Talk:Battle of Brandy Station

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Copyright info[edit]

Much of the info in this article comes from public domain National Park Service brochures.

Comments from an anonymous reviewer[edit]

[Moved comments from the article itself to their proper home. Hal Jespersen 00:32, 28 May 2006 (UTC)]

This battle was a tactical Confederate victory because the Federals failed in their mission (to "disperse and destroy" Stuart's cavalry division) and because they retreated from the field.

The Federals consisted of 8.000 cavalry, 3000 infantry and nine batteries of artillery. The Confederates had 9,700 cavalry and five batteries. Thus there were 17, 700 mounted men of about 22,000 participants in all.

The Federals (Gregg's division) did not enter the town of Brandy Station via the Stevensburg Road.

The site of the Confederate cavalry review on June 8, at Inlet, Virginia, is also marred by the presence of the modern Virginia Route 15/29.

Another correction is that Pleasonton expected to assemble his divided force at Brandy Station and advance against the Confederate cavalry at Culpeper Court house. He was surprised to find them in the vicinity of Brandy Station.

Other details of the battle may be obtained from the websites of the Civil War Preservation Trust and the Brandy Station Foundation, which together have preserved nearly 1,000 acres of the battlefield.

The Brandy Station operates a visitors center, the Graffiti House, in the town of Brandy Station; it is open several days a week during the summer.

Brandy Station is considered the first battle of the Gettysburg campaign.

Beverly's Ford?[edit]

Shouldn't this get a redirect from Battle of Beverly's Ford (the opposing ID)? I'd agree, it was phase 1 of the Gettysburg campaign; had Stuart not been beaten here, he wouldn't have felt the need to go chasing Federal booty, & would've been present at Gettysburg. Furthermore, "largest cavalry battle in U.S."? It's largest ever fought, isn't it? I don't see any mention of Gen Duffie, whose failure to support Stuart is blamed for the near-disaster in at least one TV doc I've seen... Trekphiler 06:46 & 06:50, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

The National Park Service, whose articles formed the original basis of our namespace, does not list Beverly's Ford as an alternative name for this battle. Can you present some secondary sources that use that name? As to General Duffie, as you can see the description of the battle is relatively short. You are invited to expand it responsibly. If you would like the article to include your supposition about Stuart's motives in the Gettysburg campaign based on this action, you need to back it up with credible citations. I don't believe there are many historians who will make a direct connection as you have here. Stuart already had a demonstrated history of raiding in the federal rear and it would be difficult to credit specific motives for this particular battle. Hal Jespersen 17:44, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

Incompetent?[edit]

I have reverted the addition of "incompetently-led" (should not have a hyphen, by the way) as POV. I agree with the sentiment, but in Wikipedia we allow historians in secondary sources to express such opinions, not merely claiming that the unnamed "consensus" agrees with us. If you can find a proper footnote for your opinion, it will be acceptable. (I could find one myself, but don't think it adds much to this article.) Hal Jespersen 20:33, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

Suit yourself. Using your deletion as a guideline, I'm now going to walk through the article and remove anything that seems POV and demand that you provide footnotes in order to put the text back in. Per Wiki guidelines, of course, just to make the editorial conceit consistent. Larry Dunn 22:20, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

I suggest that you treat a long-standing existing article that has not been footnoted by applying {{fact}} templates in the appropriate spots. Otherwise, indiscriminate deletions will appear as vandalism. If something is really egregious POV, simple deletion is within an editor's purview, of course. An alternative is to use the template that labels NPOV on the article or the section in question and then highlight the problems in the article's talk page. The difference in the case we are currently discussing is that adding a single, pejorative phrase to an existing article is something that can be deleted, and easily highlighted in the edit notes. I am aware that many of the Wikipedia ACW articles are not cited as fully as required by Wikipedia guidelines. I am doing my small part to add such citations on an article by article basis. But that does not mean that an article that currently lacks some or all of the needed footnotes is open game for indiscriminate additions. The general rule of thumb to follow is that if an assertion is an obvious opinion, whether you agree with it or not, it should be sourced to a reputable historian. Hal Jespersen 00:42, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Verifiability is not assumed away because an article has "long-standing" text. Long-standing text could be wrong and/or POV text. As you indicated yourself, when the veracity of text is questioned, it is to be removed, and not put back in unless footnoted. "Cite needed" does not do this job in any way. There is nothing holy about unsourced text because it's been laying around for a long time without scrutiny. And to accuse a user of "vandalism," even obliquely, due to a factual dispute over unsourced text is deplored on wikipedia and against wiki policy.
Of course, many articles contain perfectly true information that is not footnoted. However, if the standard of review of edits is to be that all revisions will be reverted as POV unless proven otherwise, then the same applies to existing text. This article has few if any sources cited in footnotes, and it seems odd to suddenly require meticulous footnoting for revisions. Unfortunately, one uniform editing style can't be applied to every one of the millions of Wiki articles. Let's at least try to apply it uniformly within one article. Larry Dunn 17:15, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

