Preview: Pfarr, “Longstreet at Gettysburg”

19 12 2019

b05c2ea8-f26f-4ee5-ab7b-1f3dfb9e7f71_1.e8282d87c195f3ff131d7793df1c2dd4A recent publication from McFarland & Co. is Cory M. Pfarr’s Longstreet at Gettysburg: A Critical Reassessment. Mr. Pfarr works for the Department of Defense and lives in Pikeville, MD.

From the back cover:

This is the first book-length analysis of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s actions at Gettysburg. The author argues that Longstreet has been discredited unfairly, beginning with character assassination by his contemporaries after the war and, persistently, by historians in the decades since.

By a close study of the three-day battle and an incisive historiographical inquiry into Longstreet’s treatment by scholars, the author presents an alternative view of Longstreet as an effective military leader, and refutes over a century of negative evaluations.

I guess the key phrase here is “book-length,” because undoubtedly there have been other works that reassess Longstreet in general, stretching back to the first assessments, as well as modern works by folks like Jeffery Wert, Henry Knudsen and William Garrett Piston, to name just a few. How this singular focus on Lee’s Warhorse’s work at Gettysburg specifically differs from others is the question.

You get:

  • Foreword by Harold Knudsen
  • 186 pages of narrative in 25 chapters.
  • 12 pages of endnotes.
  • 4 1/2 page bibliography, primarily published sources.
  • Full index

 

 

 


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21 12 2019
Harold Knudsen

This book by Cory Pfarr differs from my work, Bill Piston’s, and Jeffrey Wert’s books on Longstreet through his very detailed analysis of the OR’s and other records, in an effort to refute long-standing incorrect assessments of Longstreet’s performance at Gettysburg (only). My book, for example, has a focus on those large wing and corps level operations that Longstreet conducted at Fredericksburg, Chickamauga, and in the Chattanooga Campaign. Mine is a look at those aspects of his body of work that I see as “modern” in the sense what he did became doctrinal method of war in the 20th Century and in my own experience as a professional solider. I did not cover Longstreet’s work at Gettysburg in my existing book, as Longstreet did not think what Lee attempted at Gettysburg was wise. He was not able to apply anything that was particularly “modern” there. Piston and Wert’s books are full blown biographical studies of Longstreet, which do cover Gettysburg as well, but are not critical – detailed – analysis – refutation of all the various “Lost Cause” criticisms of Longstreet at Gettysburg. These two authors explain Longstreet’s role at Gettysburg in the wider context of his position, and explain what happened at the battle, just as they explain everything else in his life. Cory Pfarr’s book is a narrowly focused, specialized look at theses criticisms and walks through each and every one of them over the 3 days of Gettysburg. This focus has never been done before, and makes this book a very unique exercise in how to use the primary sources to refute post war propaganda and other inaccuracies about what really happened. In addition to Pfarr’s writing, he uses maps by Hal Jespersen specially prepared to depict his corrections of the false assumptions he tackles. To answer the question of how Pfarr’s book differs from the other three books mentioned — the narrow focus of Gettysburg is the difference. Kind Regards, (LTC Ret.) Harold M. Knudsen, author General James Longstreet the Confederacy’s Most Modern General.

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