The NYMAS Newsletter

 

Spring 1998

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A Publication of

The New York Military Affairs Symposium

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© 1998 NYMAS & The Authors

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Feature Review

 

"MacArthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign"

by Stephen R. Taaffe

 

Stephen R. Taaffe has produced a useful and highly readable account of one of the most neglected campaigns of the Second World War. The battles in New Guinea, especially the later ones in the western portion of the island, remain virtually unknown today.

Taaffe spends several chapters discussing the background and buildup to the campaign, and then devotes one chapter to each of the major battles that occurred in New Guinea during 1944. The battle accounts are crisp and fast-paced, dealing with action at the battalion level or higher. Important leaders are evaluated as well. Factors affecting combat, such as logistics, and especially the brutal environment and the diseases it produced, are also discussed.

One of Taaffe's central themes in this work is that the entire 1944 New Guinea operation was, for MacArthur, a necessary inconvenience, a mere prelude to the liberation of his beloved Philippines. MacArthur's principle opponent during this campaign was not really the Japanese, but rather the US Navy. Taaffe repeatedly stresses MacArthur's emphasis on speed, on the necessity of keeping up with the Navy's central Pacific campaign, occasionally to the detriment of planning and at the cost of increased casualties.

Taaffe's work is a solid overview of this campaign, but his limitation of one chapter per battle means that some of the larger battles, such as Hollandia and Wakde-Sarmi, are given a relatively brief treatment. The book lacks photographs, and generally includes no more than one map per battle. These relatively minor limitations aside, MacArthur's Jungle War is a first-rate account of this campaign, and is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the Pacific theater of the Second World War.

MacArthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign by Stephen R. Taaffe. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas 1998. xiii, 312 pp. Maps, notes, bibliog., index. $35.00. ISBN 0-7006-0870-2

--Thomas Goetz

 

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"We Must Have Artillery Regiments!"

 

Prior to the 20th century American artillery was tactically almost always employed by individual batteries. Nevertheless, in the early nineteenth century the U.S. Army formed several regiments of artillery, each consisting on paper of ten batteries of heavy artillery and two of light (they should more accurately have been termed coast artillery and field artillery, but that’s another matter). By 1821 there were four such regiments, to which a fifth was added shortly after the Civil War began.

Of course the artillery continued to be deployed by individual battery, or occasionally by the battalion.

So what was the point of having artillery regiments?

The reason was simple: Without regiments there would be no need for colonels of artillery.

 

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Reviews

 

Citizen Soldiers: The US Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to

the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945 by Stephen Ambrose. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. 473 pp. Illus, maps, notes, biblio, index. $27.50 ISBN: 0-684-81525-7

In many ways this book is a continuation of Ambrose's earlier work, D-Day. It begins, in fact, on June 7, where the earlier book ended. As in D-Day, Ambrose concentrates on the individual soldier and his experiences. Generals and strategy enter the picture only to the extent that they affect the front-line soldiers. Although the book has a narrative focus, this is primarily an oral history, using the soldier's own words as prime means of telling its story. Liberally filled with soldier's stories and anecdotes, this is a highly readable and enjoyable book.

In the Prologue, Ambrose outlines his main goal, to show that the American GI was a capable and effective fighting man. As with Michael Doubler's Closing With the Enemy, this book does a credible job refuting the image of GI's as tactically inept civilians in uniform, who triumphed only through overwhelming firepower.

Ambrose's reliance on oral history leads to occasional minor technical errors. Examples of this include reporting the main armament of the German Panther tank as an 88mm gun, when it was in fact a 75mm, referring to the V-1 cruise missile as radio controlled, when it actually used a simple auto-pilot, and misidentifying a photograph of an American tank as an M-4 Sherman, when it is actually an M-5 Stuart.

These are minor quibbles, however, and the book overall is well-written, highly readable, and very enjoyable and informative.

Following his discussion of the Battle of the Bulge, Ambrose interrupts his chronological narrative to discuss a number of issues that affected the GI's. These include such interesting subjects as the soldier's life after dark, the replacement system, of which Ambrose is harshly and justifiably critical, the medical system, from front-line medics to aid stations to field hospitals, and POW's. Ambrose also has special scorn for the "Jerks, Sad Sacks and Profiteers" who shirked while other soldiers fought and died. Despite his condemnation of such men, Ambrose insists that they were only a small minority in the army, a position this reviewer feels is perhaps overly optimistic. This reviewer found this section of the book to be especially interesting and enjoyable.