I read this after the recent edit. It will be more productive for me to add the cites than to argue with you, so watch for those in the next day or so. Hal Jespersen 20:11, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

Technically, rather than arguing with me, you would be arguing with your own edit style by doing so. Rather than dropping a "cite needed" into my recent revision, you just reverted. Since you appear to have done a lot of work on the page, it appeared to me that the tolerance for unsourced material was very low, and have proceeded accordingly. (Though that is a strange method for an article that has no footnotes, isn't it?)
I look forward to the source material, but the restored language should be closely supported by the cited work, with a minimum of glorification, which was strongly in evidence in the unsourced material I deleted (that tone is not encyclopedic). Larry Dunn 22:29, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
It's good to see some citation; however, some of the restored material was not footnoted, so I took it out pending specific sourcing. The longwinded and adulatory description of the Confederate review is not relevant to the battle, so it's gone too, as is the highly POV info box from one of Stuart's sub-commanders. Wikipedia is meant to represent the NPOV overall -- and while it's fine to cite a quote like that from a participant, it should be balanced with an assertion from the other side, or from a more objective source. POV, even if sourced, is still POV. Overall the tone of the article became even more pro-Confederate POV after the edits than before. Finally, the assertion that the Union cavalry was consistently inferior to the Confederate cavalry before Brandy Station should be sourced, and if relevant only to the Eastern theater, should be so specified. Citation and balancing becomes even more important when the tone of the article suggests that it does not have a NPOV, as is the case here. Larry Dunn 16:09, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

This reversion of material is getting to be irritating. The description of the cavalry review is in the Background section, not the battle; it is described in almost every book about the Gettysburg Campaign, so most historians do consider it relevant. The "POV" about the state of the cavalry before and after is also mentioned universally and I included 5 sources for it in footnote 1. I challenge you to find alternative POVs. The quote from McClellan bends over backwards to explain this--here's a senior Confederate acknowledging a negative fact about his own side. And I also included negative Southern press accounts. How you can think this is a pro-Confederate article is beyond me. As to Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the links to the articles in the sentence are adequate citations that they were victories; putting in a footnote to document that is feasible, but not very valuable.

Please do not remove any cited materials. If you have alternative POVs beyond those of the historians cited, you are welcome to add them, not simply delete the ones you don't like. Hal Jespersen 17:22, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

I think you have some misconceptions about the manner in which consensus is arrived at. Two points.
1) Because you provide a source does not mean that something is not POV, or that something is ipso facto relevant to the article
2) Because you site a source in references does not mean that you have verified an assertion that has been questioned
Some of the sourced material you provided was not in any form relevant to the article. That is why it was removed, particularly additions to the already-bloated introductory sections. The article is much stronger without idylls about dashing cavaliers.
Other assertions which were contested were reinserted without providing sources, and that is why they were removed, again, because you have an obligation to verify them as they were challenged. "It's in one of these books, find it yourself," is not really the way to verify a contested fact.
I'm sorry this is irritating to you, but to quote the wiki guidelines, if you are not prepared to be edited mercilessly, do not contribute. The impression being created here is that you feel proprietary over this article, and that is not the case. It belongs to the entire community, and will be shaped accordingly.
By the way, considering the mountain of serious scholarly books written about the ACW, some of these sources (Blue and Grey Magazine? Time Life Books?) are pretty shoddy. Let's try to cite some better, preferably peer-reviewed, sources. Larry Dunn 21:50, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

I have restored the deletions in your second reversion. If you have alternative "POV" to include, do so, with proper citations. (What you are calling POV is actually widespread historical consensus. If you disagree, find historians who believe that the grand review prior to the battle was irrelevant the Stuart's performance the next day or that McClellan's judgment was unjustified.) The sentence about FB & CV is cited at the end of the paragraph, along with the rest. If you would like to upgrade the citations with peer-reviewed academic journals, be my guest, but leave the shoddy ones there in any case. They are legitimate sources from reputable publishers, written by professional historians. I use the Time-Life series for some of the more generic paragraphs in ACW articles, just for ease in full populating footnotes, but you are welcome to add more. Hal Jespersen 02:35, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Put the cites where they belong to support questioned text, and we can resolve on that count. Larry Dunn 18:40, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Because you haven't responded to the requirement for verifiability, and haven't further updated this discussion, I don't have any choice but to view your reverts as vandalism and treat them accordingly.Larry Dunn 14:20, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I have further edited the article to:
1) remove extensive discussion of events not directly related to the battle, which distract from the subject and had a flowery, non-encyclopedic tone
2) remove disputed assertions which were sourced only with other wiki articles, rather than external sources
3) removed a redundant quote box from a participant containing left-handed praise which is POV
Please do not revert without further diuscussion. As I have said, at this point that appears to be nothing more than vandalism.Larry Dunn 15:52, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Help![edit]

