AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive
The truth and nothing but...
There have been some great messages lately-especially the ones from the historians and researchers who really know their stuff-referring of course to the likes of Bennie, Tony and Anthony...So having said that, I need to put a word of caution out there for everyone-from the basest recruit to the grizzled veteran-CHECK YOUR SOURCES.
It is very disheartening to read information passed on as truth, from book to book and article to article-and have the same errors perpetuated. Especially when some of those books and articles are considered "classics". Lately in my own research, I've noted these pieces of misinformation with increasing regularity.
How do I know they are wrong??When I started this research, I knew nothing of military history-I was lead to the study, by inequities I found in records-things that just didn't make sense, that led me to dig farther. I also didn't want to have my view of what i was finding slanted by the opinions of the "experts"...So I very carefully avoided the "classics", until I had read literally thousands of pages of original documentation-letters, orders, diaries, newspaper articles,correspondence, military records and more. Now, after two years I am starting to look at those "classics" and what I am finding is not good. Far too many have just repeated what other folks have said-their references are to other books or similar secondary sources, and too often they are wrong.
None of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes-whether in transcription, or thought, or idea-I have done it myself, in referring to a town site by the wrong name, and was accurately corrected by a reader. That was a case of getting carried away and not proofreading what I had written-and I apologize for that. Believe me it is a terrible thing to try and chase down a source for a record that doesn't exist-because you are looking under the wrong name, or regiment, or in my example, town.
So, all I am saying to everyone is be careful!! Check out the source and verify every piece of information you can-preferably through primary sources-military, birth, census records. (Laugh-now having said that, realize that there lots of errors in all of those)-horrible misspellings, wrong regimental affiliations, and even Union troops credited to the Confederate side.