Scott L. Mingus Sr. Contemplates Gettysburg's Legacy
During a visit to
Because of my interest in the Tigers, I knew that I had to read Scott L. Mingus Sr.’s “The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863” when I saw that it had been published by LSU Press. I told my wife that “The Louisiana Tigers” was on my holidays-book wish list, and happily I found it beneath the tree on Christmas morning.
The book fulfilled my expectations, not only providing impressive details about the broad sweep of the Tigers’
Idiscovered many new details about
Mingus, the author of several other books on
1. Your Northern ancestors fought against the Louisiana Tigers at
2. You live in
I grew up in southeastern
3. Out of all the Civil War battles, why is
The fact that it was the closest major battlefield to the Northern population centers made it readily accessible, and the early monumentation cemented it as a tourist attraction. History books of the late 19th century and early 20th century often made Gettysburg a focal point of the Civil War sections, so succeeding generations from their youth were made aware of the place's historical importance. Throw in the monuments, the sweeping vistas, the awesomeness of Devil's Den, Little Round Top and Culp's Hill, and there's a special aura that the battlefield has that is hard to duplicate. The rise of tourism and good transportation routes perpetuated the popularity of
4. I have read a number of big, sweeping histories of
5. Your book raised many of the kind of intriguing questions that historians love to argue about. A couple of related ones stand out. First, why weren’t the Tigers and the unused brigades of Rodes and Gordon used in the third day of the battle, in tandem with Pickett’s Charge? You point out that the Tigers suffered serious casualties on their attack on Cemetery Ridge, but still seemed ready for more action. And, Rodes and Gordon’s units didn’t back them up and were not used the second day and could have been ready for action. And, why did Lee feel it necessary to retreat, and not try yet another attack?
There are so many books on the battle itself (by some estimates more than a thousand) that I doubt if I will ever write a broader book on the entire battle. In the business world, there is a sage old saying that you should "find a need, and fill it." What was missing from the
While the Louisiana Tigers emotionally were ready for another go at the Yanks, they were down nearly a third of their number and frankly were played out. Rodes and Gordon were in much better shape, but should have been better used on the night of July 2. Lee gambled to take the Union center on July 3, but he kept much of the II Corps out of the action to follow up on any successful breakthrough, and to counter any unexpected Yankee movements. At times I have wargamed an all-out CSA assault, and the results get much bloodier, but do not often translate into driving Meade back into
Interest in the Civil War blossomed in our generation. Do you believe young people today have the same interest in the war, especially since the teaching of American history is reportedly declining in our high schools?
I think that the interest may have declined somewhat in recent years, because less history is taught in some school districts and there are more diverse interests. That being said, WWII video games sell extremely well (Call of Duty, etc.) to the under-30 crowd, visitation to
What’s your next project?
Ohio soldier for future publication. Another of my wargaming scenario books comes out this autumn, so gaming, book writing, and my work as an executive in the global papermaking industry keep me hopping.
I have another book of human interest stories coming out this year from Ten Roads Publishing (“Gettysburg Glimpses II: More True Stories from the Battlefield”). I am also co-writing a historical novel on the Gettysburg Campaign that should be quite popular, we believe, and am editing a diary of an