Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"Jeb" Stuart's Letters

Mitchell, Adele H., ed. The Letters of Major General James E.B. Stuart. [S.l.]: Stuart-Mosby Historical Society, 1990.

As one who has studied General Stuart, his life, and his campaigns at length, I can say that it is impossible to know the man (however imperfectly at the remove of nearly a century-and-a-half) without having read and re-read this rare, important, and unique collection of his letters.

From the Introduction by Col. James Ewell Brown Stuart, IV (U.S. Army, Ret.):

“General Stuart was an outstanding military leader who brought the arm of Cavalry to a level that had not before been achieved. He used his position to serve as an inspiration for all of those who served with him, not only subordinates, but also contemporaries. The method he used to inspire his men against formidable odds can be best summarized with a statement he made: ‘The only way we can whip the enemy is through a greater spirit and desire to win—I must strive to inculcate in my men the spirit of the chase.’ General John Sedgwick of the Union Army was quoted as saying: ‘Stuart was the best Cavalry Officer ever foaled in America’.”

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Castelnaudary, 1631

Gaston Jean-Baptiste de France (Monsieur) in 1634

Castelnaudary, Action at (Sept. 1, 1632). Defeat of Monsieur’s rebel army, led by Montmorency, by the French Royal Army, commanded by Schomberg.

In late 1631, a French force commanded by the marshals Schomberg and La Force was operating in Lorraine against the forces of Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine. Its mission was to take Moyenvic. About mid-year 1632, supporters of the rebel Gaston, Duke of Orleans (called Monsieur, the French king’s brother), rose in revolt in Languedoc. The insurgents were led by Henri, Duke of Montmorency, and supported by Lorraine and Spain. Languedoc, their stronghold, was an ancient center of dissidents and close, geographically, to Spain.

At news of the revolt, the Royal Army made preparations to confront the rebels in Languedoc. Marshal Schomberg, with 2,000 horse (approximately 1,500 cavalry and 500 mounted musketeers), left St. Dizier immediately for Languedoc. He was followed by La Force with the rest of the troops, 8,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry. The strength of the Royal Army, therefore, was 11,500 (3,500 horse). The strength of the rebels was about 10,000 altogether.

On September 1, the rebels were surprised by Schomberg while negotiating a pass in broken country at Castelnaudary, about 20 miles WNW of Carcassone. Schomberg’s “Griffons,” 500 mounted musketeers drawn from four companies of the French Guards, won the day, fighting dismounted from behind hedges and smashing an attempt by Monsieur’s cavalry to break out of a confined bridgehead with musketry. The fighting lasted about a half-hour and resulted in the utter defeat and dispersal of Monsieur’s force. “It was not a general combat,” said Richelieu, “but merely an ambush.” Nonetheless, it was observed that never had such great slaughter been effected in so little time and that, as a result, “10,000 had fled from 500.”

The little skirmish, hardly remarkable (or remarked upon) from a military standpoint, had important political consequences. It marked the abrupt end of Monsieur’s latest inept and shabby protest against ministerial absolutism and resulted, as was usually the case, in his reconciliation with the king and the execution of his chief co-conspirator. Montmorency was beheaded at Toulouse on October 30.

© Dur Écu 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chronology of the Caroline War

Charles VIII, King of France (reigned 1483-1498)

With respect to the character of King Charles VIII, I recall reading somewhere that he was an "inoffensive, pleasure-loving ninny." The description is fixed in my mind, but I can't for the life of me remember from whence it sprung. Be that as it may, his Italian adventure ( the Caroline War) was very destructive of life and property and initiated decades of turmoil on the Italian peninsula. In examining this sub-war of the Great Italian Wars, I found it useful at the outset to compile a chronology of the conflict.

The Caroline War (Charles VIII’s Invasion of Italy [1494-1496])

          Sep. 2, 1494 - Charles VIII of France invades Italy. The French army crossed the Alps from Briançon to Oulx via the Col de Montgenèvre (Monginevro Pass).
          Jan. 1, 1495 - The French army enters Rome.

          Feb. 22, 1495 - Charles reaches his objective, the disputed Kingdom of Naples.

          Mar. 31, 1495 - Formation of the Holy League to oppose the French

          May 20, 1495 - The French main force departs from Naples.

          June 21, 1495 - Battle of Seminara I

          July 6, 1495 - Battle of Fornovo (The Taro)

          July 17-Sept. 24, 1495 - Siege of Novara

          Oct. 9, 1495 – The Peace of Vercelli ends the Caroline War in the north of Italy, but the fate of the Kingdom of Naples remains to be settled.

          Oct. 25, 1495 – The French main army recrosses the Alps using the Monginevro Pass.

