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Talk:Gettysburg Campaign

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 Definition The Gettysburg Campaign was a decisive defeat for the Confederacy in the American Civil War in June-July 1863; Gen. Robert E. Lee was the loser, Gen. George Meade of the Union Army the winner. [d] [e]
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Puzzled as to why this is being renamed a campaign

While I disagreed with the convention of "Foo, Battle of", I fail to see how the Gettysburg Whatever can be considered a campaign rather than a battle. Neither side planned a major engagement at Gettysburg, which would take it into the level of operational art at which campaigns are fought.

The article speaks of a battle, lasting three days, but does not describe a specific operational-level objective that would make it a campaign, as were Vicksburg and Sherman's operations in Georgia. Technically, the Battle was a meeting engagement, with much tactical improvisation.

I believe this article would be more properly entitled "Battle of Gettysburg". Howard C. Berkowitz 11:09, 15 June 2008 (CDT)

Well, the battle did result from Lee's invasion of the North, which did have a grand strategic goal - to show that the North could not protect its citizens, and to help with international recognition (IIRC). So I think the whole thing (the march North, the consolidation of the Confederate army units at Gettysburg, etc) could be termed a 'campaign', but you're right, I wouldn't use that term for the three days of fighting there alone. (Although perhaps it's intended to eventually have I see the article does already cover the manoeuvering beforehand, too.) J. Noel Chiappa 11:14, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
The article is about a month-long campaign. I agree with Noel that the three days of July 1-3 are incomprehensible except in the context of a campaign, including Lee's strategy ahead of time and, especially, the failed followup on the part of Meade. Apart from Luvas, all the chief historians (Coddington, Brown, Nofi, Woodworth, McPherson, Wertz, ) avoid "battle" in their titles and prefer instead the Gettysburg Campaign and we are following their lead. See especially James M. McPherson, "To Conquer a Peace? Lee's Goals in the Gettysburg Campaign." Civil War Times 2007 46(2): 26-33.Richard Jensen 12:05, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
Aren't there two distinct issues here? And subjects? One is what the general layperson calls "The Battle of Gettysburg", by which he/she means the three-day battle. The other is the month-long "Gettysburg Campaign" to which Prof. Jensen refers. Why not do each?
  • And, by the way, here is what Larry has to say over the Forums about a pretty closely related subject:
    Even historians refer to battles as "Battle of X." There is no excuse to title our articles "X, Battle of." Ostensibly, the reason for titling any article in Richard's comma format is to make them easier to find in alphabetical listings. Putting aside the fact that we have finessed that problem with the 'abc' field in our metadata, there is no reason to think people will be more likely to look for an article about the Battle of X under X than under Battle. This is, of course, because the proper names of those battles whose names are in the form "Battle of X" are, in fact, in that form, of course. If anyone refers to them, as it were, on a "first name basis" as "Shiloh" or "Gettysburg" or "Waterloo," it is because it is obvious that they're talking about the battle. This does not entail (of course!!!) that, in titling an encyclopedia article, one can do without the words "battle of." So let's use "Battle of X," please. I also think it is implausible that people are not interested battles per se but only in the places where the battles occur. With a few exceptions, most places where famous battles have taken place are famous only because they are the sites of famous battles. Would nearly as many of us have heard of Pearl Harbor, Hastings, or Waterloo without battles being fought there? In short, there is absolutely no good reason, Richard notwithstanding, not to follow our standard CZ naming conventions in this case. Therefore, let's do so. Please do rename the relevant "battle" articles as appropriate; if anyone gives you grief about it, let me know, and please, don't expect me to do this because you're intimidated by Richard. I have too much to do myself. Just be bold!  :-) I'm giving you the right!
As an aside, it seems to me that this discussion has dragged out because Richard has taken a counterintuitive stance and then proceeded to defend it--and, in my humble opinion, weakly. I see that so far, he has persuaded no one (and several have made extremely strong points in reply). So, in this case, since the person taking the stand is one of our few active History Editors, and he seems to have made up his mind and wishes to establish his opinion as our policy, I guess it is incumbent upon me to declare that I am overruling him, as Editor-in-Chief. (Sorry, Richard.) Generally, I try to give editors the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes I do have to overrule them, which I assure you I never like to do. (End of Larry's quote -- It's hard to format this correctly.)
Hayford Peirce 12:30, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
well you can either believe what historical experts says about history after doing lots of research or you can believe what non-historians think when they have done no research and use something they call "intuition". As for Gettysburg, no one in the last decade has put "Battle of Gettysburg" in a adult book title, and there is no reason CZ should go to some old discarded naming system in use decades ago. In this case the article is not merely about the battle of July 1-3 but about the month-long campaign. Historians, both professional and amateur, call it the Gettysburg Campaign.Richard Jensen 14:13, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
For pity's sake, Professor Jensen, you are *not* the only expert in the whole world! And your *opinion* is just that: an opinion. A Google search for "Battle of Gettysburg" returns 512,000 hits. For "Gettysburg Campaign" there are 126,000 hits. At Wikipedia, there is an article for "Gettysburg Campaign" AND there is a separate article for "Battle of Gettysburg". That's all that I'm suggesting here. Fine, you go ahead a write an article about the "Gettysburg Campaign". And then, if someone else wants to write an article about the "Battle of Gettysburg", kindly let them. Hayford Peirce 14:31, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
Agreed, Hayford. I conclude based on the discussion above that there was a campaign and a battle that was part of it. Assuming that is correct, we can have an article about each. Richard, I would be much more inclined to respect your own dogmatic proclamations if they were not accompanied by rejections of my authority as Editor-in-Chief. That said, you might notice that I didn't rule on this particular question, but on your own idiosyncratic rejection of the words "battle of" from the names of history articles about battles.
As a reasonable compromise, I would suggest that someone move the discussion of the battle to Battle of Gettysburg, leaving discussion of the larger campaign on this page; of course, there should be prominent linkage from the former to the latter. --Larry Sanger 15:18, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
As a final footnote to this discussion (maybe!), I just did an amateurish search of the Library of Congress: it turned up 201 items for "Battle of Gettysburg" and 46 for "Gettysburg Campaign". Hayford Peirce 15:34, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
Check the dates--historians do not use the title in recent years. (The LC books are children's books.) I just did an article search and was surprised to see there was indeed a hit on "Battle of Gettysburg" in the leading journal, Civil War History. SO I read it: Mark Grimsley, "The Continuing Battle of Gettysburg," Civil War History 49.2 (2003) 181-187. Grinmsley is writing about the battle among historians! Richard Jensen 15:54, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
