First Over There: The Attack on Cantigny, America’s First Battle of World War I, by Matthew J. Davenport. St. Martin’s Press: New York, 2015 (360pp.) Read 10-02-16 to 12-04-16. Outstanding! This is how military history should be written! This is one of the all-time Best military histories I have ever read! Why this book did not win a Pulitzer I don’t know. The author, Davenport, says this is his first book; I certainly hope it is not his last. This is an exquisitely detailed book about the 1st Infantry Division, 28th Regiment in its preparation for, conduct of, and what happened after the Battle of Cantigny, France, May 28-30, 1917. The author covers the big picture of what was going on during the war, the politics, and command level. Then he works himself down to the 1st Division, then the 28th Regiment, and into the individual Rifle Companies, Platoons and Squads. The amount of detail he provides on so many individual soldiers is simply amazing. He writes of this battle at the individual level without leaving out the bigger picture. He does not spare the reader the gory details of battle as he gives graphic accounts of deaths and wounds. He brings you into the suffering of the soldier. Why read this book? We are in the one-hundredth anniversary of World War I and today’s generation knows nothing about this war. We live in a post-American, post-patriotic era. This book may stir the cooling embers of genuine patriotism and love of country. This book should be a movie. The only criticism of the book I could give is that with all of his extensive research, he should have perhaps included more on the German side and he had almost nothing on the French citizens of the town of Cantigny. I highly recommend this book! If you can read only one book on the Great War, read this book during 2017.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Books, Readings, Movies and Music Celebrating Americanism, Freedom, the Christian Faith, Godly Virtues, and Western Civilization
Introduction: The Great Election of 2016 for the President of the United States is now over and the 45th President will be Donald Trump of New York, a businessman, not a politician. This election will be the subject of studies for the foreseeable future because it was so very different in many ways from all the elections preceding it. Perhaps the strangeness of the election will not be fully known until after the Trump presidency has had a chance to actually do some things that were promised in the campaign.
This election has clearly demonstrated what many of us have known for a long while: this nation is very divided. In my studies as an amateur historian I would say that our nation is more divided than at any time since the 1850’s- 1860’s. The slavery crisis was a complex issue that touched on what it means to be a human being, what the Bible says about slavery, what the Founders thought and wanted, as well as the sheer economics of slavery and the political divide the issue caused including the issue of states’ rights and individual property freedoms. It took the worst war in our history, a war that killed more Americans than any other war, to settle the issue and the lingering issues of race and racism linger still and will likely never go away. But today we are at least just as divided and maybe more so.
The issues that divide us today are just as fundamental as the issue of slavery. Is an unborn baby a human being with rights? Should men be able to marry men and women marry women? What is marriage? What is a family? Can people switch genders and declare themselves a different gender from what they were born with and then force society to recognize them for who and what they are pretending to be? If you have a religious belief that contradicts the liberal sexual mores can you be persecuted and prosecuted by the State and coerced to act against your religion in order to accommodate those with whom you disagree? Do homosexual rights trump religious freedom? Is Islam compatible with any of our western values? What is a nation? Should we not have borders or an official language? Should we purge our history of inconvenient facts because the public’s values have changed?
For the last hundred years or so conservatives and the religious right have slowly surrendered one part of our culture after another despite winning many elections. Our culture is no longer slouching towards Gomorrah, we are going at breakneck speed off the cliff to Gomorrah. And yet we, the religious right and conservatives in general, have just won another election. Sort of. Trump is problematic at best for purebred conservatives.
While political movements, elections, and policies are important, they are just one part of what we must do to reclaim the culture. I would say, boldly even, that the greatest single cause of the decline of our culture is that we have forsaken Christ and His Inspired, Inerrant, Infallible Word. The Church has failed to hold to sound doctrine and failed to pass the faith down to the next generation, and the next, and the next…. We have failed to proclaim the pure gospel and evangelize the lost, failed to claim every part of our culture for the glory of Christ, and failed to lead our world with a consistent and biblical worldview. We have retreated to our Christian ghettos and have been compromised by the world.
Along with the decline in the Church, the next big reason for the fall of our civilization is that we have ceded control of Education to the pagan Left. From the local elementary schools to the school boards, the teachers’ unions, the Teachers’ Colleges and Universities, to the Dept. of Education, our education system is failing and falling short. Our literacy rates are in decline but our athletics are outstanding. The classics are unread, untaught and forsaken but we are computer literate. Americans no longer are even teaching math at university, immigrants are. The Liberal Left and atheists do not and will not, cannot, teach patriotism and moral values anymore. It is now controversial to require students to say the pledge of allegiance, it is not unusual for the Mexican flag to be more prevalent on campus than the American flag and kids cannot sing Christmas carols during Winter Holidays (it used to be called Christmas!)
In short, the American education system is all about keeping children ignorant of the greatness of our country, ignorant of the biblical basis for morals and values, and is more interested in turning out world citizens who cannot think or reason and know not from whence they came, than they are about turning out moral citizens who think critically and cherish their nation’s heritage.
The same can be said for the American entertainment establishment. Gone are the days when sports heroes and movie stars also served in the armed forces and fought in our wars. Today the sports heroes take a knee when the National Anthem is played and the movie stars threaten to move to Canada when their candidate and political party loses an election. One of the biggest Olympic heroes of all time, Bruce Jenner, has made himself a woman. Sort of.
And the News Media, the so-called journalists of our day…are simply disgusting. Useless. Communists. It took an outlaw set of computer hackers, Wikileaks and Anonymous, to break the decisive stories that revealed how crooked the demoncratic party is. They did what the Main Stream Media used to do.
If our government does not address these issues in our education, media, and entertainment systems then all of our political actions and ideals will come to naught.
So what can I do? What can WE do? One tiny thing I am going to do is to promote good books, movies and music that point us in the right direction. If the education system, modern news media and entertainment industry does not promote Americanism, Patriotism, Western Civilization, Virtue and Good Morals, and the Christian Faith, then I WILL. The lists that I will produce are from my personal library and are books/movies/music that I think are important and share a good message that will build up the Church, build up America and Americans, and fight the overwhelming tide of evil that assaults us every day.
I am inviting you to educate and inform yourself through these resources. Certainly we should exchange ideas, discuss the books and the issues. And have fun!
I. History: the Record of Freedom and Oppression, Greatness in Western Civilization
A. General Histories of America: Here are some general histories of America that I have either found to be outstanding or look very promising with good, strong recommendations.
- A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson. HarperCollinsPublishers: New York, 1997 (1088pp.) Johnson is British and the book was originally published in Britain. This is an outstanding, conservative view of the history of America. I would say that if you could read one volume on the history of America, read this book!
- Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Eighties, by Paul Johnson. Harper&Row Publishers: New York, 1983 (817pp.) While this is a world history, it deals a lot with America and her impact on the world, so I am including it here as a companion volume to the one above. I have read this big book twice it’s so good! Even though it is now a bit out of date, if you want to read a great, conservative account of most of the twentieth-century, this is the book.
- The Growth of the American Republic, Volume One, sixth edition, by Samuel Eliot Morison, Henry Steele Commager and William E. Leuchtenburg. Oxford University Press: New York, 1969 (921pp.) The original edition of this classic came out in 1930. Volume Two, seventh edition, 1980 (923pp.) I read these two classics back in 2000 over about 5 months- that fast for such a large work indicates how much I enjoyed these books! The authors tell the story of America in a rich, invigorating manner.
- America, The Last Best Hope Volume I:From the Age of Discovery To a World at War by William J. Bennett. Nelson Current: Nashville, TN 2006 (673pp.) The portions of this book I have read are outstanding! Volume II: From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom 1914-1989 Thomas Nelson: Nashville, 2007 (592pp.) This two volume set may be better in some ways than the previous set listed above because Bennett does deal with some modern trends in American History that are liberal and deconstructive. Bennett takes on controversial subjects like Columbus and sets the Liberals straight! If you can afford the time for a big 2 Volume history of America, go to Dr. Bennett.
- A Patriot’s History of the United States From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. Sentinel: New York, 2004 (928pp.) I have read parts of this book and am quite impressed! It seems that it started out as a one volume work but the following volumes have been added. A Patriot’s History of the Modern World From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945, Larry Schweikart and Dave Dougherty. 2012 (490pp.) A Patriot’s History of the Modern World Vol.II From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement: 1945-2012 by Schweikart and Dougherty. 2013 (671pp.)
