Paperboys’ American Adventure

By Peter Dennis

The ‘Battle for Britain’ series is about to come to an end with ‘The Jacobite ‘45’ and ‘Castle Assault’ in spring ’18. I wanted to make a start on an American series of Paper soldier subjects that I’ve had in mind for some time, to appeal to an existing American Paper figure market, but also to break out into a non-wargaming market through the wonderful visitor centres at US battlefield parks. So far they seem to be much more open to the Paperboys than the English Heritage, and most other UK venue shops, which have given the British subjects a rather cold shoulder.

The Rebels are coming.

‘American Civil War’- my first serious military history crush at the age of about 10 – and ‘American Revolutionary War’ are just out. Both have great rules sets by Andy Callan, and follow the format of the British books, with a full range of troop types, or as many as I could fit in, in the case of the Revolutionary war, which was extremely diverse and must have exhausted the tailors of the continent with the huge variety of uniforms and headgear worn by the American troops.

Terrain items, buildings, trees, and particularly various types of fencing, very characteristic of the battlefields of both wars, feature as you would expect. There is a basic introduction to the armies of the period and the tactics and weapons used, to make the books suitable for readers who might have little prior knowledge of the conflicts. I suppose as an ex-teacher, the urge to draw people into a study which has fascinated me for a lifetime is irresistible.

I posted all my American Civil War paperboys to the US where Andrew Frantz, an early adopter of the Paperboys, will be doing some demonstration games at wargame shows in the East. It turns out the best way to post them en masse is just to tumble them into a strong cardboard box and shake it until they find their level, then throw some more in to fill it up. They arrived safe and sound and ready to be sorted into their brigades.

Should the new American series prove to be a success, various other exciting subjects spring to mind to expand the list, from the French Indian Wars to the Alamo campaign, so let’s see what happens.

Spring ’18 will see the publication of Florian Richter’s book of profile models of the Trafalgar fleets. This is a natural spin-off of the ‘Armada’ book which stimulated lots of ideas from readers, with Napoleonic heading the list. Andy Callan will be putting a simple set of fleet rules on the site as a free download. There are dozens of rules sets for this period available, but none, we think, can cope with the large fleets which will be easy to make with Florian’s book.

The British are coming.

The Paperboys will march on into a new series called ‘Paperboys on Campaign’ which is, frankly, a catch-all title to allow me to indulge myself in my favourite periods, starting with Marlborough’s wars against the Sun King’s magnificent army, part of the War of Spanish Succession. That will be ready for publication in autumn ’18. This series will concentrate on the figures, with no educational content as such, and Andy can’t see any point in doing rules for popular subjects which have many sets in publication already, so you can expect to see over 40 pages of soldiers raring to be freed from their sheets and to get into action.

I have just designed the first 3D artillery models for this period which will be offered alongside the simpler ‘from the front’ artillery that we have seen in earlier books. I propose to do 3D artillery for all the previous books that need it and offer the sheets as a free download on this site, when I get the time to do it.

Louis XIV ‘s artillery in three dimensions.

Where the Paperboys will be campaigning after that is still to be decided. The Peninsular War will be an early subject, and the image of thousands of Zulus racing to outflank a square of sweating redcoats keeps springing into my mind. The ancient world can’t be neglected either or those glittering masses of Landsknechts… I’ll go and have a lie down, I think.

Both books are available to purchase on our website now.

Battle in America Wargame – The American Civil War is available here.
Battle in America Wargame – The American Revolutionary War is available here.

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London’s Civil War

David Flintham’s first book for Helion CIVIL WAR LONDON. A MILITARY HISTORY OF LONDON UNDER CHARLES I AND OLIVER CROMWELL  has just been published

The author talks about why he thinks the cities Civil War history is often overlooked.

