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Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg Hardcover – September 1, 2006
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“…the best study of what J.E.B. Stuart did during this campaign and his reasons for doing so. Fair and balanced, it is a necessary read…” (Civil War Courier)
“..a well detailed history, that no matter what side one might view the ride, it would be a fair objective account…well-researched book on all points clearly and cleverly argued.” (Midwest Book Review)
"A fast paced, well told yarn... exhaustively researched... the definitive analysis." (Civil War Times Illustrated)
"Plenty of Blame to Go Around is a welcome new account of Stuart’s fateful ride during the 1863 Pennsylvania campaign. The authors have done heroic labor among the wealth of primary sources bearing on Stuart’s activities. Here, then, is Stuart’s ride as the troopers on both sides would recognize it―well researched, vividly written, and shrewdly argued. It is, in short, as good an account of the ride as we are likely to get.” (Mark Grimsley, author of The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861–1865)
About the Author
Eric J. Wittenberg is an accomplished American Civil War cavalry historian and author. An attorney in Ohio, Wittenberg is the author of many articles and the author or co-author of more than a dozen books on Civil War cavalry subjects, including The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign; Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg; and One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife Susan.
J. David Petruzzi is the author of several magazine articles on Eastern Theater cavalry operations, conducts tours of cavalry sites of the Gettysburg Campaign, and is the author of the popular "Buford's Boys" website at www.bufordsboys.com. Petruzzi lives in Brockway, Pennsylvania. A long time student of the Gettysburg Campaign, Michael Nugent is a retired US Army Armored Cavalry Officer and the descendant of a Civil War Cavalry soldier. He has previously written for several military publications. Nugent lives in Wells, Maine.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are two aspects of the author's treatment that I found problematical, however. First, the book does not have a campaign map showing the road system. It is much easier to grasp how the campaign unfolded and the impact of the choices Stuart made with this type of map, and I would recommend using `The Maps of Gettysburg' (B.M. Gottfried) while reading `Plenty of Blame to Go Around'.
It should be possible at this point, and more informative, to write Civil War history using a more contingent approach. The authors unfortunately do not do this, and allow the conventional historical reputations that have developed around the personalities involved to influence the history they write. Two examples:
-Put only in the context of the Gettysburg campaign and Stuart's ride, and leaving aside his unsavory reputation, Kilpatrick clearly defeated Stuart in the Battle of Hanover in that he made Stuart detour further east and miss his best chance of joining with Ewell's Corps prior to the battle at Gettysburg. Instead, the authors fault Kilpatrick for not pursuing and attempting to destroy Stuart's command. First, those were not Kilpatrick's orders, and second, Stuart outnumbered Kilpatrick. If the roles were reversed, I would suspect the authors would praise Stuart for effectively `screening' Kilpatrick's cavalry.
-The authors attempt to shift blame onto Beverly Robertson, a lesser light among Confederate cavalry commanders, for not providing intelligence to Lee on Federal movements. This is weak, since the method they use is the same one they find fault with when applied to Stuart, namely that of operating within orders as given. The fault here, if there is one, remains with Stuart: if wanted the rear guard cavalry to operate independently, he should have left Hampton behind and taken Robertson with him.
Clearly, overall responsibility for the Confederate defeat at Gettysburg cannot be laid on JEB Stuart. But the romantic reputation attached to him that has come down through history should not obscure the fact that Stuart made a number of serious errors, especially in the context of his orders and the main goal of campaign, that of crushing the Army of the Potomac (was not running into Hancock's Corps the first day of the ride a "hindrance"?). The authors do not address the main question in regard to the battle itself: If Stuart had been where Lee preferred him to be, providing reliable information on the position of the Yankees, would AP Hill have allowed Heth to proceed to Gettysburg knowing that I and XI Corps were within supporting distance of the cavalry there?
Three points which prevent this from becoming a full five star submission in my opinion. First, the maps presented are not detailed enough to support the text. When I read an historical text, particularly military history, it is rather cumbersome to pull up a modern road map to place things in context of the terrain. Second, the "tour" section at the end should be more inclusive, and deal with more than just the Pennsylvania sites. Lastly, I would prefer the authors to have brought into the discussion more of the action in Loudoun Valley in the week preceding the start of Stuart's ride.