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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible not to like!
I do not like to use "definitive", "settles the question" or "finial word" when reviewing books. Some questions will never be settled, someone will always have another thing to say and in time, even Coddington's book on Gettysburg could become second best. While I firmly believe the above to be true, I do not think that this book will see a superior treatment of this...
Published on December 3, 2006 by James W. Durney

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9 of 39 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading just misses the mark
I live in the general area where most of the action occurred & learned quite a bit regarding these battles & skirmishes. The book is well written & researched. The continual rehash of whose fault Stuart's delay was (granted this is the central theme of the book but who wants to read the same dispatches over & over?) gets a bit tedious however.
Published on February 19, 2007 by G. D. Fuller


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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible not to like!, December 3, 2006
This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
I do not like to use "definitive", "settles the question" or "finial word" when reviewing books. Some questions will never be settled, someone will always have another thing to say and in time, even Coddington's book on Gettysburg could become second best. While I firmly believe the above to be true, I do not think that this book will see a superior treatment of this question for a very very long time.

"Has anyone seen JEB Stuart?" "Where is my cavalry?" were questions that Robert E. Lee often asks in the days preceding the Battle of Gettysburg. Stuart, commander of his cavalry, was missing separated from Lee by a Union army. Arriving at Gettysburg, his command exhausted by a grueling ride around the Union Army, complete with battles and numerous skirmishes. Stuart is greeted with an icy reception from Lee. The next day, on the East cavalry Field, his command is defeated and the Union right holds. Lee chose to ignore this and other actions by his subordinates during the battle, assuming full responsibility for Gettysburg.

In time, Gettysburg looms larger and larger in Civil War lore. One battle becomes the reason for the Confederacy's defeat. Right or wrong, this idea becomes the foundation of the story of the South's defeat. The story is accepted and endlessly repeated until it becomes an American tragedy. Years later, after Lee's death, questions raised in 1863 became accusations as the finger pointing begins. General Lee cannot be wrong at the most important battle of the war. The rank and file cannot be less than heroic. Somewhere, somehow a failure or a series of failures have to occur that undermine General Lee's perfect plan and cause the battle to be lost.

The authors first present a straightforward campaign history of Stuart's orders, decisions and the resulting actions. This history builds the foundation for the history of the controversy that is the second half of the book. Both sections are detailed, well written, intelligent and very readable. Systematically, the reader sees how Stuart's orders caused him to embark on what was potentially a risky idea. Movement of the Union army blocks expect routes, causing detours and delays leading to a series of battles. Wittenberg and Petruzzi can write about cavalry operations with authority and full knowledge. They impart a confidence in their work that comes with knowing the background and the ability to communicate the right level of detail. Again, Savas Beattie has taken the time and spent the money to give us the maps and illustrations needed to make this an enjoyable learning experience. The reader is able to follow the cavalry battles because of excellent well-placed maps coupled with very good writing.

The second part of the book is a history of how "Stuart lost the Battle of Gettysburg". I find the history of the history of the Civil War almost as much fun as the history of the war. This book combines both into one very readable volume, giving me two books for the price of one. The indictment and defense of JEB Stuart runs from the late 1870s on. Presenting both sides, for the most part in their own words, giving the reader a good perspective of what is happening. The 30-page conclusion is balanced, detailed and comprehensive. This book changed my thinking on the subject to "Plenty of Blame to Go Around".

To complete things, we have a driving tour. Civil War books do not get better than this!
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blame the Generals- not the Authors, November 27, 2006
This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
Very early, not long after midnight in fact, on June 25, 1863, J.E.B. Stuart and his staff mounted up and began the most controversial ride any cavalrymen would make during the Civil War. The trip would take them within six miles of Georgetown, just outside of Washington. They would pass on, capture a significant Union supply train, cross the Potomac, tear up the C & O Canal, canter across Maryland, and enter Pennsylvania, where they would fight a couple of engagements and go so far north as Carlisle, outside Harrisburg, the state capital. There, on the evening of July 1, Stuart would get the order to rejoin the Confederate army at Gettysburg. When he finally faced his commander, Stuart heard these words: "General Stuart, where have you been?" After giving a response, Lee's disappointment was manifest. "I have not heard a word from you for days, and you the eyes and ears of my army."

