Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Another reading list on the subject of war.

“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
My reaction? No Sun Tzu? No Peninsular War in Spain (to include the Spanish guerrilla struggle)? No fiction? (Often you get closer to the truth of things in fiction.) Not even some classics of American military history such as This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach, or The Minutemen by General John Galvin? And, as the reader who forwarded this link to me wrote in the accompanying email:
One caveat, I think it is important to understand freedom first, so that if you are skilled at war you won't use that skill to enable tyranny.
Exactly! This is where such fiction classics as Once An Eagle, Shaara's The Killer Angels, heck, even Rifleman Dodd by C.S. Forrester come in.


Anonymous said...

Notice that a large amount of his list centers on tyrants.

California Midwesterner said...

In fairness, LtCol. Kratman did mention that this is only the first installment of his suggestions. There may be fiction at some point; I'm reserving dismay on that point until the series concludes.

Thanks for the link!

Josh said...

I enjoy reading works by vets of all eras, some of my faves you can download free are;

Eighteen years ago, the first edition of this book, "Co. H., First
Tennessee Regiment," was published by the author, Mr. Sam. R. Watkins,
of Columbia, Tenn. A limited edition of two thousand copies was printed
and sold. For nearly twenty years this work has been out of print and
the owners of copies of it hold them so precious that it is impossible to
purchase one. To meet a demand, so strong as to be almost irresistable
the Chattanooga Times has printed a second edition of 2000 copies,
which to soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee and the Army of the
Cumberland, between whom many battles were fought, it will prove of
intense interest, serving to recall many scenes and incidents of battle
field and camp in which they were the chief actors. To them and to all
other readers we respectfully commend this book as being the best and
most impersonal history of any army ever written.

Rebel Private Front and Rear is a line soldier’s account of the Civil War without heroics. Private Fletcher tells how at Gettysburg he was overcome by a “bad case of cowardly horror” when an order came on the third day to get ready to charge. “I tried to force manhood to the front, but fright would drive it back with a shudder,” he confessed. The attack of jitters lasted about fifteen minutes, and then he fell asleep while awaiting the order to advance.

But Fletcher could be brave to a fault. He was restless and venturesome and during the lulls between fighting would sometimes ask for permission to go on dangerous scouts into enemy territory. Once, just before Fredericksburg, he slipped out to a haystack in the no-man’s-land near the Rappahannock so that he could watch the Yankees build a bridge. And in his last fight at Bentonville he risked his life on a rash and futile impulse to capture a whole squad of Federals. At Second Manassas, Fletcher was struck by a bullet that grazed his bowels and lodged in his hip. His detailed description of his subsequent sensations and experiences is one of the most interesting portions of his narrative. He begged the surgeons to operate, but when they started cutting he howled so profanely that they threatened to abandon him. His reply was: “It don’t hurt as badly when I am cursing.”

Wounded again at Chickamauga, Fletcher was incapacitated for further infantry service and was transferred to Company E, Eighth Texas Cavalry, and served with Terry’s Rangers until the end of the war. In north Georgia he participated in a number of thrilling skirmishes with mounted forces of Sherman’s command, and in one of these encounters he lost his horse. A short time later, in a daring effort to capture a mount from the Yankees, he was taken prisoner. The story of the forming and execution of his plan to escape by jumping from a moving boxcar is full of suspense and excitement.

Rebel Private also reveals Fletcher as something of a philosopher. The narrative is sprinkled with dissertations on unexpected subjects, such as God, justice, and war. He reflects on the rightness and the necessity of “foraging,” in home as well as enemy territory, but he tells with evident relish how he and his “pard” of the occasion “pressed” whiskey, honey, and chickens.

Fletcher set down his experiences some forty years after the close of the Civil War. His story is told with the artlessness of the natural raconteur. Though the style is unpolished, the memoir makes lively reading because of the author’s eye for detail, his straightforward language, and his sense of humor. One of the most frequently cited narratives written by soldiers of Lee’s army, it derives its value as a historical source mainly from Fletcher’s honesty, his close observations, the richness and variety of his experiences, and the sharpness of his memory.