Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Civil War in Indian Territory

The latest issue of Blue & Gray magazine (see above) examines the places and events of the Civil War in Indian Territory (modern-day Oklahoma). For an excellent synopsis of this neglected subject, see the website of the Oklahoma Historical Society:

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Nor must Uncle Sam’s Web-feet be forgotten

Above (top): USS Sebago; (bottom) USS Maratanza

In the aftermath of the Confederate evacuation of their defensive lines at Yorktown, the Union navy was unleashed, pursuing the Confederates westward toward Richmond on both sides of the Virginia Peninsula. Scouting, raiding, and generally raising havoc, the navy ranged ahead of the land forces, using the James River in the south and the York and Pamunkey rivers in the north. The navy’s forays beyond the flanks of the Confederates had important strategic consequences, not least among them the reshaping of the theater of operations decisively in favor of the Army of the Potomac – at least for a time. Occasionally too, as at Malvern Hill, the navy was a factor tactically. The joint army-navy operation at Eltham’s Landing was one such instance.

In defining the candidate engagements for my Peninsular Campaign scenario booklet, Eltham’s Landing just popped off the pages of the sources for any number of reasons, not least the presence of Uncle Sam’s Web-feet. Most sources identify the following gunboats as present at Eltham’s Landing:

USS Maratanza, double-ender, sidewheel gunboat (1 x 100-lb Parrott RML; 1 x 9-in Dahlgren pivot SBML; 4 x 24-lb howitzer)

USS Sebago, same as Maratanza

USS Wachusett, screw sloop (1 x 50-lb Dahlgren RML; 2 x 11-in Dahlgren SBML; 4 x 32-lb, 42-cwt)

Without doubt, a powerful force. However, I’m not convinced that all of these vessels were present during the combat. Moreover, the extent and effectiveness of their employment may be questioned. Then there is the matter of how to represent their fire in the circumstances of the historic combat under the rules. All grist for the mill of the scenario design.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Colonels in Blue

Hunt, Roger D. Colonels in Blue: Union Army Colonels of the Civil War : The Mid-Atlantic States : Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2007.

This volume is one of three related collective biographies produced by the author. A companion volume, recently printed, is listed below. In addition, there is an earlier work, apparently comprehensive, also listed below. I haven't seen either of the works listed below, so my comments apply only to the volume cited above. I found this book quite useful as a ready reference on the men profiled. It is thoroughly researched and provides readable, well-organized biographical sketches of its subjects, most of which are accompanied by photographs or other images. Mr. Hunt is also co-author of a book titled Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue. See also: Hunt, Roger D. Colonels in Blue: Union Army Colonels of the Civil War. Atglen, Pa.: Schiffer, 2001, and Hunt, Roger D. Colonels in Blue: Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia : A Civil War Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2011.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Between the Lines at Gettysburg

The photo shows the site of the large-scale fight between the pickets of the two armies that took place largely on the William Bliss farmstead between the lines on July 2d and 3d. Elwood Christ wrote the book on the fighting and estimated that about 4,500 men were involved (about equally divided between the two sides), and casualties were 830. In the photo, the site of the farm is indicated by the bushes in the middle ground, below the lone tree in the center. The photo was taken looking east from the North Carolina monument toward the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Angle and Copse of Trees (purported objective of the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge on July 3d) can be seen to the right of center.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gettysburg Railway Cut (2)

 Above: View South Southeast toward the Lutheran Theological Seminary on Seminary Ridge.
Above: View Southeast toward the town of Gettysburg (hidden by trees).

These views were taken from the same position under the bridge abutment as the previous view posted on Nov. 16, but the camera is now pointed southerly as opposed to northerly. In the upper view, the monuments of the 95th N.Y. Inf. and the 6th Wisc. Inf. may be seen on the right. The cut was shallower as it tailed off toward Gettysburg, and the Confederates were able to better utilize it as a protected firing position to rake the 6th Wisc. Inf. in its advance from the Chambersburg Pike (middle ground).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Straggling (and General Early’s Humor)

Gen. Jubal Anderson Early ("Old Jube")

Straggling was a major problem in Civil War armies, and was particularly irksome to stern disciplinarians who drove their men to make some prodigious marches. Exchanges between such officers and their subordinates with respect to the “evil” were sometimes testy but humorous. One such instance was noted in a communication between General Early and Stonewall Jackson: “[General Early] who, when he received a note with Gen. Jackson’s compliments, & desiring to know why he saw so many stragglers in rear of Early’s division that day, answered with his own compliments that it was probably because Gen. Jackson rode in the rear of the division.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Valley of Death