First, I still don't grant your premise. See this search within .edu websites, then this one.
But suppose we grant your premise that the titles are as you say they are. Your argument is essentially an appeal to authority. You are attempting to argue for the conclusion that battle names are not properly in the form "Battle of X." For this conclusion, you want to say that the usage of historians establishes what the proper form of battle names is. This is not a completely unexceptionable principle, but I'll grant it for present purposes.
So, you have to argue that historians generally would not agree that "Battle of X" is the proper form of battle articles. To establish this, however, the only thing you offer us is (1) your own personal opinion about what the proper use is, and (2) the alleged fact that "Battle of Gettysburg" is not used in recent academic article and book titles. Given your own track record, forgive us if (1) is no longer so persuasive for us. As to (2), the fact that the exact phrase "Battle of Gettysburg" does not appear in the title of publications by historians obviously proves absolutely nothing. It's like arguing that Descartes should not be called "Rene Descartes" because one can find few articles or books by philosophers that use the full name "Rene Descartes." Of course you can't; you can't, not because philosophers don't think his name is Rene Descartes, but because experts don't feel a need to use "Rene." It's understood. Similarly with "Battle of." The failure to use "Battle of" in many titles obviously doesn't imply that the proper name of battles, according to historians, are generally in the form "Battle of X." It probably implies only that historians know they're talking about the battle when they say "Antietam" or whatever. I mean, of course they aren't going to use "Battle of X" in their articles--it's understood and totally unnecessary.
For you to make a cogent appeal to authority, what you could provide us with is evidence that other historians really do think that "Battle of Gettysburg" is somehow old-fashioned as a name (or other names in the form "Battle of X"). You could have shut us up in the beginning if you provided us some such proof. How articles and books are titled doesn't make your case, and this latter fact about what can't make your case is a fact about logical cogency, not about history. --Larry Sanger 21:37, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
from Richard Jensen: My positions are as follows:
  • the original question was whether this "Gettysburg Campaign" article should be renamed "Battle of Gettysburg". No, I argued. First of all the article is about a month-long campaign and its aftermath and image; second, historians in recent years write a lot about Gettysburg but always avoid the title "Battle of Gettysburg." (The one exception I found was an article about how historians battle each other over the meaning of Gettysburg.)
  • As for battles generally, I think the author should name them according to the current usual practice of scholars writing about the battle. Thus "Battle of Britain" is appropriate (and I used it.) "Battle of Pearl Harbor" is not used by serious writers.
  • A blanket CZ rule based on unobserved hypothetical searches by hypothetical CZ users is not as useful, in my opinion, as CZ following the standard practice used by most experts in the field.
  • The standard practices can be observed by looking at recent scholarly books and articles. For example, books by university presses and articles in scholarly journals. This is easy to do thanks to,, questia,com (all free) and ABC-CLIO (via libraries) and other online services.
  • What the "general public" thinks about Gettysburg, and how they got that way, is an interesting topic and indeed is covered in the last part of this article. The general public looks to CZ for expertise and best practices.
  • CZ in my opinion best serves its mission by stretching the minds of readers and exposing them to the best current thought on a topic. Catering to their ignorance is much too common on Wikipedia.
  • Historians (and editors at journals and publishing houses) spend a good deal of serious thought on how to title their books and articles. Some once-common usages have been largely abandoned (for example, "History of XYZ" is now rare as a main title.) Looking at real life examples by recent writers is the best way for CZ to discover the current best practices. The "intuitive" ideas of people who have not been following recent historiography probably reflect the environment years ago and not today; their ideas are old, not intuitive. (Keynes said people who think they are free of economic theory are in reality slaves to some defunct economic nostrums.)
  • If the dozens of historians who have recently written on Gettysburg have stopped using the title "Battle of Gettysburg", that should be useful information for us when we title a CZ article. Richard Jensen 22:04, 15 June 2008 (CDT)
Without replying to every detail of your arguments, the strength of your case against "Battle of Gettysburg" (as a name and even as a concept!) rests on the notion that few reputable historians now regard the name "Battle of Gettysburg" to be the proper name of the famous battle that took place near Gettysburg. You have entirely failed to prove that precise claim. For instance, you say, "The standard practices can be observed by looking at recent scholarly books and articles. For example, books by university presses and articles in scholarly journals. This is easy to do thanks to,, questia,com (all free) and ABC-CLIO (via libraries) and other online services." But I have replied to this argument earlier, and you have, puzzlingly, simply ignored my reply. And yet my reply is absolutely solid: of course historians often do not use the full name "Battle of Gettysburg" when they are writing for other historians, who know very well that they are talking about the battle when they use phrases like "at Gettysburg," in the same way that philosophers know they're talking about Rene Descartes when they use shortenings of the philosopher's name in phrases like "for Descartes." Besides, and again, you do yourself and your case no favors when you make broad and extremely implausible generalizations like "historians in recent years write a lot about Gettysburg but always avoid the title 'Battle of Gettysburg.' (The one exception I found was an article about how historians battle each other over the meaning of Gettysburg.)" I have provided many other examples from academic websites in which the full title of the battle is used, and no doubt even the slightest bit of searching in the texts found by the search resources you list that "Battle of Gettysburg" is in fact still in common use.
Obviously, it proves absolutely nothing whatsoever to imply that views contrary to yours are held by only the "general public," i.e., ignorant people; that's question-begging. It also proves nothing to repeat platitudes about the importance of expert views: even granted your claims, you still have to prove that the expert views are as you say they are. The positive, non-question-begging arguments you have given have been very thin.
Again, it would be more interesting if you could find another historian actually saying things like this: "Well, historians have rejected the idea of battles as an ontological category; they now talk about campaigns (or whatever)." Or this: "As a class, we historians have struggled mightily with benighted encyclopedia editors and textbook writers who insist, against our now well-established practice, on using the word and concept "Battle of Gettysburg," and so forth." Or even this: "Talk like 'Battle of Gettysburg' or 'Battle of Waterloo' is now outdated." Here's another way you could prove it. This, surely, would not be very hard. Pick up five books about the Civil War with adequate coverage of Gettysburg, written by any professional historians of your choice, within the last five years (or however long). Tell us that in none of those books does the phrase "Battle of Gettysburg" appear. By your own account (that historians "always avoid the title") you ought to be able to satisfy us. That would be very impressive, but I think it's absolutely obvious that you will not be able to do it.
