Edward Hitchcock and James Deane had friendly relations with one another until a series of events led them into an unpleasant public battle for credit for the 1835 discovery of fossil footprints in the Connecticut River Valley. Although the men tacitly kept a truce afterward, when Deane died, his friends decided to defend his reputation in letters to a newspaper published in the larger city of Springfield, located just a few miles south of Amherst.
Henry Ingersoll Bowditch wrote a letter which appeared in the Springfield Republican on May 7, 1859, just short of a year after Deane's death. Edward Hitchcock's reply appeared a week later on May 14, and the newspaper's editor weighed in with this entry expressing the paper's opinion on May 21. Unfortunately for Edward Hitchcock, the editor sided with James Deane. The beleaguered Hitchcock was not at his best in his letter to the newspaper, perhaps weary of having to defend himself again, so many years after the fact. The self-defense he added to the end of Ichnology of New England was far more eloquent, if rather unusual in a governmental report.