Saturday, March 28, 2015

Interesting Harsh interview

A Slightly Odd View... blog recently republished a fascinating old interview with Joseph Harsh, spotlighting the historian's iconoclastic views. I really need to read his books someday.


  1. A brilliant historian. His trio on the Maryland Campaign is absolutely spell-binding and anyone who reads it carefully, including and especially the voluminous and academically delicious notes, will close the final book with an entirely different perspective on the operation. Highly, highly recommended.

    Ted Savas

  2. Drew: Thanks to you and Harry for making this accessible. Dr. Harsh was justifiably a well-regarded historian and his opinions demand respect. But there are some things i just don't get about the McClellan Defense he and some others have articulated so well. What, for example, is one to make about McClellan's assertion in B&L Vol. 2 at p. 180 that he began the Seven Days with a strength of only 75,000? That strikes me, with all due respect, as utter fabrication. In other words,20 years later he was still playing games with numbers. And to me there's a marked difference between (1) prosecuting a war with the aim of coercing the enemy back into the Union and (2) effectively refusing to prosecute a war by never quite being ready to tackle that big fight. Right or wrong, one can easily sympathize with Lincoln's view about "shoveling fleas across a barnyard." I have little doubt that McClellan could justify his absurd "75,000" with a detailed methodology which subtracted from his effective strength soldiers who were suffering from hangnails, all left-handed soldiers equipped with "right-handed" Springfields, and everybody who wasn't within 3 miles of the anticipated point of attack at a given point in time.


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