Talk:Henry Warner Slocum

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edits of September 21[edit]

I needed to respond to the significant edits the other day by adding a number of citations to support the claims regarding Slocum's performance at Gettysburg. I have a number of references on Gettysburg and I believe the way the article is written now represents the consensus of historians. I would ask that any additions, such as counterarguments, be documented with the same degree of citations as are there now. I had to remove some claims that were either unencyclopedic or I could not justify based on my references. If they are added back in, my comments on citations apply. Thanks. Hal Jespersen 23:13, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

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As for YOUR edits, and text, you seem to have a highly negative opinion of General Slocum and seem quite inclined to emphasize the "controversial" while denying or playing down accomplishments.
The introductory paragraph is totally unacceptable making a huge deal over July 1st, 1863 - as though that was THE defining event in Slocum's military career, or even at Gettysburg. Such will not stand unchallenged, and cherry-picking quotes from this or that historian is a game we can all play, and will, as time permits. Your continued emphasis on this is remarkable. Yes, he was overly slow and cautious on that one day. But there were two other days in that battle where he performed very ably, and an entire career beyond that. Your editing out of Slocum's "Stay and Fight It Out" comment at the Council of War at Gettysburg, which I edited in, is also unacceptable. It is back in, and will stay in. I too can partake in "maintenance".
Use of terms such as "fancied" or "cabal" are part of what I find generally prejudicial in your original text.
Add what YOU want. But make further deletions of comments to support your critical views of this general and the removed passages will also be edited back in. So don't bother. I try not to remove passages I find objectionable and specious; I merely try to present differing opinion.
You also edited out comments I edited in about the March to the Sea. Expect to see them again in due course.
More, and citations, as time permits. Soon enough. . .
I also see you are the author of numerous Civil War articles on Wikipedia. I trust they are more even-handed than what I saw on Slocum.
Zouave44 09:08, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I have no personal opinion about Slocum other than that derived from the writings of professional historians. I am sorry to say that you did not pay attention to my previous remarks and I will need to revert the many edits that you have made in this last round. When a Wikipedia article has been fully referenced and completely documented with in-line citations, it is unacceptable to add material, quotes, and opinions that do not have a comparable level of documentation. If you are able to find the proper citations "as time permits" you're welcome to edit them into the article at that time. Let me address some of the points you have made above.

I will admit that I view many Civil War biographies with a lens toward the battle of Gettysburg because it was the greatest battle of the war and many feel that it was the turning point. If you counted up all of the biographical references available on Slocum, I would wager that more than 75% of them are found in material about Gettysburg. Whether this is fair or not, it is not my place to say. Slocum did perform well in Georgia and the Carolinas, for instance, but these have much less historical notice. Gettysburg is of interest historically for Slocum, and reasonable to include in the lead paragraphs, because his conduct there has been discussed historically for 143 years in terms of what-ifs and even gave him a nickname, which is repeated in virtually every biographical sketch you'll ever read.

As to "fancied" and "cabal", the first was in the original article and you did not modify it in your edits, so I left it in. I think it is reasonable, but would entertain other words. I do not believe that it is in historical dispute that Slocum acted as if he were the wing commander without justification. (Meade was not aware of this arrangement and that is one of the reasons that the XII corps reports were not adequately included in the final reports of the battle.) As to "cabal", that was taken from the reference cited, where it was also listed in quotes, implying that it is a word used historically. In your edits you have comparable types of assertions such as he was "in fact a distinguished and able commander" (which historian said that? Provide a footnote and a reference.) "Slocum, in fact, was quite assertive..." (ditto) "Stay and fight it out". Hardly "cautious". That editorial remark, offered conversationally as a counter argument, has no stylistic place in an encyclopedia. First of all, you may notice that I removed the original text about "cautious" and provided an actual quote from a military historian describing his style. "He served ably and wisely." (Which historian said that?)

I did not remove any material that you added for which I could find citations. I think you will find I left some of it in and provided citations for it. The alternative I had was to pepper your material with {{Fact}} notations, which I felt was not worth it because I had no idea if you would ever come back to provide those citations and then I would have to edit them out later. In the meantime, the article would be left in a sloppy state.

I invite you to continue editing and to balance any perceived injustices to Slocum by providing and citing the opinions of secondary sources. It would be legitimate to say, for example, "... this view about Slocum's performance at Gettysburg has been disputed by military historian Bobby Smith, who wrote <quote quote quote> [footnote]."

Hal Jespersen 14:42, 22 September 2006 (UTC)


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Let me summarize this.

I will comment inline with your remarks. Don't get excited here. We all want good articles here and your comments will not get lost if you continue with the process. Hal Jespersen 16:53, 23 September 2006 (UTC)

You edited out truthful factual statements of mine that reflected accurately and favorable on Slocum, such as "stay and fight it out" at the council of war. You never had them in yourself in the first place, and YOU SHOULD HAVE.

