A Publication of
The New York Military Affairs Symposium
1999 NYMAS & The
Art of War of Revolutionary France
Wins 1998 Goodzeit Award
The NYMAS editorial committee is pleased to announce that the Arthur Goodzeit Book Award for the best new work in military history published during 1998 goes to Paddy Griffith’s The Art of War of Revolutionary France, 1789-1802 (London: Greenhill Books/Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 1998)
Instituted in 1991, the Arthur Goodzeit Book Award, named after the late Arthur Goodzeit, a long-time member of NYMAS and first editor of the Newsletter, is made annually to an original work in military history which in the opinion of the members of the NYMAS editorial committee is of unusual value.
The previous winners were:
·1991 - Edward S. Miller, War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1991).
·1992 - James S. Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seekt and German Military Reform (Lawrence, Ks: University Press of Kansas, 1992).
·1993 - Jeffry D. Wert, General James Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993).
·1994 - Michael D. Doubler, Closing with the Enemy: How GIs Fought the War in Europe, 1944-1945 (Lawrence, Ks: University of Kansas Press, 1994).
·1995 - John Prados, Combined Fleet Decoded: The Secret History of American Intelligence and the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II, by John Prados (New York: Random House, 1995).
·1996 – David Glantz and Johnathan M. House, When Titans Clash: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1996).
·1997 – H .R. McMaster, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam (New York: Harper-Collins, 1997)
Recent Books on
the US Army in World War II
World War II history remains the second most popular topic in military history in the U.S. so far as book sales are concerned (after the Civil War) and there have been a crop of recent books of interest to military history buffs.
There has been a resurgence in academic interest in the wartime U.S. Army, spurred on in large measure by a new generation of young US Army officers irritated by the denigration of the performance of the U.S. Army and adulation of the Wehrmacht in books like those by DuPuy and Van Creveld. An excellent example is Peter Mansoor's The GI Offensive in Europe: the Triumph of American Infantry Divisions 1941-1945. Mansoor's book follows in the footsteps of earlier treatments of this subject such as Doubler's ground-breaking Closing with the Enemy or more narrowly focused studies such as John Sloan Brown's Draftee Division and Keith Bonn's When the Odds Were Even.
Mansoor's book is based on extensive research in the divisional records, and chronicles the combat performance of key US infantry divisions in the European theater. It is a well-written and researched account, primarily from the U.S. perspective. But I found its argument about the performance of U.S. vs. Wehrmacht infantry to be a bit soft due to the lack of comparative detail on the Wehrmacht in 1944-45. In this respect, I am still impressed with Joseph Balkoski's Beyond the Beachhead, a detailed look at the 29th Division in Normandy, which contains the best comparison of US versus German infantry at the tactical level that I have yet seen , this book has recently been re-released in paper-back and hopefully will attract a wider audience.
David Johnson's Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers examines how the inter-war U.S. Army tried to innovate with two critical new technologies, tanks and heavy bombers. He presents the best overview account I have seen to date on the trials and tribulations of the tank force during these years. His primary focus is on the inter-service squabbling that shaped U.S. Army tank doctrine, and he pays less attention to tank development and procurement. Johnson concludes with a look at the effects of the inter-war controversies during World War II in a section that is provocative but much too brief.
William Odom's After the Trenches: The Transformation of US Army Doctrine 1918-1939 is an examination of the evolution of the Army's field service regulations of 1923 and 1939. This is a scholarly effortthat will prove valuable to anyone interested in the roots of U.S. Army doctrine in World War II. The latest release from the US Army's Center of Military History is John Wilson's Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades. This is in the Army's blue "Lineage" series, and unlike the earlier books in the series, is a narrative account of the evolution of army organization in the 20th century. This is an invaluable reference for anyone interested in modern U.S. Army history, though I found the World War II section to be a bit thin for my tastes.
new unit histories and memoirs have appeared providing a detailed
glimpse of the combat experience of US tankers at war.
