Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Last Invasion Commentary: Guelzo Takes on Meade

I continue to plug away at Allen Guelzo's Gettysburg: The Last Invasion. The book is well written, and I am gleaning bits of new information here and there, but I'm most interested in getting into some of Guelzo's unique interpretations. For some time now I've understood from his writings, lectures, and other sources that Guelzo is no fan of George Gordon Meade, and I anticipate that he will lay out his full case against Meade throughout this book. While I haven't even made it to July 1st yet, I find that Guelzo's bias shows through quite readily.

I don't necessarily mind bias, as long as it is backed up with evidence. Every historian writes with his or her own point of view. In a few locations in the book though, I have run across a practice that I do find annoying: the art of twisting historical quotations to fit a particular storyline. Just this evening I ran across a prime example. In his telling of Lee's discovery that Meade had taken command of the Army of the Potomac, Guelzo writes the following:
He appraised Meade with remarkable accuracy when he remarked that "General Meade will commit no blunder in my front, and if I commit one he will make haste to take advantage of it"--an elegant way of saying that George Meade would likely do nothing rather than run the risk of doing something.
As I interpret it, this frequently used quote from General Lee seems to convey a completely opposite meaning from the one that Guelzo spells out for his readers. Guelzo's interpretation fits his own vision of Meade more than it fits the actual words he's interpreting.

What do you think?

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