Meeting of October 10, 2024

Join us at 7:15 PM on Thursday, October 10th 2024, in Camden County College’s William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. We will meet at The Kettle & Grill, 230 N Maple Ave, Marlton, NJ 08053 (Crispin Square Shopping Center) at 5:30 PM before the meeting for dinner and fellowship. The program will also be simulcast on Zoom for the benefit of those members and friends who are unable to attend; please email oldbaldycwrt [at] verizon [dot] net at least 24 hours prior to request Zoom access. This month’s topic is

Allen R. Thompson on “In the Shadow of the Round Tops: Longstreet’s Countermarch, Johnston’s Reconnaissance, and the Enduring Battles for the Memory of July 2, 1863”

James Longstreet’s countermarch and Samuel Johnston’s morning reconnaissance are two of the most enigmatic events of the Battle of Gettysburg. Both have been viewed as major factors in the Confederacy’s loss of the battle and, in turn, the war. Yet much of it lies shrouded in mystery.

Though the battle is one of the most well-documented events in history, the vast majority of our knowledge comes from the words of the veterans and civilians who experienced it. Without action photography, video, or audio recordings, our primary window into what happened is the memory of those who were there. The story of the Battle of Gettysburg is simply the compilation of the memories of those who fought it. But memory is anything but objective.

Recognizing the multitude of factors that affect human memory, In the Shadow of the Round Tops explores how the individual soldiers experienced, remembered, and wrote about the battle, and how those memories have created a cloud over James Longstreet’s enigmatic countermarch and Samuel Johnston’s infamous reconnaissance. Each soldier had a particular view of these historic events. Because many people saw part of the story, but no one saw all of it, each memory is a critical piece to the puzzle. By comparing the veterans’ memories and sifting through the factors that affected each memory, the picture of the countermarch, reconnaissance, and the entire battle, comes into sharper focus.

Allen R. Thompson is a practicing attorney in New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and three kids. His writing focuses on reevaluating primary source materials to examine the standard interpretations of historical subjects, from legal doctrines to historical events. His articles have appeared in the St. Thomas Law Review and Gettysburg Magazine.