    Thank you for your time,

    Stuart Winchester
    Columbia University
    Graduate School of Journalism

  3. JD
    I am trying to get commo with Eric Wittenburg. Do you have email address??
    thank you

    Bill Hewitt
    (the guy who made the frame for your certificate from your last talk at gettysburg Roundtable.)

  4. Mr. Petruzzi,

    I have a book that I wonder if you might review for the _Virginia Magazine of History and Biography_. It is Warren C. Robinson’s _Jeb Stuart and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg_. Please drop me an e-mail.

    Paul Levengood

  5. Your book on Gettsyburg retreat sounds really cool. i have an ambrotype of a Soldier in the 2nd Va Cavalry who was shot at Gettysburg and left for dead but was nursed back by the Union DR’S and lived… Do you need any photos to go in the book let me know.



  6. Sir. I believe to be somehow related to Alpheus Hodges (the Cpl. who claimed to fire the first shot at Gettesburg. Any information you can give me concerning him would be greatly appreciated. Thank You

    Richard A. Hodges

  7. J. D.

    I saw your comments about my book on Stuart’s Birthplace that you wrote last year. That was very nice. Thanks.

    I have started my own blog this week

    God forgive me 🙂

    Tom Perry

  8. Mr. Petruzzi,
    Ending on Valentine’s Day are some items on eBay related to the cavalry.
    The first is an invitation to the 20th Anniversary reunion of the 1st R.I. Cavalry on the day of their defeat at Middleburg.
    The other are a collection of letters written by a Cpl. Fell of the 6th Ohio . It’s especially a shame that the latter are being sold individually and will be spread out to private collectors rather than concentrated in a single place, such as the MHI. The auctions have transcriptions. Maybe you’d like to copy them while you still can.

  9. Mr. Petruzzi:

    My great-great grandfather, John T Slentz, lived at the McPherson farm from the 1850’s until the house burned down in 1893. He was a good friend of Edward McPherson and Thadeus Stevens. This farm is where the battle of Gettysburg started. Do you have any information on how John Slentz interacted with Buford on the night prior to the battle?

  10. Dear Mr. Petruzzi:

    I came across your website for the first time today, and was very interested in Maj. Starr. My great grandfather, Andrew D. Boyer, was a trooper in Co. K, 6th Cav from 1861-1865; I’m always curious to find anything out there that mentions him or his unit, especially since I am a retired Army Colonel myself. I have dispelled a few old family stories about grandfather Boyer through my research, and have seen some brief descriptions of his service, but always search for more. Thank you for your work, and I look forward to re-visiting your site from time to time. I doubt that I have anything of historical importance to add to your already substantial knowledge, but would be happy to share a story or two if you are interested.

    Bob Pidgeon

  11. Mr. Petruzzi: I am an ardent admirer of John Buford, as well as
    both Gamble and Devin. Your “Buford’s Boys” section as well
    as “Plenty of Blame to go Around” are both stellar.

    My astonishment at coming late to these laudable works is
    surpassed only by their stunning excellence. I have tried to procure an email to you from your site, but could not. Can you send an email
    address to which I can send more detailed thanks for your efforts.

    Walker Johnson
    Baton Rouge, La.

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