This book would be a welcome and worthwhile addition to a military history library. It is recommended to anyone with an interest in the Second World War or the American Army.

--Thomas Goetz

The African-American Soldier: From Crispus Attucks to Colin Powell, by Michael Lee Lanning. Secaucus, NJ: Birch Lane Press, 1997. ix, 309 pp. Illus, biblio, index. $22.50. ISBN: 1-55972-404-8.

An uneven, though still valuable look at the role of black Americans in the nation’s military history. The African-American Soldier is refreshingly free of the silly extremism found in such works as the notorious Fighting on Two Fronts.

Lanning provides some of the clearest discussions this reviewer has seen of several important events in the history of blacks in military service. Of particular value is his treatment of the "Brownsville Raid" of 1906. He also does an excellent job of analyzing Vietnam War casualty rates. putting black losses into perspective. There are, however, several errors of fact and interpretation in the work.

On p. 131 the author states that in World War I proportionately more blacks were drafted than whites. This is true, but misleading. On the previous page he has already observed that 650,000 whites voluntarily enlisted, while only 4,000 blacks were permitted to do so, and he wholly overlooks the federalization of the nearly 400,000 National Guardsmen, the nearly 250,000 who joined the Navy, and the nearly 80,000 who served in the Marines, virtually all of whom were white; So about 1.3 million white men – nearly a third of the total Armed Forces -- entered the service by means other than the draft.

Likewise, in his discussion of the belated award of the Medal of Honor to several black World War II veteans in 1997, Lanning fails to realize that one award is clearly invalid, not having occurred in "direct conflict with the enemy." And, succumbing to Communist propaganda, he credits the black American mercenary pilot James Peck with five victories during the Spanish Civil War, though in fact Peck appears to have shot down just one airplane.

Overall, however, a useful work.

--A. A. Nofi

 

Agent of Destiny: The Life and Times of General Winfield Scott, by John S. D. Eisenhower. New York: The Free Press, 1997. xiv, 464 pp. Illus, maps, append., notes, bibliog., index. No price given. ISBN: 0-684-84451-6.

John Eishenower has here given us a fresh look at the most important American soldier between Washington and George C. Marshall, if not the most important ever.

The book is not merely a military biography of Scott, who wore the uniform for over 50 years, most of them as a general, winning now all but forgotten laurels on many a field from Queenston Heights in 1812 through Mexico in 1847, but also fits his life and career into his times. So while the military aspects of Scott’s career are well told, though perhaps some more detail might have been helpful, the book is particularly valuable for its look at the less warlike aspects of Scott’s career. Thus we encounter Scott the bon vivant, and Scott the family man as well as Scott the soldier, and, perhaps most valuably, Scott the politician, a role in which he was a disastrous failure, and Scott the diplomat, a role in which he excelled.

Although one might quibble about the author’s occasional misunderstanding of certain terms in early 19th century military practice, Agent of Destiny has only a few flaws. The author omits some of Scott’s most famous lines, such his encomium to the Mounted Rifles after the fall of Mexico ("Brave Rifles, you have passed through fire and come out steel!"), and only aludes to the wonderfully vituperative correspondence between Scott and Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. In addition, it is perhaps less critical than it might have been. But most important is that it called for one more chapter, which might be titled "Winfield Scott and the American Military Tradition," for it was Scott more than any other person who turned the U.S. Army into a professional force.

Worth reading.

--A.A. Nofi

 

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Quotation from Chairman

Bonaparte

 

Armies do not always suffice to save a nation.

 

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The Pacific War

 

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, by Iris Chang. New York: Basic Books, 1997. xi, 290 pp. Illlus, map, notes, index. $25.00. ISBN: 0-465-06835-9.

An extraordinarily graphic, and moving, treatment of the systematic atrocities committed by the Japanese Army in Nanking in 1937. A valuable contribution to the history of World War II, and an important reminder of what it was all about.

 

The First 24 Hours of War in the Pacific, by Donald J. Young. Shippensburg, PA: Burd Street Press, 1998. x 178 pp. Illus, maps, biblio, index. $24.95. ISBN: 1-57249-079-9.

Though the book is short, the author manages to say a great deal about the opening day of the Pacific War. Each of the dozen chapters deals with a different place, such as Shanghai, Wake, Washington, and Malaya. The book includes the longest treatment available of the surrender of the North China Marines, the fight for Guam, and so forth. Valuable for anyone interested in the Pacific War.