- The Americans: The Colonial Experience by Daniel J. Boorstin. Vintage Books: New York, 1958 (434pp.) This is an outstanding three book series that takes a series of connected snapshots to lay out the history of this great nation. This is not your normal, straight chronological history; Boorstin’s writing is unique and scintillating. The Americans: The National Experience. 1965 (517pp.) The Americans: The Democratic Experience. 1973 (717pp.) This inexpensive paperback set would be a great addition to any family’s library. The way Boorstin writes and organizes his book is that you can open it to any chapter at random, read it, and feel good about your country and learn a lot. You do not have to read it all the way through, first to last, although that is certainly the recommended way.
- The Oxford History of the American People, volume I: Prehistory to 1789, Samuel Eliot Morison. Mentor: New York, 1972 (422pp.) Volume II: 1789 Through Reconstruction. (540pp.) Volume III: 1869 to the Death of John F. Kennedy 1963. (521pp.) Morison is one of my all-time favorite authors and this series is outstanding. I also have the one volume, hardback edition which can still be purchased: The Oxford History of the American People, Oxford University Press: New York, 1965 (1151pp.) Morison is an old school conservative who is a delight to read. By conservative I do not mean a partisan, rather, an accurate historian who is passionate about our story and seeks to tell it with grace and dignity.
- B. Discovering the Americas: Stories of Adventure, Courage & Greatness: Every American should get to know Christopher Columbus. He has fallen out of favor these days and is blamed for the near extermination of the Native Americans, Indians, and Aboriginal Peoples. I believe that we should celebrate Columbus and his great accomplishments as he had a great faith in God, a sense of divine calling in his life, and he was the most courageous and talented mariner in our American story. Simply put, if Columbus had not persevered in his quest, which was a religious quest, America would not be here.
The study of Columbus does have a particular relevance to our lives today in that he was seeking a way to deal with the problem of Islam in his day. That’s right, Columbus did NOT just sail west because it was there, he did not set out on his journey simply for fame, glory, and riches. He believed God had called him to this task in order to enrich the Spanish Crown and fund a Crusade to reconquer the Holy Land from the Muslims and open new trading routes since the Muslims had blocked the direct route. Along the way he discovered a New World.
- The Log of Christopher Columbus, translated by Robert H. Fuson. International Marine Publishing Company: Camden, Maine 1987 (252pp.) An excellent prime source that demonstrates his faith in God and personal courage.
- The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Edited and translated by J.M. Cohen. Penguin Books: New York, 1969 (320pp.) This book is an Excellent prime source and contemporary account. This is an inexpensive paperback and should be in every American’s home!
- Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem, Carol Delaney. Free Press: New York, 2011 (319pp.) An excellent biography that sheds much light on the religious motives of Columbus. If you can’t read Morison’s lengthy biography of Columbus, read this one!
- Admiral of the Ocean Sea, A Life of Christopher Columbus, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Little, Brown and Company: Boston, 1942 (680pp.) This Pulitzer Prize winner is one of my top biographies. If you could only read one book on Columbus, read this one.
- The Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Two Volumes in One, by Washington Irving. Cosimo Classics: New York, 2011, originally published in 1893, (489pp., 515pp. respectively). Did you catch the author’s name? Yes, that Washington Irving, the famous 19th century author of The Last of the Mohicans, and The Deerslayer. One Great American writing about another. While I have not read this massive 2 volume biography yet, this classic promises greatness. Morison does quote from Irving several times in his books, but there are some inaccuracies in the book that Morison ferrets out.
- The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages A.D.1492-1616, by Dr. Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1974 (758pp.) This outstanding book tells the stories of the brave, the cruel, the greedy, and the amazing men who led other men in the very dangerous journeys of early trans-Atlantic sailing to the Americas. The book focuses on Columbus, Magellan, and Drake but includes others. These men should be revered as heroes by every American, but, sadly, their stories have fallen on hard times to our great loss.
- The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages A.D. 500-1600, by Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison. Oxford University Press: New York, 1971 (712 pp.) This Harvard Professor and U.S. Navy Admiral begins his story with ancient myths of islands and lands west of Gibraltar and the English Isles and then covers in detail the great mariners like Leif Ericsson, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and Sir Walter Raleigh. These great men, and the adventures they pursued, should be common knowledge today, but have, sadly, been long forgotten. In my lifetime the only men that come close to these heroes are the astronauts of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs which also are now nearly forgotten.
- B. Conquering and Colonizing the Americas
- Of Plymouth Plantation: Bradford’s History of the Plymouth Settlement 1608-1650, by Governor William Bradford. The Vision Forum, Inc.: San Antonio, TX 1998. Originally published 1856 after being lost and in private possession for over two-hundred years. This edition updated into modern English in 1909 by Harold Paget. (353pp.) I have read this book twice and believe that every American should read this book! Condensed, paperback editions are available.
- Love and Hate in Jamestown: John Smith, Pocahontas, and the Heart of a New Nation, by David A. Price. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2003 (305pp.) This outstanding book needs to be read in conjunction with Plymouth Plantation listed above. The two books give you both sides of the founding of this great country- a search for wealth and adventure as well as a search for freedom to worship.
- A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America, by James Horn. Basic Books: New York, 2005 (337pp.) Jamestown is so important that a second book is worthy of your reading.
- Captain John Smith: Jamestown and the Birth of the American Dream, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.: Hoboken, New Jersey, 2006 (274pp.) To understand, love, and appreciate America you must read biographies of the great men and women who founded and built this great country. John Smith was a great man, and here is a worthy biography.
- John Winthrop: America’s Forgotten Founding Father, by Francis J. Bremer. Oxford University Press: New York, 2003 (478pp.) Surely Winthrop deserves the title of a Founding Father, and this biography brings back this forgotten giant of our history.
A. American History
a. Early 19th Century
1. Jortner, Adam. The Gods of Prophetstown, The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier. Oxford University Press: New York, 2012 (310pp.) Read 3-8 to 5-17-14. This book goes into great detail of the lives of William H. Harrison (Maj. Gen. and President) and Tenskwatawa (The Prophet of the Shawnee), brother of Tecumseh and the religious/political revival led by Tenskwatawa and the trans-Indian movement and the political early life of Harrison. The first half of the book is a hard, tough, read but the last 1/3 is worth the work. A total of just a few pages on the actual battle of Tippecanoe but the study of Indian/US relations, the religion comparisons are fascinating. This book is a wonderful study of early American politics that lets you know they were thoroughly crooked and corrupt back then as well as today.
2. Clark, Thomas D. and John D.W. Guice. The Old Southwest 1795-1830, Frontiers in Conflict. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK 1989 (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque) 335pp. Read 06-23-15 to 08-25-15. This was a very good general history of the Old Southwest that covered inter-related topics. I found the book a bit tedious at times, other times quite a lively read, but all in all, a very profitable read about an area of our nation and our past that I knew next to nothing about. I read this book as a result of reading Remini’s book on the Battle of New Orleans a few months back (see below) needing some more background to Andrew Jackson and the region. I am very glad to have read this book but could only recommend it to someone who had a special interest in that region or time period; not for the general reader. Like the book immediately above, The Gods of Prophetstown, this book covers a LOT of information about our relations to the Indian nations, including the Trail of Tears.
b. Founding 18th Century
1. Olasky, Marvin. Fighting for Liberty and Virtue: Political and Cultural Wars in Eighteenth-Century America. Regnery: Washington D.C. 1995 (316pp.) This eye-opening, fantastic book was read 09-08-14 to 09-30-14. Wow! I had no idea how corrupt and immoral the British were at that time and how that played into the Revolution.
1. Morison, Samuel Eliot. The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages A.D. 1492-1616. Oxford University Press: New York, 1974, (758p.) I purchased this book in 2000 and began reading it but never completed it. I restarted the book again in Nov.2013 and finished in 03-06-15. This book was somewhat of a difficult read as it is not just long but quite detailed. But Professor Morison (he was a US Navy Admiral and with a Ph.D. he was a professor at Harvard) writes with excitement that comes with having sailed many of the same routes that he writes about. So when he writes about Columbus he writes not just as a scholar but as a sailor who has made the same journey in a small ship. When he writes about Magellan, he writes as one who has sailed a ship through the Straits named for Magellan. When he writes of Drake on the California coast he writes as one who personally sailed the coast looking for the bay Drake put in to. Where I struggled in the book was with the lesser known explorers. At any rate, I am glad I have read it and plan on reading volume one of this set, The Northern Voyages in the future. The two things I was amazed at as I read this book were the frequency with which the Explorers were punished and imprisoned by the kings when they returned home. Morison makes much of this. The other thing I found amazing was the casualty rate of roughly 25% of all the mariners who set out on these voyages never made it home. These are stories of tremendous courage. It is the story of Western Civilization at its finest. While I cannot recommend this book for the general reader, it is an excellent book for those with an interest in sailing and in the Age of Discovery.