Gordon Blaker's Iron
(White Mane Publishing, $39.95) is a new history of the 66th
Armored Regiment. In terms
of lineage, this is the oldest tank unit in U.S. Army service, tracing
its roots back to the 301st Tank Battalion in World War I.
Blaker begins with a look at the 301st's combat record in
World War I, but the bulk of the book is devoted to the combat record of
the 66th Armored during World War II.
As part of the 2nd Armored Division, the regiment saw
combat in North Africa, Sicily and the northwest Europe campaign. Blaker
combines extensive interviews as well as archival research to provide
both an intimate portrait of the fighting from the tanker's perspective
as well as the big picture of the regiment's role in the campaigns of
the U.S. Army in France and Germany.
I found the book to be a good read with many interesting
vignettes, and would recommend the book highly.
(Naval Institute, $22.00) is the personal memoir of a young Marine tank
officer who served with the 3rd Tank Battalion in 1944-45 on
Guam and Iwo Jima. It written in a literary style with the author's philosophic
reflections intermingled with reminiscences of tank warfare in the
Pacific. Readers interested in Marine tank operations in the Pacific
will find the account to be intriguing as there is so little published
material on the Marine tank battalions.
I did not find the account to be as well-written or compelling as
other tanker's memoirs such as Brazen
the Ken Tout books, or Belton Cooper's recent Death
and the book is rather short for the price.
the recent crop of materials is likely to provide enjoyable reading for
both the serious historian and the interested layman.
An Earlier War. Harvey
Harris' The War as I
(Pogo Press, $14.95) consists of the collected 1918 letters of a young
tanker who served in an army Renault FT tank battalion under George
Patton. As letters to
family back home, they are an interesting reflection of a very different
time. Details of tank operations are a bit sparse, but there is a good
selection of photos.
Wisdom of the Ages
deeply about the future of war requires careful reflection on its past.”
Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered
James Kirby Martin
Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered is an almost definitive biography of one of America’s greatest generals, and hands-down greatest traitor. Prof. Martin has written a very detailed account of Arnold’s youth and military services to the American Revolution.
The book is particularly good for its in-depth exploration of the three principal feats of arms to Arnold’s credit, the expedition to Quebec, the Battle of Valcour Island, and the Saratoga Campaign, but does not while not neglecting administrative and political aspects of his career. Demonstrating that Arnold was by no means as impetuous a soldier as has often been suggested, Prof. Martin points out a number of occasions on which Arnold acted with commendable wisdom to avoid precipitous action.
Unfortunately, the work has a number of flaws. Prof. Martin keeps reminding us that for a long time Arnold’s reputation as a soldier suffered from patriotic attempts to obscure his role in the war. But we know that, and there can’t have been a history of the war in the past 75 years that hasn’t done justice by Arnold’s war record. Worse, while Prof. Martin does a good job of demonstrating that Arnold’s personality was by no means as slippery as some of his detractors would have us believe, he keeps trying to tell us what Arnold was thinking or feeling at various times, usually without any specific evidence. And the book is limited to events before Arnold’s treason, which actually does not figure in the work at all.
Although valuable for those interested in the military history of the American Revolution, Benedict Arnold wild disappoint anyone seeking to learn more about the origins of his treachery.
Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered, by James Kirby Martin. New York: NYU Press, 1997. xxx, 535 pp. Illus, maps, notes, bibliog., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-8147-5560-7.
The Man Who Really
Won the Battle of Waterloo
The brouhaha that has accompanied the recent publication of Peter Hofschroer’s 1815: The Waterloo Campaign, which argues that the battle was actually won by the Prussians, revives a philiopietistic struggle that has been going on almost since the battle ended.
Thus, the English, Scots, Irish, Belgians, Nassauers, Hannoverians, Brunswickers, and, Dutch, not to mention the Prussians, have over the years all laid claim to having “won” the battle, while the French have keep trying very hard to explain why it was all either a terrible mistake or the fault of Marshal Grouchy, or perhaps Ney.