 

Warriors of the Rising Sun: A History of the Japanese Military, by Robert B. Edgerton. New York: Norton, 1997. 384 pp. Illus, notes, bibliog., index. $29.95. ISBN: 0-393-04085-2.

The author’s intent, to explain how the Japanese military changed from being the most chivalrous in the world at the onset of the twentieth century to the atrocity-prone force which it became by the mid-1930s, is a dismal failure. Not only does he fail to accomplish this, but the book is full of errors that demonstrate a serious lack of basic knowledge about military history and practice. And the notes are worthless.

 

Japan’s Secret War: Japan’s Race Against Time to Build its Own Atomic Bomb, by Robert K. Wilcox. New York: Marlowe, 1995. 258 pp. biblio, index. #14.85. ISBN: 1-56924-815-X.

Some thought-provoking evidence that the Japanese were much further along in their nuclear weapons development program than had previously been believed. The work, although interesting, in not wholly convincing, due largely to the lack of footnoting.

 

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An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

 

On July 1, 1898, Spanish Brig. Gen. Joaquin Vara del Rey conducted an heroic defense of El Caney, near Santiago, in Cuba, holding off over 6,000 American troops with but 520 Spanish infantry. After an eight hour battle the defenders were finally overwhelmed, barely 180 of them escaping death or capture, while over 400 Americans were either killed or injured. Among the dead was Vara del Rey.

In November, as the Spanish Army prepared to leave Cuba for the last time, they asked Leonard Wood, commander of American forces around Santiago, if they could take Vara del Rey’s remains home. Replying that "General Vara del Rey was a brave man and we honor his memory," Wood ordered 1st Lt. M. E. Hanna to find the body.

This should have been easy, as American troops had buried the Spanish dead nearby, the common soldiers together, but Vara del Rey and the other officers separately, in clearly marked graves. However, when Hanna arrived at the burial ground all the markers had been destroyed by vengeful Cubans. When asked, a local Cuban pointed out what he claimed was the general’s grave. Upon digging, Hanna found only the bones of an ass.

Incensed, Hanna went to the alcalde of El Caney. Observing that the man held his post by the grace of General Wood, Hanna threatened him with replacement and even more dire consequences "If we do not find the body within three hours." Terrified, the alcalde summoned one of the townspeople, whom he claimed would be able to guide Hanna to the general’s grave. But the man proved uncooperative, denying that the had any knowledge of the location of Vara del Rey’s remains.

Angered by this reply, Hanna made the Cuban an offer he couldn’t refuse. Drawing his revolver, he pointed it at the man’s head.

"Lead us there or I’ll blow your head from your shoulders."

Impressed by the sincerity of Hanna’s argument, the Cuban become quite cooperative, and immediately led Hanna to a site that did indeed prove to be the general’s resting place.

--A.A. Nofi

 

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Short Rounds: Recent Works in Military History

 

Theodore Roosevelt and the Great White Fleet: American Sea Power Comes of Age, by Kenneth Wimmel. Washington: Brassey’s, 1998. xviii, 271 pp. Illus, bibliographic notes, index. $25.95. ISBN: 1-57488-153-1.

This excellent work begins with the development of the "New Navy" in the 1880s and 1890s, thus putting the voyage of the Great White Fleet in historical perspective. One could quibble occasionally about some conclusions (the impression one gains of David Dixon Porter is highly inaccurate), but overall the work is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of the navy.

 

Scalp Dance: Indian Warfare on the High Plains, 1865-1879, by Thomas Goodrich. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 1997. xi, 340 pp. Illus, maps, notes, bibliog., index. $. 32.95. ISBN: 0-8117-1523-X

The author very effectively wraps a narrative treatment of the Plains Indian Wars from the end of the Civil War through Custer’s disaster and beyond, around a very informative treatment of life and war on the plains. A good book.

 

The Nebraska Indian Wars Reader, 1865-1877, edited by R. Eli Paul. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1998. xii, 245 pp. Illus, maps, recommended reading, index. $15.00 paper. ISBN: 0-8032-8749-6.

A series of eleven essays dealing with various aspects of the "forgotten pageant" of the Indian Wars in Nebraska. Essays range from narrative treatments of particular incidents, such as Massacre Canyon, the last major intertribal "battle" on the plains, to profiles of individual soldiers and warriors. Very useful for anyone interested in the Indian Wars.