Any decent London bookshop will have shelves devoted to the history of the capital.  But taking anything more than a cursory glance at the titles on display will reveal a glaring omission: the virtual absence of anything about London during the 1640s and 50s, the period of the ‘English’ Civil Wars and Interregnum.  Whilst there is plenty on Tudor London and Shakespeare’s London, and books about the Great Plague, the Great Fire and the London of Samuel Pepys appear with an almost staggering regularity, those about the London of Charles I and Oliver Cromwell are rare, so much so that it is probably possible to count the titles published on this subject over the past 30 years on the fingers of two hands.

Yet there was scarcely an event during the English Civil Wars where London did not feature. London was the hub of the Parliamentarian war effort and it was not for nothing that Thomas Hobbs wrote “But for the city the Parliament never could have made the war, nor the Rump ever have murdered the King”.  Whilst London did not witness as much actual fighting as in other parts of the Three Kingdoms, four battles (Brentford, and Turnham Green in 1642, and Bow Bridge, and Surbiton in 1648) did take place in what we now know as Greater London.  It was from London that Parliament’s army to relieve Gloucester was dispatched, and in 1649, it was to the capital that Cromwell returned from Ireland in triumph.  And Turnham Green in November 1642, a standoff between the Parliamentarian and Royalist armies could easily have become the largest battle of the entire conflict.

London’s importance has been emphasised by countless historians, with some going as far to say that by fleeing his capital in January 1642, King Charles I lost the war several months before the fighting actually started.  But most studies focus on London as the political and economic powerhouse – overlooking the fact that militarily, London was just as important.  At the outbreak of the fighting, Parliament was able to call upon the Capital’s ‘citizen soldiers’ – well trained and equipped soldiery.  These Trained Bands, formed the core of several of Parliament’s armies during the early years of the war, although their commitment was not always assured.  In addition to its militia and other volunteers, London was also able to defend herself through the construction of the largest system of urban fortification constructed anywhere in the country – and here London’s citizens played a direct role in the defence of the capital through the construction of a 18-km circuit of earthwork fortifications, the famous ‘Lines of Communication’.

London’s arms trades supplied the Parliamentarian war effort, and the Tower of London, safely in Parliament’s hands since January 1942, the country’s principal arsenal.  The capital was a place of execution (public executions took place in at least five different locations in central London), it treated the war’s wounded, and was the place of burial for many of the wars’ chief protagonists.  Armed soldiers were a common sight on London’s streets and the political direction of what has sometimes been referred to as ‘The English Revolution’ was steered by several armed coups within the capital.

Whilst London was controlled by Parliament, London was never 100% behind the Parliamentarian war-effort: amongst its population were both neutrals and Royalists (although the extent of a perceived Royalist ‘fifth-column’ is a matter for debate).  Indeed, a sufficnet number of Royalists fled London in 1642 and 1643 to form a largely ‘London’ Royalist regiment in Oxford, command by Marmaduke Rawdon, himself a former Colonel in the London Trained Bands.  Other Royalists could be found in London’s military hospitals and prisons (and, for some, ultimately at the capital’s many places of execution).

When David Underdown spoke of Revel, Riot and Rebellion in his 1987 work, he could have easily been describing the London of the 1640s and 1650s, as the capital experienced all of this and more.  And despite the ravages of time, and of the Great Fire and the Blitz, there is still much of the London known to Charles I and Oliver Cromwell to be seen today.  For instance, a three-mile stroll through Westminster takes in where Charles was executed, where the body of Cromwell was hung, the place of burial of a number of leading Parliamentarians, the birthplace of both Charles II and James II and the only remains of London’s Civil War fortifications.  Delve deeper and even more of London of the mid-17th century reveals itself.

All that is needed is a good guide…

Civil War London: A Military History of London under Charles I and Oliver Cromwell by David Flintham published by Helion and Company (September 2017)

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Gladsmuir and Prestonpans 1745: What’s in a name?

Arran Johnston’s book – On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be! – launches in September 2017 as Number 6 in the ‘From Reason to Revolution’ series and tells the story of the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans, so why Gladsmuir in the title and not Prestonpans? The author explains all:

The battle, which took place on the morning of 21 September 1745 between the rival dynasties of Hanover and Stuart, is one of Scotland’s most famous and best documented.