The real story is know to but a few . . . .
The Battle of Waterloo was actually won by the Italians, or, more specifically, a Corsican. For in fact, the Battle of Waterloo was nothing less than the culminating event in a Corsican feud that had festered for generations.
Even before Napoleone Buonaparte was born, his family had long been at
feud with another prominent Corsican family, the Pozzo de Borgos.
Whatever the Buonapartes favored, the Pozzo de Borgos opposed,
and vice-versa. Thus, after
the Buonapartes supported the French Revolution, the Pozzo de Borgos
most naturally opposed it.
During the long years of the Revolution and the Buonapartist domination of
France and then of much of Europe, the Count of Pozzo de Borgo remained
dedicated to bringing down his family’s ancient enemies.
Ultimately, with much of Europe fell under Buonaparte’s rule,
the Count had to flee to Russia, where he entered the Tsar’s service.
As an invaluable advisor, Tsar Alexander, made the Count a major
general and employed him on numerous important diplomatic missions, most
notably to England. As a
result, the Count was at Trafalgar as an observer with the British
fleet, on that momentous occasion.
And he was at the Tsar’s side throughout the momentous events
of the Russian Campaign in 1812. The Count subsequently became the Tsar’s envoy to the
resorted Bourbons in France. As
a result, when the “Corsican Ogre” returned from Elba to once more
seize power, the Count naturally gravitated to the Duke of Wellington’s
staff, serving as his Russian military advisor. And thus it was at
Waterloo that the long feud between the two Corsican clans, the Pozzo de
Borgo and the Buonaparte, came to its bloody resolution, as the latter
were driven decisively into exile.
Now note that the Count had been present as a military advisor on the
occasion of all three of the greatest defeats that were inflicted upon
the Buonaparte usurpers – Trafalgar, Russia, and Waterloo.
This is hardly a matte of coincidence.
Clearly his dedication to the destruction of the Buonapartes
played perhaps the decisive role in their fall.
So devastating was their defeat that never since 1815 have the Buonapartes
shown their faces in Corsica, while the Pozzo de Borgos reside their
still. Moreover, the palace
of the Pozzo de Borgos in Ajaccio is itself a celebration of their
triumph. When the Communards
burned the Buonapartist Tuilieries Palace down in 1870, the Pozzo de
Borgos arranged at great expense for the debris to be transported to
Corsica so that they could enjoy their vengeance in style.
Notable New Treatment of the Antietam Campaign
The unending flood of materials on the nation’s pivotal struggle continues with no end in sight. Here, Prof. Richard L. DiNardo takes a look at a notable new treatment of the Antietam Campaign of 1862.
Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862, by Joseph L. Harsh. Kent, Oh.: Kent State University Press, 1999. xvii, 649 pp. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $45.00. ISBN: 0-87-338-631-0.
This book is the sequel to Harsh’s provocative work Confederate Tide Rising, published last year. The results here are equally provocative, and worthy of careful scrutiny. Harsh begins with an examination of Lee’s thought process in his deciding to undertake the Maryland campaign in the aftermath of his victory in August 1862 at Second Bull Run. Harsh suggests that Lee undertook the campaign as part of a concerted strategic offensive by the major Confederate armies, an overall strategy which Lee played a critical role in formulating. Lee’s thinking here was also influenced by more well known factors such as the attempt to gain foreign recognition, his estimate of the state of the Union forces, especially those cowering in the defenses of Washington, D.C., after the Second Bull Run disaster and the window of opportunity offered by the absence of the Army of the Potomac, still in transit from the Peninsula back to the environs of Washington.