Another shot from our visit to Gettysburg last weekend. This is the view west across the Plum Run Valley (“Valley of Death”) from Little Round Top toward Houck’s Ridge (middle ground) and Devil’s Den. The wood line in the distance is Seminary Ridge, from which Longstreet’s Corps launched its attacks on July 2, 1863.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gettysburg Railway Cut

View northwest showing the famous railway cut (well, one of them) west of Gettysburg, which was the scene of heavy fighting between elements of Cutler's Union brigade and Davis' Confederate brigade on July 1, 1863. On the ground shown, the 2d and 42d Miss. of Davis opposed the 95th N.Y. and 14th Brooklyn of Cutler in an epic struggle that resulted in heavy casualties on both sides and the surrender of over 200 Confederates trapped in the cut.

I was at the park last weekend with friends. To get this photo, I climbed down the embankment of the cut underneath the park bridge for the roadway over it and onto its abutment. The cut here is through McPherson's Ridge and is relatively deep for about 200 yards of its length. The view is toward the mountains at the Cashtown Gap.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Military Greats: Great Generals (4)

Above: Count Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke depicted on the cover of Daniel J. Hughes (ed.), Moltke on the Art of War

Picking up this thread, here is the fourth set of ten.

Napoleon (1769-1821)
Wellington (1769-1852)
San Martin (1778-1850)
  Scott, Winfield (1786-1866)
Lee (1807-1870)
Jackson (1824-1863)
Grant (1822-1885)
Sherman (1820-1891)
Moltke the Elder (1800-1891)
Hindenburg (1847-1934)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fallen Stars

Above: Federal Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth was killed in action at Gettysburg, July 3, 1863.

I’ve been putting together a spreadsheet showing details of fatal battle casualties among general officers in the cavalry arm during the U.S. Civil War. According to data assembled by Russell K. Brown, there were 158 general officer combat-related fatalities in the war (78 Federal and 80 Confederate), the battlefields of which he aptly characterized as “the great killing grounds of American generals.”1

“Whoever saw a dead cavalryman?” was a popular calumny at the time of the war, and I was curious to examine the overall data on general officer combat deaths to discover the representation of cavalrymen among them. (I am doing this as well for field grade officers, but that is another, more ambitious, matter altogether.) Basically, I identify each general, their rank and unit, and the place, date, and circumstances of their death or fatal wounding.

I’ve only just begun this project, but it’s proving much more interesting (and challenging) than I imagined.

1Brown, Maj. Russell K., Jr. "Fallen Stars." Military Affairs, 45:1 (Feb. 1981), 9-12.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Custer's Last Stand

This diorama of Custer's Last Stand was produced by Bugle and Guidon, Inc., as a postcard to accompany its kit No. BG-18 in the mid-1970s. Constructed by Thomas E. Bookwalter, it depicts the final moments of Custer (hatless, staring at the viewer, and wearing the distictive cravat of his Civil War "Red Tie Boys") and his last companions, including his insuperably brave brother Tom (also hatless, in buckskin coat). The figures were 54mm.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chancellorsville (again)

Bigelow, John. The Campaign of Chancellorsville, A Strategic and Tactical Study. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1910.

Furgurson, Ernest B. Chancellorsville, 1863: The Souls of the Brave. New York: Knopf, 1992.

Having previously mentioned Sears’ book on the battle, I thought I’d at least cite (above) a couple more readily available histories of the campaign and battle of Chancellorsville. Furgurson’s book is a well-written narrative history, similar to Sears’ volume. Bigelow’s work is of course the classic, voluminous analysis, subject to much criticism (not least from Sears and not surprising, given its age and ambitious scope) and may be found online.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Galleon (Sp. Galeón)

Representation of a small galleon

From: Manuel de pilotage, à l'usage des pilotes bretons, par G. Brouscon (1548)
Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 25374

The galleon was a merchant vessel designed to combat corsairs on terms of equality. Some were quite large. The one depicted above appears to be relatively small, a type the Spanish called the galeóncillo. The description in Bancroft’s Hist. Central Amer., 1:189n, applies to the larger types:

“The galeon was a large armed merchant vessel with high bulwarks, three or four decks, with two or three masts, square-rigged, spreading courses and top-sails. One fleet of twelve galleons, from 1000 to 1200 tons burden, was named after the twelve apostles. Those which plied between Acapulco and Manila were from 1200 to 2000 tons burden.”

