He Did Something No One Considered

Something inspiring happened in May of last year, and you likely did not know about it.

Alfred C. Young III's book was published: Lee's Army During the Overland Campaign: A Numerical Study.



Ok, not exactly the eye-catching title that would makes you grab it off the store shelf and begin reading, unless you are a historian or an American Civil War buff.

This was Mr. Young's first book, and may be his last.

He is not even a writer by profession, but just an "independent scholar."

But, it is not the bland title of Mr. Young's book, his writing style, or his resume that makes this work special.

It is the concept.

An amazing concept.

And one I think that transcends disciplines.

Alfred Young had an idea, and the book is the product of more than 6 years of diligent research.

In sum, Young's work is a valuable contribution to history as he provides new insight into a question that historians had given up hope in answering:

What were Confederate troop numbers during a series of battles (referred to as the Overland Campaign) near the end of the American Civil War?

Unfortunately, reports of soldier counts were not as well maintained by the Confederacy--further complicated by many of their records were destroyed prior to the surrender in 1865.

As such, historians relied on what few reports survived as well as interviews with survivors.

Knowing that these figures were inaccurate, they had been accepted for more than 150 years as "best guesses."

I mean, without a time machine, how would anyone know what Southern troop strengths in Virginia were in 1864?

Enter Alfred Young.

Mr. Young noticed that regimental troop reports were regularly published in hometown newspapers of the period.

The reports are equivalent to muster rolls.

For years, he tracked down 1864 newspaper articles corresponding to the units that fought for the Confederacy, and then compared the reported troop strength with the "best guess" numbers.

His research has now replaced some of the "best guesses."

He brought fresh and reliable insight, and did something that others had thought to be impossible.

Not bad for an "independent scholar."
_______________________

I think all of us have ideas racing in our minds waiting to be pursued.

You do not have to be a professional; just someone willing to invest in an idea.

Maybe you will be next and join Alfred Young.

Answering a question that the "experts" had given up hope on.

I think you can do it.

I hope you have an inspired Wednesday.

25 comments:

Cloudia said...

God Bless the independent scholars!




ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral

=^..^= <3

Mary Kirkland said...

Wow, looking through all those newspaper clippings was a great idea.

messymimi said...

Thank you, it is inspiring.

Lisa @ Two Bears Farm said...

Everyone has a different way of looking at things.

Diane Estrella said...

My in-laws would love this book. They are bid Civil War buffs and love data like this.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow that must have taken a ton of work indeed to track down all of them. Determination can sure help with an idea

Stephanie Faris said...

Wow. That's a lot of research and work! But his work will change history, making an impact that will be felt for many, many generations.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Passion carries many of us to pursue information that interests us. Guess that's how the rest of us learn. Have to be thankful for that.

Miss Caitlin S. said...

That is awesome! I love ideas like this and it sounds like he has a new approach on an old concept that sounds pretty misinformed to begin with.

I curse my youth. I used to think history was so, so boring in school - now I can't get enough of it. Fascinating.

Chrys Fey said...

I love historical fiction. I just could never write it! haha I agree with Stephanie with this book will make an impact on many generations.

Jeanette Levellie said...

I LOVE it when regular people do something significant, even spectacular. Thanks for sharing this encouraging story!

Brian Miller said...

hey you know...he found a question and set out to answer it when no one else could...that is cool...

Carma Sez said...

you are correct that I might judge a book by its cover and pass up on reading it - I like your perspective...

rhas23 said...

Wow. Your idea of 'not giving up on ideas' is totally awesome. I like it :)

I really hope that like Alfred Young, I'd have this courage to pursue writing my novel too. I'm stuck with Chapter 3 for ages! :x

Blond Duck said...

This would have been perfect for the class I just took!

ladyfi said...

You have to admire the author's dedication!

Donna K. Weaver said...

I like that: You do not have to be a professional; just someone willing to invest in an idea.

namibsands said...

That is definitely inspiring! Impressive dedication.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am always amazed by people who are not writers actually writing a book. That is dedication.

lisa said...

He was quite the entrepreneur! And what passion and patience to be able to sift through all those newspapers to determine more accurate counts. Truly a labor of love….for history!

Bob G. said...

Slamdunk:
I dunno, I'd give it a read...I like the fact that he managed to produce numbers of troops when it wasn't all that easy to do (or even was done) back THEN.

I have a WW2 book that is similar in concept...LOADS of statistical data...
Hell, I give kudos to anyone who writes about ANY war that has the desire to chase after such facts and figures.

Stay safe out there.

Lady Lilith said...

Looks like a book worth reading.

Jen said...

I doubt it's a book I'd read, but good for him. I hope they add his info in the history books.

Kay G. said...

If you think about it, that is the basis of all great inventions, thinking of something that no one else has considered, or else considered but not acted upon! I have LOTS of things that I could investigate and write about, not sure if anyone else would like a book about these things, but hey, I CARE!! :-)

terri said...

That is amazingly inspiring. Most of us would think there was nothing more to learn about the Civil War. But Alfred C. Young knew he could dig deeper and show us something new.

Thanks for sharing his story!