 

The Military and Conflict between Cultures: Soldiers at the Interface, edited by James C. Bradford. College Station: Texas A & M Press, 1997. xxiv, 236 pp. Diagr., notes. $37.95. ISBN: 0-89098-743-1.

An intriguing idea, how soldiers fit into intercultural conflict, is examined in eight essays. Unfortunately, quality varies. Some are well-grounded and carefully documented, and the concluding essay, surveying ways in which soldiers have helped promote intercultural change, for good or ill, is excellent. But others are poor. And one is a profoundly silly bit of speculative sexual psychobabble that probably tells more about the author’s private life than those of Jack Pershing, Leonard Wood, and Douglas MacArthur.

Support Your

Newsletter

The Newsletter is always in need of materials.

Short reviews of current books, recent activities

of NYMAS members, notices of events likely to

be of interest to the membership, and even

short articles are always welcome.

The Civil War Bookshelf

 

Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War, by Lonnie R. Speer. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole, 1997. xix, 410 pp. Illus, append., notes, biblio, index. $34.95. ISBN: 0-8117-0334-7.

The first serious treatment of military prisons and prisoners-of-war during the Civil War, Portals to Hell is an immensely valuable contribution to the literature.

The author’s approach is interesting. Some chapters are chronological, surveying the "problem" of prisoners-of-war and the state of the facilities in which they were incarcerated on a year-by-year basis. Other chapters are topical, dealing with such things as guards, escapes, routine, and the problems of black POWs.

Although overall the work is excellent, it could have benefited from more attention to the physical process of prisoner exchange. In addition, the author’s attempt to equate the horrors of the Union prison at Elmira with the even greater horrors of Andersonville is unconvincing, given the statistics.

--A.A. Nofi

 

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Other Recent Civil War Books of Interest

 

The Confederate War: How Popular Will, Nationalism, and Military Strategy Could Not Stave off Defeat, by Gary W. Gallagher. Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 1997. vii, 218 pp.

Illus, notes, bibliog., index. $24.95. ISBN: 0-674-16055-X

An inquiry into the causes of the outcome of the Civil War which attempts to address some of the claims that the Confederacy never really "jelled" as a nation. Interesting, and thought provoking.

 

Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier’s Life by David M. Jordan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996. xii, 293 pp. Illus, maps, notes, bibliog., index. $$29.95 paper. ISBN: 0-253-21058-5.

The first biography of "Hancock the Superb" in nearly 40 years, Winfield Scott Hancock provides a very valuable look not only at the military career of one of the best corps commanders in the war, but also at the other aspects of his life, and, moreover, provides some useful looks at mid-nineteenth century America. A good book.

 

The Pride of the Confederate Artillery: The Washington Artillery in the Army of Tennessee, by Nathaniel Chearis Hughes, Jr. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State, 1997. xviii, 384 pp. Append, notes, biblio, index. $$29.95. ISBN: 0-8071-2187-8

A superior unit history, dealing with the 5th Company of New Orleans famous Washington Artillery, which fought in the West, while the other four fought in Virginia. Not only is the story of the battery well told, fitting it into the context of the operations in which it took part, but there are a number of very good profiles of some of the more interesting people associated with it. Very useful for serious students of the Civil War, who should by no means overlook the footnotes.

 

Glorious Contentment: The Grand Army of the Republic, 1865-1900, by Stuart McConnell. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1992. xvii, 312 pp. Illus, tables, notes, bibliog., index. $16.95/$34.95. ISBN: 0-8078-4628-7.

The G.A.R. was the most important veterans’ organization for nearly 50 years after the Civil War, and McConnell does a very comprehensive job of dissecting it. Rather than adopt a chronological treatment, the author deals successively with particular aspects of the G.A.R.’s life and work.

 

Gettysburg: A Meditation on War and Values, by Kent Gramm. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1994. 270 pp. Map, notes, biblio, table. $14.95 paper. ISBN: 0-253-21136-0.

Despite his fascination with the battle, the author, a novelist, lets his apparent profound distaste for technology and the American way of life get in the way of some occasionally interesting observations. Hardly worth reading.

 

Civil War Firearms: Their Historical Background, Tactical Use, and Modern Collecting and Shooting, by Joseph G. Bilby. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 1996. 252 pp. Illus, notes, biblio, indices. $34.95. ISBN: 0-938289-79-9.

