John F. Krumwiede
245 pp, 2006, softcover, $39.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
Brigadier General Thomas A. Rowley is an interesting character in the annals of the American Civil War. As time went through the war, Rowley usually found himself in the right place at the right time garnering promotions and climbing the ladder quickly. For most people, however, Rowley is an unknown character in the First Corps among other great leaders of Gettysburg taking a backseat to John Reynolds, Abner Doubleday and even Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin. Here, in this work, John F. Krumwiede clarifies the issues surrounding the controversy of Rowley at the Battle of Gettysburg.
John F. Krumwiede is a writer and researcher and has written many articles for Gettysburg Magazine and American Civil War. He has also written a work on the career of General James Wadsworth, another commander of the First Corps who was the head of the division which included the famous Iron Brigade.
What Krumwiede has done in this work is brought a biography of a man who has not been written about much in Civil War history. Throughout the first few chapters in Disgrace at Gettysburg, Krumwiede has given us the biography which Rowley deserves. Though he is a “character” in the strongest sense of the word, the author does great work giving us insight into the man who would later be arrested after the first day at Gettysburg. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Brigadier General Thomas Rowley faced a dilemma. He had serious boils on his thighs which caused great pain for any sort of action which hindered his ability to command his forces properly. Under recommendation of the medic, he was not to ride a horse. This diagnosis was given on the march towards Gettysburg and Rowley refused riding any which way on the horse except the traditional way of riding the horse. The account which Krumwiede gives on Rowley at and on the way to Gettysburg is both informative and comical at some points. To read that Rowley was slurring through orders shouting that he was the head of the First Corps after Doubleday was promoted to corps command on the first day explains a lot about the confusion of battle on McPherson’s Ridge. Also, the way he was riding his horse, in a way to avoid riding traditionally, caused to his falling off and his saunter towards Cemetery Ridge. To ease the pain, his drinking of whiskey caused him to be arrested of public drunkenness and would face court martial. The best part of the work is the accounts of the court martial since Krumwiede separates the days helping the narrative move through the political end of the military.
I highly recommend this book to any Civil War historian and Gettysburg enthusiast who wants to learn more of the obscure characters of the battle. Through all of the published works on Gettysburg, it is amazing that Rowley has largely been ignored. Now, Krumwiede has brought light to a man who has not seen it for some time. The narrative is flowing and easy to follow and his research is so in depth that no one can question this work. Disgrace at Gettysburg needs to be on the shelf of every Gettysburg researcher and historian.