It was with great pride that we learned our “Fights on the Little Horn: 50 Years of Research into Custer’s Last Stand” had earned the John M. Carroll Award from the Little Big Horn Association as their best book of 2014. The LBHA had its annual conference last week in Virginia, with tours of cavalry battlefields and every other kind of nice time. Given that Gordon Harper, the author of “Fights on the Little Horn,” is deceased, and his daughter Tori is far away in the west, and Harper’s co-author, Gordon Richards, currently lives on the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel, we were at a significant loss how to accept the award. The editor of this company, as I can attest, along with our promo director, dearly wanted to attend, but circumstances intervened. But as we can see, the LBHA took care of matters for us. The Carroll Award Chairman, Jeff Broome, along with his son Kile, was able to accept the beautiful plaques for us at the gala dinner that culminated the week’s events. Not only that, they have a member of the Assoc. going to the Custer Battlefield in Montana soon to present the plaque in person to Mr. Harper’s daughter, Tori. Also another member going to England in order to present his to Mr. Harper’s closest colleague, Gordon Richard. The honor of the award has been welcomed here at Casemate, while in addition one can hardly say enough about the people in the LBHA. We especially wish to give a shout-out to Don Schwarck, who has kept us apprised of the events. Our thanks to one and all for recognizing Mr. Harper’s book. As a core of learning, expertise and enthusiasm, the LBHA captures our imagination, and at their next annual meeting we should all be sure to attend.
Casemate is pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting all weekend at Historicon 2014 in Fredericksburg, VA! The convention will be held at the Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center, and this year’s theme is “Big Wars, Little Soldiers–World Wars throughout time.” We will be showcasing a variety of our New Releases, so make sure to stop by the stand and say hello if you are attending!
Vendor Hall Hours of Operation:
Thursday: 12 Noon-6 PM
Friday: 9 AM-6 PM
Sunday: 9 AM-12 Noon
Last July, for the 70th anniversary of Gettysburg, we at Casemate were pleased to release Dr. Phillip Thomas Tucker’s latest work, “Barksdale’s Charge,” an in-depth look at the height of the battle on the second day, when one Confederate brigade nearly cracked the entire Union position on Cemetery Ridge.
But it did not escape us that another book had been published last summer, by Knopf, called “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion,” which described the entire three days of the battle, with rare expertise. This work, by Professor Alan C. Guelzo, became a national sensation, and perhaps the most important Civil War book in the last 20 years. From the New York Times and the Economist, to the Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor, it has been lauded, often called the “definitive” account of the battle.
You can imagine our pleasure, then, at finding that while we were reading Prof. Guelzo’s book, he was also reading “Barksdale’s Charge,” and in the respected journal, Civil War News, penned a review of our work. It said, in part:
“Launched from Seminary Ridge in the late afternoon as part of Longstreet’s assault, Barksdale’s brigade, with Barksdale himself riding at the head, overran the Sherfy farm and the Peach Orchard, captured the Trostle farm, and very nearly broke through the wreckage of the 3rd Corps to the Taneytown Road. In that event, the Army of the Potomac might have had little option but retreat. . . . Barksdale, frantic at how near he was to a complete breakthrough, was cut down by Union bullets. . . . Phillip Thomas Tucker takes up Barksdale’s cause with a vigor that would certainly have won the old fire-eater’s approval.”—Alan C. Guelzo, in Civil War News
It has been flattering in the extreme that Prof. Guelzo chose to read and review our work, in which we posit that Barksdale’s Mississippi Brigade might have turned the tide of the battle.
In turn we will now review his excellent work. To be short, Prof. Guelzo’s superb prose and deep grasp of detail caused the battle to come to life once again for another generation of American readers. His combination of strategic grasp, as well as on-the-ground insights, stands as the envy of future historians.
We only hesitate slightly in declaring Prof. Guelzo’s book “definitive.” Instead, to students of the battle, we believe he was purposely being provocative. One must read “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” to see, but never has the public seen Hancock portrayed so poorly, nor O.O. Howard so well. Or Humphreys, Gibbon and Hunt so poorly, while Jeb Stuart at least has an explanation. His in-depth insights into that 3-days fight are nothing short of amazing.
