Monday, November 13, 2006

Plagiarism charges against professor's Civil War book

William Marvel, an author of several Civil War books, said the book, “Captain Henry Wirz and Andersonville Prison,” by University of Tennessee (Chattanooga) adjunct professor Fred Ruhlmann, contains several instances of unattributed material from his 1994 book, “Andersonville: The Last Depot.”

In the meantime, the University of Tennessee Press has suspended all sales of Dr. Ruhlman’s book because of the allegations, according to a statement issued by the press.

Noting that plagiarism is a bad thing, IPBiz has observed that the publishing false things, or making improper assertions of novelty, is a worse thing.

Back in October 2005, IPBiz stated:

In the law review business, if someone has already addressed a particular issue, a later person is not supposed to write on the same question. Of Carhart's suggestion of Lee's "real plan" at Gettysburg, one notes the following from a review by Steven Leonard of a 2002 book by Paul D. Walker:

In The Cavalry Battle that Saved the Union:
Custer vs. Stuart at Gettysburg, Paul D. Walker
reveals the apparent genius behind the plan:
Confederate General Robert E. Lee's grand scheme was
to attack with infantry from the front while
Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry swept into
the rear of the Union formations.

D. Scott Hartwig got it right when he wrote:

Our final book this month is yet another revelation of Robert E. Lee’s real plan at Gettysburg. Tom Carhart, in Lost Triumph: Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg—and Why it Failed (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2005), contends that Lee planned to attack the Union rear with Jeb Stuart’s cavalry while James Longstreet’s assault struck their front on Cemetery Ridge, and that the plan failed due to the bravery and impetuousness of George Custer. Carhart is not the first to advance this notion of Lee’s plan for July 3. It has been around for many years, but lacks evidence to support it.

Carhart is treated more favorably in a Washington Times op-ed by Milton Capulos about James Webb wrongly claiming credit for the statue at the Vietnam War Memorial in DC.

Carhart is treated less favorably in an email I received from an IPBiz reader, which included the text:

There are many experts (as much as one can be) on the Battle of Gettysburg. As of lately, 4 have been ‘cast’ into a ‘revisionists’ camp – namely Andrea Custer, Troy Harmon, Tom Carhart and Charles (Chuck) Teague. Most of their musings cannot be supported by ANY historical evidence and therefore inevitably makes one to conclude that all their ‘findings’ are nothing more but self-glorifications and money-makers.

Another interesting thing to observe in this topic is constant erroneous habit of pitting Stuart against Custer . George Armstrong Custer is NOT a General responsible for the Union victory on the Field – David McMurty Gregg is. It is Gregg ’s experience, tenacity and leadership that win the day for the Blue-clad Cavalrymen on the afternoon of July 3 – it is he who checks Stuart ’s advance and spoils his plans. Whatever Custer ’s contribution to the Battle may be (and unquestionably he HAS MADE ONE , if not a couple) – he does not deserve THAT much of a credit. It’s like saying that the Battle of Gettysburg was Hancock vs. Lee or perhaps Longstreet vs. Meade …

As a note to IPBiz readers, I have an article on patent reform coming out which actually talks about George Armstrong Custer and Day 3 of Gettysburg and Little Big Horn. [to appear in JPTOS, December 2006]

Also, of Carhart, note the following text which appears at nocasinogettysburg:

I am Tom Carhart, author of five military history books, the most recent of which, LOST TRIUMPH, is about the Battle of Gettysburg, with emphasis on the fight on East Cavalry Field. I understand plans have been made to place a gambling casino at the intersection of Route 15 and York Road in Gettysburg, less than a mile from East Cavalry Field. The crucial significance of East Cavalry Field has only just begun to be realized, as it was the outcome of the cavalry fight there that determined victory or defeat for the two sides in the larger Battle of Gettysburg. As a key place in American history, that area needs special protection. Professor James McPherson, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of BATTLE CRY OF FREEDOM, has formally recognized the importance of that ground when he says, in his Foreword to my book, “One cannot understand the Battle of Gettysburg without understanding what happened at what was then known as East Cavalry Battlefield”.

David F. Riggs wrote:

Several authors have recently “discovered” the horse soldiers who clashed at Gettysburg’s East Cavalry Field. Most of them assert that J.E.B. Stuart’s cavalry endeavored to strike the Union rear in conjunction with Pickett’s Charge on July 3, or at the very least cause havoc if the Confederate infantry assault was successful.

There’s inadequate space in a book review to cite each factual error, contradiction and unsupported theory. Suffice to say, this reads more like a novel than historical analysis.

At boardgamegeek, one has

I can't say I blame you...I probably wouldn't have picked up the [Carhart] book had I not seen it for $5 at an outlet bookstore. Like you, the biggest problem I had with the book was the supposition that Longstreet and, apparently, Lee's staff as well, were not told of the plan. And to top it off, Carhart also does quite a bit of Longstreet bashing (and I'm a Longstreet man). I also agree that making Custer the savior of Gettysburg is a farce; while he played a key part in stunting Stuart's attack, the battle was ultimately decided by the infantry and artillery at Cemetery Ridge and Little Round Top...

On Carhart's book, see also

Reid, Brian Holden. "Lost Triumph: Lee's Real Plan at Gettysburg -- And Why It Failed (review)"

The Journal of Military History - Volume 71, Number 1, January 2007, pp. 228-229
Society for Military History

A discussion of Carhart's thesis appears on militaryhistoryonline:

[Rick says-->]

Andy, IMHO there cannot be any "Signal" to Lee by any number of cannon shots.....

Let me clarify that........

You could make 'a case' for that being true.......but how the hell anyone is supposed to distinguish such a thing? .....And since that IS THE ENTIRE basis for Carharts load of can't just skip it.....Stan is right about that.

Carhart is so full of sh** I cant even imagine anyone would fall for about a desperate venture, that guy ought to have his head cracked for compiling such a disingenous and far fetched piece of fantasy........

I agree with Jim. Its about the worst crock of steaming excrement I have ever read........

If you are going to believe Carhart, you really have to live and die with cant pick and choose........

I'm a big fan of the Cav charge up the Baltimore Pike........thats really window-licking rich.......

C'mon man, you dont mean that you really believe that nonsense?

[Andy responds-->]

Rick,I wish you'd stop sugar-coating everything and tell me what you really think...

First off, the idea that Jeb might have been slated to assault the Union rear and that the random cannon shots might have been a signal to Lee is not Carhart's brainchild (or brainfart if you'd prefer). Others then and now have speculated that that may have been the case. Carhart just took the idea and fleshed it out a bit; If you creak open the heads of all the historians that do that there won't be any left.

If you are going to believe Carhart, you really have to live and die with cant pick and choose........

Sure I can. He's just an armchair historian with a few ideas...he's not the Pope.

[Rick says-->]

Carhart and I agree that Stuart was on the left of the ANV, but that's about where we part company.

I dont think Jeb was out there to sit still....and he would have certainly have enjoyed romping along the Baltimore Pike ...but the whole coordinated assault theory and the grand charge up the Pike, leave me shaking my head.

To me anyway, the first is just a pipe dream and the second is tactical madness.


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