The 7th Marquess of Anglesey has died. He is the author of what is probably the greatest single Brit work of history since Gibbon's Decline and Fall. It took him 25 years to write The History of British Cavalry. I have not read the whole thing or even half of it (I am guilty of the same thing with Gibbon; I have only read the modern abridged consolidation), but I have never read a single page without finding a fact, a turn of phrase, an observation that woke up my sluggish brain. I hope, in this digital age, someone will have the wit to release the entire work in an electronic form. (Wishes not being horses it may be a long time waiting; the Ulysses Grant Association still has not released a digital edition of Professor Simon's edit of Grant's papers.)

The Marquess was an "amateur" - i.e. he did not have tenure. Another "unlicensed" author - an American - has just had his master work published. It only took him 12+ years of wading through rosters, newspaper lists of casualties and journals to come up with the definitive description of the Confederate losses during the Overland campaign - the 6 weeks of battles in May and June 1864 that effectively ended all chance for Lee to "win the war" in the East. The Union casualties for this period were meticulously documented by the Army of the Potomac itself (Grant always kept straight books); the Confederate losses have never, until now, been properly researched. Arthur C. Young III has done what 3 generations of academics somehow failed to do; he has collected the facts. They are going to be a massive disappointment to everyone still holding on to the Lost Cause. It turns out that the Confederates were no more outnumbered in the Overland campaign than the Germans were against the British army in 1918. They simply got out-generaled; and the reward, in both cases, was for the victors to be labeled butchers. The losers, in turn, were allowed to commit with unspeakable acts and justify their revenge by telling the story of having been "stabbed in the back". In both cases the knives were entirely constructs of their own imaginations.





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1 Comment so far

  1. Steve on July 17, 2013 12:17 pm

    “Grant always kept straight books.” How do you really know this is true?

    The generals in the civil war were notorious corrupt. See General “Spoons” Butler.

    And President Grant’s administration is considered one of the most corrupt in the US history- no easy achievement because corruption seems to be a natural skill of all high politicians.

    Why would a reasonable person expect Grant to always have kept straight books, when in so many ways he was a ghastly fraud?


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