Friday, October 28, 2011

Contents of Mosby's Confederacy

Rather a busy day here and expecting a snowstorm or just a mess tomorrow (we generally get our first snowfall in early December), so not much free time to devote to the blog. I thought it best to post the table of contents of Mosby's Confederacy to give an idea of the book's organization and ... contents. The various tours listed can each be accomplished in the space of day, provided one has a reliable guide, such as the book or a knowledgeable individual.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mosby's Confederacy

Evans, Thomas J., and James M. Moyer. Mosby's Confederacy: A Guide to the Roads and Sites of Colonel John Singleton Mosby. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Pub. Co, 1991.

From the book’s dust-jacket: “As Mosby said after reading the Life of Marion, ‘I remember how I shouted when I read aloud…the way the great partisan hid in the swamp and outwitted the British.’ As an old veteran, he explained his war tactics to an interested small boy named George S. Patton, Jr. In between, Col. John Singleton Mosby earned a reputation as the Civil War’s greatest guerrilla leader. He so dominated his chosen battleground, centering in Northern Virginia, close to the seat of the Union government, that it became known as Mosby’s Confederacy.”

This wonderful book is relatively hard to come by, yet it is essential reading for anyone contemplating day-trips into Mosby’s Confederacy. It was written by many of the stalwarts of the Stuart-Mosby Historical Society, some of whom I’ve known and many I regret that I did not know. Several of these men and women fall into the category of those we call “old-timers,” in that they knew or knew someone who knew some of Mosby’s men. So, much of what is found here is based upon oral history or rather obscure written sources. Even if you never chance to enter Mosby’s Confederacy, you may be fascinated by the places and events described  in this book and the people who inhabited them not so long ago.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ball's Bluff: View from the Beach

View of the 70-foot high cliff at Ball's Bluff from the beach or bench of the Potomac River. On the day of the battle, the river was running fast. It was from here that Federal survivors of the battle sought escape by any means. The beach here was about 60 yards wide, according to a contemporary account, and in the gathering darkness after the battle on the bluff had ended, Confederates on the top of the bluff fired into the masses here.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Has Sparta more?"

View of the precipice at Ball's Bluff, Va.

Friday last was the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Ball's Bluff, fought near Leesburg, Va., on Oct. 21, 1861. A Federal force of about 1,700 men, commanded by President Lincoln's long-time friend (and U.S. senator from Oregon) Col. Edward D. Baker, crossed the Potomac above Leesburg as part of a three-pronged demonstration against the town. Confederate Col. Nathan G. "Shanks" Evans, defending Leesburg, concentrated a force of 1,700 men against the Federals and decisively defeated them in a sharp action. Baker was killed, and Union losses were over 50 percent, including 161 missing and presumed drowned in a panic at the river's edge. In sum, a Union disaster of the first order.

The small battlefield park at Ball's Bluff is always a pleasant place to visit, and generally few people go there. Leesburg itself is close by and has several excellent restaurants. In the photo above, the Potomac River and Harrison's Island may be glimpsed through the trees at the bluff.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Alexandria Goes to War

Kundahl, George G. Alexandria Goes to War: Beyond Robert E. Lee. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2004.

Despite the title, this is not a book about the town of Alexandria, Va., “going to war.” Rather, it is a collection of biographical sketches of Alexandrians, great and small, and their experience of the Civil War and its aftermath -- if they survived the war. A diversity of types and experiences is represented, as indicated by the table of contents (below). This is a well-researched and capably-written collection that will not fail to engage the reader.

Key Events in the Formative Years of Alexandria --
General in Chief: Robert E. Lee --
Senior General: Samuel Cooper --
Field Commander: Montgomery Corse --
Presidential Aide: G.W. Custis Lee --
General Staff Officer: George Brent --
Politician: David Funsten --
Naval Officers: French and Douglas Forrest --
Spy: Orton Williams --
Scout: Frank Stringfellow --
Engineer: Wilson Presstman --
Flower of the South: Randolph Fairfax --
Immigrant: Patrick O'Gorman --
Southern Sympathizer: Anne Frobel --
Chronicler: Alexander Hunter --
Veteran: Edgar Warfield --
Other Notable Characters.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Military Greats: Great Generals (3)

Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, vicomte de Turenne

And herewith, the third ten. So far, no contentiousness, but I have started to make a list of people that perhaps or most definitely deserve mention among the selectees but due to the vagaries of the Delphi method were somehow left out.