You can't do those things, I maintain, Richard, or anything else that would prove your general claims that "Battle of Gettysburg" is no longer the name of the Battle of Gettysburg, and that historians never write about the Battle of Gettysburg, per se, at all, but only about a Gettysburg Campaign. --Larry Sanger 10:14, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
It might be useful to consider a primary source on the terms that a participating commander used (my emphasis) is Confederate MG Henry Heth's report, titled "JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.--The Gettysburg Campaign". His first line, however, is " I have the honor to report the operations of my division from June 29 until July 1, including the part it took in the battle of Gettysburg (first day)"
Heth presumably reflected Confederate command usage when he referred both to a "campaign" and a "battle". In Longstreet's report at, he never uses the term "campaign", only "in obedience to orders from the commanding general," and then discusses not explicitly a "Battle of Gettysburg", but does use the word "battle" several times.
Not wanting to cite Confederate usage alone, I cite the report of the Union commander, George Meade, I have the honor to submit herewith a report of the operations of this army during the month of July last, including the details of the battle of Gettysburg... (
Regardless, therefore, of any current convention by the Unified Historians Of the World, if the term "battle" is no longer used, I might suggest that some revisionism might be at work here. I suppose there is a question here of whether history or historiography is definitive here. Personally, I prefer, without a compelling argument against doing so, to focus on the history, as reflected by primary sources, than the stylistic convention of historians over a century later. Howard C. Berkowitz 10:36, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
(Edit conflict with Howard! It's the Battle of Berkowitz!)
One other thing. I detect an implicit argument that you have not quite made explicit. Your evidence mainly points to the following precise claim: "Historians now prefer to speak of the Gettysburg Campaign where, before, they spoke of the Battle of Gettysburg." Now this is interesting, but it needs interpretation. Without knowing much about the subject (sure, I admit that), I would guess it means something like this. To discuss the battle separately from the campaign is to remove absolutely crucial historical context. The battle, taken separately from the campaign, is of relatively little interest, because the battle simply cannot be properly understood except as part of the larger campaign, any more than you could understand why Lee's troops made a certain movement except as part of the larger battle.
That would be the beginning of an interesting discussion here for us. I'm not sure how it would go, and it is a discussion that I can see historians having. But I would like to point something out: none of the above interesting position requires that we deny either that there was such a thing as a Battle of Gettysburg, or that the battle is properly called "the Battle of Gettysburg." Indeed, you can't make sense of the position unless you are willing to speak of the battle which is known as the Battle of Gettysburg, because the point is precisely that the battle can't be understood except as part of the campaign.
If the position I've described above is in fact the common historians' view, you have taken the wrong approach altogether, Richard. You shouldn't be arguing that we shouldn't use the name "Battle of Gettysburg," but that discussion of the battle should, for reasons perhaps only historians can explain fully, occur in the context of the Gettysburg Campaign. So, when I recently created a page (using text from you) titled Battle of Gettysburg, I removed some context that is absolutely required to understand the battle. This is an interesting point, and it is neither necessary nor sufficient to argue, as you have heroically done, that historians don't use the term "Battle of Gettysburg" in order to establish it.
Richard, I would appreciate it if you could elaborate this position, if you actually hold it. I would appreciate it even more if you did so without casting aspersions on the abilities or knowledge of non-historians; indeed, if you are confident of your position, you ought to be able to establish it without referring either to your expertise or your opponents' lack thereof. --Larry Sanger 10:52, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
P.S. If you can enlist the support of another actual historian to shed light on our dispute, I'm sure that would help a great deal. --Larry Sanger 10:55, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Richard has alluded to Lee's muddled strategic and operational thinking, which would make a superb contribution, even as a signed article. While there is little argument that Lee was an exemplary human being, I've frankly never understood the reverence paid to him as a military thinker.
Strategic and operational thought was lacking on both sides early in the war, save Scott's Anaconda Campaign. There are a number of historical works that address both levels of thinking once the team of Grant and Sherman formed, including a not necessarily pleasant, but focused, concept of grand strategic thinking; of truly fighting another nation rather than its troops in the field. For example, Sherman's campaign in Georgia was not a sequence of major battles, but, instead, distributed attacks on what he saw as the Confederate logistical thinking (Richard, is there any material indicating what Grant or Sherman thought of Clausewitz's concept of a center of gravity?). Howard C. Berkowitz 11:04, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
There are numerous studies that show Jomini was highly influential on all West Pointers (except maybe Grant, who claimed he skipped over that stuff lightly.) Jomini was classical, map-oriented, geometrical, with forces and arrows. Clasewitz I believe was wholly unknown to Americans in 1860s -- and little known at all until maybe 1920s. As for Meade and "battle of G" -- that indeed was standard usage 100 years ago. The reason was that the generals and their biographers wanted to defend their actions and allegations of failures (Meade was in real trouble in this regard, as were Longstreet, Stuart and Lee). So we had many many biographies of which Freeman's Lee remains terrific. Later there was a stress on individual-soldier-heroism in combat, which continues with a steady flow of scholarly editions of diaries and personal accounts by privates and lieutenants. An encyclopedia can't do much with all those personal stories of small-unit action. The reenactors focus enormous attention on small unit action, and probably are responsible for most of the websites. Recent historians (last 40 years or so--since Coddington 1968) have shifted heavily toward study of the entire campaign, of which the battles on July 1-3 are the dramatic centerpiece but in themselves do not explain the great issues. Focus on July 1-2-3 means that larger issues get slighted, like strategy, the strengths and weaknesses of the two nations, the morale and support networks of the soldiers, and the much-debated issue of whether this was a "turning point." So the modern approach is to study the campaign as a whole, though there are some scholars hard at work on minute-by-minute details of each day's actions.Richard Jensen 14:00, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Again, there seem to be two issues here: the operational/strategic/campaign level, and the battle/tactical level. With respect to the latter, you agree, it seems, that "Battle" was indeed standard usage at the time, certainly for the three critical days.