2. Delaney, Carol. Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem. Free Press: New York, 2011 (319pp.) Read 03-28-15 to 05-08-15. This was an amazing book that rocked my understanding of Columbus! I had previously read Samuel Eliot Morison’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and IT was fantastic. That book and Roland Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther are my two top biographies of all time (and I just don’t read many biographies). But now, I must add Delaney’s work as being of equal in merit to Admiral Morison’s. Morison’s book surprised me about 8-9 years ago as I saw clearly that Columbus was a man of great faith, not just a nominal Catholic. And then I read Fuson’s edition of the Log of Christopher Columbus and again, the faith of Columbus shone brightly. What Delaney does, however, is to tie it all together and show that Columbus’ faith gave him a grand vision of sailing West to get to the East, in order to gain great wealth for Spain so that Ferdinand and Isabella could afford to raise an army and go on a Crusade to take Jerusalem back from the muslims and usher in the 2nd Coming of Christ. Delaney proves her point time and again using Columbus’ own writings to show his motivations. From my previous studies of Columbus I thought that his sailing west to get to the east was simply due to the blockade of trade by the muslims, but that is only part of the motivation. None of this was taught me in high school or college history, or even in seminary/graduate school. I highly recommend this book, even to the point of saying if you could read either Morison or Delaney, I would recommend Delaney.
3. Duggard, Martin. The Last Voyage of Columbus. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2005 (294pp.) Read from 5-9-15 to 6-17-15. This is a very good, popular book on the 4th and final voyage to the New World by Columbus. Although it is written in a popular style, having read Morison and Delaney, I can definitely tell that Duggard knows his stuff. He included many details the others left out. By focusing on the 4th voyage Duggard is able to include those details and present what amounts to an amazing adventure story! The last chapter is outstanding as he tells what happened to all the key players later, and, most important, he tells the story of how Amerigo Vespucci got the credit for discovering the New World and Columbus was basically forgotten for about 300 years! I highly recommend!
e. Black History/Slavery
1. Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. Dover Publications: Mineola, NY 1970 (336pp.). Originally published 1853. Read 02-16-15 to 02-24-15. This is an amazing personal account of the life of a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840’s to 1850’s. This is a real page turner, hard to put down. This book absolutely is must reading for every American! Wow! In the last year a movie was made off of this book, which I have not seen, but now must see.
B. Military History
a. The War of 1812
1. The Burning of Washington, The British Invasion of 1814, by Anthony S. Pitch. Bluejacket Books: Annapolis, MD 1998 (298pp.). Read from Aug.24 to Sept.11, 2014 for the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington DC. This is an outstanding, well-written book that is incredibly detailed and uses a ton of first hand, primary sources. The book is very fast paced and is an easy read despite the details covered. This was an eye-opening book for me! I highly recommend!
2. The Naval War of 1812 Modern Library-War by Theodore Roosevelt. The Modern Library: New York, 1999 (308pp. but I only made it to p.182). Originally published in 1882 when he was 23 yrs. old. I purchased this book 04-20-2000 and tried reading it 05-19-14 to 12-12-14 but simply could not finish it! I had read a couple of other of Roosevelt’s books and enjoyed them immensely, but this book is a very technical, extremely well researched doctoral thesis style book that analyzes all the minutia of the naval side of the War of 1812. The book is filled with technical, naval language and examines the primary sources in detail. One highlight of the book is Roosevelt’s detailed analysis of the primary and secondary sources. He critiques and praises various authors for their accuracy and fairness. I really wanted to read this book…but I just had to set it aside and move on.
3. Rising Up From Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, by Ann Durkin Keating. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2012 (294pp.) Read 12-12-14 to 01-10-15. This wonderful book gives the personal stories of several families and individuals who settled Chicago in the earliest days, when it was a trading post in Indian country, and tells the story of the Battle, not the Massacre, of Ft. Dearborn. In this meticulously well researched book Durkin explains the intricacies of the mixing of the races in the early 19th century Old Northwest and the impact of the War of 1812 on all concerned. This was really a fantastic book! Her closing chapters were amazing as she followed up on what happened after the war to the Indians, the Traders, the soldiers and the families. The last chapter was outstanding as she showed the relevance of the past for the present in Chicago. Really a Very good book!
4. The War of 1812 In the Old Northwest by Alec R. Gilpin. Michigan State University Press: East Lansing, MI 1958 (Introduction for the Bicentennial Edition by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, 2012) 286pp. Read 01-14-15 to 02-25-15. The Introduction to this excellent book by Dunnigan was especially helpful in explaining what Gilpin’s intentions were. The author was not trying to analyze or explain the war, he was giving a straightforward account of the war in the Old Northwest. However, what I found in the reading of the book is that he subtly did explain a lot of the war. First of all, Gilpin definitely took the side of Governor/General William Hull, one of the major scapegoats of the war under the Madison administration. Gilpin convinced me that Hull was given an impossible task and was not given the much needed support or command structure that was needed to accomplish his assignment. Most books I have read on the War of 1812 do look down on Hull, but clearly he should Not have been convicted. This book demonstrates the nearly useless roles of the militia, how the Indians were used by both sides to their own detriment and how crucial a well-established logistics plan is for maintaining an army. This was a very good book but absolutely needed about 30 maps to make sense of all the troop movements. The book gets a little confusing with all the different units, commanders, and Forts, and maps would help clear it all up. I recommend this book for those with a serious interest in the Old Northwest, the War of 1812 or US relations with the Indians.
5. The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini. Viking: New York, 1999 (226pp.) Read 02-26-15 to 03-28-15. This was an outstanding book that was very enlightening to me. All my life I had heard of the great, but meaningless, victory won by Jackson at New Orleans after the peace treaty of Ghent had been signed. But never had I heard that the treaty was not in effect until after voted on by the US Senate over a month after Jackson’s victory. Jackson and the rag-tag thrown together army/navy defeated one of the most experienced British units that had fought in Europe against Napoleon. Remini’s point, that the battle became a major source of unification in America after so many dismal defeats in the War of 1812 and that the Battle was celebrated for decades, until supplanted by the Civil War, is a crucial and convincing point. Remini’s portrayal of Jackson again goes counter to most of what I have read in the past which painted Jackson in somewhat of a negative light. Jackson was a LEADER who commanded the respect of those he was around. This book definitely makes me want to read Remini’s massive 3 volume biography of Jackson.
6. A Very Brilliant Affair, The Battle of Queenston Heights, by Robert Malcomson. Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, MD. 2003 (328pp.) Read 04-23-15 to 05-13-15. This excellent study of the first land battle mounted from New York into Canada in the War of 1812 is military history at its finest. The first chapters give us the political and military situation leading up to the war and details about the major leaders. The details that the author gets into with supplies, equipment and training are amazing! I had to just shake my head as he describes the Americans going into battle in utter chaos and with no good plan or rehearsal for a night river crossing with raw recruits. This proves the old adage true, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. Excellent read! Why, oh why, does not Hollywood make movies of these excellent bits of history?
7. Strange Fatality, The Battle of Stoney Creek, 1813, by James E. Elliott. Robin Brass Studio: Canada, 2009 (311pp.) Read 05-19-15 to 06-22-15. This is an excellent book, this is history as it should be written! The emphasis in this book is that Leadership matters! Elliott gives us a well written, detailed look at everything that led up to the battle and backgrounds to all the key players as well as many smaller figures who were there, making the book very personable. Generals to sergeants to privates to civilians, the author covers all their stories well. He shows how weakness in key leaders led to an almost disaster for the British/Canadians but the weaknesses of the Americans rescued defeat from the jaws of victory. This was a huge disaster for the Americans due to political appointments to the army, lack of leadership and training. The author was exceedingly fair to both sides. Including in an appendix the story of the battle as it was remembered later and the effort to raise a memorial was excellent! That was a nice touch that really capped off a wonderful book. .
8. Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands, The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans 1812-1815, by Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr. The University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1981 (255pp.) Read 08-26-15 to 10-10-15. This is an outstanding book that told a story I had never heard before. Oh, I had heard of the Creek War, and I think in some John Wayne movie somewhere I had heard of Ft. Mims, but I just never realized this was all the Southern part of the War of 1812. This book is incredibly well researched and well written yet concise. I also learned more about the pirates Laffite than I had ever known. Highly recommend for the military history buff, or the true southerners who want to know their story. A great book for Indian-White relations history as well.
b. World War II
1. The Capture of Attu, compiled by Lt. Robert J. Mitchell with Sewell T. Tyng and Cpt. Nelson L. Drummond, Jr. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, NB. 2000. Originally published in 1944 by the U.S. Army’s Infantry Journal and sold to US Servicemen for a quarter, it was also distributed by Military Intelligence to help soldiers prepare for battle with the Japanese. This book is a Classic in military history. I purchased this book in September 2001…just prior to 9/11. This book tells the story of the last time a foreign invader attacked American soil, until Sept. 11, 2001. In reading some of the stories from the war in Afghanistan, I would say that The Capture of Attu needs to be read again by our military. I am sending this book to my son, SSGT Luke Walker, 1/501 (Geronimo!) in the 4th Bde. of the 25th Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska. They do very little training in the mountains of Alaska, and never in the Aleutians. Read in 2014.
c. World War I
1. Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2013 (628pp.) Read 08-27-14 to 10-07-14. This is THE Go To book for the beginning of WWI (with the possible exception of Barbara Tuchman’ book). Very readable, thorough and wide ranging Hastings covers the historical backgrounds and cultural issues of the main combatants, the political and economic realities as well as the military issues and combat. Uses a vast array of primary source material. Highly Recommend.
2. The Dawn Patrol (movie). Directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Errol Flynn, David Niven, Basil Rathbone. Warner Bros. 1938 (103min). http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030044/ This was an outstanding movie! I have heard of this movie all my life but only purchased it recently, in honor of the 100th anniversary of WWI. Watched it with Luke and Dawn. This movie alludes to another war coming a few times, and since it was released in 1938 it makes sense. It shows the despair and hopelessness of WWI and the stresses of command as a series of commanders experience the same fruitless orders that lead to senseless death of romantic, courageous, young flyers. I highly recommend!
By JoAnna M. McDonald
Reviewed by Bryan E. Walker
If you are a serious student of the Civil War and want a detailed analysis of the first Battle of Bull Run, We Shall Meet Again by JoAnna M. McDonald (Oxford University Press: 1999) is the book for you. If, however, you simply like to read a good military history book about some of the battles in the Civil War, stick to William C. Davis’ Battle At Bull Run. McDonald’s book is good, it is unique, and it is really for the specialist amongst the Civil War enthusiasts. I wish there were more books like We Shall Meet Again! Ideally, the serious Civil War enthusiast should read Davis and McDonald together, side by side.
McDonald gives a bare bones written account of each part of the battle. Her own material is not the major part of the book. While about one quarter of the written material seems to be quotes from participants, the majority of the pages are maps and photographs arranged in a fascinating, though repetitive, manner. Let me take chapter 2 as an example, “The Battle At Blackburn’s Ford” with a subtitle giving the date and the hours followed by a quote from that engagement by a participant. This is followed by four photos of the Opposing Commanders: Confederates Longstreet and Jubal Early and Union Tyler and Richardson. The only comment on the first page of this chapter (p.25) from McDonald is, “Only approximately 1,500 union troops actually fought in this battle.” The second page of chapter 2 has about three quarters of a page of her analysis and about one quarter of the page is quotes. Page three is map 4 ofBlackburn’s Ford on Thursday, July 18. Every other page is a detailed map of the progress of the battle and the chapter ends with what she calls a Vignette, a brief biographical sketch of one of the participants, for chapter two it is Mr. Wilmer McLean, a civilian landowner at the battle site.
Chapter six “Matthew’s Hill” is 26 pages long and is divided into the five stages of the battle with pictures of the commanders and participants, and pictures of the houses and terrain involved. And the maps. This book could be called a Battle Atlas of First Manassas. McDonald keeps her comments brief and to the point and illuminates what we see on the maps.
The only fair criticism I could offer is that many of the photos are repetitious, as she gives the same photos of the participants at every phase of the battle. Psychologically, however, this repetition helps the reader to consider these men as being real people, not simply objects from “back then”. Similarly with her vignettes.
One striking difference about McDonald’s work compared withDavis’ which I read just prior to this book, is that she does not seem to be overtly critical of either side.Davisclearly despises Beauregard but McDonald is quite even handed. She writes to give the details of the battle, not to evaluate the commanders.
Where McDonald does some serious evaluation is in her Chapter 14 “Summary”. Her quote underneath the chapter title is from Lincoln, “It’s damned bad!” Then she gives eight reasons why the Confederates won the battle in a stunning, brief summary. First on her list is the failure of the Union General Patterson “to detainJohnston’s force in theShenandoah Valley,” (p.176). Second was McDowell’s “two days waiting for supplies around Centreville”. Third, McDowell’s failure to properly use all the forces at his disposal. McDonald says (p.177) “In all, more than 23,000 Union soldiers played little or no part in the day’s fighting.” Fourth, “Poor logistics, and the sloppy execution of those plans”. Fifth, Burnside’s piecemeal attacks. Six, McDowell failed to attack when the Confederates retreated to Henry Hill. Seven, the ill placement of the two artillery batteries that ended up getting captured due to their close proximity to the Confederate infantry. Eight, McDowell failed to attack with more than two regiments at a time. McDonald summarizes, p.178, “Due to poorUniongeneralship, undisciplined soldiers, and the quick reaction of many Confederate officers, the Confederacy won its first major battle atManassas.”
McDonald includes several fine Appendices at the end of her book, and perhaps the most significant is Appendix III- Order of Battles. Here she lists every unit is both armies, the commanders and how many were killed, wounded and missing in that unit. This dramatically shows the difference between theUnionwhich was attacking and the Confederates who were in good defensive positions.
In conclusion, this book is definitely not for the general reader, but is a tremendous asset for the Civil War enthusiast or scholar. I wish that more military history authors would do the kind of map work that McDonald has done here. This book is a new genre for Military History, the single battle atlas.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Outbreak Of Rebellion in the “Campaigns of the Civil War” series, by John G. Nicolay
A Review by Bryan E. Walker
John G. Nicolay’s The Outbreak Of Rebellion, Castle Books: Edison, NJ 2002 (originally published as part of a 13 book series in 1881; 226pp.) is a wonderful, though intensely partisan, beginning point for a study of the Civil War. Written by President Lincoln’s personal secretary, the book covers the secession of the southern states, Ft. Sumter, the early battles and war preparations to the results of the first major battle at Bull Run, July 21, 1861. While the book is an excellent introduction to the War Between the States, it at times borders on a hagiography of Lincoln. The contempt and calumny for the South and the adoration and praise of Lincoln is prevalent throughout. I would not consider this a weakness, however. Rather, this shows the depths of feelings of the time and is itself a clue to understanding the events 150 years later. I highly recommend this book as a primary source for studying the Civil War if it is used in conjunction with a modern book such as James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. I anticipate reading the other twelve volumes in this series (I read this book fromJune 24, 2011 toAugust 4, 2011).
Johann Georg was born in Germanyin 1832 and immigrated to Americain 1838. A newspaper editor and politician in Illinois, Nicolay was appointed Lincoln’s personal secretary in the President’s first official act after his inauguration. After serving as the United States Consul in Parisduring the late 1860’s, Nicolay returned to Americaand, together with John Hay, wrote a 10-volume biography of President Lincoln and edited, again with John Hay, the 2-volume Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_George_Nicolay.
In the preface Nicolay states that his research for a larger project (presumably his biography of Lincoln) “had furnished him (the author) a great variety of new material for the work; and this was opportunely supplemented by the recent publication of the Official War Records for 1861, both Union and Confederate, opening to comparison and use an immense mass of historical data, and furnishing the definite means of verifying or correcting the statements of previous writers.” (p.v.) He continues, “Under these advantages the author has written the present volume, basing his work on materials of unquestioned authenticity- books, documents, and manuscripts- and, indeed, for the greater part, on official public records.” “He would gladly have appended to his pages full references and citations, but want of space absolutely forbade,” (p.vi.) In these quotes we see a bit of the historical method of Nicolay. This is no mere personal memoir, which all too often covers up, omits or enhances the truth in order to accomplish the hidden goals of the author. The author lays claim to doing serious, objective work using the best of a variety of sources besides his own memories of the events he witnessed first hand. I do not think the serious nature of his research is impugned in the least by his obvious hatred for the South and his great love forLincolnthat fairly drips from many parts of his book. He writes with great passion and energy. The wounds from the war are still fresh 20 years later.
Nicolay’s first chapter, “Secession”, opens with, “The fifth day of October, 1860, is the initial point of the American Rebellion. Its conception, animus, and probably its plans, lay much farther back,” (p.1.) From this opening sentence we can see the author’s hint that he believes the rebellion was no spur of the moment thing, but was a deep conspiracy widespread in the South. This conspiracy theme shows up time and again. And he is certainly correct. He is more explicit on p.2, “…excepting in South Carolina, the rebellion was not in any sense a popular revolution, but was a conspiracy among the prominent local office-holders and politicians, which the people neither expected nor desired, and which they were made eventually to justify and uphold by the usual arts and expedients of conspiracy.”
