What are you currently reading ?

Started by goat major, 03 November 2012, 06:40:05 PM

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Rebels and Patriots (Osprey).

Revising for a game next week.

It's a good take on the original Lion Rampant with intelligent adaptations for (mostly) regular troops.


Finished "Under the Crescent Moon with the XI Corps in the Civil War; Volume 2:From Gettysburg to Victory, 1863-1864" by James S. Pula.

As the title says, the XI Corps battle of Gettysburg and on to transfer to the West.  Gettysburg saw an essentially holding action that General Barlow unhinged by advancing to far forward, leaving him in a 3 sided salient.  Very similar to what Generals Sickles did on day 3.

Gettysburg helped to displace the bad press the Corps received because of Chancellorsville but still those in the Army of the Potomac still blamed the "Germans" for the retreat on the first day.  Incidentally, less than half of the troops were "Dutch".

Things were different when transferred to the West with Hooker in command of the Xi and XII Corps.  The XI level of performance was superb and they received praise from all sides, including from General Sherman.

Ultimately the two corps were broken up with remnants becoming the XX Corps.  Other regiments went to the coast off North Carolina.  These last campaigns (march  through Georgia, Fort Fisher) are not covered in detail.

All in all the book sets out very good arguments as to the good performance of the XI Corps.


Finished "Small but Important Riots: The Cavalry Battles of Aldie, Middleburg, and Upperville" by Robert F. O'Neill.  After the cavalry battle of Brandy Station, Lee continued moving north in his invasion that culminated at Gettysburg.  General Stuart was tasked with protecting the army's trip through the Shenandoah Valley by blocking the different passes through the mountain range.

General Hooker was concerned that Lee was maneuvering to come through one or more of the passes and attack the Army of The Potomac.  His orders to General Pleasanton, cavalry corps CO were to guard the passes but not to get into the valley to see what Lee was up to.

The book has good discussions on the merits of Stuart, Hooker and Pleasanton, along with the various cavalry brigade commanders, both blue and grey.  There is enough information to be able to recreate the several actions in the title of the book.  Very good.

Chris Pringle

"The Reality of War: A memoir of the Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871" by Leonce Patry, translated by Douglas Fermer. Patry was an infantry lieutenant who fought at Borny, Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte and was then besieged in Metz. Confirms the conventional view that the French imperial army's 1870 campaign was shambolic. Interesting to see what a French officer's daily soldiering life was like and how little clue he had about what was going on most of the time.


Finished "U.S. Naval Logistics In The Second World War" by Duncan S. Ballantine.  An old book, printed right after the war in 1947.  It mainly is concerned with the Pacific theater but has a bit about the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Not the exciting stuff about battles but the necessary work to allow the battles to be fought.  The logistics were an ongoing effort with many revisions on the way things were done.  For quite some time the logisticians were not able to see the top secret strategy decisions, but because of procedures that had been set up, bulk supplies were pushed forward that continued to keep everything on track.

From various locations in the US, though the railroads, to the ports and then on to ships (always in short supply) supplies kept up.  This even when plans abruptly changed and advanced invasion dates, the supplies did keep up.

A different perspective on WWII in the Pacific.


Finished "Road To Disaster: A New History Of America's Descent Into Vietnam" by Brian VanDeMark.  Not a book I would normally read, but it was a present.  Starts with a background of Vietnam and the French, along with America's support of the French.

The Domino theory was prevalent during the Eisenhower years and continued into Kennedy and Johnson.  McNamara is a central character, at first pushing for something that would bring the North Vietnamese to a table, but later regretting how everything escalated.

The military doesn't come off in a good light here; asking for more troops, the end is near, they can't take it much longer.  The NVA and the northern Vietnamese were in it for the long haul, especially when US support at home was eroded.

The book is well written, but I thought too long.  The author, a historian, uses a lot of references to psychologists and social studies professors to relate how people are unwilling to change their mind, and won't give up because of already sunken costs.  (I thought too much of these references). President Johnson agonized over this and it took a long time for him to accept reality.  A large part of his intransigence was not wanting to be the president for the first loosing war for the US.  He was very much a political animal and deferred to the military for a long period of time.

It was however a well written book, too long for me and while I am glad I read it, I'm glad it is finished.


Fitting in nicely with my current fascination with Gangs of Rome 2, I've just finished Lindsey Davis' "Death on the Tiber" and "Invitation To Die."

Both in her Flavia Albia series, set in the reign of Domitian. The first, a novel, deals with power struggles among the criminal families of the time. The latter, a novella, deals with Domitian's Black Banquet.

"One of the most macabre banquet stories, perfect for a Halloween party, is of the black banquet thrown by the Emperor Domitian, known for his cruelty but also for rebuilding Rome. He swathed his hall in black, had all the food dyed black, and placed each quaking guest beside a gravestone with his name on it. The guests thought they would never make it out alive, especially since Domitian talked about slaughter all through the meal, but it turned out to be a diabolical prank, and after reducing his guests to a gibbering mess, the emperor sent them home and showered them with gifts." - Nina Martyris

Both well up to Lindsey Davis' usual standard.
There are 100 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data


Finished "Wilson's Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It" by William Garrett Piston and Richard W. Hatcher III.  A confusing battle.