While the term "campaign" was also used at the time, it was far less formal an idea than it is today. Nevertheless, it seems perfectly reasonable to have a "Gettysburg Campaign" (or some variation, perhaps, that suggests the broad push into Pennsylvania, Maryland, etc.), with a separate "Battle of Gettysburg" article for the three-day critical engagement. The campaign article would logically wikilink to the battle article, and the battle article would link back to Lee's retreat and Meade's lack of pursuit.
It's perfectly appropriate to focus on those three days in an article dealing with the battle that took place in those three days, and to focus on the larger picture in a separate and complementary article. Perhaps I misunderstand, but I am getting the impression that you do not want an article on the Battle, but only on the Campaign. Why not concern yourself only with the Campaign and let other people deal with the Battle, if the issue is truly a question of different emphasis, rather than arguments over naming conventions?
The Battle could even spawn, or be part of, other articles dealing with tactical issues, on a compare-and-contrast across different wars. For example, what lessons were learned in the failure of both the Confederate counterbattery artillery and the frontal infantry attack, and how and where were they forgotten by France in 1914? Was the effective counterbattery at Vimy Ridge purely a technological advance, or could the Confederates have done a more effective artillery preparation? Remember, Currie and McNaughton were dealing with German artillery using indirect fire, as opposed to the direct fire cannon that Pickett faced.
In popular literature, I see an enormous lack of understanding of the cavalry mission, be it horse, light mechanized, armored, or airmobile. I'm not talking here of air cavalry actions of the size of the Ia Drang (now there's a campaign-versus-battle controversy in the making), but too many people misunderstand that the classic cavalry role is scouting and screening, and, in the absence of modern sensors, was as much a Civil War intelligence collection discipline as SIGINT, IMINT, and MASINT are today. Howard C. Berkowitz 14:22, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
There are two different arguments Richard could be making. The first is that historians don't use the phrase "Battle of Gettysburg" anymore. We have established that that is simply false, and as I explained and with no reply from Richard, that simply doesn't establish his case. The second, which is far more plausible, is that historians don't like to discuss the battle without discussing the campaign of which it was a part. Supposing (for one brief moment at least!) that it is true, the question then devolves to this: if the battle is best understood as one part of a campaign, should there be a separate article about the battle? Richard simply assumes that the answer is "no," but I do not; it isn't obvious.
The basic question is: on what grounds should we combine articles on distinguishable topics? If one topic cannot really properly be understood except as part of another topic, but the first topic is a hugely important topic unto itself, then what should we do?
These questions need to be answered in generalities. The fact that Richard has already answered them in this case should not prejudice us in making a decision. I can certainly see a case being made that we should have an article, at least a short one, about the hugely-important-but-dependent topic. Indeed, the argument is simple: we should have such an article if only to explain to people why they should go to the article about the broader topic in order to learn about the dependent topic. This improves searchability/findability in a way that a redirect will not.
But before we make any such shorter Battle of Gettysburg article, I guess I would like to hear from another history editor (or Civil War historian who is qualified to be a CZ editor) that Richard is correct that, indeed, most Civil War historians believe that the Battle of Gettysburg simply cannot be properly understood independently from the Gettysburg Campaign. The one thing that editors are definitely more reliable than non-editors about is whether there is a professional consensus. Alternatively, Richard could quote some text that explains this. Sorry, Richard--after this long bit of wrangling, I'm afraid we just can't take your word for it. --Larry Sanger 15:34, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
If I might, let me point out that this is not merely a question for historians, but in military professional education that may have a different focus than academic historians. As a first quick example, I searched Google for "Gettysburg" AND "Army War College", a few results suggesting there is not a universal consensus, in the military proper, about avoiding "Battle".
Why not both?
Howard C. Berkowitz 16:13, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
well times change. The Mendez paper was 1995; Landristh's paper was 1997. and the Luvass-Nelson book was 1986. Let's join the 21st century. :) Here are some excerpts from historians:
  • 1. “It was somewhat ironic that just as the battlefield narrative was achieving new standards of comprehensiveness and depth in the immediate postwar period (1950s), the whole discipline of military history was reshaped by new developments…. there was the inception of a "new military history" focused on institutions, society, and thought rather than action.” Military History and the Military Profession (1992) ed. David A. Charters et al. p 47: This book deals exactly with the quandry Ed points out and is online
  • 2. on sources of popular memory: “These Civil War battles have been preserved, remembered, or reconstructed in reenactments, memorials, paintings, prints, photographs, motion pictures, television programs, videos, and even computer games” [ Kenneth W. Noe, George C. Rable and Carol Reardon. “Battle Histories: Reflections on Civil War Military Studies” Civil War History. Volume: 53. Issue: 3. 2007. pp 229+.]
  • 3 Edward Tabor Linenthal on the battlefield at Gettysburg: "Fixation on the battlefield itself played out in the extreme in battle reenactments, celebrated American martial courage and ignored the more profound legacy of the battle and the war." [Noe 2007]
  • 4. "Traditional battle histories are still of unending interest to a legion of popular writers and Civil War enthusiasts, those much maligned "buffs" who, by their fascination with reenactment and antiquarianism, have given Civil War military history a bad name among academics, who are contemptuous of the "Which regiment took the Peach Orchard?" approach to history." [Noe 2007]
  • 5 "But most scholars, Gary Gallagher notes, were not thinking about battles; rather, they "have focused on nonmilitary topics such as diplomacy, politics, social trends, and economics.” [Noe 2007]
  • 6. "What happened on the battlefields of the Civil War is very important to know and understand," David Blight states in Beyond the Battlefield: Race, Memory, and the American Civil War (2002). But to know what happened on the battlefield is not nearly enough: "The legions of readers for Civil War military history should continue to hear the bugle call to knowledge of how the war was fought, which leaders were most pivotal in outcomes and why, which factors led to Union victory and Confederate defeat, and the values and motivations of soldiers and civilians in waging such a fundamental struggle for America's national existence." Thus, Blight looks "beyond the battlefield" and puts traditional battle history in context--and, it seems, in its place." [Noe 2007]
