Talk:Henry Heth

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Text of the article was obtained from public domain site. Darwinek 10:05, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Complete rewrite in February 2005. Hal Jespersen 01:46, 29 August 2006 (UTC)


rhymes with teeth, not with death? kwami 13:43, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Yeth. It's pronounced like Heath. Hal Jespersen 18:49, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Confusing sentence[edit]

"He fought in the Battle of Chancellorsville, showing aggressive, but misguided, qualities in his first large-scale combat, attacking without reserves against a Union force emerging from the Wilderness." "the Wilderness" is linked to the Battle of the Wilderness, which was not fought until 1864, a year after Chancellorsville. I assume this is supposed to mean the Union force was emerging from the area where the battle will be fought the next year? Can somebody please clarify? -Cwenger (talk) 18:59, 3 July 2010 (UTC)

You're right. I removed the link. (We have no link for the Wilderness of Spotsylvania.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 00:07, 4 July 2010 (UTC)

"Battle" of Giles Court House[edit]

This is a placemark to remind myself or the legendary Hal Jespersen that this article requires some amendment. While Heth was promoted Brigadier in early 1861, he remained in command of the Army of the New River (realistically the 45th and 22nd VA Regiments, with a smattering of cavalry and artillery) and had a very important if largely unacknowledged role in the defense of Virginia in the spring of 1862. When General T. J. Jackson ordered all rolling stock and engines to be removed from the railroad west of Staunton in early 1862, Heth's base of operations around Lewisburg became untenable, and he was forced to withdraw to the Dublin area, leaving a 100-mile gap in Confederate defenses, including a wide-open back door to Staunton, VA, arguably the most strategic objective in the Valley of Virginia. When federal forces penetrated the Narrows, Heth felt compelled to attack and, once successful at the Action at Giles Court House, to pursue the enemy back to Lewisburg, where he fought a losing action on May 29, 1962. Heth's actions were absolutely critical to the success of Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign, for only by throwing back and tying up Jacob Cox's forces could Jackson's movement North have been possible. Had Heth remained in Giles County, Cox would have been free to move upon Staunton, VA, by the same route that Crook and Averell eventually took to invest that city in 1864, which in turn certainly would have compelled Jackson to cease offensive operations away from Staunton. In his report on the Skirmish at Giles Courthouse, Heth rather cleverly detailed how he divided his two-regiment "army" into two "brigades," then had his two subordinates (including John McCausland) submit reports as brigade commanders. Thus Heth presented himself as a theater commander, an army commander, and a divisional commander, while his two subordinates became "brigadiers." Heth would in fact be promoted Major General, and McCausland would make Brigadier, though it appears as if the third "brigade" commander, Col. Jenifer, inventor of the saddle by the same name, was overlooked. One of the few wounded at Giles Court House was Col. George S. Patton. OR vol. XII chapter XXIV, pp. 491-495 Heth's campaign-let and the action at Giles probably both deserve mention in his biography, at the very least.Sofa King (talk) 00:49, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

At Hal's prodding I have added a paragraph about Heth's New River Campaign, if it can be called that. I did add a sentence which suggests Heth was playing politics in his reports. I think that the evidence for this is implicit in the structure of the reports submitted within the OR; however, if one wished to further pursue the matter one might look to the subordinates named in the reports, who include prominent last names such as Lewis, Patton, Hampton, and one "Henry Fitzhugh," who may or may not be related to the Lees. I think the question as to whether Heth's high promotion was due to martial prowess or strong interpersonal skills should be asked, but probably cannot be definitively answered. If anyone feels this is too speculative, feel free to change it. Sofa King (talk) 16:08, 11 March 2014 (UTC)


I must object to the deletion of my copy for the lede by Joshmaul. The current ending reads very oddly, almost like vandalism: '...sending his division in force into the town of Gettysburg supposedly in search of shoes.'

I would like suggest reverting my own version: 'He is generally blamed for accidentally starting the Battle of Gettysburg before Lee was ready. Against orders, he sent forward a reconnaissance force that collided with Union troops and was beaten back. Heth insisted that he had wanted to capture a local shoe-factory, to equip Lee’s barefoot army, but historians doubt this claim.'

Either that, or delete the mention of shoes altogether. Valetude (talk) 13:22, 24 January 2014 (UTC)

There are a few problems with your proposed change. First, I do not know that he was acting against explicit orders to send his reconnaissance in force. The orders were to avoid a general engagement before the Army was concentrated. So the expedition was perhaps ill advised, but not necessarily insubordinate. Second, he said in his memoirs that he wanted to find shoes, not mentioning a factory (and we know that there was no such factory in the town). Third, some historians (and some prominent ones among them) take his claim at face value, so the blanket statement at the end is not correct. (To be clear about my personal opinion, not that it matters, I think the idea that he would send an infantry division on a shoe expedition is ridiculous.) Hal Jespersen (talk) 17:09, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you, Hal, for clarifying the record about Heth's movements, and I stand corrected. In the light of your input, I reckon the shoe story sounds like a popular canard that does not have much factual support, so I now feel it has no place in the lede. Have abbreviated accordingly, and I hope, appropriately. Valetude (talk) 18:48, 24 January 2014 (UTC)
You're welcome. The lead section needs to be expanded to a few paragraphs, but that probably takes lower priority than a general improvement pass of the entire article, most importantly adding citations. I cannot say that I have the time scheduled to do this in the near future, so any other volunteers would be welcome. Hal Jespersen (talk) 21:24, 25 January 2014 (UTC)
Well, I've done what I can with the lede, Hal, though I reckon it's long enough in pro. Maybe it's the main article that needs lengthening - if his notability justifies it. Valetude (talk) 15:19, 29 January 2014 (UTC)