It is possible, as the book demonstrates, to build a detailed picture of precisely how events unfolded, but ever since the battle was fought, it has been known by a variety of names – the Battle of Tranent, Tranent Muir, Seton, Preston, Prestonpans and Gladsmuir – so what’s in a name?

The main battlefield area occupies a space between the villages of Preston, Seton and Tranent. Seton lay just behind the Jacobite lines when they formed up for their final charge, but the settlement was fairly minor in 1745 and would later disappear entirely. Besides, the Jacobites did not hang around its vicinity for very long, so it is easy to understand why the Battle of Seton failed to catch on popularly.

Tranent was a larger settlement, on high ground overlooking the battlefield. The Jacobites occupied several positions around the village the day before the battle, and the first shots of the battle were fired from here. It was not unreasonable therefore that the local poet-farmer Adam Skirving gave the town’s name to the battle in one of his ballads. The poem has proven a less enduring hit than his other work on the engagement, Hey Johnnie Cope!

The village closest to the government lines was that of Preston – a worthy old medieval market settlement. Chief amongst the inhabitants was the brother of the exiled Earl of Mar, whose grand house and gardens at Preston formed the western edge of the main battlefield. To the south was his neighbour Colonel Gardiner, who fell in the battle and was duly lionised after his death. Gardiner’s house at Bankton was used as a hospital for the wounded and has since become an iconic location. Preston has a strong claim therefore for lending the battle its name (and this was widely recognised at the time), but Preston’s importance was waning by 1745 in contrast to the growing coastal settlement to its north, Prestonpans. In time, the latter would totally subsume old Preston; however, there were already two famous Battles of Preston (1648 and 1715), and although they were fought in Lancashire, they both loomed dark in the Scottish – especially the Jacobite – consciousness.

It is no surprise therefore that the Jacobite soldiers who had fought and won the engagement were open to using an alternative title. Fortunately for the propagandists, just to the east of Tranent was a broad heath known as Gladsmuir. A medieval prophecy by Thomas the Rhymer foretold of a great victory to be won at a place of this name. A popular version in 1615 summarised the prophecy as ‘on Gladsmuir shall the battle be’. Surely now that had been fulfilled, and the two or three miles separating the battlefield from the real Gladsmuir were a trifling detail, but the people who actually lived around the battlefield were not impressed with the Jacobites’ choice. A fiery petition was sent to the Scots Magazine, which criticised its use of the name ‘Gladsmuir’. It could only signify, its signatories exclaimed, malice or stupidity. To mistake some of the most fertile fields in Lothian for barren moorland was ‘downright transubstantiation’! The cause of the concern was that the local communities were being ‘deprived of that honour and fame which of right pertains to them’. To the petitioners, said to be from all of the villages which surrounded the battlefield, it did not matter which title was used as long as it was that of one of the settlements – thus, it came to pass that (to paraphrase Lord Elcho, who had charged across the field with the Jacobites) the Prince and his men called it the ‘Battle of Gladsmuir’, but everyone else says ‘Prestonpans’.

Arran P. Johnston

 On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be! will be formally launched on the anniversary of the battle – Thursday, 21 September – at Cockenzie House & Gardens, 22 Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie, East Lothian, EH32 0HY. Doors open at 7.30pm, entry is free and refreshments will be provided.

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New and forthcoming releases: ‘From Reason to Revolution 1721-1815’

It was only seven months ago that I composed the first post for this blog, announcing the imminent release of the first ‘From Reason to Revolution’ title. Now, the first four titles are in print and books number five and six are at the printers’ and will be available imminently; by the end of the year, as further titles continue to release, the total of books in print will have risen to eleven.