Cromwell (1599-1658)
Condé (1621-1686)
Turenne (1611-1675)
Charles XII (1682-1718)
Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736)
Marlborough (1650-1722)
Frederick the Great (1712-1786)
Suvarov (1729-1800)
Washington (1732-1799)
Galvez (1746-1786)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Military Greats: Great Generals (2)

Above: Maurits van Nassau

Here is the second ten:

Subotai (c. 1172-1245)
Edward I (1239-1307)
Edward III (1312-1377)
Tamerlane (1336-1405)
Mohammed II (1432-1481)
Gonsalvo de Córdoba (1453-1515)
Babur (1483-1530)
Maurice of Nassau (1567-1625)
Akbar (1542-1605)
Gustav II Adolf (1594-1632)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Military Greats: Great Generals (1)

Above: Genghis Khan and Three of His Four Sons (BNF)

Many years ago, my colleagues and I put together lists of military greats in several categories, e.g., great generals, great land battles, great developments in military technology, etc. We eventually had 14 such lists, varying in length from 15-60 entries. I recently rediscovered my copy of the draft lists (all save one), so I thought I'd present some of them here, starting with the first 10 of the 50 great (land warfare) generals. The list is chronological from earliest times to more recent. Please note: The list is of greats, not "the 50 greatest."

Alexander III the Great (356-323 B.C.)
Hannibal Barca (247-183B.C.)
Scipio Africanus (c. 236-184 B.C.)
Marius, Gaius (157-86 B.C.)
Sulla, Lucius Cornelius (138-78 B.C.)
Caesar, Gaius Julius (100-44 B.C.)
Belisarius (c. 505-565)
Heraclius (c. 575-641)
Khalid ibn al-Walid (592-642)
Genghis Khan (1162-1227)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Contents of Turenne et l'Art Militaire

Among the contributions, I most appreciated Humbert's on Turenne in Italy and Foerster's on Turenne and Montecuccoli. There is quite a lot here, though, and if you're interested in the military epoch and comfortable with the language, you may wish to make the effort to obtain the book.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Zusmarshausen, May 17, 1648

Above: A portion of an engraving depicting the fighting at Zusmarshausen, a sharp rear-guard action on May 17, 1648, that was the last relatively large engagement between field armies in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. Source: Above: A portion of an engraving depicting the fighting at Zusmarshausen, a sharp rear-guard action on May 17, 1648, that was the last relatively large engagement between field armies in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. Source: 
Above: A portion of an engraving depicting the fighting at Zusmarshausen, a sharp rear-guard action on May 17, 1648, that was the last relatively large engagement between field armies in Germany during the Thirty Years’ War. Source:

Above: A portion of an engraving depicting the fighting in the sharp rear-guard action at Zusmarshausen, the last relatively large engagement between field armies in Germany during the final phase of the Thirty Years' War. Source:
Osten, Carl Henricus de, and Cornelius von dem Busch. Schleunige oder geschwinde Action vnd Treffen, so zwischen der Kayserl. Armee vnter dem Command. des Herrn Gen. vnd Feldmars. Graff Holtzapfell, vnd gegentheils Schwed. vnter dem Command. des Herrn Gen. vnd Feldmars. Wrangels Exell. den 7. May 1648 fürgangen. Theatrum Europaeum, Oder Außführliche Und Warhafftige Beschreibung Aller Und Jeder Denckwürdiger Geschichten, so Sich Hin Und Wieder in Der Welt, Fürnemblich Aber in Europa Und Teutschlanden, Sowol Im Religion- Als Prophan-Wesen, Vom Jahr Christi ... Biß Auff Das Jahr ... Exclus. ... Sich Zugetragen. - Beschrieben Durch Ioannem Philippum Abelinum. [Frankfurt am Main]: [Merian’s Erben], 1700. 

Zusmarshausen was a victory of the Franco-Swedes, commanded by Turenne and Wrangel, over the Imperialists and Bavarians, commanded by Melander and Gronsfeld. The cooperation of Turenne, a Frenchman, and Wrangel, a Swede, is the subject of one of the essays in Turenne et l'art militaire, described in my last post. That essay: Gyllenstierna, Col. E. “Henri de Turenne et Charles Gustave Wrangel: Stratégie et tactique pendant les dernières années de la Guerre de Trente Ans,” written by a Swedish military historian, largely minimizes the very real differences between the two. The late Will Guthrie, in the second volume of his history, provides in my opinion a better, more critical account (of course he was not addressing a colloquium in Paris). But then, victory tends to smooth differences. Moreover, Guthrie's account focuses largely on the battle and stresses by contrast the poisonous relationship of Melander and Gronsfeld, good soldiers who were no match for their gifted adversaries.