Throughout the book Nicolay shows the evidence for the conspiratorial nature of the rebellion, but perhaps overstates the case for the people of the South being against secession. His hatred forSouth Carolinais particularly strong: “The State ofSouth Carolina, in addition, had been little else than a school of treason for thirty years,” (p.3). “The events which occurred inSouth Carolinawere in substance duplicated in the neighboring States of Georgia,Florida,Alabama,Mississippi, andLouisiana. These States, however, had stronger and more formidable union minorities than South Carolina; or rather, if the truth could have been ascertained with safety, they had each of them decided majorities averse to secession, as was virtually acknowledged by their governors’ replies to the Gist circular,” (p.8). “…it was only by persistent nursing, management, and in many cases sheer deceit that a semblance of majorities was obtained to justify and apparently indorse the conspirators’ plots,” (p.9). In state after state Nicolay shows how the southern, democrat politicians manipulated events to bring about the desired end: secession. He points to much evidence inVirginia,Maryland,MissouriandTennesseewhere sizeable portions of the populations did not want to secede and were not slave owners, but whose politicians corrupted the system to override the will of the people to move toward secession.
It is this feature of his book that leaped off the page and struck me as being applicable to our time. His descriptions of the unethical Democrats of his day seem very familiar in our own. Political corruption remains the same, the two political parties are very close to what they were like in 1860. I got this same sense in reading McPherson’s book as well.
On p.13 is an interesting note aboutTexas: “The famous and somewhat eccentric General Houston was governor. His own long struggle to bringTexasinto theUnionmade him loth to join in its destruction. He resisted the secession conspiracy; but his southern pro-slavery prejudice also imbued him with the prevalent antagonism to the Republican Party. He therefore nursed a scheme to carryTexasback into independent sovereignty…” I mention this because in the current race for President, the Texas Governor, Rick Perry, has been accused of the same thing by the Liberal Main Stream Media and the Democrats (with a major difference being, of course, thatTexasand Gov. Perry are now conservative Republicans). 150 years later, and we see some of the same issues!
In ch.II “CharlestonHarbor” Nicolay begins telling the dramatic story of Major Robert Anderson andFt.Sumter. But beyond that, Nicolay lays bare the Buchanan administration. Look at the choice of words by Nicolay on page 17, the first page of chapter II. “Conspiracy”, “traitors”, “cabal”, “insidious suggestion”. And how he describes President Buchanan, “He possessed the opposing qualities of feeble will and stubborn prejudice; advancing years and decreasing vigor added to his irresolution and embarrassed his always limited capabilities….In the defeat of Breckenridge, whom he had championed, and in the sweeping success of the Republicans, he had suffered scorching rebuke and deep humiliation. His administration was condemned, his policy was overthrown; his proud party was a hopeless wreck. He had no elasticity of mind, no buoyancy of hope to recover from the shock,” (pp.17-18). Again, this is sounding very much like our present day and a Democrat President.
On p.19 Nicolay summarizes the different opinions of the cause of war: “He (that is President Buchanan) charged that Southern discontent was caused by ‘long-continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States,’ in face of the well-known fact that Southern interference in free territory was the cause of the crisis.” Having read McPherson on this topic, I will have to agree with Nicolay’s judgment. I have met a few people, usually involved in Civil War re-enactment societies on the Confederate side, who have that same mentality. The War of Northern Aggression was all the North’s fault and the South was an innocent victim.
In chapters II-V Nicolay’s in-depth discussion of the political developments surrounding the preparations for the attack on Ft.Sumterin both the Buchanan and Lincoln administrations is ahigh pointin the book for me. And then, his description of the battles to re-supply and holdSumterare like the icing on the cake.
Chapter VI, “The Call To Arms”, includes a wonderful account of howLincoln’s opponent, Stephen A. Douglas came to support President Lincoln afterFt.Sumter. It was a shame thatDouglasdied just a few weeks later.
“Baltimore” is the title for chapter VII and the dramatic story of the Massachusetts Sixth, the first volunteer regiment to form, equip and move towardsWashington. And the first to be bloodied and to shed blood. Having never studied the Civil War in depth before, I was shocked at reading this chapter and realizing the struggle inMarylandand that there had been a bloody battle inBaltimore. “The number of casualties was never correctly ascertained. The soldiers lost four killed and some thirty wounded; the citizens probably two or three times as many,” (p.87.)
In the eighth chapter, “Washington”, Nicolay gives a moving account of what it was like in our capital city which was surrounded by the rebels and sympathizers because, “Washington, in tradition, tone, and aspiration, was essentially a Southern city. Slavery existed and the local slave trade flourished here…” (p.97). Again, due to my lack of in-depth study of the Civil War, I really had not realized that Washington DC was essentially surrounded, almost cut off, and had to become an armed camp to survive. If the South had had the army for it, our national capital would have been captured. Nicolay writes from the perspective of a resident of besiegedWashington.
Part of my joy in reading Nicolay is the rich, 19th century prose with which he writes. I have long admired the literature of the 19th century: Poe, Twain, Dickens, Hardy, and others. Here is a sentence that particularly stood out, (p.104): “in comparison with the unmurmuring endurance that trudged through the Yazoo swamps, and the unflinching courage that faced the dreadful carnage of the Wilderness, later in the war, this march of the ‘Seventh’ was the merest regimental picnic; but it has become historic because it marked a turning-point in the national destiny, and signified the will of the people that the capital of the Union should remain where George Washington planted it.”
Chapter IX, “Ellsworth”, is a very sad war story about a young, 24 year old Colonel, Elmer E. Ellsworth. A native of New York, he had moved to Illinoisand became a leader of a volunteer, National Guard type drill team that became quite famous just prior to the war. After working for Lincolnin Illinoishe answered the President’s call for a volunteer Army and raised a regiment of “Zouaves” from his native New Yorkand took the regiment to Washington. His regiment, and others, were involved in taking Alexandria, Va.and Ellsworth was killed in action on May 24th while personally removing a rebel flag from ahigh point in the city. This kind of detail that Nicolay includes is worth the price of the book! Colonel Ellsworth, though very young, was quite famous throughout the North and was a personal friend of the President. Nicolay writes, (p.114) “Ellsworth was buried with imposing honors, from the famous East Room of the Executive Mansion, the President, Cabinet, and high officers of Government attending as mourners; and as the telegraph filled the newspapers with details of the sad event, every household in the North felt as if the dark shadow of a funeral had lowered over its own hearthstone.” Prophetic indeed.
Chapters X-XII tell the all too often neglected stories of the early fighting in Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In these states there was a civil war within the Civil War. Nicolay’s explanation of what was going on in western Virginia was particularly noteworthy as he again shows how a majority of the citizens of that part of Virginia were not slaveholders and did not want to secede, yet many politicians wanted to side with the rebels. Those who were against secession in western Virginiaformed the State of Kanawha, later re-named West Virginia. Nicolay then goes into the battles that McClellan fought against the rebels and gives an excellent account of that part of the war which won McClellan the reputation of a winner that would later propel him to the top position in the Army. Nicolay’s summation of the battles of Rich Mountain and Carrick’s Ford subtly reveals his contempt for McClellan, (pp.153-4): “But this petty skirmish with three hundred rebels on Rich Mountain, and this rout of a little rear-guard at Carrick’s Ford, were speedily followed by large political and military results. They closed a campaign, dispersed a rebel army, recovered a disputed State, permanently pushed back the military frontier. They enabled McClellan to send a laconic telegram, combining in one report the scattered and disconnected incidents of three different days and happening forty miles apart, which (without exaggerating literal truth except as to the Union losses and number of prisoners) gave such a general impression of professional skill and achievement as to make him the hero of the hour, and which started a train of circumstances that, without further victories, made him General-in-Chief of all the Armies of the United States, on the first day of November following.”
With chapter XIII, “Patterson’s Campaign”, Nicolay comes to the theme that would plague the Union Army: generals who could not fight and win. He begins the chapter, “Under the President’s three month call…” President Lincoln had issued a call for 75,000 volunteers for a three-month tour of service. One of the weaknesses of the book is that Nicolay fails to criticizeLincolnfor this lame response to the rebellion. Of course I am writing in hindsight, and not many in that day took the southern rebellion all that seriously and they generally had no idea it would be long, bloody war. But Nicolay does avoid criticizingLincolnat all.