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1996.

I had occasion recently to turn to Sears’ fine treatment of General Lee’s greatest victory to check some facts. Not having read the book, nor having the time to do so, a few things struck me about it nonetheless. First, Sears took the time to evaluate the various reports of casualties and produce I think the best statement and analysis of the casualties available. Second, his Appx. III, “Romances of Chancellorsville,” is a thorough examination of several of the fabrications, misrepresentations, and hoary myths that have encumbered the historiography of the battle. Not surprisingly, it begins with an assessment of “systematic” liar Gen. Alfred Pleasonton’s various statements and writings on the battle, the source of so much mischief over the years (and of course not limited to Chancellorsville). And, it continues with several other “romances,” including debunking the myth that Hooker was drunk and an entertaining look at the sources of Stephen Crane’s classic, The Red Badge of Courage.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Galeaza or Galleass

Above: A typical galeaza of the mid-16th century.
From: Manuel de pilotage, à l'usage des pilotes bretons, par G. Brouscon (1548)
Source : Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des manuscrits, Français 25374

This magnificent depiction from a Breton pilot’s manual is interesting in that the vessel displays the flag of the dauphin, or heir-apparent to the throne of France. Possibly, this vessel belonged to François, 15th dauphin of France and duke François III of Brittany (d. 1536).

The galeaza was larger than a typical galley, but smaller than a galleon. Sharing characteristics of both types, she was equally at home on the inland (Mediterranean) sea and the high seas.

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.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Colloque international sur Turenne et l'art militaire, and Fernand Louis Gambiez. Actes du Colloque international sur Turenne et l'art militaire: tenu à Paris, École militaire, Amphithéâtre des Vallières, les 2 et 3 octobre 1975. [Paris]: Les Belles lettres, 1978.

Napoleon famously said: “The principles of warfare are those which guided the great captains whose high deeds history has transmitted to us—Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne, Eugene of Savoy, Frederick the Great….The history of their eighty-three campaigns would constitute a complete treatise on the art of war; the principles that must be followed in defensive and offensive warfare would flow from it as from a common source.”

My current reading includes this scarce volume, which is a collection of essays delivered in Paris by eminent military scholars to mark the 300th anniversary of the death in battle at Sasbach, Germany, of the great marshal-general. Although like all such collective works the quality of the many contributions vary, there is much here that I've found useful, new (to me), even provocative. And, I am not unfamiliar with the literature on Turenne, which is rather extensive. But, this is the first opportunity that I've had to read this volume, and I'll share my observations in coming posts.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blue & Gray's Port Republic Issue

The latest issue of Blue & Gray magazine arrived recently. The focus of this issue is apparent from a glance at the cover (above). The principal author and guide to the sites covered is Gary L. Ecelbarger, who (to my mind at least) is the reigning expert on "Stonewall" Jackson's Shenandoah Valley campaign of spring 1862.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Seventh Tennessee Cavalry

Young, John Preston. The Seventh Tennessee Cavalry (Confederate): A History. Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside Bookshop, 1976. 

This is a facsimile reprint of the original printing by M. E. Church, Nashville, Tenn., 1890. It is a fairly straightforward narrative history of the service one of Forrest’s regiments (Forrest himself enlisted as a private in Company D of the regiment on June 14, 1861.). This history is chiefly interesting for its accounts of Brice’s Cross Roads and Tupelo, plus the fighting in Hood’s disastrous Franklin and Nashville campaign. There is, besides, a detailed roll, pp. 152-227.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Forgotten Fights

Michno, Gregory, and Susan Michno. Forgotten Fights: Little-Known Raids and Skirmishes on the Frontier, 1823 to 1890. Missoula, Mont.: Mountain Press Pub. Co., 2008.

In this book, the Michnos (husband and wife) supplement the coverage of their earlier book, the Encyclopedia of Indian Wars (2003), with a detailed compilation covering about 300 small fights of the Indian wars during 1823-1890. These events were not included in the earlier publication. The book begins with a simple state-by-state chronology of the incidents examined. Each chronology is keyed to an outline map showing the locations of the incidents, plus rivers and forts and camps. This is followed by brief narratives of each event, in chronological order, from Skull Creek (Eagle Lake, Texas) in spring 1823 to Salt River (Globe, Arizona) on Mar. 7, 1890. In 1890, the frontier was declared “closed,” and the Indian wars ended. The authors’ brief Summary is sobering in its assessment of the enormous cost of the wars in human lives and property. The Notes, Bibliography, and Index are extensive and well-done.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Marin Sanudo's Diaries

