You are bound to hit some bumps along the road as a book makes its way toward publication. Sometimes you find mistakes that need to be corrected; hopefully you spot them before the book is in print. Or you may locate some new information that would be really helpful if you could just squeeze it in.
Sometimes other things happen.
For instance, take the cover of Maine Roads to Gettysburg. While preparing the dust jacket, my editors at Stackpole Books found a striking image at the National Archives. It was clearly identified as the 6th Maine. The entire title reads, “Company of Infantry on parade. Part of 6th Maine Infantry after battle of Fredericksburg. At time of the charge across stone wall at foot of Marye Heights Gen. Hooker in command of Federals, Gen. Fitzhugh Lee in command of Confederates.”
That seems straightforward enough, to a point. The Fredericksburg battle mentioned had to be the fight in the town during the Battle of Chancellorsville, because that was when the 6th Maine stormed Marye’s Heights. Joseph Hooker was in command of the Army of the Potomac at the time, so that makes sense. Now, the identification of “Fitzhugh Lee” as the Rebel commander is problematical. Fitz Lee was the nephew of Robert E. Lee, and he was not “in command of the Confederates” (that would have been his Uncle Robert), nor was he involved in the fight for Marye’s Heights during the Chancellorsville battle. Jubal Early commanded the defenses on this part of the battlefield. Perhaps this reference to Fitzhugh Lee should have warned me to look closer at this photo—but everyone makes mistakes, right? I knew the 6th Maine had, in fact, stormed up Marye’s Heights on May 3, 1863, so I accepted the identification and Stackpole used the photo to create a nice-looking cover.
Still, something nagged at me. Once they had taken the heights, the 6th Maine had quickly begun to march up the Orange Plank Road toward Salem Church. When had there been time to take a photograph? After the fighting at the church, the regiment, along with the rest of John Sedgwick’s force that had moved up from town, consolidated its position around the Rappahannock River, and then crossed to the other side of the river early on the morning of May 6. The 6th Maine did not make a return visit to the heights for a photo-op.
The tents in the background should have triggered more alarms. The Maine soldiers certainly did not have time to set up tents in town, although it is possible that the photo was taken after they had crossed the river and returned to their camp. Still, there was something about this photo that just seemed too good to be true.
When double checking the photo information for the dust jacket, I went back to the picture on the National Archives’ site. This time I noticed that some people had added tags to the photo’s page, noting that the soldiers pictured were, in fact, from the 110th Pennsylvania, not the 6th Maine. Yikes! A little bit of research confirmed it. We were about to feature a Pennsylvania regiment on the cover of a book about Maine soldiers!
Fortunately, we had time to make a change, and I already had a good photo that would work. It was a shot of officers from the 10th Maine standing in a field after the battle of Cedar Mountain. (I featured it in this blog entry.) One of the officers—the one in the center with the pipe—is Lt. Col. James Fillebrown, whom I mention in the book. Fillebrown was Jim the adjutant who featured prominently in John Gould’s account of Nathaniel Jackson’s “speech,” which I wrote about here. At Antietam, Fillebrown was taken out of the battle by the ferocious kick of a horse.)
Whew! That was a close one. But all’s well that ends well. We ended up with an equally fine cover, one that has soldiers from the right state to boot. The moral of the story: double check everything!
Stackpole Books will publish Maine Roads to Gettysburg in May 2018.