This chapter opens with a description of General Patterson that is quite glowing; but it sets you up for his dismal failure that leads to McDowell’s defeat at Bull Run. Nicolay uses sarcasm well in his narrative of Gen. Patterson. “But so leisurely were his preparations and advance, that the rebels had every knowledge of his coming; and when, on June 15th, he finally reached the Potomac River, he found, instead of the ‘desperate resistance’ which had been looked for, that Johnston had hastily evacuated harper’s Ferry after destroying the railroad bridge and spiking his heavy guns, and had retreated….Patterson and his officers were greatly mystified by this withdrawal of the enemy….Advancing with a painful over-caution, as if Johnston were the invader, a part of the army crossed the Potomac on the 16th of June. Finding the rumor of the evacuation true, Patterson took sufficient courage to report a victory.” .Advancing with a painful over-caution, as if Johnston were the invader, a part of the army crossed the Potomac on the 16th of June. Finding the rumor of the evacuation true, Patterson took sufficient courage to report a victory.” Nicolay then gives a very worthy account of why it was the smart thing to do to evacuate Harper’s Ferry, implying that Patterson and his staff should not have been mystified.
He goes into a fair amount of detail to describe the misadventures of Patterson who should have chased down the rebel general Johnston, “It would appear that at this time two impulses struggled for mastery in Patterson’s mind. Apparently he was both seeking and avoiding a battle,” (p.164). He mentions a problem that would also plague McClellan later, Patterson greatly overestimated the number of rebels opposing him, and used the false numbers to convince himself that he could not win if he attacked. Nicolay’s summary of Patterson is noteworthy: “…they had gulped down an absurd rumor about the enemy being forty thousand strong without taking any efficient means to ascertain its correctness. And so lifeless and inefficient had the whole army become under such influences and management, that not till July 20th did Patterson learn the humiliating fact that he had wrecked the fair military reputation of a lifetime by permitting the enemy to escape through utterly inexcusable lack of energy and want of judgment. And if that reflection could be still further embittered, it was done by the early realization that his stupendous blunder had lost to the Union cause the first important battle of the war [Bull Run]” (p.167).
Chapters XIV-XV give us the account of “Manassas” and “Bull Run”. Nicolay defends General Winfield Scott by presenting his plan as reasonable and then he defendsLincolnindirectly by explaining why the army hastened to battle atBull Run. “Important reasons, both military, partly political, conflicted with so deliberate a programme [Scot’s plan]…Chiefly, however, the highly excited patriotism of the North, eager to wipe out national insult and vindicate national authority, was impatient of what seemed tedious delay. The echoes of theSumterbombardment were yet in the air; the blood on theBaltimorepaving-stones was crying loudly to heaven,” (pp.171-2).
In describing the planning for the Manassas campaign Nicolay again shows us the fear of the Union generals of fighting outnumbered: “McDowell was emphatic in his protest that he could not hope to beat the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard…” (p.173). As it turned out, Patterson utterly failed to keepJohnstonacross theBlue Ridge, McDowell did fight a combined rebel army, and he almost won! Nicolay goes into intricate detail of the fighting atBull Runand shows us that McDowell actually did a fine job of leading his army and fighting the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard.
In describing the march to the battle as well as the battle itself, Nicolay goes into detail to describe how unprofessional this army of volunteers was and how frustrating it was for the colonels and generals who were usually professionals. In both books I have read on this first major battle of the Civil War (McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, William C. Davis’ Battle at Bull Run) it was stated repeatedly that the Union troops on the march would wander off to go blackberry picking and stop at every stream to refill their canteens; disrespect for officers was rampant.
Although Nicolay does not discuss it in these terms, but the unpreparedness of both the Unionand the Rebel armies is a theme in the history of the American military. It has only been in the last 35 years, since Viet Nam, that the military has dramatically changed from an army of draftees and underfunding/ill-preparedness into an army of professionals with the latest hardware and technical expertise to wage war effectively anywhere, anytime. Yet in these first years of the second decade of the 21st century, with the great economic collapse upon us due to the effects of the socialist welfare state, and the ten year long war againstAfghanistan andIraq, we are now entering a phase where our political leaders are screaming, “Cut the military”. One clear lesson we can learn fromBull Run and the battles preceding it is that a lack of preparedness is paid for, ultimately, in the lives of our young soldiers and the loss of national honor.
In his description of the battle ofBlackburn’s Ford I find an evaluation by Nicolay with which I disagree. He writes, “The affair ofBlackburn’s Ford thus proved something more than a preliminary defeat; it augmented the causes of a great disaster…. McDowell…abandoned his original plan, and had resolved to make the attack by marching northward and turning Beauregard’s left flank instead of his right.” As it turned out, Beauregard had certainly planned on McDowell attacking his right flank, as McDowell had originally intended, and thus put the majority of his forces on his right flank. McDowell’s flexibility and willingness to change his plan was a strength. The battle would be lost for other reasons, not this change by McDowell.
Nicolay does a fair amount of criticizing Beauregard as he details the battle, and he also throws a snide comment or two at “Stonewall”Jackson. On pages 190-192 Nicolay gives the account of how the battle turned against McDowell. He stresses that the retreat of the rebels had placed them in a stronger defensive position in the mid-afternoon as the Union forces were weary from the long march and bitter fighting. Then, he gives the bitter account of the loss of a Union cannon battery due to confusion on the battlefield over uniform colors and placement of troops. The loss of these guns at this point in the battle sealed the fate of McDowell’s army.
Chapters XVI and XVII, “The Retreat” and “Conclusion” describe the complete meltdown of discipline as the Union army broke beneath the rebel counterattacks after the piecemeal efforts of the Northerners. Add to the chaos of a defeated army a large contingent of civilians and Congressmen who had come out to watch the war and you get a disaster, covered by the press, of course. Again, Nicolay, rightfully, defends McDowell: “Greatly ridiculed and denounced when it occurred, the battle ofBull Runis gradually finding its vindication. General Sherman says it was ‘one of the best-planned battles of the war, but one of the worst fought,’ and that ‘both armies were fairly defeated.’ General Johnston says: ‘If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy, we should have been beaten.’”
Nicolay says that the defeat atBull Runhumbled the North but also gave them resolve for a long fight. Of the South he writes, “Vanity of personal prowess is a weakness of Southern character; andBull Runbecame to the unthinking a demonstration of Southern invincibility,” (p.209).
In conclusion, I whole-heartedly recommend this work by John G. Nicolay. His partisan tenor throughout I actually found to be refreshing and I do not think it takes away from the accuracy of his facts. If you want just one quick resource for the Civil War, this would not be the book for you, but if you want to delve deeper into the War Between the States you should find time to read this primary source.
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On this somber day of Remembrance, a deep abiding anger dwells yet within my soul, an anger that is righteous and that will remain til the day I die. The anger has not been appeased by 8 long years of war, war that has been waged justly, but ineffectually. A fear also abides. Not a fear of the enemy who lingers, multiplies within our own borders even, but a fear that so many in our native land do not see the danger, or, worse, do not care to see it.
On September 11, 2001 I stayed home from work due to a sinus infection with fever, etc. and I was still in bed when my wife was getting ready to take the kids to school and then go to work. She woke me up before 0830 am and told me to go to the living room and turn on the TV as some sort of an attack was happening in New York. Flight 11 had already hit WTC, North, at 0846 EST and Flight 175 had hit the South Tower at 0903EST. As I turned on the TV they were reviewing the videos of the towers being hit when they all of a sudden got word of a third aircraft, AA Flight 77, striking the Pentagon at 0937EST. This was approximately 0845 my time in Texas. The chatter on the TV was pretty much wondering if this was accidental until the Pentagon strike, then everyone was pretty much assuming we were definitely under attack.
When United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania at 1003EST and the word got out to the press about 10 or 15 minutes later, again there was wondering if that might be an accident or if it was related. I remember thinking, “No way could that just be an accident or coincidence.”
The overwhelming emotion I felt at the time was of anger. All my senses were on alert, I was trembling with a sense of dangerous excitement or agitation. They released the kids from school early that day and my son called from the High School for me to come get him. We watched the news all afternoon and evening, and I told my sons, as we watched the replay of the second tower getting hit, and of the two towers collapsing, “Never forget this day! Never forget that we were attacked and who attacked us: the Muslims”.
Over the next few days, with all civilian aircraft grounded, it was indeed strange to see and hear no air traffic except for the F-16’s and FA-18s from the Naval Air Station, JRB here in Fort Worth. I live one mile from their main gate and from the runway, so we are used to heavy air traffic already. But while I was at work, or anywhere else, if I heard a jet and looked up, I knew the only thing flying was our fighters. It made me feel safe, proud and strange, all at the same time. And sad. People had died, thousands, and we were at war.