All histories of the Gettysburg Campaign deal with Lee's question, where was Stuart? His attempt to again ride around the Union Army, as he had been able to do with relative impunity in 1862, is well known. The difficulties he created for Lee, who entered unfamiliar ground once he crossed the Potomac, have been widely discussed. But Stuart's ride has never received the full, detailed study it deserves until this book's recent release.

Both of the author's are well-respected authorities on Civil War cavalry, and as the title of the work implies, they conclude that Stuart was hardly alone in carrying the blame for his absence from Lee's army at such a crucial time. The book contains a thorough and well-written description of just where Stuart was, and of the orders and correspondence that were part of the decision-making process. All of the actions and engagements that Stuart's troopers participated in are well described, even the least known, such as the Battle of Hunterstown on July 2. (Since the subject is Stuart's ride to Gettysburg, the cavalry engagement on July 3 is not discussed.)

Nearly half of the book is devoted to "the controversy," to the debate that started shortly after Gettysburg was fought about how costly Stuart's absence was to the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee being the infallible figure he was to many in the South, Stuart was a logical and available scapegoat on which to hang blame for the lost battle, and later for the lost war. The authors fully set out their own conclusions, but give their readers plenty of facts so that you can reach your own about how much blame Stuart should have shouldered. They also provide plenty of great maps and pictures, as well as a terrific description of a driving tour you can take the next time you are near Gettysburg. Get the book. It's good.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine study of this part of the Gettysburg Campaign, October 29, 2006
By 
Steve Basic (Oradell, New Jersey USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
Authors Wittenberg and Petruzzi have written a fine study on the exploits of J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, and their long road to the battlefield at Gettysburg.

It is a spellbinding account of what they went through from the crossing of the Potomac River, and then through the trials and tribulations and hardships they all encountered during those days of late June and early July, 1863.

As the title suggests, the book offers a full interpretation of those who were involved in the events of this part of the campaign, and the authors account is a fair and balanced look at the mistakes made, what was done right, and just how the word luck becomes a part of such a movement that took place over those days in early summer, 1863.

The research done is impeccable, and the authors have found nuggets that add to the story, and are for the first time included in this book. The book is filled with photos of those involved, and the maps included helps the student to follow the action as described in the narrative. The footnotes are a must read own their own, and helps to expand the tale of the journey that Stuart and his troopers found themselves in those few days.

The inclusion of Stuart's after battle report on his part in the Gettysburg Campaign adds to the book, and as one reads it, you can tell when he wrote it, he was already fielding questions about his "delay" in reuniting with the main body of Lee's Army.

The addition of a driving tour for those sites mentioned in the narrative completes the book, and is an a fine feature for those who wish to follow the roads Stuart and his men traversed on their way to Gettysburg. The authors include a photo of the Felty Barn, which was a landmark at the Battle of Hunterstown. Unfortunately, the barn was torn down recently, but am glad a photo of the place was taken before its demise.

Highly recommend this book, and know students of the Civil War will not be disappointed in reading this extraordinary story.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enough Fault For Everyone, May 2, 2008
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This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
As the last of George Pickett's men limped off the battlefield on the evening of July 3rd, 1863 it was clear the Confederate Army, after three days of fighting, had been defeated. General Lee, as the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, accepted all responsibility for the loss, but many, after the battle, blamed General J.E.B. Stuart instead. It has been 145 years since the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg, and the controversy over who is to blame for the loss has never abated.

Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi have brought the case to trial in their book, "Plenty Of Blame To Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg." The first half of the book is an inquiry into the facts of the case, as the authors present General Lee's orders to Stuart as exhibits. Their careful and diligent research has turned up many witnesses, both Union and Confederate, who add their testimony, and together, they form a narrative of the events following Stuart's departure with his cavalry, their ride around the Federal Army and their arrival on the battlefield of Gettysburg on July 2nd.

The second half of the book enters the historiography of Stuart's ride into evidence, and breaks it down into three phases. In the first phase, immediately after the battle and war, those immediately involved in the Confederate high command, and those involved in the ride, begin the finger pointing and placing of blame. In the second, the controversy continues, and heats up, during the post war years, as the participants continue quarreling with one another. Finally, after the passing of the participants, the debate continued into the 20th & 21st centuries, when the historians took up the argument. In all three phases, JEB Stuart had his supporters and detractors. The authors have done a fine job, presenting the evidence and arguments on both sides of this complicated issue.

Was the infallible Robert E. Lee at fault for issuing vague orders to Stuart? Did Stuart disobey, either willfully or unintentionally, Lee's orders? The authors, in their conclusion, deliver their verdict and find there is no one single person entirely to blame for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg. There is enough fault for every one. Or, in other words, there's "plenty of blame to go around."