Harsh then goes into tremendous detail as to why the wheels eventually came off the campaign in the nearly two weeks before Antietam. He begins with an extended examination of how large Lee’s army actually was when it crossed the Potomac on September 5, 1862. He estimates that Lee may have had as many as 75,000 men at the time. Incessant straggling served to reduce his numbers considerably within the short space of two weeks. Harsh then examines how the Union decision to maintain garrisons at Martinsburg and especially Harper’s Ferry, as well as the delays involved in Jackson’s expedition to capture Harper’s Ferry, completely threw Lee’s timetable off. Finally, Harsh gives a great deal of credit to George B. McClellan’s generalship. Here, Harsh provocatively challenges the importance of the so-called “Lost Order,” which gave McClellan the dispositions of the Army of Northern Virginia. Harsh suggests that many of the measures McClellan undertook against Lee had already been put into motion well before Special Order No. 191 was brought to his headquarters. All the orders did was to confirm to McClellan that he was doing the right thing.
Somewhat less compelling is Harsh’s discussion of Lee’s decision to fight in the hills near Sharpsburg. Although Harsh is as understanding as possible of Lee’s thinking for continuing the campaign, one cannot avoid the conclusion that Lee had made a serious mistake. Here again, Harsh contends that Lee wanted to slip away north to Hagerstown to continue to maneuver against the Union forces in Maryland, but McClellan skillfully deprived Lee of this option. Harsh’s discussion of the Confederate high command and their post-mortems on the campaign is somewhat conventional in outlook.
The writing throughout the book is concise and the book makes for an easy read. Harsh’s research is excellent and he goes into several memoranda between Lee and Davis in considerable detail. The maps are quite good in following the overall campaign, but are less useful in following the battle of Antietam.
Taken all together, this book is a terrific edition to the literature on the 1862 campaign in the Civil War. Although some of his final conclusions are somewhat on the mundane side, the process by which he arrives at them is decidedly not. This book is a must for anyone interested in the eastern campaigns of the Civil War --R.L. DiNardo
Why Did He Wear Pistols?
S. Patton was the only American who ever earned the title "Master
of the Sword" at the French Army Cavalry School at Saumur.
So expert a swordsman was Patton that as a junior officer he
represented the United States in the 1912 Olympics, finishing fifth in
the decathlon. Patton later
went on to design the last saber ever issued to the U.S. cavalry.
“Patton saber” is still in use for ceremonial purposes. Curiously, when the saber is used on ceremonial occasions it
is usually found in association with an even more historic piece of
military equipment. That,
of course, is the “McClellan saddle,” named for another famous
general. One suspects, however, that “Old Blood and Guts” probably
didn’t think very much of “The Virginia Creeper.”
Unusual and Interesting
Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae, by Steven Pressfield. New York: Doubleday, 1999. 386 pp. Maps (endpapers). $23.95. ISBN: 0-385-49251-0.
Widely hailed as a great novel, Gates of Fire seems reasonably acceptable as fiction. More interesting, however, is the several battles in which it depicts hoplite warfare in the fifth century B.C. Relying rather heavily upon Victor Hanson Davis’ The Western Way of War, the book is by no means unsuccessful.
The Fighting Rabbis: Jewish Military Chaplains and American History, by Albert Isaac Slomovitz. New York: New York University Press, 1999. xiv, 170 pp. Illus, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-8147-8098-9.
A well-written and informative history of the military rabbinate in the armed forces of the United States. Slomovitz, himself a former Navy chaplain, begins the story very early, in colonial America, long before the appointment of the first formal Jewish chaplains. Although the focus is on Jewish chaplains, there is a good deal of material on the chaplaincy in general, and on the role of Jewish personnel in the armed forces.
Kalishnikov Machine Pistols, Assault Rifles, and Machine-Guns, 1945 to the Present, by John Walter. London: Greenhill/Mecanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1999. 143 pp. Illus, diagr. $22.95. ISBN: 1-85367-364-1.
A comprehensive guide to the seemingly infinite variety of infantry automatic weapons in the Kalishnikov stable. Each weapon is covered with an illustration, a standard listing of basic physical and performance characteristics, and a short discussion of its provenance, often with some unusual information thrown in. Valuable for students of infantry weapons.