As a Pastor of a Baptist Church, I knew that I had to address this life changing event on Sunday morning. The church was definitely more full than usual that Sunday. We had an increase of over 50% our normal attendance. I read and heard of similar accounts from all over the country. Over the next three weeks, however, attendance dropped back down to normal levels. No real change seems to have happened.
Even today I look across the Land and see the political infighting and disunity of the last 8 years and realize that We, the US of A, still don’t get it. Liberals are still liberal and think we can be nice to the muslims and the attacks will stop and the problems will go away. People are tired of 8 years of war and no clear victory. And Rome fought three Punic Wars with Carthage over 4 generations.
My youngest son is a soldier in Iraq. I am proud of him and his service, as I am of all the military and their courageous sacrifices through the years. But the War has been botched from the beginning. As much as I like President Bush and find him an honorable man, I disagree with him about the war. This war did not begin in 9-11-01 though that battle may have awakened us from our stupor. It did not begin with the first bombing of the WTC in Feb. 1993. This war did not begin with the First Gulf War in 1990-91 nor did it begin at Munich in 1972.
I would make a case for the War beginning in 636 AD when the Roman garrison at Jerusalem capitulated to Caliph Umar. As the muslim hordes conquered all of the Middle East and North Africa, Christian lands all, the long war against the West and Christianity went badly.
Until 732 and the Battle of Tours where Charles the Hammer kicked the muslims out of France. Constantinople, the second Rome, fell in May of 1453 to the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II. Over the next 250 years the Turks invaded Europe repeatedly, with major sieges of Vienna, Austria in 1529 and 1683 and the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.
But Americans, despite having a rich heritage and history, are non-historical. We are a people about the here and now, maybe tomorrow, but definitely not of the past. We forget too soon, too easily.
And so, today, we have a muslim friendly, anti-Semite, Marxist-socialist impostor, (not born in this country) sitting in the White House, making nice with the muslims who started this war. I find this…obscene. The demoncrats, and good many republicrats too, have forgotten 9-11. Our military has been too small to do the job put upon it by a Republicrat President and now, this demoncrat impostor is ruining us financially SO THAT we cannot have a bigger military to defeat the threat. Like Western Europe and England, we are surrendering into dhimmitude. This is obscene.
I am afraid that it will take a MUCH larger disaster than 9-11 to change our nation, if indeed we still are capable of changing back to a freedom loving country. In the last year so many Socialists have scurried out from where they had been swarming in secret it is unbelievable.
May God save the United States from its enemies, within and without.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.
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Here is the text for President Obama’s speech to the nation’s school children scheduled for Tuesday, September 8th, 2009:
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
September 8, 2009
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
“The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War” is an immediate must read for America’s Politicians, State Department professionals and the military. This tour de force and the final volume bequeathed to us by David Halberstam is no mere history of a War fought almost 60 years ago, this book is a stark warning to the World of what likely lies in our immediate future. While he does include fine summaries of the battles, the book is first and foremost a political history of the times, showing the intricate details that led all the nations involved inexorably to a war that only one man, Kim Ill Sung, wanted.
Halberstam’s prose is a joy to read, even with such a heavy, joyless, topic. He can not only craft a sentence well (he did win a Pulitzer in 1964 for his writing on Viet Nam) but his psychological insights into the main characters draws you in so that you think you actually know the person about whom he is writing. The book is written as a series of mini-biographies. His insights on Kim Ill Sung, Syngman Rhee, General MacArthur, President Truman, Henry Luce and Chiang Kai-shek, and many others, are remarkable to read. I found the chapter on Kim Ill Sung especially chilling as we are currently dealing with his son, Kim Jong Ill, who seems to have inherited his father’s zeal for starting a war.
The opening chapters show that America was grossly unprepared for war and that MacArthur not only ignored Korea prior to the war, but thought that his post-war troops could stop the North Koreans with ease. He boldly claimed that China would not get involved and he was wrong on every count. Neither the Russians nor the Chinese wanted the war initially, and neither expected America to get involved. The American people never much cared for the war and it has earned the moniker: The Forgotten War.
What is terrifying as I read the book is how similar things are today. The big difference today is that with our troops on the front line everybody knows that America will fight for South Korea this time. But are we prepared? After 8 years of war in the Mideast and a reorganization of the Army to reflect a counter insurgency, low intensity war, are we now not capable of fighting a big war with tanks and infantry? Most of all artillery? Many do not understand that with Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has demobilized a lot of field artillery units and turned them into infantrymen. The Korean War included some of the largest, most intense and sustained artillery barrages of all time.
At the start of the Korean War there was an unjustified faith in the newly created Air Force to stop the North Koreans in their tracks. It did not and could not happen that way. The Korean War was fought with Infantry and Artillery. After the initial year of maneuver it became like WW1 with trenches, bunkers, and artillery duels. Today there is an overly optimistic view of modern technology and air power still.
In Halberstam’s book he clearly shows how the generals and politicians all misread the intentions of Kim Ill Sung and the Chinese. I think we are doing the same today. Kim Jong Ill has recently announced the end of the Armistice; this means he considers us to be in a state of war. He has tested a nuclear weapon and launched an ICBM. In recent years he has moved 70% of his Army within striking distance of the DMZ. He has over 100,000 Special Forces soldiers ready to cross the border in a variety of ways to blend in to the South Korean society and strike from behind. He has hundreds of missiles that can take out every airbase in S. Korea and in Japan. He is positioned for a fight, equipped for a fight, and is asking for a fight. Just like his father in 1950.
It seems that American leadership doesn’t much believe history or the evidence before their very eyes now.
Halberstam gives an outstanding background on China, Chiang Kai-shek, and the politics of America as it relates to China for the 50-60 years prior to the war. One of his keenest insights is the religious angle. Very few authors ever understand, let alone articulate well, the impact of religion on politics and the culture at large. Halberstam is a master of this fine art. In discussing China he understood that it was impossible to know the American view of China apart from understanding the great missionary movement in China from America. In one of the most important paragraphs of the book we read (p.240):
For the China Firsters who had grown up in China as the children of missionaries, that country’s pull was deep and unrelenting; China was in some ways as much their home and their native country as the United States was. In addition, to say that Chiang had failed was to say that their own parents, who had devoted their lives to bringing Christianity to China, had been failures (as indeed, in at least the narrow sense of their mission, they had failed).
In my childhood and youth, being raised a Southern Baptist, with more missionaries abroad than any other evangelical group, I grew up hearing of Lottie Moon, Hudson Taylor and Bill Wallace, famous missionaries to China all. Politically I came to maturation in the Jimmy Carter presidency and knew the differences between the two Chinas and that Pres. Carter was selling out the “good China”. Earlier, I was concerned as Richard Nixon went to Communist China. I have long held to the proper conservative belief that we must defend Taiwan.
But now, Halberstam has opened my eyes to the reasons that China fell to the Communists. Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese were corrupt to the core. All our foreign aide did was enrich Chiang’s family. All our military aid did was to supply the Communists. This book is an eye opener of how reckless, fickle and stupid American foreign policy and aid has continued to be.
Halberstam does not spare the press. His chapter on Henry Luce and the press, though not an eye opener, I have long ago given up any respect for the press, is very interesting. Luce, publisher of Time and Life, the son of missionaries to China, did everything he could for Chiang and the Nationalists. The way the Republicans and the Press used the China issue was interesting, in a sick sort of way. Oh that Halberstam had lived to write a book on the War on Terror since 9/11!
In discussing Chinese tactics and their view of the American soldiers, Halberstam repeats a phrase over and over in his book. One example is on p.488, “He (Lt. Gen. Matthew Ridgeway) was a Spartan. He worried that America was in decline because of the country’s ever greater materialism; he warned that it was becoming a place where people never walked anymore and that the nation’s men were becoming softer every year. His views, ironically, were not all that different from those of the Chinese commanders who launched their successful assault on American troops. He believed a loss of fiber had contributed to the disappointing early performance of America’s young men in Korea. They had become too dependent on their machines and their technology. The first thing he intended to do when he took over the command was get them out of the warmth of their jeeps and trucks and make them patrol exactly as their predecessors had done, climbing the hills on foot.” The highlighted phrase is used time and again by Halberstam in one form or another.
The warning for us today from Halberstam’s book, is that the Chinese today recognize that we still have the same weakness. Today China is the LEADER in hacking into American computer systems whether it is civilian or military. And, the Chinese networks and computers are the toughest to hack into. The Chinese have a distinct advantage in asymmetrical warfare today and will exploit that advantage when we go to war. Some think they even have the ability to either control or disable many of our satellites and they have proven their ability to shoot down satellites with either missiles or laser. Without our satellites and computer networks, the American military would be deaf, dumb and blind. We rely too much on our technology and the Chinese know it. That is Halberstam’s unstated warning.