          July 25, 1496 – The French Neapolitan army, under the Viceroy Montpensier, capitulates at Atella after a brief siege, effectively ending operations in the south of Italy.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Aubigny, Bernard [Béraud; Bérault] Stuart, third seigneur d’

Aubigny, Bernard [Béraud; Bérault] Stuart, third seigneur d’ (1447?-1508). French general. Principal wars: War of the Roses; Italian Wars. Principal Battles: Bosworth Field (1485); Seminara I (1495); Seminara II (1503).

A descendant of the Stewart of Derneley granted the lands of Aubigny and Concressault by the Dauphin Charles (future Charles VII) in 1421 for services to the French crown, he fought at Bosworth Field (Aug. 22, 1485) and later commanded the French army that defeated Spain’s “Great Captain,” Gonzalo de Cordoba, at Seminara I (or Monteleone, June 28, 1495). He was subsequently made Grand Constable and Governor of Naples (1501) but was defeated by Don Fernando de Andrada at Seminara II (Apr. 21, 1503) and imprisoned in the tower of the Castello Nuovo. He died in Scotland in June 1508.

Commynes described him as a “bon chevalier, saige, et bon et honrable”; Brantome as a “grand chevalier sans reproche”; and Bayard as “ung tres gentil et vertueux Capitaine.”

Sources: Aubigny, Béraud Stuart, and Élie de Comminges. Traité sur l'art de la guerre de Bérault Stuart, seigneur d'Aubigny. La Haye: M. Nijhoff, 1976. Cust, Lady Elizabeth Caroline. Some Account of the Stuarts of Aubigny, in France, 1422-1672. London: Chiswick Press 1891.

© Dur Écu 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gen. Robert Emmett Rodes

One of the more interesting exercises connected with scenario design is the characterization of leaders. This is generally a requirement of rules’ sets, and if the scenario is “historic,” getting the characterizations right is important. Of course, the process is complicated by the fact that most historic leaders had their good days and their bad days (that is, splendid and not so much – think of “the” Stonewall Jackson of the Seven Days for a couple inexplicably bad days by a military colossus). Then too, there were others who were truly great at lower command levels but ineffective or worse at higher levels (for example, John Bell Hood – the epitome of the Peter Principle). Colonel, later Gen. Robert E. Rodes is an example of an enigmatic historic leader. As he figures in several of the scenarios I’ve been working up, I had to get a handle on him. Following is a list of biographical references for Rodes. I’ve only seen the first, which I consider sufficient, but I expect I’ll get around to the others.

Collins, Darrell L. Major General Robert E. Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia: A Biography. New York: Savas Beatie, 2008.

Newton, Steven H., William Garrett Piston, Keith Poulter, Steven E. Woodworth, and Gregory J. W. Urwin. 2009. “Overrated Generals.” North & South : The Official Magazine of the Civil War Society. 11, no. 6: 14-22.

Covers: Philip Henry Sheridan; John Brown Gordon; James Birdseye McPherson; Joseph Wheeler; James Harrison Wilson; William Joseph Hardee; Joseph Hooker; Joseph E. Johnston; George Gordon Meade; Nathan Bedford Forrest; George Henry Thomas; John Singleton Mosby (not a general, of course); George Crook; Wesley Merritt; G. T. Beauregard; John Hunt Morgan; Franz Sigel; Robert Emmett Rodes; Winfield Scott Hancock; George A. Custer; John Alexander Logan

Swisher, James K. Warrior in Gray: General Robert Rodes of Lee's Army. Shippensburg, Pa.: White Mane Books, 2000.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Galiot de Genouillac

Galiot de Genouillac, Jacques Richard de, seigneur d’Assier (Assier, Quercy, July 16,1465-château de Végennes, Limousin, Oct. 15, 1546). The nephew of Jacques de Genouillac, grandmaster of the artillery under Louis XI, he was himself appointed grandmaster by King Louis XII on May 26, 1512. A highly-skilled artillerist, he participated in the campaigns of Charles VIII, Louis XII, and Francis I in Italy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Confederate Gun Line at First Manassas

At the crisis of the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run), July 21, 1861, the Confederate army, which had been driven in disarray from its initial position near Matthews Hill, rallied on the line of Gen. Thomas J. Jackson's Brigade on Henry House Hill. It was here that Jackson, and his brigade, won their immortal nickname of "Stonewall." It's worth noting, though, that the stabilization of the Confederate line was made possible not only by Jackson's infantry but also by a line of 13 guns assembled along the eastern rim of the hill. The position of these guns is marked today by the gun line in the photos above, taken a few days ago. The view is to the northwest, and if the Robinson House was still standing, it would be visible along the line of trees at the upper center.