Dictionary of Military Terms, complied by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. London: Greenhill/ Mecanicsburg, Pa.: 1999. 493 pp. Append. $1-85367-386-2.
A handy guide to everything from “A-10” through “Zulu Time,” supplemented by two appendices, one of which has an invaluable list of hundreds of currently fashionable acronyms and abbreviations. Very useful for anyone working in modern military.
Recent Books of Interest
Roots of Strategy, Book 4, edited by David Jablonsky. Mecanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1999. vii, 533 pp. Illus, notes. $19.95, paper. ISBN: 0-8117-2918-4.
The fourth in Stackpole’s Roots of Strategy series, this volume usefully encompassing in one volume the principal works on maritime and air strategy. It reprints Alfred Thayer Mahan’s famous The Influence of Sea Power Upon History and Julian Corbett’s Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, as well as Giulio Douhet’s The Command of the Air and William “Billy” Mitchell’s Winged Defense. Of the four books, Corbett’s is the most incisive, while Mahan’s is solid, though perhaps not as revolutionary as it once seemed, while and both Douhet and Mitchell are too caught up in their subject to take an objective view. The editor has provided a useful general introduction and specific introductions to each book.
The Siege at Hue, by George W. Smith. Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner, 1999. xviii, 195 pp. Illus, maps, chron., biblio., index. $49.95. ISBN: 1-55587-847-4.
Although essentially a personal account of the author’s part in the battle (he was an information advisor to the South Vietnamese Army at the time) The Siege at Hue, is nevertheless a very good, often quite vivid historical overview of the battle for the ancient Vietnamese capitol during the 1968 Tet Offensive. Unlike many treatments of the operation, Smith accords considerable coverage to the South Vietnamese, who actually did most of the fighting.
Doniphan’s Epic March: The 1st Missouri Volunteers in the Mexican War, by Joseph G. Dawson III. Lawrence, Ks.: University Press of Kansas, 1999. xiv, 325 pp. Illus, Maps, notes, biblio., index. $35.00. ISBN: 0-7006-0956-3.
A very lively look at the 2,230 mile “anabasis” of the 1st Missouri, from its home state into New Mexico, and then on into Chihuahua, and on home again by way of Texas and Gulf, during the Mexican War. Using lots of primary materials, the author does an excellent job of describing both the expedition and military life during the period, with a couple of neat battle pieces thrown in as well.
Citizen Soldiers in the War of 1812, by C. Edward Skeen. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 1999. viii, 229 pp. Illus, maps, notes, biblio., index. $27.50. ISBN: 0-8131-2089-6.
With interest in the War of 1812 rising, this is a timely, valuable, and by no means unsympathetic treatment of the militia in that conflict. The author observes that most of the many problems that hampered the effective use of militia forces in the war were due to a lack of national consensus on how the militia should be recruited, organized, and funded. The book is well written, and integrates the problems of the militia into the large military and political problems of the war.
Ancient Siege Warfare¸ by Paul Bentley Kern. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1999. Illus, diagr, maps, motes, biblio., index. xx 419 pp. $35.00. ISBN: 0-253-33546-9
A comprehensive survey of sieges from the Egyptians to the Romans. Although much will be familiar to the veteran student of military history, the author provides some interesting insights into the treatment of captives, the distribution of plunder, and such other often overlooked aspects of siege warfare, and discusses the differing cultural patterns which influenced these practices.
A valuable look at the highly successful Allied effort to interfere in Axis supply lines to North Africa during the Tunisian Campaign. The author has done a good job of integrating the naval and air aspects of the story, provides adequate coverage of the Axis side, and refrains from trying to find scapegoats. However, the book might have benefited from some tables to better illustrate the Axis supply problems. Of particular value for anyone interested in the war in North Africa.
