Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Plains Indian Wars Books

As I was born and grew up a few miles from the site of the battle of Beecher's Island, the Plains Indian Wars have always held a strong interest for me.  I'm sure I'm not alone in being fascinated by the campaign and battle of the Little Bighorn.   I've always wondered what Custer was thinking when it was obvious that something very wrong was happening....all those battles in "the war", and its going to end here on this barren slope in the middle of nowhere??

Anyway, on to some of my favorites:

Yellowstone Command, by Jerome Greene.
(Greene is a retired National Park Service historian.  I've had the pleasure of listening to many of his author's talks at local bookstores.  This is a representative work of his, in this case covering Miles campaign in the Great Sioux War 1876-77.  He has a large volume of work; you can't go wrong with any of them.  I asked him what he was going to do now that he was retired...his answer?  "I'm going to read all of those books that I've bought over my lifetime!")

Life of a Soldier on the Western Frontier, by Jeremy Agnew.
(Paperback, nice summary of what life was like on the plains in the army.  Covers organization, armament, enemies, ...great stuff)

Lakota Noon, The Indian Narrative of Custer's Defeat, by Gregory Michno.
(Michno is a proflific Indian Wars author, and I consider this book to be one of the absolute best on the LBH.  Fascinating analysis of Indian testimonies; almost a time motion study of the battle.)

Great Sioux War Orders of Battle; How the United States Army Waged War on the Northern Plains, 1876-1877, by Paul Hedren.
(Great detail; not necessarily an easy read, but really interesting to follow the various deployments through the war)

With Custer at the Death, by Robert Burke
(Absolutely THE best mapped book of the LBH I've seen.  Follows the battle phase by phase)

The Last Stand, by Nathaniel Philbrick.
(I also had a chance to listen to Philbrick at a local author presentation.  This one was filmed for Book TV - I'm shown in the footage; a special prize to anybody who spots me!  This book reads like a novel, and really captures the drama and color of that summer in 1876)

Do I game the Plains Indian Wars?  Not yet....I've never found a way to resolve the proper feel of scenario.  I just find the environment, tactical situations, and personalities so compelling that they are of great interest to me as a period to study.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite Franco-Prussian War Books

Continuing on with the favorite book theme, today I'll go through my favorite FPW books.

Alphonse  De Neuville  L'epopee de la defaite  from Copernic books (1979)
(This is a beautiful book with page after page of exquisite ADN artwork of the FPW.  This is perfect for inspiration...no units marching in step in these illustrations!)

Tactical Deductions from the War of 1870-1871  by Albrecht von Boguslawski
(A reprint of the original 1872 work by Boguslawski, who was a Captain in the Lower Silesian Infantry Regiment No. 50.  A great on the ground view of how things worked.)

The Prussian Infantry in the War of 1870-71 by Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe Ingelfingen
(Taken from an 1889 translation.  Absolutely fascinating detail of all the stuff that makes us want to wargame a period.)

The Campaign in Alsace, August 1870  by Brigadier General J.P. Du Cane
(Reprint of 1907 work.  A great, detailed look at the battles of Weissenburg and Woerth)

The Battle of Spicheren, August 6th 1870  by Lieut. Col. GFR Henderson
(Reprint of 1891 work.   Pretty much as above.   Very detailed look at Spicheren)

The Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71 by Quintin Barry
(Maybe not the best books in the world, can be tedious at times.  On the other hand, when was the last time you saw a recent 2 volume history of the FPW published?  If you're interested in the period, you should have it.)

The Franco-Prussian War, by Michael Howard
(I bought this back in my college years, before I'd even heard of the FPW.  Howard sets the standard for FPW works)

A Day of Battle, Mars-La-Tour 16 August 1870, by David Ascoli.  After Howard, this was my next book purchased on the FPW many years ago.  Excellent writing and presentation...buy this if you can find it)

The Franco-Prussian War, by Geoffrey Wawro.
(Nice general history.  You either like Wawro or you don't.  I like his style...a nice easy read).

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack!

Sorry, no game report this time.  I had knee surgery a week ago, which cancelled the usual game.  Our next game is set for June 4, so a game report will follow that.

In the meantime, I thought I'd start a series of posts that list my top 10 favorite books I own for each period.

So - I'll begin with my ACW book collection.   These are just the top 10 - not in any particular order:

Last Chance for Victory;  Rober E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign, by Scott Bowden & Bill Ward
(Fantastic book; this is on my list for regular re-reading).

Gettysburg, The Second Day by Harry Pfanz
(the 2nd day at Gettysburg is to me the most fascinating of the 3 days, full of what ifs and possibilities.  If you have this book, you don't need any other for this day)

Gettysburg, a Journey in Time by William Frassanito
(Fascinating study of battlefield photos and identifying their actual content and location....great stuff)

Antietam, The Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest Day, by William Frassanito
(as above - GREAT book).

Landscape Turned Red, The Battle of Antietam by Stephen Sears
(My first book on Antietam, and my most often returned to.   Its odd to me that Antietam has a tiny fraction of books written about it compared to Gettysburg)

Of Sabres and Carbines: The Emergence of the Federal Dragoon, by Laurence Schiller
(Brilliant pamphlet studying Federal cavalry development and tactics)

The Quest for Annihilation, The Role and Mechanics of Battle in the American Civil War, by Christopher Perello
(This book seems to have been written specifically for wargamers.  If this book doesn't grab you, you're probably not interested in the ACW)

The Union Cavalry Comes of Age, Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863, by Eric Wittenberg.
(Wittenberg specializes in books covering ACW cavalry.  He is a great writer, and his books are meticulously researched.  I have a thing for ACW cavalry actions, and you can't go wrong with anything done by Wittenberg)

Grant Wins the War, Decision at Vicksburg, by James Arnold.
(Jim Arnold is a wargamer, and his books are universally well written and interesting.  This book covers the Vicksburg campaign in a clear way that makes you want to break out the figures)

No Better Place to Die, The Battle of Stones River, by Peter Cozzens.
(I bought this many years ago during a visit to the Stones River battlefield.   Great book, as I've come to expect from Cozzens.   Buy each and every one of his books, you won't be disappointed.)

That's it for today!   The knee is doing GREAT; as the surgeon said - I'm only limited by my pain threshold.  Recovery pain is a whole lot better than injury pain.