Sanudo, Marino, Patricia H. Labalme, and Laura Sanguineti White. Venice, Cità Excelentissima: Selections from the Renaissance Diaries of Marin Sanudo. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

“No writer will ever make much of modern history who has not seen my diaries, within which is contained every event.” So wrote the Venetian historian Marino Sanudo (or Sanuto) in 1531. This book provides a wide-ranging selection of Sanudo’s large and largely-inaccessible writings in a superbly edited and annotated single volume. For those interested in the early Italian Wars and particularly the circumstances surrounding the shocking (at least to the Venetians) Venetian defeat at Agnadello (1509), this is a useful and interesting book.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fox Warrior, 1731

While browsing the superb website of the Bibliotheque nationale de France ( today, I came upon this striking image labeled "Guerrier Renard." It's a watercolor depicting a warrior of the Fox tribe in 1731. The Fox, an Algonquian people, were noted as warlike and appear to have been held in rather low regard by both the French and their Indian neighbors. At that time, they inhabited the region around Green Bay and Saginaw Bay in Wisconsin and Detroit in Michigan. They appear to have had the distinction of being the only tribe against which the French warred. This image represents a people rather outside the bounds of the blog, but it's so impressive, I just had to share it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

French Beaulieu 4-lb RML Light Field Gun (1860)

After the Crimean War, the standard French bronze 4-lb SBML light field guns were rifled on a plan devised by Col. Treuille de Beaulieu. Although the elongated projectile fired by the new rifle gun was heavier than the old four-pound ball of the smoothbore, the new gun retained its old designation. The service life of the tube was 1,200-1,500 rounds. When the rifling was worn, the gun was recast, “an operation of no great difficulty.”

Illustration from:

Moltzheim, Auguste de. Esquisse historique de l'artillerie française depuis le moyen-âge jusqu'à nos jours, avec un atlas de... planches dessinées par A. de Moltzheim... Strasbourg : E. Simon, 1868.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Leaders of the Lost Cause (2)

Returning to this interesting book, I thought that I’d mention an interesting approach that editors Gary W. Gallagher and Joseph T. Glatthaar took to the selection and assignment of authors to subjects. Essays were assigned to authors who had never previously written on the particular subject. Although this could not be followed completely, the essays largely do provide fresh views on the subjects and are free from the crippling hagiography and “amen chorus” aspects so often encountered in similar collective biographies. In addition, the authors were asked to look closely at the pre-war careers of their subjects -- an aspect of biography that often suffers in popular works.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Leaders of the Lost Cause

This handy volume provides biographical and interpretive essays on eight Confederate general officers who attained the rank of full general (equivalent to four-star) during the course of the U.S. Civil War. These men were: Robert E. Lee, P. G. T. Beauregard, Braxton Bragg, Samuel Cooper, Albert Sidney Johnston, Joseph E. Johnston, Edmund Kirby Smith, and John Bell Hood. In addition, the editors, in their Introduction, profile Confederate President Jefferson Davis, “the common thread among these officers, to whom they were beholden for their appointment.” This in itself is an important and essential essay that knits the others together in a useful fashion.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Florida Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg

The latest issue of Blue & Gray (Vol. 27:4) arrived recently, and by coincidence, the feature article focuses on the combats of the Florida Brigade of the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. In the battle, the brigade, consisting of the 2d, 5th, and 8th Florida regiments, saw action on July 2d and 3d in the attacks against the Federal III and II Corps along the Emmitsburg Road between the Rogers and Codori farms (July 2) and in the follow-on attack to Pickett's Charge, mounted by two brigades of Anderson's Division in the same area (July 3). This is a nice complement to the Waters and Edmonds book described in my last post.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Florida Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia

This excellent book details the service of the Florida Brigade in Lee's army. Very little has been written on this formation, and the records are scant. Robert K. Krick's Foreword states that the authors "have resurrected the Florida brigade...from oblivion. Nearly a century and a half after their campaigns, the Florida men who fought under Perry, Lang, and Finegan on the battlefields of Virginia and Maryland and Pennsylvania emerge from the shadows in the pages of this book."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Henri de Schomberg (3)

Above: Schomberg's victory over the English on the Isle de Re

At the epic Siege of La Rochelle (Aug. 15, 1627-Oct. 28, 1628), Schomberg was one of the commanders of the Royal Army and led the force that relieved the citadel of St. Martin on the Isle de Ré, which was besieged by the English under Buckingham. Schomberg’s relief force landed on the island on Nov. 7, 1627, and drove the English off with great slaughter the next day.

