Discussion Edward Porter Alexander's Research Methodology

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E.P. Alexander’s Research Methodology
by Edward S. Alexander
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Every Civil War scholar should be familiar with the writings of Confederate First Corps artillerist Edward Porter Alexander (no relation). Many know him through Gary Gallagher's compilation of his papers from the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, published as Fighting for the Confederacy by UNC Press in 1989. Nearly as familiar, too, is Alexander's own publication, Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907), which trends more toward the subtitle than offering itself as a reminiscence. Alexander's writing offers one of the best insights of the Army of Northern Virginia. His research began with an attempt to write a history of his corps.

Frustrated by a lack of assistance, he abandoned that project. If completed, it would have provided the information that every battlefield historian desires.

Shortly after the war, First Corps commander James Longstreet asked Alexander to write a history of the corps. Alexander optimistically expected to complete the project during his first three-month vacation as professor of mathematics and engineering at the University of South Carolina, but he soon realized he could not complete it without help. In the fall of 1866 he sent out a letter to every First Corps division, brigade, regiment, and battery commander and staff officer whose address he could track down. He requested copies of reports, primary accounts of prominent events written for publication or private reference, particular accounts of skirmishers not mentioned in general reports, topographical sketches of battlefields, unit histories, and orders of battle for each stage of the war. He also provided a form for each officer to input much of the data.

Read the rest of the article at https://emergingcivilwar.com/2019/05/21/e-p-alexanders-research-methodology/#more-181733
 
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redbob

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I believe that you can get the true gist of Porter Alexander if you ever have the opportunity to read his tombstone- a man of great talents and abilities. BTW it is located in the old Augusta (GA) cemetery and well worth the search. Photo from Find a Grave.
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