Who Was Historicus?
In ancient times Historicus was reputed to have written the definitive history of Rome. However, during the Civil War era he was an individual who went by this pen name when he supplied the New York newspapers with his version of the Battle of Gettysburg. These articles primarily assailed Gen. Gordon Meade's handling of the battle. It was thought that Gen. Daniel Sickles wrote, or at the very least furnished the information for these articles. Gen. Meade was not very kind to him (Sickles) in his Official Report of the battle. In case you are not familiar with Sickles' actions at Gettysburg, let me attempt to explain.
On the second day of Gettysburg Sickles did not like the sector assigned to his men along Cemetery Ridge. It was too long and low to his liking and he unilaterally decided to advance to area in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard (and we all know what happened there). If he had survived the battle unscathed he probably would have been court-martialed. Some claim that his advanced position absorbed the shock of Longstreet's assault before it could reach the ridge. This theory claims that if the assault had hit the ridge in full strength it would have broken the Union line. This is however, highly debatable since his movement put the left flank of the 2nd Corps in the air as well as both of his own. Always courageous on the field of battle, he was struck in the leg by a shell as his command was beginning its withdrawal. The leg was amputated within half an hour. In 1867 he was brevetted regular army major general for his role in the battle and three decades later was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
I am not trying to explain, defend, vilify, or condone Sickles actions at Gettysburg. I have merely tried to gather together some of the Official Records of the War of the Rebellion to give you an insight into what Meade was trying to do in regards to the Historicus articles. It's a very interesting part of the war that not too many know about. I have tried to arrange the reports in an order that will make sense as to what was happening. Also since the Historicus article is quite lengthy, I have shone it as stand alone. It was originally an attachment to Meade's first report. This is not all the correspondence contained in the official records dealing with Meade's request, it is however, enough to give the flavor of what was transpiring at the time.
|Meade's Official Report:||This is the correspondence sent by Meade requesting an inquiry into the Historicus article.|
|The Historicus Article:||This article is actually an enclosure to the above correspondence by Meade. I have separated them for ease of reading.|
|Pleasanton's Report:||Apparently Meade thought if he had Pleasanton's permission he could have access to his testimony before the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War. Was he ever mistaken!|
|Halleck's Response to Meade:||Couldn't even convince Halleck to go along.|
|Meade's Last Report:||Meade's last correspondence on the subject.|
|Lincoln's Reply:||As always, the President has the final word.|
This Page last updated 02/16/02
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