Roll Call to Destiny puts readers on the frontlines of the Civil War by providing the point of view of small bands of men who braved unique combat situations. Acclaimed military historian Brent Nosworthy answers such questions as what it was like for artillery to beat back an aggressive infantry assault or to take part in a fast-paced cavalry charge, and how Civil War infantry conflict was waged in thick, forest foliage. From firsthand accounts, Nosworthy has pieced together Burnsides infantry at Bull Run (infantry-versus-infantry on the open field), the Fifty-Seventh New York at Fair Oaks (fighting in the woods), Daniel Websters section at Arkansas Post (artillery attacking a fort), the third day at Gettysburg (cavalry-versus-cavalry), plus much more. A must-read for anyone who wants to know what Confederate and Union soldiers saw, heard, and felt, as well as how they acted at critical moments of the Civil War.
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(229mm x 153mm x 30mm)
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US Kirkus Review »
Close-up examination of eight battles, often revising previous assessments.For each of the battles he treats, military historian Nosworthy (The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War, 2003, etc.) focuses on a single small unit. At Gettysburg, he looks at the relatively neglected engagement between Stuart and Custer's forces on the East Cavalry Field, while at Fredericksburg he puts the emphasis on the Washington Artillery's repulse of several Union assaults on Marye's Heights. He cites European tactical manuals and their American adaptations on both sides of the conflict to show the military doctrine in place at the time and the effects of its application on battles. For example, he argues that Burnside's difficulties at First Bull Run arose partly from asking unseasoned recruits to perform maneuvers that had worked for veteran armies during the 18th century. Nosworthy also corrects misunderstandings about the capabilities of the weapons used. The theoretical ranges of standard-issue firearms were based on noncombat conditions and assumed constant practice; actual results on the battlefield are reflected in an 1863 estimate by Union military authorities that during the Battle of Murfreesboro, one in 145 shots fired by infantry resulted in an enemy casualty. The author refutes the accepted account of the battle of Arkansas Posts, which credits the Union victory to river gunboats. Gunboat fire was inherently inaccurate, he points out; it was land-based rifled Parrott cannons that destroyed the Confederate artillery and prompted surrender. Elementary tactical lapses can lead to the speedy collapse of an apparently superior position, he reminds us, as when the commander at Missionary Ridge placed troops where they had no retreat in the event of failure. Nosworthy is constantly on the lookout for bias in battle reports: The standard account of how North Carolina cavalryman Col. Alexander C. Haskell dealt Grant's army a setback at Darbytown Road, for example, was written by the colonel's brother-in-law, otherwise a reliable historian.Could be better focused, but the author clearly knows his stuff, and Civil War buffs will have a ball. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Brent Nosworthy
Brent Nosworthy's previous books on military history, "The Bloody Crucible of Courage: Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War," "The Anatomy of Victory: Battle Tactics 1689-1763" and "With Musket, Sword and Cannon: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies," are considered classics in their field. A graduate of McGill University, Nosworthy lives in Providence, Rhode Island.