A readable guide to military small arms used during the Civil War. Although there is sufficient technical information to satisfy most gun enthusiasts, the real value of the work is in its discussion of the development of firearms and infantry tactics during the war and in its comparisons among the different the weapons, based on extensive modern testing as well as historical testimony.

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Some Civil War References

 

Compendium of the Confederate Armies by Stewart Sifakis. New York: Facts-on-File, 1992-date. Multi-volume series. No price given.

An attempt to do for the Confederate armies what Frderick H. Dyer’s famed 1908 work, The Compendium of the War of the Rebellion did for the Union ones. One or two states are dealt with in each volume. Each state’s regiments, batteries, and other units in Confederate service is listed, including state line and militia units, by arm-of-service, with some details as to their origins, organizational and operational history, and command structure. Cross references are provided as necessary, and there is also a short, topical bibliography for each state..

The volumes so far published are for Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. Presumably when the series is complete it will include not only treatment of state contingents but also of the Confederate Indian units and Regular Army, plus some sort of statistical presentation, as was found in Compendium of the War of the Rebellion.

The volumes vary from about 140 to about 190 pages, plus front matter. For each state two indices are provided, one of battles and one of names.

A valuable handbook for students of the Confederate Army.

 

Medical Histories of Union Generals, by Jack D. Welsh. Kent, Oh: Kent State University, 1996. xx, 422 pp. Append, glossary, notes, bibliog., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-87338-552-7.

Medical History of Confederate Generals, by Jack D. Welsh. Kent, Oh: Kent State University, 1995. xviii, 296 pp. Append, glossary, notes, bibliog., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-87338-505-5.

Likely to stand as a general supplement to Ezra Warner’s two classic books on Civil War generals as valuable tools for historians, these volumes are often quite detailed. However, they are limited by available source materials. As a result, some relatively obscure figures are accorded more attention than some more famous ones.

An additional flaw is the lack of an introductory essay discussing the state of medical knowledge in the mid-19th century. Although there is a glossary of contemporary medical terms, a more systematic treatment would help clarify some of the Civil War-era diagnoses and terminology that pepper most of the entries.

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On The Gratitude of Princes

 

Tsar Paul of Russia (r. 1796-1801) was taking a turn in the Imperial sleigh one fine winter's night when he chanced upon a private of the Guard standing sentry duty. The Tsar generously offered the man a ride, saying "Get in, Sergeant!"

The man protested, "But, Your Majesty, I am only a . . . ", but the Tsar cut him off with, "Get in, Lieutenant!"

Upon this preemptory order from his Tsar and Autocrat, the young soldier climbed into the sleigh and sat beside the "Little Father" of all the Russias. Off they drove.

During the long ride the astonished guardsman found himself promoted successively through the ranks each time the Tsar addressed him. At sunrise, when the Tsar dropped him off at the barracks the young man was a general.

The soldier passed a few days enjoying the rights and privileges of his newly acquired high rank. Then, one afternoon, the Tsar again invited him for a ride. And the young man found himself demoted as rapidly as he had previously risen until, when the Tsar returned him to the barracks at nightfall, he had been restored to his original humble rank.

There are some who say that, like many another Tsar, Paul was a little mad.

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Some Recent Works in Roman Military History

 

The Roman War Machine, by John Peddie. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishers, 1994. xiv, 169 pp. Illus, maps, diagr, append., notes, bibliog., index. $16.96 paper. ISBN: 0-938289-85-3.

A very good comprehensive survey of the current state of knowledge about the organization, equipment, and doctrine of the Roman Army, with some valuable statistics.

 

Frontiers of the Roman Empire, by Hugh Elton. Bloomington: Indiana University, 1996. ix, 150 pp. Maps, tables, diagr., append., notes, biblio, index. ISBN: 0-253-33111-0.

A surprisingly comprehensive treatment of the Roman frontiers as a system, with chapters on the creation of the frontiers, relations with allied and other peoples beyond them, the army, commerce, and so forth. Well worth reading for the serious student of Roman military.

 

The Rise and Decline of the Late Roman Field Army, by Richard S. Cromwell. Shippenburg, PA: Whte Mane, 1998. ix, 78 pp. Illus, maps, diagr, append, notes, biblio, index. $40.00. ISBN: 1-57249-087-X

A short, but careful survey of the state of knowledge about the late Roman field army from its formation under Diocletian and Constantine to its demise in the fifth century. Of particular value for students of late Roman and early Medieval history, it would certainly be a pleasant read for anyone interested in general military history.