Adding info collaboratively is the way Wikipedia works. If one author fails to add something, there is not necessarily an evil intent, it means there is something he does not know, or in some cases it is too detailed for the overall body of the article. (This is an encyclopedia, of course, and some effort is made to have concise articles rather than exhaustive ones. Where the line is crossed is a judgment that needs to be agreed upon collaboratively.) The key point of this entire exchange is that in Wikipedia there is no truth and there are no facts unless they are backed up by references and in-line citations. Refer to WP:CITE. Many articles in Wikipedia are poorly referenced and in those cases, it is probably reasonable for people to add whatever they want, caveat emptor for the reader. The community is trying to change that by having higher standards for referencing. In this case, I have upgraded the article to include very thorough in-line citations. Therefore, subsequent edits need to defer to that status. If an assertion in such an article does not have a citation, it must either be flagged with {{Fact}} or deleted until a citation can be provided. Since there were so many unsourced claims in your edits, which I could not substantiate from the many references listed in the article, I chose the latter course so that the article did not have a sloppy appearance. You can reinsert any of your claims as long as you have the proper citation, using the format established by the article.

You emphasized one event on one day as the defining moment in Slocum's military career, and implied that his nickname throughout the Army was ever after "Slow Come". That was a partisan, prejudicial, false thing to do.

As I said previously, all biographies I have read of Slocum mention his nickname. So it certainly is not false and I cannot imagine which party you think I am representing by reporting it.

You left out numerous favorable comments about Slocum just at Gettysburg, such a Pfanz who described Slocum as a "pugnacious" and "defiant" corps commander - p. 98, "Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill". Where were THOSE comments in your biography?

I did not happen to consult that one for this work (although I have it in my library). You may add information from that reference in with the proper citations.

From p. 91-98 of that same book, Pfanz, an author you cited, reviewed the entire sitaution vis a vis XII Corps getting to Gettysburg. Yes, Slocum was somewhat dilatory by general consensus, but your presentation of this entirely emphsized only the most negative comments. If anyone should have been perurbed it would have been Howard - but Howard never seriously criticized Slocum, and in fact was so laudatory of Slocum he sang his praises at Slocum's funeral. Also on p. 98 Doubleday expressed no criticism of Slocum on Day One. You left that out too, along with Howard's comments. You made an obvious point to cherry-pick only the negative.

You are free to add information with the proper citations. I believe I correctly characterized Pfanz's description. By the way, you should probably note that I chose to omit the very negative descriptions of Slocum's assumption of command the evening of July 1. And also by the way, saying that someone "never seriously criticized" someone is hardly a very positive endorsement.

Day One at Gettysburg was one single day in a long and very successful career. Saying in the section on that battle that Slocum was somewhat dilatory is entirely acceptable. Launching into a major negative broadside over this, even in you short introductory paragrpah, is unacceptable.

I hardly think it was a "major negative broadside", but as I said, virtually all biographies of Slocum mention this, so therefore historians believe it is an important consideration in his career.

If you are so familiar with Slocum you should know about his letter to Sherman regarding cutting off Hardee's corps at Savannah, and you should surely know about his role in exonerating Porter after the war. The former is in the OR's and cited in the Charles Elihu Slocum biography from almost a century ago. No other biographies are extant as Slocum's papers vanished with his granddaugher in 1947. I know; I spent months searching for them.

No, I am unfamiliar with the letter, but you are free to include it with the proper citations.

My M.A. thesis on Slocum is deep in a storage box in a storage facility filled with such boxes. But I can get several citations from people who have copies just by asking. Soon enough. By the way, my advisor on it was Prof. Hans Trefousse who wrote a bio on Carl Schurz, Slocum's chief of staff with the Army of Georgia.

Since you have an academic background, I am certain you can understand the importance of citing references for your works. That is 90% of the issue at hand. (The remaining 10% seems to be your believe that I have some sort of an agenda against Slocum, which I do not.)

I am copying and pasting into my files my comments in this section just in case they get "edited" out as my remarks in the article were. We can play that game indefinitely as I will correct repeatedly and indefinitely what I consider a serious hatchet-job on Slocum. Your presentaton of Day One at Gettysburg ALONE was prejudicial, and to make it so prominent in the entire article was far worse.

Your comments are never irretrievably lost in Wikipedia, so don't worry about that. You can always go back to a previous version and extract text.

There are certain myths regarding the Civil War I will not tolerate, such as the old one about Longstreet costing the South victory on Day Two at Gettysburg. (I wonder what you said about that; I will see).

Well, check it out.

I will be working on this Slocum bio article in the coming days and weeks, and watching it very closely. Editing out factual statements, as you did, will find them edited back in the next day. As I said, I can keep that up indefinitely.

"Factual statements" are irrelevant unless they are cited and they will be flagged or removed.

Time limits what I can do at the moment. This has already cost me a lot of time over the past few days. But I will be around.

I imagine I have spent more time on this than you have, but I enjoy it and I hope you will end up enjoying it too.

You have a lot of Civil War related articles on Wikipedia. I will assume you have a respect for the period and those who fought in it, and thus want to get an article "right". Your Slocum article was NOT "right", nor was it fair. Nor complete.

Time moves on and I have to also at this point. But expect a lot of activity here in coming days and weeks from me. How much depends on you.

Now I will copy and paste this into my archives in case any of it gets "edited" out.

Let's get this thing "right".

Zouave44 23:52, 22 September 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Add your information with the proper citations, and we may quibble about details, but there will be no overall problems I can foresee. Hal Jespersen 16:53, 23 September 2006 (UTC)