  • 7 "The most pressing challenge facing Civil War scholarship today," Daniel Sutherland writes regarding the purpose of "The Great Campaigns of the Civil War," a series published by the University of Nebraska Press, "is the integration of various perspectives and emphases into a new narrative that explains not only what happened, why, and how, but why it mattered." This series "points to new ways of viewing military campaigns by looking beyond the battlefield and the headquarters tent to the wider political and social context with which these campaigns unfolded; it also shows how campaigns and battles left their imprint on many Americans, from presidents and generals down to privates and civilians." [Noe 2007] from Richard Jensen 16:27, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
(Some of my comments seem to have been lost in the shuffle here. Reconstructing briefly here.)
What the above quotations establish is that historians are not particularly interested in studying the Battle of Gettysburg, or perhaps other individual battles, except in order to discuss their causes, effects, their role in larger campaigns, etc. That's fine, but it does not establish what you want it to establish, Richard. You are arguing that we should not have an article titled "Battle of Gettysburg." The fact, supposing these quotations establish it as a fact, that historians are not especially interested in that battle anymore, does not mean that we should not have an article about the battle (as distinguished from the campaign). You might as well suggest that any topic that is passe in scholarship is henceforth off-limits. Well, that ain't so. In every field, there are many topics that are very passe--their very mention arouses instant sneers--but hardly anyone will go on to add that we should not have an encyclopedia article about them simply because they're passe. This is doubly the case when the resource we're building has no limitations that we need impose in terms of space limitations.
I thought the argument was going to be like this: historians now seriously believe that one absolutely cannot make sense of battles except as part of larger entities. But that isn't what your quotations establish. They establish only certain facts about the tastes and interests of historians. Big deal. --Larry Sanger 19:44, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Larry just now wrote"Richard. You are arguing that we should not have an article titled "Battle of Gettysburg." I am misquoted. I have written lots of CZ articles about battles! I never said there should be "no article on the battle of Gettysburg." On the contrary I said I would NOT object to such an article. I said the July 1-3 fighting makes no sense without first understanding the whole campaign, and I did not want this campaign article turned into a battle article as was originally proposed. that's what happened and the two articles now are a terrible mess. I furthermore gave some suggestions for a person writing a Gettysburg battle article, and provided a good bibliography.Richard Jensen 19:55, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Then why, pray tell, did you say, over and over, that no reputable historian uses the phrase "Battle of Gettysburg"? What exactly did you intend to establish in saying that? When did you say you would not object to an article about the Battle of Gettysburg? I don't recall it. And since it was very obvious that that was the position all your debate opponents were arguing against, then why didn't you say so earlier? Why prolong the debate unnecessarily?
Gee, Richard, you are very puzzling here. --Larry Sanger 20:22, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Richard, let's cut to the chase. Yes or No: are you saying there should not be a Battle of Gettysburg article as well as a Gettysburg Campaign article?
If no, than what are you fighting about? Write all you want about the campaign, with appropriate collaborative review. Let people who are interested in the battle, if for no other reason that it taught tactical lessons that had to be relearned, bloodily, in the First World War.
If yes, then it appears we are at an impasse, but is it worth continuing to fight about this? Are you going to propose, formally, to the Editorial Council that Battle of Foo articles be prohibited? That seems your next logical step, as I would observe your position so far has not gained community support. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:46, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
No impasse. 1) Serious historians spend much less attention on the battle and far more on broader issues, which I did try to cover in the Campaign article; we had a good article on the Gettysburg Campaign and it got messed up deliberately. I would like it restored. 2) If others wish to write a separate article on the battle, presumably at greater length, please do so and I will not object. I strongly recommnd the new article use the recent scholarship, which includes all the "Official Records" material of the 1880s and MUCH more new primary documents. The records from 1860s and 1865-1900 era were deliberately slanted to protect reputations. Scholars have cleaned much of that up, as well as rediscovered many original documents. The new article can be titled anything at all. Larry made it clear he does not want me to touch it so I will leave it alone. 3) The article on the battle will be of interest to buffs and reenactors --but having taught the battle for 20 years and lectured to a conference of buffs at Gettysburg College I will warn that they can be VERY picky about the smallest details. That lecture, coauthored with D'Ann Campbell, is still in print and generates about $10 in royalties every year :) So I used to be a buff myself and for years have had a website on the battle and also one on Grant. Richard Jensen 17:15, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
I hope this isn't taken personally, but I must point out that there are "serious" issues about these subjects that are not the exclusive province of historians. I'll distinguish my emotions from walking the battlefield, to my greater interest in the influence of ACW matters on the development of military doctrine, art, techniques, and procedures. There are lessons from individual battles of the Civil War, whose lessons were not grasped by World War I commanders, but eventually led to more modern doctrines, be they maneuver or information-centric warfare.
Forget Gettysburg -- what are the commonalities among the Battle of the Crater, Second Ypres, and Cambrai? Going back to Gettysburg, not playing historical fantasy but examining the interplay of technology and doctrine, what if Andrew McNaughton had commanded the Confederate artillery? Assuming he could ride a horse, would John Boyd have been a conceptual replacement for JEB Stuart? These are issues that specialists in C3I may examine, but not from the perspective of classical historians.
Bluntly, I find your harping on "serious historians", as if no other kind of specialist is entitled to an opinion, to be condescending and not remotely in the interest of a collegial model. As the topics become more technological, I suggest that, for example, there are times where understanding communications systems, guidance systems, and other disciplines are as relevant to an article as is the examination of documents. The American Civil War is interesting to me because it was among the first examples where traditional militaries began to meet, for the time, high technology. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:51, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Historians have recently been looking at many different aspects of the topic--including technology and communications. The railroads, medicine, psychiatry, psychological motivations, gender relations, mahhood, and demography have been hot topics. If other people are interested in the lessons to be learned then great. They should publish in their own professional peer-reviewed journals first, then CZ can summarize what they say. (Original research that has not been peer reviewed is against CZ policies.) Richard Jensen 18:19, 16 June 2008 (CDT)

