Military History Digest #4

This is also posted to the H-War Military History Discussion Network (see

1. Best Individual Blog, 2007 by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory (

This morning I learned that Civil War Memory has won the 2007 Cliopatria Award for Best Individual Blog and I couldn’t be more pleased. Congratulations to the other winners. Thanks to Tim Lacy and Tim Abbott for nominating this site and to the committee which made the final selection. Any of the other blogs nominated are equally deserving of this award; most of them are part of my daily walk through the blogosphere. Finally, thanks to all of you who make this site part of your daily routine. Here is the citation:
Kevin Levin’s Civil War Memory is an impressive individual
blog, with a track record of several years. It commonly offers the best
of both military history blogging and history blogging about the
broader political, intellectual, and social context of regional
conflict. This past year, for example, Civil War Memory has devoted considerable attention to the Lost Cause myth and the quest for Black Confederates.

2. Viking-Saxon Wars: Battle of Ashdown by at Military History (

January 8, 871 – Saxon forces under Prince Alfred defeat the Danes at the Battle of Ashdown. Emerging from a defeat at Reading, the Saxon forces of Wessex rallied…

3. Soldier Self-Identification by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory (

One of the most popular stories from our Civil War is that of Union soldiers stitching their names to their uniforms before Cold Harbor in June 1864, in case their bodies need to be identified following the battle. Ken Burns narrates this incident along with an image of Union soldiers apparently doing just that. Gordon Rhea, however, recently challenged this story in his study of the battle. If I remember correctly, his argument boils down to the fact that there is only one postwar source that cannot be corroborated.

I’ve been making my way through the recently published notebooks of Lt. Col. Theodore Lyman and came across a very interesting passage about a similar incident. On Monday, November 30, 1863 Lyman wrote the following:

We were bright up & early, for it was necessary to get the trains out of the way about sunrise, as they would be exposed to shell, when the cannonade opened. All was expectation. Yet such is the force of your surroundings that I felt no particular nervousness–to be sure I did not have to lead an assault–which makes a wide difference. The soldiers of the 2nd Corps, that morning pinned bits of paper on their clothes, with their names on them! As for Col. Farnum (he of yacht Wanderer fame) he said he considered himself under sentence of death, that morning for an hour! (74)

I was of no use! We came back; the moment had passed, the assault was countermanded and the 2nd Corps might unpin their bits of paper. (75)

I was wondering if there are other examples of men pinning their names to their uniforms before battle.

4. Shelby Foote on Civil War Entertainment by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory (

Here is Shelby Foote’s short comment at the end of The Civil War by Ken Burns on what I call Civil War Entertainment:

We think that we are a wholly superior people – if we’d been anything like as superior as we think we are, we would not have fought that war. But since we did fight it, we have to make it the greatest war of all times. And our generals were the greatest generals of all time. It’s very American to do that. It’s not clear to me whether Foote intends this as a criticism of our popular perceptions of the war…

5. York 2 by Brett Holman at Airminded (

This post relates to my trip to Europe in July-September 2007.

My second (and last) day in York. Luckily, since I’d seen the two major attractions (for me) on my first day there, I was free to wander around with only a vague plan in mind. And there was a lot to see. One of the great things about York, I found, was the way in which nearly all periods of history are represented by some substantial survival or site, all within easy walking distance. It’s like a slice through Britain’s/England’s/Northumbria’s etc past. So, to illustrate this, I’ll write this post chronologically by site (rather than chronologically by time of day visted!) With the exception of the above: that’s Clifford’s Tower, which should come in the middle somewhere, but it’s too pretty a picture not to put up front.

6. Ken Burns Marathon by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory (

Yesterday I returned from two days in Richmond with a fellow historian to begin work on our Ken Burns project. We are writing a book that is centered around the script of the Civil War series. Our plan is to edit the entire script for publication along with an extensive introduction that places Burns’s interpretation within the historiography of the last 20 years. In addition, we will be including extensive tables that address such issues as the number of words spoken by the talking heads and the amount of time spent on various subjects and themes. The book will hopefully be ready for the twentieth anniversary of the release of the series in 2010 and should be attractive to general readers, scholars, and teachers.

We spent the last two days viewing the entire series and checking the script against the spoken word on the video itself….

7. World War II: M1 Garand by at Military History (

Developed to replace the M1903 Springfield, the M1 Garand was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to any nation’s army. Designed by John C. Garand (left) at…

8. The Military Times 2007 Polls by Phillip Carter at INTEL DUMP (

The Military Times publishing company, which publishes the independent newspapers like the Army Times and Marine Corps Times, just published its annual poll results…

9. Russo-Japanese War: Port Arthur Falls by at Military History (

January 2, 1905 – After holding out for five months, the siege of Port Arthur ends when the Russian garrison surrenders. The siege of Port Arthur began on July…

10. Counting corpses by Brett Holman at Airminded (

Well, not just corpses …
The data for the above plot are drawn from the War Office, Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire During the Great War, 1914-1920 (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1922), 674-7.1 It shows the total (i.e. civilian and military)2 casualties (i.e. killed and wounded) from all forms of bombardment (i.e. by airship, by aeroplane, and by warship) in Britain for each month of the war.

11. First Ironclads: HMS Warrior Launched by at Military History (

December 29, 1860 – HMS Warrior (left), the first iron-hulled, armored warship built for the Royal Navy, is launched in London. A revolutionary advance in warship design, HMS Warrior…

12. When Luck Runs Out. . . Some… by dw at of Battlefields and Bibliophiles (

When Luck Runs Out. . . Some survived the war, but not the peace. Emerson Opdycke, at left, overcame a grievous wound at Shiloh—and was in the thick of things throughout the war—but mortally wounded himself many years later in an unfortunate accident…

13. World War II: Ordnance QF 25-Pounder Field Gun by at Military History (

The principal field gun used by British Commonwealth forces during World War II, the Ordnance QF 25-pounder (right) saw service in all theaters of the war. Designed as a…

14. World War I: 1914 Christmas Truce by at Military History (

December 25, 1914 – Along several sections of the Western Front, informal truces are called to celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Eve 1914, after four months of fighting, Christmas trees…

15. 227 – First the Cartoon, then the War: Europe in 1870 by strangemaps at strange maps (

All was not well in Europe in 1870, the year the Franco-Prussian war would lead to a united German Empire and a humiliated France; one could call it the first of three European civil wars, the other two being World Wars One and Two.
This French satirical cartoon map (’Carte drôlatique d’Europe pour 1870‘) sought to get some laughs out of those tensions by showing an anthropomorphic map of Europe, where each country was represented by a caricature of its national ‘persona’…

16. World War I: Battle of Magdhaba by at Military History (

December 23, 1916 – Allied forces in the Sinai defeat the Turks at the Battle of Magdhaba (left). Moving across the Sinai desert in the fall of 1916, British…

17. Powder River Country by ari at The Edge of the American West (

If you have a chance some day, drive north from Denver to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, the site of George Armstrong Custer’s demise. You won’t be disappointed. It’s an amazing trip through a desolate country, filled with more antelope than people. Out of your driver’s-side window, for most of the way, you’ll see the eastern face of the Rockies. And the Great Plains will stretch to the horizon when you glance to your right. Regardless of which view you choose, it’s hard not to feel tiny amdist the enormity of the West.

About four hours out of Denver, as you approach the town of Buffalo, Wyoming, the scenery becomes spectacular. A sea of pines rises to your left, the Bighorn National Forest, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by craggy hills in one instant and lovely valleys the next. Streams, absent for most of the ride, lace the landscape. This is the western edge of the Powder River Country….