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Friday, April 24, 2015

Adding Value to Your Civil War Battle/Campaign History, Part IV: Put the Action in Perspective


ADDING VALUE TO YOUR CIVIL WAR BATTLE/CAMPAIGN HISTORY

Part IV: Put the Action in Perspective

                Another way to add value to your battle/campaign history is to put the action you are writing about in perspective.  You have probably been reading about battles and campaigns since you were a child.  Make the most of your reading!  The Civil War was neither the first war to occur nor the last, and it had aspects in common with others.  Discussing the respective merits of reinforcing old units (a Confederate preference)  as opposed to forming new ones (a Union tendency), I was able to draw upon Field Marshal von Manstein’s views on the subject as it played out in World War II.  Commenting on the failure of the Secessionists to prevent the Federals from digging in on August 20, 1864, I could shed some light on the problem by quoting Major General von Mellinthin on the perils of allowing Soviets to dig in on the Eastern Front.  Major General J.F.C. Fuller, a British military theoretician, has written several books on Grant and Lee that provide a great many thought-provoking comments.  Robert E. Lee’s narrow turning maneuver at Chancellorsville reminded me of Frederick the Great’s similar movement at Leuthen.  Grant’s wider enveloping movements reminded me of Napoleon’s at Ulm and Jena/Auerstadt.

                Compare, liken, contrast.  Put things in perspective.

Friday, April 3, 2015

ADDING VALUE TO YOUR CIVIL WAR BATTLE/CAMPAIGN HISTORY, Part III: Draw Those Maps!


ADDING VALUE TO YOUR CIVIL WAR BATTLE/CAMPAIGN HISTORY

Part III: Draw Those Maps!

                Yet another way to add value to The Siege of Petersburg: The Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864, was to add more maps, particularly of the first day of Second Deep Bottom, the most critical day of the whole Fourth Offensive.  I had a much clearer idea of troop movements on that day than when I wrote the first edition of my book (The Destruction of the Weldon Railroad: Deep Bottom, Globe Tavern and Reams Station, August 14-25, 1864) more than twenty years ago.  Chris Calkins’ maps for that book were fine—I just did not ask him to draw enough of them.  Hampton Newsome drew six new maps of the first day alone.  We used a combination of the U. S. Geological Service Map and the map drawn by U. S. Army engineers after the War.  The new maps help put Second Deep Bottom into a rightfully more prominent place in the narrative.  As a general principle, the more maps the better.  A lack of maps has always been the main criticism of my Petersburg Campaign.  One day I hope to revise that book, adding a map for every major fight around the Cockade City.  That will involve around thirty maps.