To the extent that RJ is seeking to contextualize certain Civil War periods (Gettysburg Campaign) rather than focusing on individual battles, I believe the approach is far superior for the reasons mentioned by the scholars he cites above, particularly Noe. This has been my approach to teaching and it provides much superior learning outcomes, since students can better see interconnectedness of events as they occur on various levels. The last quote above by Noe says it perfectly. We should not reinforce inferior historical frameworks through adherence to inferior naming conventions. Stephen Ewen 19:01, 16 June 2008 (CDT)

I don't see why we (or at least some of us feel that) have to have everything within its so-called larger context.
  • If I want to write an article about beef bouguignon, do I have to include it within a 10,000-word article called French country cooking?
  • If I want to write an article about the 1960 World Series (the one that Maz. won with a 9-inning homer against the Yanks), do I have it include it within a long article called 1960 Campaign (that word is indeed used sometimes to describe an overall baseball season)?
I thought an encycl. was a place to look up *things*. Some things are big, some things are small. What's the big fuss about having articles that encompass *both* of these? Plus medium-sized things? If all the intellectual energy that has gone into typing the 3 million of so words in this single discussion had gone into writing actual articles, CZ would be well on the way to announcing its 10,000th article.... Hayford Peirce 19:23, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Hayford makes a good point. Attend a Society for Military History conference and get another 3 million words for good measure. (Two years ago I tried to set up a session on Wikipedia at that conference. Not a single Wiki author was willing to appear in person and there was no session.Richard Jensen 19:43, 16 June 2008 (CDT)
Another edit conflict...allowing me to copyedit Hayford's comment as I post mine ;-)...Hayford makes an excellent point.
As I was going to say: that's your opinion, Steve, and you are welcome to it. Richard has not given any good reason to think we should not also have an article about the Battle of Gettysburg. He has certainly given excellent reason to think that we should have an article about the Gettysburg Campaign as well. Insofar as the argument rests on the notion that we must choose between contextualizing historial "periods" and focusing on individual battles, I submit that that's obviously a false alternative, and no reason has been given that we shouldn't have an article about both. --Larry Sanger 19:30, 16 June 2008 (CDT)