To we at Casemate it only made the book more of a delight, as Prof. Guelzo, on the basis of his unprecedented expertise, simply knocked down shibboleths or common wisdom left and right.
“Barksdale’s Charge” was written in the same vein, and the most pleasant news of all was that Prof. Guelzo agreed with its premise—that if the Cemetery Ridge position had been cracked on Day 2, the Army of the Potomac would have had no other recourse but retreat. To be clear, Dr. Tucker did not think the half-shattered Mississippi Brigade could have held that position by its own on July 2, even if gained. But twice in his pages he states that that evening was when Pickett’s division should have gone in. Pickett’s men had begun arriving at 2:00 that afternoon, fully assembled around 5:00. But at Gettysburg there was to be no A.P. Hill such as at Antietam. Instead Lee sent Pickett an order: “I shall not want you today.”
The truth is, there were no other days! Can one imagine if Pickett’s division had been able to go in on Day 2, following up Barksdale, who was already fighting on Cemetery Ridge, with a completely unopposed approach-march with the entre Potomac Army then hanging by a thread? And with Wofford’s brigade still there, and entire other Rebel divisions on the left not yet committed? It can be said that the entire Potomac Army was just waiting to be defeated again, and were more surprised than anyone that they weren’t.
We know that Longstreet never wanted to go into battle with “one boot off.” But if Pickett’s Virginians, under Armistead, Garnett, and Kemper, had been able to follow Barksdale’s path in that twilight, it is nearly inconceivable to imagine Meade’s army not hastening to try to get back to their Pipe Creek line in Maryland, as best as they could.
In any event, we can all refight the Battle of Gettysburg continuously—while in normal life mistakes are made on all sides, in that case the mistakes were crucial to our entire nation. The final result was grand, as the Union held sway. But it was a near-run thing.
For a comprehensive look at the three days of Gettysburg we urge everyone to read Prof. Guelzo’s “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.” For those who wish to see what one Confederate brigade was thinking at the time, in just one segment, including their ardor when attacking across those open fields in the face of bullets, grape, and canister, in the hope that they could win the war by themselves, if properly led (and then simply go home), we also recommend “Barksdale’s Charge.”
Today is the 96th birthday of Jack Womer, World War II hero and Casemate author of Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen. A few weeks ago, Jack and his daughter Ellen traveled to Europe and Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen co-author Steven Devito had some incredible stories to share:
Jack and Ellen began their trip by staying a few days at what is now known as the Littlecote House, in Wiltshire England. During World War II Jack and the rest of the Filthy Thirteen, as well as the rest of the Regimental Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment stayed at the same place, only then it was known as Sir Will’s Manor Estate. They where there for a total of about 7 months or so, mostly during 1944. Jack told me that the place looks largely the same since he was last there (September, 1944.)
They then went to Normandy France, to participate in the anniversary events commemorating the Normandy Invasion. Jack received the French Legion of Honor Medal in Carentan. Apparently, the book about Jack Womer has brought a lot of attention throughout Europe to Jack and his military service during World War II. Months ago these people petitioned the French government to award Jack the Legion of Honor Medal. It was quite an elaborate ceremony, and many people were in attendance.
This past weekend, Casemate traveled to Reading PA for the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s World War II Weekend.
We all enjoyed the perfect weather (aside from the surprise thunderstorm on Sunday!) and it was great to meet and talk to everyone who stopped by our table.
We can’t wait to see everyone again next year!
242 years ago today, hostilities between British soldiers and American colonists escalated after five men were killed in the notorious Boston Massacre.
British Captain Thomas Preston, the commanding officer at the Customs House, ordered his men to fix their bayonets and join the guard outside the building. The colonists responded by throwing snowballs and other objects at the British regulars, and Private Hugh Montgomery was hit, leading him to discharge his rifle at the crowd. The other soldiers began firing a moment later, and when the smoke cleared, five colonists were dead or dying—Crispus Attucks, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, and James Caldwell—and three more were injured. Although it is unclear whether Crispus Attucks, an African American, was the first to fall as is commonly believed, the deaths of the five men are regarded by some historians as the first fatalities in the American Revolutionary War.