Halberstam’s STATED warning is that since WW2, the American Government, both Democrats and Republicans, have gotten us involved with unwinnable, limited wars for political purposes by deceiving the people. He makes some good comments about the Viet Nam War but goes on to speak about Pres. George W. Bush and the Invasion of Iraq in 2003. While I do not share Halberstam’s cynical interpretation of Bush’s reasons for going to war, his major point is taken well: Politicians get us into war for stupid reasons.
Isn’t that how it has always been?
Buy this book and read it now. If you have been living in a cave these last few months and do not realize Kim Jong Ill of North Korea is seriously threatening war you need to wake up. This book will wake and shake you when you read it in light of current events.
Today is the 59th anniversary of the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. Pray for our President, pray for the leaders of North and South Korea, China and Russia. If the west caves in and allows Kim Jong Ill to obtain nuclear armed ballistic missiles western civilization is doomed to suffer a nuclear war. If we take action now, Kim will start another Korean War that will make the first one look like a small battle. Read this book!
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Today is the 65th anniversary of operation Overlord, known popularly as D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy, on June 6th, 1944. Although there were scores of famous battles and campaigns, this one is perhaps the most celebrated battle of WW2 for it marks the point where we invaded France. Though American forces had been in combat with German and Italian forces in Sicily and mainland Italy for many months, the invasion of Normandy was the main attack on Fortress Europe.
As a child I don’t recall a time when I did not know about D-Day. My father did not participate in this campaign, he entered the war in Europe in January. Perhaps it was the famous movie, “The Longest Day” in 1962 that I saw with my father as a 5 yr old. The movie, linked below:
based on the book and screenplay by Cornelius Ryan
has an all star cast that includes: Eddy Albert, Paul Anka, Henry Fonda, Richard Burton, Roddy McDowell, Robert Mitchum, Robert Wagner, and John Wayne.
And of course I read some childhood books about D-Day from the school library.
In recent days the battle has been depicted in film with Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” starring Tom Hanks and Tom Sizemore:
Why has this one battle achieved such everlasting honor and fame? There were other battles that were larger perhaps, other battles with higher casualties, but probably no other set piece battle that involved such a complete combined arms approach of armies, air forces and navies with units from 3 countries invading the land of a 4th country occupied by a 5th. While some could certainly point to earlier battles as the turning point in the war, or to the Eastern Front and the battle between Russia and Germany as the major turning points in the war, nonetheless, in our remembrance, it was D-Day that has been chosen as the turning point, as the greatest of battles in the European Theater.
Though we had been fighting in Sicily and Italy since July and September of 1943, we knew that in order to get to Germany a cross channel invasion to liberate France was a neccessity. The Russian had been pressuring us to attack since 1942. The allied command wisely decided to begin our European ground offensive with the invasion of North Africa first, then Sicily and Italy in order to give America time to gear up for the war, season its army and learn how to fight in this modern war of maneuver.
Operation Overlord was a remarkably complex campaign involving espionage, deception, special forces (Rangers, UDT, Airborne, Glider, the French Resistance guerillas, OSS) naval forces, air forces, infantry and armor. Despite the horrific casualties at bloody Omaha Beach, the invasion succeeded and the Nazis were sent reeling back.
If you could 2-3 books on this battle here are the ones I would recommend:
Cornelius Ryan’s “The Longest Day” linked above
Rendezvous with Destiny by Leonard Rapport is the history of the 101st Airborne and includes a lot about their role in operation Overlord. This classic seems to be out of print now, but is still available used:
D-Day, June 6, 1944, The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose:
This week there have been some newspaper articles, as always, about remembering D-Day. One story, linked below
tells the story of the only all black Army unit to participate in the battle. They are seen in a lot of the photographs of the landing, but you cannot tell they are black and I never knew their story. This is the 320th Anti-Aircraft Barrage Balloon Battalion. When you look at pictures of the beaches you will see these funny balloons flying over head. I knew what they were for, to prevent enemy aircraft from coming in low over the beaches and strafing our troops, but I never really thought about the guys who were responsible for them.
The above article interviews the last known living member of the all black unit. This is an important piece of American history involving black soldiers in the most important battle of our war. So a special salute of gratitude to Corporal William G. Dabney, 84, of Roanoke, Va.
Another story about D-Day that came out this week about a training exercise that got caught unprepared by German E-Boats, costing us 749 troops.
This training exercise disaster I have read about before, but nowhere in as much detail as in this article. One account I read decades ago simply referred to it as a training accident. Another account I read did mention the E-boats (the German equivalent to our PT-Boats.)
And today we have congressional investigation because American soldiers threatened Iraqi POWs with women’s panties and a barking dog. Sheesh!
If you want to learn more about one of the greatest battles in American military history, buy the books and movies I have suggested and study up. The Greatest Generation is called that for many reasons, but one of the chief reasons, is the heroic battle of D-Day.
Lord Jesus, thank you for the freedoms we enjoy today, even as they are waning due to our sinful complacency, and thank you for the heroes you raised up for us when the hour was dark indeed. I pray Lord that you raise up more heroes today, who would understand the times and know what to do, and grant them the courage to do it well. Amen.
Here are some news links to what Pres. Obama is doing this June 6th:Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The Walker Library
A Ministry of Mark12ministries
War with the Barbary Pirates
Introduction: The Walker Library Project is an effort to catalogue the 6000+ volumes of the Walker Library so that they can be loaned out to students at South Western Baptist Theological Seminary, homeschoolers, the members of Redeemer Church in Fort Worth and other special friends.
Although the long war between Islam and the West began in the 7th century (or, if you look at the Wars with Persia that Greece and, later, Rome waged it goes back to 499 BC) for most Americans the war seems to have started on September 11, 2001. But our country actually waged a war with Islam earlier in our history. In 1783 America was a new nation, the War for Independence from Britain was over, and the US merchant ships were free to sail. But the North African coast was full of Muslim Pirates and they preyed on all shipping of countries who did not pay tribute. By 1801 the young country grew tired of paying this tribute and began to fight back. The issue was finally settled by 1815 after two brief wars. If you want a better understanding of what we face today, you will need to read about the Barbary Pirates.
London, Joshua E. Victory in Tripoli.
Zacks, Richard. Pirate Coast.
Wheelan, Joseph. Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror1801-05. 2003
Leiner, Frederick C. The End of Barbary Terror: America’s 1815 War Against the Pirates of North Africa 2006/
James Tertius De Kay, A Rage for Glory: The Life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN, 2004.
Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy by Ian W. Toll. WW Norton Company: New York, NY. 2006 (560pp.)
Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East 1776 to the Present, by Michael B. Oren. WW Norton & Company: New York, NY 2007 (778pp.)
The article below I wrote on my blog after reading a Michael Medved article. Below that are some links to some bookstores that have the books listed in my library.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008– Michael Medved gives us a wonderful history lesson in his column at Townhall today, taken from the War with the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800’s. He quickly summarizes the history and then gives us 7 excellent lessons from those wars. His effort at linking the grand history of America with the issues of today is well done and quite effective. Which is why history is not taught very well in America‘s schools today, the educrats do not want young minds filled with the ideals of liberty that comprise our history. This column ought to be read by every American!
And here is a book at Barnes & Noble that I purchased and read a few years ago that tells the story of the war with the Barbary Pirates and gives an outstanding history of the muslims of North Africa and Turkey. It shows plainly that you cannot ever, ever, ever-never, compromise with Terror or with the muslim nations. They only listen to force. Negotiations with muslim states will never work. They must be westernized and forced to compromise with us. We are the tolerant ones, not them. I STRONGLY urge every American to read this book!
And here are a few more books on the subject from the Walker Library that you should consider.
Folks, if we studied our own history as a nation we would be more united and resolute in facing the issue of the day, muslim terror.
And here is a good article by favorite author, Christopher Hitchens, on the Wars with the Barbary Pirates:
And here is the money quote from the above article by Hitchens:
Let us not call this view reductionist. Jefferson would perhaps have been just as eager to send a squadron to put down any Christian piracy that was restraining commerce. But one cannot get around what Jefferson heard when he went with John Adams to wait upon Tripoli’s ambassador to London in March 1785. When they inquired by what right the Barbary states preyed upon American shipping, enslaving both crews and passengers, America’s two foremost envoys were informed that “it was written in the Koran, that all Nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon whoever they could find and to make Slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.” (It is worth noting that the United States played no part in the Crusades, or in the Catholic reconquista of Andalusia.)
And here is another interesting article on the subject, written just after 9/11:
Equality 7-2521Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
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