As a somewhat detached observer, I really am struggling to fully understand the constant stream of revisions to this article. I covered Brandy Station in some detail in my book Crossed Sabers, which has been a popular title in wargaming circles. However, I do not pretend to be an expert on this battle (my expertise is much more in the subsequent battles of the campaign). I would comment that the statements on Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville seem rather innocuous, and I am not grasping why they are constantly being pulled out. Short of having Ed Longacre or Eric Wittenberg rewrite the article to be a summary of their books, I think it has been an accurate and impartial review of the facts, without significant NPOV. I frankly didn't see any major issues with the old article, nor did anyone on the WP:ACW that I am aware of. Can we get to some middle ground ASAP? If not, then let's turn this matter 100% over to the ACW Task Force for resolution (binding arbitration, if you will, since you are a lawyer, Larry). Scott Mingus 04:21, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Largest[edit]

I had to duplicate a footnote to emphasize a point that perhaps is a little too subtle: Brandy Station was the largest predominantly cavalry battle in the war. The Battle of Trevilian Station in 1864 had slightly fewer horsemen engaged (about 16,000 at TS versus 17,000 at BS), but it was an entirely cavalry fight. Eric J. Wittenberg states in two of his cavalry references that TS was the largest all-cavalry battle. I can provide citations for that if needed; one is in the TS article already.

The Brandy Station Foundation has an obvious motivation for claiming it is the largest cavalry battle because their fundraising would be diluted by lesser claims. I deleted a claim that it was the largest such battle in US history because their website does not state as such (they say the largest in North America) and we would need to document that claim. Just off the top of my head, I know that the US 1st Cavalry Division is currently larger than the combined forces on both sides at Brandy Station, so it is possible they may have engaged in larger battles during their history. I agree that it is probable that Brandy Station was the largest predominantly horse cavalry engagement in US history, but we need a citation for that, instead of assumption. Hal Jespersen 16:40, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

Comparing cavalry of the Civil War to contemporary armored divisions bearing the quaint but inaccurate title of cavalry is absurd. To state that "oh, largest cavalry battle with horses in it" is ridiculous. If Brandy Station is the largest predominantly cavalry battle, then I gladly stand corrected. As for a comparison with all US military history, it is hard to imagine where or when a larger battle with mostly "horses" would have taken place. I seriously doubt it would have been in Revolutionary War, WWI or any war since. This leaves battles against the Native Americans which I doubt would be larger, the Spanish American War which again is doubtful. Only Mexico strikes me as potentially having a larger cavalry battle "with horses." I will continue to look for citations.EastmeetsWest 17:34, 26 August 2007 (UTC) Sorry, had not signed in. EastmeetsWest 19:49, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, you may find it ridiculous, but the Wikipedia article on cavalry states "In many modern armies, the term cavalry is often used for units that fill the traditional horse-borne light cavalry roles of scouting, screening, skirmishing and raiding." And, in fact, the U.S. Army is one of those armies. So making absolute statements about "cavalry" throughout history without clarification or citations is ridiculous as well. Hal Jespersen 20:45, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

When discussing the civil war, assuming that cavalry battle comparisons include modern heavy artilery units is indeed ridiculous. Death toll comparisons, for instance do make sense over time as human being and death do not fundamentally change. But how does one make comparisons between horses and tanks? How many horses equal a tank? Are horses and tanks irrelevant in such comparisons leaving us comparing only numbers of human personnel? In assessing the size of a battle for comparing armoured cavarly with horseback, should we just consider firepower? Or perhaps engine horsepower ought to be compared with actual horses? Depending on how this comparison is made one could end up with wildly different figures. So, yes, it is absurd and ridiculous in the extreme to presume in comparisons with civil war cavalry battles that modern armoured division are included. Stick with what you know. 129.74.86.6 19:48, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Well, let's see what I know. I know the Civil War pretty well and have written about 275 Wikipedia articles on it. I'm a former U.S. Army officer with armor assignments. I know how to write English language sentences that are unambiguous and realize that formal writing in an encyclopedia usually shuns ambiguity. I know how to consult reference materials and create accurate citations. I know how to spell cavalry and artillery and know they aren't synonyms. OK, I'll stick with what I know. :-) Seriously, though, thanks for improving your citation. Although "on American soil" is rather colloquial and might be challenged by the crowd that believes "American" does not equate to "United States," it is more supportable than an uncited "in US history." (And I'm not saying the latter isn't true, but that you haven't found a citation for it.) Hal Jespersen 23:30, 27 August 2007 (UTC)