We are pleased to announce that Robert Tonsetic’s third book with Casemate, 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War, is now available. We wanted to find out a little more about the author, and what made him write this latest book.
Why did you write this book?
Life long interest in American History & Military History. I’ve always been interested in military history. I grew up in western Pennsylvania, and as a child my parents took my siblings and me on field trips to historic sites including battlefields, both in and out of state. I think my first trip to Gettysburg was when I was four or five years old. My maternal great great grandfather fought there, as well as most of the other major battles in the eastern theater during the Civil War, so that peaked my interest.
There is always something new to learn when one seriously studies the past. To write about the past, you can’t look back from the present and try to understand what happened. You have to look at the past through the eyes of the people who were there at the time, and keep in mind they had no insight into what would happen in the future. For example, a confederate soldiers who fought and survived Gettysburg would have known that they didn’t win the battle, but I doubt that few if any of them, would have though that this particular battle was the “high water mark” of the struggle, and that the war was, for all intents and purposes, over at that point. Otherwise, why would they have fought on for another two years?
What makes it stand out from other books on the subject(lists other books)? What is it about, your experiences/highlights writing it, feedback etc.
There are numerous books dealing with the American Revolutionary War. Most are broad overviews of the entire war, or focus on particular battles, or prominent historical figures (biographies). None that I know of focus on the year 1781, that I would argue was the pivotal year of American Revolution in terms of the military campaigns fought during that year as well as the diplomatic and political events at home and abroad during that year.
Do you have any advice for budding military history authors wanting to get published?
The only way to learn how to write is to sit down and start doing it. Of course you have to do the research first, and that is just as important. I get calls fairly often from my readers asking how they might get published, and I advise them on how to prepare a proposal, and suggest a few publishers who might be interested in their subject area. Of course there is always the self-publishing route, but you’d better have a degree in marketing, if you want to generate a large number of sales.
Have you read anything lately that you’d like to recommend to our readers?
I’m currently reading “The Glorious Cause”, by Robert Middlekauff. It’s part of the Oxford History of the United States, and it’s one of the best books ever written on the American Revolution.
Robert L. Tonsetic retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Colonel, after completing 27 years of active service. He then completed his Doctorate at the University of Central Florida, and taught at the graduate level for five years, as a member of the adjunct faculty. He is the author of Warriors: An Infantryman’s Memoir of Vietnam (2004), Days of Valor: An Inside Account of the Bloodiest Six Months of the Vietnam War (2007), and Forsaken Warriors: The Story of an American Advisor with the South Vietnamese Rangers and Airborne, 1970-71 (2009). He currently resides with his wife, Polly, on Maryland’s eastern shore.
With the release of Kevin Dougherty’s second book with Casemate, The Campaigns for Vicksburg, 1862–63: Leadership Lessons, we thought we’d catch up with Kevin to find out a little more about him.
I became seriously interested in writing as a junior Army officer through military journals such as Infantry.
What is it about writing that appealed to you?
I like the permanency and transparency associated with the written word. Writing holds one accountable in a way the spoken word does not because of its exposure to continuous public scrutiny. I think we are more careful with what we write than what we say and I appreciate the discipline that requires. The idea that the written word endures is very appealing to me.
Do you have any advice for budding military history authors wanting to get published?
You can’t just write about something you are interested in. It must be something—and must be told in such a way—that other people are interested in it too.
How much research did you do for the book? Can you give us some tips on this?
I researched Vicksburg and did field work at the battlefield. I have been a practicioneer and student of leadership all my adult life and the leadership examples I saw at Vicksburg struck a familiar chord. Then it was just a matter of putting the two together.
What fascinates you about revisiting the past and bringing it to life in a book? Have you always been interested in history?
I grew up in Virginia where there are many Civil War battlefields. My Dad took me to many when I was little. I was struck by the connection walking those battlefields gave me to great men of the past.
