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43441Re: McPherson's Flanking Movement at Port Gibson

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  • Tony Gunter
    Apr 15, 2007
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      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Carl Williams" <carlw4514@...>
      wrote:
      >
      > geez, how the heck did I do that?
      >
      > anyway, care to comment? My question was, what conceivable motive
      > would there be to discredit McPherson? Is this a case of Bearss'
      > interpretation becoming gospel, and many other historians following in
      > unquestioning lock-step?

      I think Bearss just shoots from the hip, and sometimes he hits his
      target and sometimes he misses wildly. McPherson's role in the
      Vicksburg Campaign is just one of those things that he missed wildly.
      Exacerbating the problem is that Bearss leans heavily on the O.R., and
      McPherson doesn't show up in the O.R. often, because he already has the
      confidence of Grant and doesn't feel compelled to explain himself or
      puff himself up. All of the O.R. reports from people reporting to
      McPherson, of course, do not reference McPherson because they assume
      McPherson knows what he did. So if you really want to find what
      McPherson was doing, you have to derive it by inference or find
      references to his activity in obscure sources. Bearss for instance
      places McPherson back on the ridge, watching from 1/2 away at the
      Battle of Raymond, but if you stare hard enough at a battlefield sketch
      by Theodore Davis, you notice that McPherson is sitting on his horse in
      the field of battle, talking to a courier or staff member.

      As far as other historians go, I think the Battles of Port Gibson and
      Raymond are both so understudied that most people writing on the
      campaign simply prefer to reference the secondary resources. For all
      intents, that is Bearss. Other recent authors on the Vicksburg
      Campaign include Terry Winschel and Grabau. Terry Winschel basically
      has followed Bearss' storyline for 30 years, so his version deviates
      almost not at all from Bearss, and Grabua is a close friend of Bearss
      and appears to have made only superficial modifications to the
      traditional Bearss storyline.
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