Rommel: The Tunisian Campaign, 1942-1943, by Bruce Allen Watson (Westport, Ct.: Praeger, 1999).
xv, 217 pp. Illus,
maps, notes, biblio., index. $39.95.
German-oriented treatment of operations in North Africa from Alamein to
the surrender of Axis forces in May of 1943.
Unlike Alan J. Levine, noted above, the author needs to find
scapegoats, and constantly blames the Italians or Hitler or anyone else.
There is some useful material, but the book could safely be
overlooked by any but the most ardent student of the North Africa
The Battle of
the Bulge, The German View: Perspectives from Hitler’s High Command, edited
by Danny S. Parker. London:
Greenhill/ Mecanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole, 1999.
xiv, 237 pp. Illus,
maps, tables, index. $34.95.
Bulge-maven Danny Parker has her brought together six German documents
(two speeches by Hitler, post battle interviews with Rundstedt, Jodl,
one of Model’s principal staff officers, plus a long essay by Schraam,
the official Wehrmacht diarist), to present some new and interesting perspective on the battle.
Particularly important for anyone interested in operations in
Northwest Europe in 1944-1945.
The SA Generals and the Rise of the Nazis, by Bruce Campbell. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 1998. ix, 278 pp. Illus, append, glossary, notes, bibliog., index. $0-8131-2047-0.
The author uses the 178 men who ranked as generals in the Sturm Abteilung, the infamous “Brown Shirts,” to tell not only how this violent paramilitary organization was not only essential to Hitler’s rise to power, but also how he so unceremoniously and effectively thrust it aside once he attained supremacy. The work is full of useful looks at some of the lesser-known Nazi leaders, and provides some valuable insights into some obscurer corners of the history of the Nazi movement.
NYMAS Membership News
article “Scientists in Uniform: The Harvard Computation Laboratory in
WWII," by Executive Secretary Prof. Kathleen Broome Williams’ article,
" has just been published in The Naval War College Review,
Summer 1999 (Vol. LII, No.3). Prof. Williams recently participated in the 14th Naval
History Symposium at Annapolis, in September, serving as a Commentator
on the panel “The Battle of Atlantic: the British Perspective” and
chairing the panel on “The Battle of Atlantic: The American
Perspective.” Several other NYMAS members and friends of NYMAS took part in
the conference, among them, President Prof. David Syrett, Norman
Friedman, Ed Marola, Gary Weir, John Prados, and former President Brian
Member James F. Dunnigan’s most recent book, Dirty Little Secrets of the Twentieth Century, has just been published by William Morrow.
Boardmember Dr. Albert A. Nofi’s new books, The Underground Rail Road and the Civil War and Spies in the Civil War, will be released shortly by Combined Publishing of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. With Mr. Dunnigan, Dr. Nofi is also a associate editor StrategyPage, a website devoted to military news, information, history, and gaming, at www.strategypage.com.
Prof. Williams wants
to remind the membership that NYMAS cannot function without the
enthusiastic voluntary efforts of people like Jim Dingman and Bob
Rowan, who put together a marvelous web page, Steve Zaloga, who
handles all the mailings, Tom Wisker, who takes care of the
recording, Valerie Eads, for getting rooms and general liaison
with CUNY, Kay Larson, who handles liaison with West Point, George
Phillips, who sends out the meeting notices, Arnie Albert, who
saved our skins by arranging for a room at beginning of this past
lecture season, and to Al Nofi and
Rich DiNardo, who get out The
Terrorists, Freedom Fighters, Crusaders,
Propagandists, and Mercenaries
The New York Military Affairs Symposium
c/o Dr. K. B.
20 Alden Pl.
NYMAS is a tax exempt, not-for-profit membership corporation chartered under the laws of New York State. Donations are deductible from both Federal and New York State taxes. Membership dues are $35.00 a year, payable in September. Checks should be made out to “NYMAS” and mailed to the Bronxville address.