"Plenty Of Blame To Go Around" is the definitive history of Jeb Stuart's ride to Gettysburg. Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi's outstanding research has produced a book that is truly a joy to read.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb new work on controversial Gettysburg subject., September 19, 2006
This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
Just when you thought you've read everything worth reading about Gettysburg, along comes this excellent book that examines one of the more fascinating and controversial aspects of the Gettysburg campaign.

As the title implies the authors find "Plenty of Blame to Go Around" regarding the Confederate loss at Gettysburg rather than simply subscribe to the simplistic version that Stuart failed Lee and either contributed to, or in fact caused the Confederate defeat. They examine Stuart's mission and actions in detail using a wealth of memoirs, letters and other primary sources previously untapped by other historians. They arrive at some sound conclusions, meticulously disecting the controversies and setting the record straight.

The book is richly illustrated with photographs of the participants (many of which I've not seen before) and excellent maps of the theater of operations. As there is no substitute for standing on the acutal ground where these events took place, the book includes a first rate driving tour with easily followed directions so the reader can spend a day following in the footsteps of history and gaining a better appreciation of what did, and what did not occur.

This is in my opinion the definitive work on Stuart's actions during the Gettysburg campaign and is a "must read" for any student of the Gettysburg battle or of Civil War Cavalry operations.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched rendition of "Stuart's Ride" and the historiography surrounding it!, October 19, 2006
By 
Thomas J. Ryan (Bethany Beach, DE United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
The critical military campaign that culminated in a battle at the crossroads community of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July 1863 has spawned much debate and acrimony over the decades. Whose fault was it that the previously hapless Union Army of the Potomac had defeated the best field army in the Southern Confederacy, one that had consistently been victorious in the past?

Stuart was an easy target for culpability. The cavalry commander's separation from the main army subsequently led to complaints that Lee was unable to formulate effective strategy and tactics without his cavalry that served as his "eyes and ears."

Now, 143 years after the fact, Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi have collaborated to write "Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg." This is an intensely researched analysis of "Stuart's Ride" employing existing evidence and previously unavailable or overlooked documentation.

Jeb Stuart has not been without his supporters in this controversy. In the years immediately following the Civil War, John Mosby, one of his subordinates and a lawyer by training, wrote what amounted to legal briefs for public consumption to defend Stuart against all detractors. A modern historian, Mark Nesbitt, took up the cudgel and argued before the bar of public opinion in his treatise "Saber and Scapegoat: J.E.B. Stuart and the Gettysburg Controversy" that Stuart was falsely accused, and concluded that what went wrong at "Gettysburg was Lee's fault."

Despite Stuart's partisans, many historians have written that Stuart bears a heavy burden for Lee's defeat at Gettysburg.

"Plenty of Blame to Go Around" takes the reader step-by-step through the stages of Stuart's ride around the Union army after his path was blocked as the Yankees unexpectedly marched northward toward a Potomac River crossing.

The authors specify the accusations against Stuart made originally by fellow soldiers and journalists, and later by scholars who substantiated their judgment against Stuart by sheer weight of numbers. Mssrs. Wittenberg and Petruzzi continue with a discussion of the historiography of Stuart's ride including an analysis of how his few supporters and multitude of critics presented their cases. They also present their findings of the guilt or innocence of Jeb Stuart and his fellow officers of the Army of Northern Virginia. In addition, the authors give credit to the Union troops whose gallant performance during the Gettysburg Campaign led to a well-earned Northern victory and a devastating defeat for the invading army from the South.

Maps placed throughout the text orient the reader to routes taken and clashes encountered along the way. Useful appendices address Stuart's command during the ride, orders of battle of both armies at Gettysburg, Stuart's official campaign report, and, as a special bonus, a driving tour of Stuart's Ride to Gettysburg complete with illustrations of strategic points.

This work undoubtedly will reenergize debate among students of history living and deceased about one of the Civil War's most enduring controversies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First-Rate Effort - Fills in Important Gaps, March 29, 2012
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This is simply a superb work of Civil War history. The research and writing is first-rate. The authors answer the important question - where was Stuart's cavalry in the days leading up to Gettysburg and why was Lee's Army of Northern Virginia left "blinded" in enemy territory? The authors are very knowledgeable about Civil War era cavalry operations and have succeeded in filling in the gaps left by other works (especially the movie "Gettysburg"). No serious student of the war should venture an opinion about that pivotal battle without reading this book. Highly recommended.

