Is Dimitri Accusing James McPherson of Plagiarism?
Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Dimitri Rotov doesn't like James McPherson's new study of Abraham Lincoln as commander-in-chief. I have to admit that I had anticipated a nauseating analysis of how McPherson fails to understand the nature of the relationship between Lincoln, his generals, and McClellan in particular. Instead, Rotov accuses McPherson of one form of plagiarism and for appropriating the analytical phrase, "concentration in time" from Archer Jones without attribution. It's worth reading posts, which can be found here and here. As for the first claim, readers will find it difficult to judge since Dimitri fails to quote McPherson in full. Since I have a copy of the book I went through the references in question, but failed to see what was so troubling. Readers can decide for themselves. As for the more serious second claim, here is the crux of the argument:
It is not until 1992, when Archer Jones' Civil War Command and Strategy appears that the repeated, wholesale, anachronistic application of "concentration" (attributed to Clausewitz) displaces "simultaneous." Jones again stresses Lincoln's centrality to simultaneous operations and he is relentless in calling simultaneity "concentration in time." "Concentration" is Jones' signature and stamp on Lincoln's involvement in synchronous operations[.]
If the term "concentration in time" does not appear in the primary sources, if the application of this Clausewitzian expression to Lincoln's strategy is unusual and a hallmark of Jones (also Hattaway plus Jones), has not James M. McPherson transgressed?
Perhaps I fail to follow Dimitri's argument, but his charge of plagiarism seems to come down to the assumption that Archer Jones was the first historian/writer to utilize the phrase, "concentration in time" and McPherson fails to reference this in any of his endnotes. Is that about the size of it? If this is it than what are we to make of the following letter written by Gen. Beuaregard to Jefferson Davis on February 21, 1865:
Should the enemy advance into North Carolina and towards Charlotte and Salisbury, as is now certain, I earnestly urge a concentration in time of at least thirty-five thousand infantry and artillery at latter point, if possible, to give him battle there and crush him[.]
Consider the following passage written by Cadmus M. Wilcox', which can be found in History of the Mexican War (1892):
The first difficulty anticipated by General Scott was the concentration in time, off the Brazos, of a force large enough to give reasonable hopes of success before the usual period–end of March–of the return of the black vomit to the coast of Mexico.
I did a Google search and found the passage within 3 minutes. I also found the phrase used in William T. Sherman's memoir. My guess is that there are plenty more where that came from. For now it is enough to say that Dimitri's central claim – that Archer Jone coined the phrase – is simply false. Perhaps Dimitri should investigate as to whether Jones properly attributed the phrase.
Note: A reader reminded me that I failed to make one final point in reference to Dimitri's accusations. I agree that McPherson should have cited some of the secondary literature on this particular point of "concentration in time." Keep in mind, however, that there is no bibliography and McPherson cites only a limited number of secondary sources in the endnotes. The notes are devoted almost entirely to personal and official correspondence. Finally, I am surprised that Dimitri didn't mention that McPherson cites the work of his buddy, Russell Beattie. C'mon…McPherson can't be all that bad. (LOL)