 

War and Society in the Roman World, edited by John Rich and Graham Shipley. London: Routledge, 1993. xi, 315 pp. Illus, tables, figures, notes, index. $24.99 paper. ISBN: 0-415-12167-1.

A dozen essays ranging over various aspects of the interrelationship of war and society in the Roman world from early Republic to the fall of the Empire. Some of the essays are solid military history (e.g., "The Roman Conquest of Italy" and "How the Romans Sacked Cities"), while others touch upon the reactions of intellectuals and poets to war.

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NYMAS Membership Notes

 

Treasurer Dr. Kathleen Broome Williams has been named Society for Military History Regional Coordinator for the Greater New York area.

Boardmenber Dr. Richard L. DiNardo was been appointed Associate Professor for National Security Affairs at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia.

On April 25th Boardmenber Dr. Albert A. Nofi lectured on "New York in the War with Spain" at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island, and on May 27th gave a talk on "The Military Experiences of the Presidents" at the Journal Club, Austin Texas.

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Some Reviews in Medieval Warfare

 

Armies and Warfare in the Middle Ages: The English Experience, by Michael Prestwich. New Haven: Yale, 1996. xi, 396 pp. Illus, tables, glossary, notes, biblio, index. $37.50. ISBN: 0-300-06452-7.

Although the focus in this comprehensive work is on England, many of the conclusions are certainly applicable to other areas of Western Europe as well. The author deals not only with equipment and tactics, but also with the costs of things, such as war horses, rates of march, and so forth.

 

The Knight in Medieval England, 1000-1400, by Peter Coss. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 1996. xv, 191 pp. Illus, maps, notes, biblio, index. No price given. ISBN: 0-938289-77-2.

The development of knighthood, particularly "Angevin Knighthood," is the thesis of this work, which is concerned primarily with the knight as part of society, rather than with his purely military role. There are good short treatments of heraldry, the quasi-religious character of knighthood, and much else.

 

The Military Campaigns of the Wars of the Roses, by Philip A. Haigh. Conshohocken, PA: Combined Publishing, 1997. xvi, 206 pp. Illus, maps, notes, biblio, index. $16.95 paper. ISBN: 0-938289-90-X

A useful outline history of the Wars of the Roses, well supplied with maps to illustrate some of the most complex battles in late Medieval history.

 

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Old Soldiers Never Die

 

In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it was common for the many little Italian city-states to provide to mercenaries for their defense, the famous condottieri. This was a risky business, as some mercs were less determined to fulfill their contracts than to promote their own advancement. Instances were known of condottieri who sold out their employers to a higher bidder, or even attempted to seize power from their erstwhile employers. So a state employing a mercenary had to be on the alert lest he involve himself in nefarious undertakings at its expense.

Having hired a mercenary soldier who proved quite effective in their city’s service, the ruling oligarchs of Siena, in Tuscany, soon came to realize that the condottiero had grown quite popular among the lower classes. Fearful that with popular support he might stage a coup and seize the power, the city-fathers pondered long and hard as to how to get rid of him.

Then, at last, they had an inspiration.

In a carefully planned assassination, they bumped off the offending soldier, planting evidence that the deed had been done by agents of a rival city-state. They then staged an elaborate funeral, and with lamentation ultimately had the man proclaimed a saint, dedicating a shrine to his memory.

Si non e vero, e buon trovato.

 

Newsletter

Mailing Address Changes

 

Editorial submissions should be sent by

surface mail to:

A. A. Nofi

NYMAS

3506 Duval St.

Austin, TX, 78705-1716

 

or by email to:

anofi@aol.com

 

 

 

Cyber Review

 

Civil War Interactive

http://www.almshouse.com/

Perhaps the most innovative, and certainly the most amusing, of the numerous Civil War websites, Civil War interactive is devoted to what may be termed the "lighter" side of the war.

Rather than dealing with weighty matters such as strategy, battles, weapons, personalities, and regimental history, Civil War Interactive looks at the more commonplace. There are a number of departments, all of which have a deft light touch. Be prepared to find recipes for ‘possum, often irreverent book reviews, and especially anecdotes.

The anecdotes range from bits of soldierly wit and humor to scandalous tales of corruption and criminal behavior by senior officers, plus a lot of bawdy tales, the naughty bits that aren’t usually included in "serious" treatments of the war. Worth a visit.

--A.A. Nofi

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