General Nathanial Lyon, evidently a zealous type who decided quickly and wanted to punish the rebel traitors, moved on the Southern forces (some State Guards and others actually Confederate troops) south of Springfield Missouri.  Franz Sigel convinced Lyon to split his forces and have Lyon attack from the north while Sigel attacked from the south.

Southern forces were commanded by Ben McCulloch and Sterling Price.  They had been intending to march on the Union troops that morning but were surprised by the Union attack.  Unlike many attempted envelopments, the Union attack worked.  At first the Southerners were very disorganized but eventually came together and routed Sigel.

The northern attack at first pushed the rebels back but finally were attacked themselves as McCulloch and Price moved troops to face them on "Bloody Hill".  Lyon was killed, the first Union General to die in the Civil War.  The Union regrouped north and the rebels were too beat up, short of ammunition and supplies, so did not follow.

The book goes into the origin of many of the companies on both sides and where known talks about the uniforms.  Many blue and grey on both sides.  Also, The Missouri State troops were not at this time part of the Confederacy, but were defending their state.  Because of this, some carried the Union Flag, which caused some confusion on the battlefield.

Good book.

Duke Speedy of Leighton

You may refer to me as: Your Grace, Duke Speedy of Leighton.
2016 Pendraken Painting Competion Participation Prize  (Lucky Dip Catagory) Winner


Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014; Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!; 2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020; 7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition
11 votes in the 2022 Painting Competition (Double figures!)
2023 - the year of Gerald:
2024 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!


Lord Lensman of Wellington
2018 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!
2022 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!
2023 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!


Finished "A Series Of Military Experiments Of Attack And Defense: Made in Hyde Park, in 1802, under the Sanction of HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF with Infantry, Cavalry, and Artillery AND In the Island of Jersey, in 1805" by Lieut. John Russell, 96th Regt.

Experiments on how long it would take cavalry and infantry to attack artillery or infantry, over a certain distance, and how many shots the artillery could do.  This is where it gets interesting...

Cavalry attacking artillery from 600 yards advances at a walk, trot, gallop and covers the distance in 102 seconds.  according to the trials, the gun fired 13 times!

Infantry attacking artillery from 250 yards covers the distance in 115 seconds with the gun firing again 13 times!

Later in the notes there is a quote from Captain Tielk, in his Field Engineer, that says a field piece may be fired six times per minute and that it could be fired quicker than that but accuracy would suffer.  This seems very fast and because only one gun and crew was used it appears to me that the ammunition was adjacent to the gun and it was not relaid.

According to Hughes in "Firepower..." a light gun could fire at 8 rounds per minute but was limited to 2 rpm except for canister at 3 rpm.  This during Napoleonic times, so Hughes seems to agree on rate of fire.

According to Coggins in "Arms and Equipment in the Civil War", cavalry from 650 yards would receive 2 solid shot in 48 seconds and 2 canister at 34 seconds (or a total of 82 seconds). Infantry from 350 yards would receive 11 canister in 3 minutes and 36 seconds (or 216 seconds).  This later in the era with better guns and powder and it seems Coggins is going with the official rpm.

So, with Lieutenant Russell figures, it appears that the effects of artillery based on his experiments would be degraded by more accurate aiming and relaying, smoke and location of the caisson.  He used his information to instruct infantry, cavalry and artillery commanders on how much fire they could expect during and attack and decide accordingly.


That looks like an excellent book!

I have ordered it! Hughes has been my go-to for many years. In fact, I based my dissertation on it - "A Statistically Accurate Set of Wargames Rules for the Napoleonic Period".   

Regrettably, Coggins covers the wrong civil war for me.

Thank you.
Lord Oik of Runcorn (You may refer to me as Milord Oik)

Oik of the Year 2013, 2014; Prize for originality and 'having a go, bless him', 2015
3 votes in the 2016 Painting Competition!; 2017-2019 The Wilderness years
Oik of the Year 2020; 7 votes in the 2021 Painting Competition
11 votes in the 2022 Painting Competition (Double figures!)
2023 - the year of Gerald:
2024 Painting Competition - Runner-Up!


Finished "Stay and Fight It Out: The Second Day at Gettysburg, July 2, 1863 - Culp's Hill and the North End of the Battlefield" by Kristopher D. White and Chris Mackowski.  this is part of the Emerging Civil War series by Savas Beatie.

Maps, pictures, OB, vignettes on the commanders; overall , well done.  The fight at Culp's Hill was very intense, as was the evening attack on East Cemetery Hill.  The book covers it extremely well.


Finished an Osprey "Essex-Class Aircraft Carriers 1945-61" by Mark Stille.  Typical Osprey, with pictures, statistics, and narrative.  A bit beyond WWII so of minor interest to me.