Note to the authors: I hope it is possible to add an addendum to a future edition discussing recent research about July 3. I believe there is plausible evidence that Lee intended Pickett's attack to be coincident with Stuart's cavalry attacking the Union center from the rear, having rounded the Union right flank, effecting a devastating break of the Union lines. But Custer and the Michigan cavalry, though outnumbered, blocked that maneuver, dooming Pickett's charge.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive account of two things -- Stuart's ride and 140 years of postmortem analysis, March 31, 2008
By 
Ralph M. Hitchens (Poolesville, MD United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (Hardcover)
As a history of Stuart's epic ride, this book has no peer. As even-handed historiography of the critical aftermath, echoing for well over a century, it also has no peer. I have two trivial criticisms: 1) the title isn't quite accurate, I think -- however many people were in the decision loop during those critical days, Stuart surely must have realized, at some point, that he had brought his command far from where it should have been; and, 2) the authors interrupt their clear narrative flow with repeated biographical digressions that should have been drastically curtailed or relegated to the endnotes (or both). The authors make the all-important point that Lee and his corps commanders marching into Pennsylvania had sufficient cavalry available for their purposes in the four brigades left behind by Stuart, but they failed to utilize these brigades properly and the brigade commanders themselves demonstrated little initiative. The biggest problem was not the absence of Stuart's three cavalry brigades but of Stuart himself, with his intuitive flair for scouting and delivering accurate reports to Lee.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic work!, November 27, 2012
By 
Paul P. Marcone (Chantilly, VA United States) - See all my reviews
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This book will be the new standard when it comes to the controversy surrounding Stuart's Ride in the Gettysburg campaign. Well written, meticulously researched - the book reads like a novel. A must read for any Civil War scholar.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars General Stuart, where have you been? - 4.5 Starts, November 11, 2013
I have read many books on the Battle of Gettysburg and most give Stuart's ride a mention but do not go into a great deal of detail about his ride around the Union army. I was under the impression that Stuart was off gaining glory and did not do much fighting during this ride. However, this book clearly demonstates that Stuart was doing much fighting during his ride. He fought two major battles - Hanover and Hunterstown - and other smaller skirmishes - such as Westminster. He captured many Union soldiers and the 125 wagons which he would not leave behind. By the end of the book, as it relates to the actual ride, it is clear that this was not a joyride. It was a hard ride with the troops being totally worn out by the time they reached Gettysburg. The reason that the book did not get a 5 star rating is that the maps are somewhat lacking. I am one that likes many maps in the books I read so that I can really follow the movements of the troops. That was the only part of the book that was not a 5 star rating. The writing was well done in all aspects of the book. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Carlisle and Hanover. Those chapters in particular are very well done.

The last 120 pages of the book deals with the controversy that still rages as to whether Jeb Stuart is to blame for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg. I am more of a military reader as I don't normally read biographies or aspects of the war that do not deal with the movement of troops and their battles. So, when I began to rear the controversy chapters, I was a little skeptical as I thought it would detract from the book. However, I am happy to report that was not the case. The way Eric and JD set forth the various arguments over the last 150 years kept my attention. The way it was done, with the actual words of those that blamed Jeb and those that defended him, make it more interesting. Also, the analysis of Eric and JD as to their own conclusions as to "blame" is very well done and supported by evidence. It is apparent that Jeb should not shoulder all the blame but that there are others that deserve it as well. No one person or unit lost the battle of Gettysburgh - it was a culmination of mistakes from General Lee on down that caused the loss at Gettysburg. Oh, and one more reason for the Confederate defeat that was mentioned by Eric and JD that does not receive much ink is the fighting spirit and determination of the men of the Union Army. I am sure they would think that they won the battle rather than the mistakes of the Confederate Command lost it. I agree with them. It was a combination of all those factors. As to whether the Battle of Gettysburg would have been won had Jeb been present is somewhat speculative but based upon the evidence, I think Eric and JD have it right - his presence would not have made difference.

This is a very good book about an aspect of the war that has brought about a very heated controversy for the last 150 years. This is a very good book on the aspects of Jeb Stuart's ride that is little known and it is required reading to gather a full picture of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Highly recommend. Enjoy.
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Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg by J. David Petruzzi (Hardcover - September 1, 2006)
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