Not daring to follow that number of colons without a colonoscope...

It would be perfectly appropriate to discuss, as a campaign, Lee's 1863 plans for the Army of Northern Virginia, but neither the lead nor the first section frames the activities in terms of a campaign. Clearly, Stuart failed if his mission were purely screening, which is a common perception. Lee and Stuart may have had an operational level plan for an independent cavalry operation, but these are not brought out. Presumably there would be other forces in a campaign, and, at a strategic level, perhaps pressure in other Confederate departments/theaters.

Some of Lee's thinking does come out in the "Operations" section, although "fantasy" does seem an apt description of Lee's ideas, which sound like a WWII Imperial Japanese Navy plan for a "decisive battle", at which all the barbarians' ships would conveniently sink. I had had the impression that Marse Robert was, if not a teetotaler, abstemious; those fantasies seem more appropriate for one indulging in psychoactive substances not readily available for a century. Given the Confederacy changed its cryptographic key only four times during the Late Unpleasantness Between the States (the term used by the docent at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond), the South did not seem overly obsessed with security. Was there no one in the CSA to observe that if that reflected Lee's thinking, a switch to Grant's brand of booze might be appropriate? I confess here that I have long thought of Lee as a good tactician, an inspirational leader, and a fine human being, but have never been impressed with his operational or strategic brilliance.