Why did you decide to write this book? What prompted you to put this story down on paper?
The leadership lessons are timeliness and I think we can learn much by examining the decisions and actions of those who have previously been in situations similar to our own.
What do you like most about your book? Why should we read it?
I think the book appeals to a wide audience: Civil War historians, military men and women, managers and leaders of all walks of life. The Vicksburg Campaign provides the story, but the lessons are nearly universal.
Kevin Doughterty, a former U.S. Army officer, has previously written several highly acclaimed works on the Civil War, and currently teaches at The Citadel. Be sure to check out his first Casemate book, Strangling the Confederacy:Coastal Operations in the American Civil War.
The third annual Military History Weekend in beautifulWilliamsburg,Virginia is soon to get underway, on Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16. Despite the ruckus caused by Hurricane Irene, which forced the Fair to switch from its previous venue, we are now ready and in-place, just across the village to the Crowne Plaza Williamsburg, atFortMagruder.
As always there’ll be a panoply of military history throughout the eras, and events and displays for people of all ages. This annual event, sponsored by Casemate, Osprey Publishing, W. Britain, the Toymakers of Williamsburg, and theVirginiaWarMuseum, yearly features participants from throughout the country. Aside from an unprecedented display of books there are vendors of all kinds, from antique firearms (which you can actually hold and point) to wargaming, modeling, and miniature enthusiasts, with all their expertise and artistry.
MHW has also been noted for its large attendance of re-enactors, who can sometimes startle one strolling down the aisles. On one side is a Napoleonic grenadier, in full authentic uniform, but then on the other is a German Fallschirmjäger, camouflaged and holding a Panzerfaust, but just near a US Marine. A delight every year is the Medieval Fantasties troupe, whose displays of personal sword-and-axe tactics in close combat way back when, are of utter fascination. AntiqueUSmilitary vehicles (and others) are always on hand, for the current generation to gain a sense of how the Greatest Generation was able to prevail.
Please make a point to stop by the Casemate stand, where our full array of books—both published and distributed—will be displayed. With over 2,000 titles by now, MHW gives us the rare chance to display our complete line all at once. While there, don’t hesitate to say hi to Sean Johnston and Curtis Key, who will be running our stand, and always happy to meet other military history enthusiasts.
Prominent authors and highly decorated veterans will be at the Fair for signings and conversations, and there is also a full program for the kids, ranging from a “Kid Boot Camp” in the afternoons to tutorials on games or creating their own miniatures. Richard Killblaine, coauthor of THE FILTHY THIRTEEN will be signing books at the Casemate stand on Saturday at 4:30, and A Stephen Hamilton, author of ODER FRONT 1945 will be on hand Sunday morning at 11:00 for a signing. With colorful and entrancing displays throughout (not to mention the chance of meeting a Viking in the hall), MHW is truly a fun event for the entire family.
For those who haven’t yet visited Williamsburg, what can we say?Philadelphia, NY and UK based Casemate had little firsthand knowledge of the locale until Military History Weekend lured us to visit.
But once seen it has more than lived up to its reputation. On one side isYorktown(beautifully preserved) and on the other the Pocahantas Trail. Then the numerous Civil War battlefields, Busch Gardens (an amusement park, not a rosary),Virginia Beach,Norfolk,Jamestown, and countless other places straight down the center of American history. Not to mentionWilliamsburgitself, which is at the center of it all, and the perfect venue for another fun weekend for history enthusiasts.
We look forward to seeing you this year, a great time all but ensured.
The fall always brings excitement to Casemate. In addition to a new season of books, two important shows run almost simultaneously. David and Colleen are sure to return from The Frankfurt Book Fair (October 12th-16th), with many new ideas from all around the publishing world. Let’s just hope none of our books get arrested this year!
Military History Weekend (Crowne Plaza Williamsburg at Fort Magruder, October 14th-16th) was almost lost due to the late summer storm season, but thanks to a lot of hard work and a change of venue, we are tying up loose ends and getting ready for what is sure to be another successful show. Stay tuned for updates!