Schomberg next served in Italy, at the Pass of Susa (1629), and in Languedoc in the war against the Huguenots. There he besieged and took Privas (May 19-27, 1629), a success that led directly to the triumph of the Royalist cause and the Edict of Grace or Peace of Alais (June 28, 1629). In 1630, he was again in Italy, serving as one of the commanders of the French forces that moved to the relief of the fortress of Casale, besieged by Spinola. Following the conclusion of peace, he became embroiled in the political crisis that culminated in the Day of Dupes (Nov. 11, 1630). A firm supporter of the king and Richelieu, he was called upon to arrest Marshal Marillac, one of the conspirators. He accomplished this, and Marillac was executed for his role in the plot. Later, he commanded the Royal Army at Castelnaudary (Sept. 1, 1632), defeating the rebel Duke Henry II de Montmorency, who too was condemned and executed.

A distinguished soldier, who was invariably successful, Schomberg’s outstanding virtues were loyalty, industry, and thoroughness. His son, Charles de Schomberg, duc de Hallwin (1601-1656), also attained the dignity of mdF.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Henri de Schomberg (2)

Trust but verify: The image used to illustrate our first post on Schomberg was taken from Wikimedia Commons, which in turn attributes it to a book by F. de Vaux de Foletier titled Le Siège de La Rochelle (Paris, 1931). After I uploaded the image, I noticed that the label “Dvc d’Allvyn” was on the pedestal supporting the bust of Henri de Schomberg, and having completed the biographical sketch, I knew that the subject was never a duke. In fact, the duc d’Hallwin (or Halluin) alluded to in the image, was Henri de Schomberg’s son, Charles. So, whoever created the image conflated the two.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Henri de Schomberg

Schomberg [Schonberg], Henri de, comte de Nanteuil-le-Haudouin (1575-1632). French grandmaster of the artillery; mdF; superintendent of finances.

Known in his youth as the Count of Nanteuil, he was the son of Gaspard de Schomberg, a distinguished German officer who had served King Henry III as a captain of reiters and had risen to the grade of colonel general of the German cavalry in the king’s service. (These were the bandes noires or “black bands,” so called from their practice of painting their armor black and, some say, blackening their faces in a diabolical manner.) His first military service was under King Henry IV at the Siege of Amiens (1597). In 1599, he was appointed governor of La Marche, and in 1601, he performed distinguished service against the Turks while serving as a volunteer with the Duke of Mercoeur in Hungary.

He subsequently held a number of important civil and military positions. These included: councilor of State (1607); lieutenant-general of Limousin (1608); mestre de camp of IR Piedmont and captain of 100 gendarmes (1614); special ambassador to England (1615); maréchal de camp and maréchal de camp général of German troops (1616); special ambassador to Germany (1617); superintendent of finances and chevalier des ordres du Roi (1619). In 1625, he was created a marshal of France. To be continued ...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Russian Pandours, Seven Years' War

These figures are old Minifigs 25mm depicting grenadiers of Russian Pandour regiments of the Seven Years’ War period. There were two such regiments, each consisting of 20 companies, 15 of musketeers and 5 of grenadiers. They were formed from Serbian refugees who had been displaced by the Turks from the Austrian-Turkish frontier and settled in a region of Ukraine designated as “New Serbia.” The yellow boots were worn only on parade. There were also light cavalry (hussar) regiments. The uniform is depicted in Kannik’s Military Uniforms of the World in Colour and Mollo and McGregor’s Uniforms of the Seven Years War, 1756-63.

There is a full description of the Pandours in this excellent article by Vlad Gromoboy on Jean-Louis Vial‘s splendid NPI site:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Breitenfeld I (September 17, 1631)

Recently, Stephane at "De Rohan a Turenne" posted a couple maps of the Thirty Years' War Battle of Breitenfeld I (1631) from Grimoard's Essai theorique ... (1775). My attempt to comment on the maps was effectively trashed by Google for some reason, but Stephane's post prompted me to pull my file on the battle and revisit the musings of contemporaries and others on the orders of battle of the opposing armies in this great battle -- a triumph of the Swedes (and, I suppose, their Saxon allies) over the combined armies of Imperial Austria and the Catholic League. Look for more on this in coming days or weeks.