Again, using simplistic names, Vicksburg and the March to the Sea had operational thinking behind them; Sherman's operations in Georgia could well be at the strategic level. Johnston's defense of the railroad showed much more operational thinking than anything in or around Gettysburg.

The maneuvering immediately beforehand was not intended to force a decisive battle at Gettysburg, nor did "rebels, who had entered Gettysburg looking for a warehouse of shoes"--if "the Rebels" implied a major force. In reality, the only reason anything happened there was that a Confederate division commander, Henry Heth, heard that Gettysburg had a storehouse of much-needed shoes, and obtained permission to raid the town in search of those critical transportation resources.

Seriously, if the article is to be about a campaign, the material in this section needs to move much nearer the beginning. I agree with Hayford that the average reader is going to be looking for the Three Days. Somewhere in a pile of books here, I have a volume entitled Why the Confederacy Lost, which contains an interview with George Pickett, a very straightforward man. The interviewer asked if Gettysburg failed due to Stuart's lack of focus, or Longstreet's lack of enthusiasm for a frontal attack. Pickett scratched his head and said "I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it."

Having spent 40 or so years in the DC area, "Army of Northern Virginia" sounds like massed irritated commuters in SUVs. Meade wouldn't have had a chance. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz 12:52, 15 June 2008 (CDT)

A comment here was deleted by The Constabulary on grounds of making complaints about fellow Citizens. If you have a complaint about the behavior of another Citizen, e-mail It is contrary to Citizendium policy to air your complaints on the wiki. See also CZ:Professionalism.

Map problems

Maps 3 and 4 are animated gifs (from a government agency; so not copyright) that seem to upload ok and work well on their upload pages, but don't work here???? Richard Jensen 16:26, 15 June 2008 (CDT)

This new configuration of articles needs work

I have decided to move the part of the article about the battle itself to Battle of Gettysburg, which is now a stand-alone article. Richard's claim, that battles per se are not of interest to people, is facially wrong, and I frankly don't think any reply to the claim is needed, since Richard has not seen fit to support it. If Richard disagrees, then he should recognize that he is making a very absurd-sounding claim, that carries a very strong burden of proof.

Both the text on this page at present and the text you'll now find on Battle of Gettysburg were written with the understanding that they would be part of one whole article, and that no separate Battle of Gettysburg page would be written. Since I've decided to overrule Richard on this point, and I very much doubt Richard will help fix the articles, I'm calling upon the rest of you to fix them up. Many of the bibliography items probably cover both, and the bibliography items can overlap, but the items that cover just the battle itself or parts of the battle should be moved (not copied) to Battle of Gettysburg/Bibliography.

Sorry to leave you with a mess to clean up, but I get the sense that there are several people who would be motivated to help out here if they felt they have the "right." Well, you do. This is our article, not Richard's personal property. --Larry Sanger 22:14, 15 June 2008 (CDT)

for the record, I said that people are likely to be interested in a specific battle, like Gettysburg, rather than in battles in general. If other people will put their shoulder to the wheel on history articles, I will be much relieved. So far I have written most of the text of most of the history articles on CZ by myself, and note that several of them have been voted as article of the week or draft of the week. Richard Jensen 22:40, 15 June 2008 (CDT)