This two-volume work by historian Robert Quimby presents a comprehensive and detailed analysis of military strategy, operations, and management during one of America’s most neglected and least understood military campaigns, the War of 1812. With causes that can be traced to the epic contest against Napoleon in Europe beginning in 1803, the war itself was the first conducted by the young Constitutional government of the United States. Quimby demonstrates that failed American initiatives at the beginning of hostilities shattered the unrealistic optimism of the war’s staunchest advocates; and while initial failures were followed by military success in 1813, whatever advantage might have been gained was soon lost to incompetent leadership. Major exceptions occurred in the Old Northwest, and in what was then the Southwest, where U.S. forces finally broke the strength of the long-successful Indian-British alliance.
In retrospect, what occurred during the War of 1812 demonstrated the necessity for gaining citizen support before committing the nation to armed conflict; it also provided a series of object lessons on how not to conduct a military campaign. Finally Quimby argues that, notwithstanding several victories at war’s end, including the fabled Battle of New Orleans, American perceptions that the United States "won" the war are erroneous; at best the struggle ended in a draw. The United States Army in the War of 1812 is an up-to-date and long overdue reassessment of military actions conducted during a pivotal conflict in American history, one that shaped U.S. military doctrine for a half century.
For nearly one hundred years, the 92nd Division of the U.S. Army in World War I has been remembered as a military failure. The division should have been historically significant. It was the only African American division of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. Comprised of nearly twenty-eight thousand black soldiers, it fought in two sectors of the great battle of the Meuse-Argonne, the largest and most costly battle in all of U.S. history. Unfortunately, when part of the 368th Infantry Regiment collapsed in the battle’s first days, the entire division received a blow to its reputation from which it never recovered.
In Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I, Robert H. Ferrell challenges long-held assumptions and asserts that the 92nd, in fact, performed quite well militarily. His investigation was made possible by the recent recovery of a wealth of records by the National Archives. The retrieval of lost documents allowed access to hundreds of pages of interviews, mostly from the 92nd Division’s officers, that had never before been considered. In addition, the book uses the Army’s personal records from the Army War College, including the newly discovered report on the 92nd’s field artillery brigade by the enthusiastic commanding general.
In the first of its sectors, the Argonne, the 92nd took its objective. Its engineer regiment was a large success, and when its artillery brigade got into action, it so pleased its general that he could not praise it enough. In the attack of General John J. Pershing’s Second Army during the last days of the war, the 92nd captured the Bois Frehaut, the best performance of any division of the Second Army.
This book is the first full-length account of the actual accomplishments of the 92nd Division. By framing the military outfit’s reputation against cultural context, historical accounts, and social stigmas, the authorproves that the 92nd Division did not fail and made a valuable contribution to history that should, and now finally can, be acknowledged. Unjustly Dishonored fills a void in the scholarship on African American military history and World War I studies.
While researching this book, Jack C. Mason made the kind of discovery that historians dream of. He found more than one hundred unpublished and unknown letters from Union general Israel B. Richardson to his family, written from his time as a West Point cadet until the day before his fatal wounding at the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Using these freshly uncovered primary sources as well as extensive research in secondary materials, Mason has written the first-ever biography of Israel Bush Richardson.
Mason traces Richardson’s growth as a soldier through his experiences and the guidance of his superiors, and then as a leader whose style reflected the actions of the former commanders he respected. Though he was a disciplinarian, Richardson took a relaxed attitude toward military rules, earning him the affection of his men. Unfortunately, his military career was cut short just as high-ranking officials began to recognize his aggressive leadership. He was mortally wounded while leading his men at Antietam and died on November 3, 1862.
Until Antietam brings to life a talented and fearless Civil War infantry leader. Richardson’s story, placed within the context of nineteenth-century warfare, exemplifies how one soldier’s life influenced his commanders, his men, and the army as a whole.
Winner of the Army Historical Foundation 2009 Distinguished Book Award