The selection of titles making up the first year’s releases should give a pretty good idea of what to expect for the series looking on into 2018 and beyond. We have heavyweight monograph studies of battles and campaigns, on land – Prestonpans 1745 – at sea – the blockade of Brest 1793-1815 – and amphibious – the West Indies 1794. We also have first-person eyewitness accounts, including material translated from Russian and French as well as English-language classics, all of it accompanied by notes and commentary to place the historical material in context.

Falling somewhere between these two categories are Neil Cogswell’s two volumes based on the papers of Horace St Paul. St Paul recorded his personal impressions of service with the Austrian Army in the Seven Years War, but he was also conscious that he was writing history and sought to add other material as well, to which Neil as editor has added yet more. The first of these titles, Lobositz to Leuthen, has received much praise since its release as the first title in the series, and the second volume, Olmütz to Torgau will complete the year’s releases as book number eleven when it comes out in November.

Lastly, the year’s releases include two significant works of uniformology. One is a reproduction of a primary source – the Spanish Estado Militar of 1800 – not previously seen in print; the other is the product of years of research into the uniforms and organisation of the French Army of the Orient in Egypt and reproduces colour plates from the extensive collection of the author, Yves Martin.

Looking ahead to 2018, all these themes within the series continue to be developed. Three different campaign studies will address three different campaigns in the Low Countries – those of 1745, 1793-’95, and 1799 – emphasising that this was still very much the ‘Cock-pit of Europe’ for much of the long-eighteenth century. Our delayed study of the uniforms of the Dutch army of this era is also now slated for 2018 release, along with similar volumes dealing with the armed forces of the Elector Frederick August II of Saxony, a ruler who found himself unenviably caught between the power of Austria and Prussia and whose lands were turned into battlefields nearly as frequently as those of the Dutch. We shall also be breaking new ground, however, with the first titles to deal with the American Revolutionary War due for release, along with our first biography in the shape of a study of the life and times of Sir George Murray, Wellington’s de-facto chief-of-staff for much of the Peninsular War.

Already we are looking on into 2019 and beyond when it comes to scheduling new titles, having received so many fascinating proposals of which would-be readers will be able to learn more in due course either via this blog or via the series Facebook page. Do please also use the latter to give feedback on titles that you have enjoyed, to suggest new topics, or simply as a means of contacting others with an interest in the warfare of the eighteenth century. Notwithstanding the variety of topics already slated for coverage, there are still many gaps to be filled and anyone interested in contributing to the series themselves is most welcome to contact me at andrewbamford18@gmail.com to discuss their ideas.

Lastly, plans are currently being made for the first series conference. This will take place in the spring of 2018, with the papers subsequently being published as part of the series. Again, watch this space and the Facebook page for further details.

Andrew Bamford, Series & Commissioning Editor

*Summer Savings, limited time only* Save 35% on any title in the From Reason to Revolution Series 1721-1815 when you buy direct from Helion before midnight on Friday 18 August. Offer applies to pre-orders. No money will be taken until the day the book is published!

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Drawing Maps for the Victorio Campaign of 1879-1881

By Dr R.N. Watt – The University of Birmingham

Maps and diagrams can speak a thousand words. Good maps can make a huge contribution to transmitting a historic narrative effectively. Conversely, poor maps, or no maps at all, will cripple any attempt to deliver a coherent account of the Victorio Campaign.

One of my frustrations with existing literature is that maps of the Apache Wars are usually not very clear and/or incorrect. Places can be named in the text but not marked on the relevant map. I did not want this to be an issue with my history of the Victorio Campaign.

However, drawing one’s own maps is a daunting task. I had not attempted anything like this before, but my purchasing power did not extend to the realm of the professional cartographer.

What I hope to show you here is how I drew the map for a single episode of the Victorio campaign where the Apaches attacked a specific area of New Mexico between 10 and 13 October 1879.

The first step is to determine the overall extent of a master map which would cover the entire campaign. To do this effectively, one needs to have finished writing the narrative. The next step was to purchase the relevant professional maps in a standard scale which would show sufficient detail to give a good idea of the physical geography of the area.

