Short Takes

by Fred Ray on October 28, 2008 · 0 comments

Came across a nice web site about James S. Robbins’ Last In Their Class: Custer, Pickett, and the Goats of West Point.

Some great stories there—did you know Jeff Davis was court-martialed and convicted as a cadet (sentence remitted due to prior good behavior)? Or that Henry Heth and Ambrose Burnside were roommates? Burnside was put in with Heth, a noted bon vivant who was always in trouble, to act as a steadying influence. It backfired. Heth gleefully corrupted the upright Midwesterner, who began to accumulate demerits at an alarming rate.

Robbins concentrates on the “goats”—the men who finished last in their class. Several of these men (Custer, Pickett, and Heth) achieved high rank, which proves that academic accomplishment isn’t everything.

Also meant to recommend the latest issue of Gettysburg magazine.  I particularly liked Gary Yee’s article on sharpshooting at Gettysburg and the Wittenberg/Petruzzi/Nugent article on the battle of Funkstown. Yee, who is coming out at some point with a book of his own about sharpshooting, really doesn’t break any new ground but his article is an excellent summary of sharpshooting at the battle. Of interest to me in the Funkstown article was the sterling performance of the Vermont brigade as skirmishers, where they held off a Georgia brigade advancing in line of battle. As light fighters, the Green Mountain Boys had few equals.

UPDATE: Nice site about a Civil War bible and the fate of its owner, and a look, with photos, at a veteran of Birge’s Sharpshooters.

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