Checking the maps online, I decided to purchase the 1:250,000 scale maps. This was complicated by the fact that this overall map would need to cover both sides of the US-Mexico border between Eastern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico and Eastern Arizona, Western New Mexico and Western Texas in the USA. Thus, I had to purchase the maps from the US and Mexico Geological Survey. The creation of a Master map of the Victorio Campaign would allow me to create a single scale grid system which would allow me to zoom in on specific episodes of the campaign where no matter the grid size on each individual map, the scale would be the same.

Diagram 1

Taking one of the 1:250,000 scale maps and using a ruler and a calculator, I determined that the map showing Las Cruces and the surrounding area of New Mexico (Diagram One) could be divided into a four by seven square grid where each individual grid measured approximately 27.5 km. Thus the map in Diagram One covers an area of 110 km by 192.5km. I checked these measurements with all the maps I had purchased and confirmed that they also fit this pattern. The maps were laminated and I carefully drew the grid pattern with a fine permanent marker pen.

Diagram 2

This allowed me to construct a simple blank grid pattern diagram which would cover the whole campaign area (Diagram Two). Each individual map I had purchased was given a code letter (A through to V missing out ‘I’ as I also numbered each individual grid square and ‘I1’, ‘I2’ could be read as all numerals). This resulted in a pattern of 27 vertical squares by 21 horizontal squares which covered an overall map area of 742km by 577.5km.

The map from Diagram One corresponds to the area marked H1 to H28 on Diagram Two. Knowing what specific maps were required for the book allowed me to plot them on this grid system so that I could determine the number of 27.5km by 27.5km grid squares which would be required for each map.

Diagram 3

Where the map for 10-13 October 1879 was concerned, this involved quite a small area on the master grid plan. At first glance, this would involve four grid squares from the map shown in Diagram One. (See Diagram Three). However, closer examination of the map shown in Diagram One suggested that my original grid system did not quite fit the required area so I re-drew the 27.5km by 27.5km grids to fit the required area of the map. (See red outline on Diagram Four).

Diagram 4

My final involvement was to hand draw in pencil all the geographic features. Once satisfied, I then finalised these using very fine point felt pens.

I then added the details of the locations of ranches and the movement of the Apaches and their enemies on the map.

Again this was done in pencil and finalised with coloured felt tip pens to produce Diagram Five.

Diagram 5

 

I then typed up a map key in Word, printed it off and added this to Diagram Five. I scanned the finished copy into my computer and submitted this to Helion.

While, I was pleased with Diagram Five, the final version, produced by George Anderson from this diagram for Helion, is outstanding. (See Diagram Six).

Diagram 6

One final thought: I purchased the maps from the USA and Mexico Geological Surveys in 2009-10.

It did not occur to me that buying maps from both sides of the border might cause some interest in those waging the War on Drugs etc. in the USA and Mexico.

I never received any indication that Homeland Security may have had a brief interest in one Dr RN Watt. They will have quickly realised my interest was accounting historic warfare and not plotting contemporary villainy…

‘I Will Not Surrender the Hair of a Horse’s Tail’. The Victorio Campaign 1879 by Robert Watt is available to preorder here

 

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Victorio’s Last Victory: The Goodsight Mountains Fight, 7 September, 1880

By Dr R.N. Watt – The University of Birmingham

This starts with a map I found in the National Archives, Washington D.C., in June 2014. It concerned what I had thought to be a minor skirmish between a detachment led by Captain Leopold O. Parker, Fourth Cavalry and a small raiding party of Apaches. This map (pictured left) was accompanied by several reports of which I had not previously been aware.

 

Summary of Events 6-8 September, 1880

On the evening of 6 September, 1880, Captain Hale in command of his company of Sixteenth Infantrymen, escorting a group of surveyors/engineers for the AT & SF Railroad, found the remains of a stagecoach two miles from their camp. They also discovered the driver and one passenger killed. Hale immediately sent a courier westwards to Fort Cummings who arrived around 11pm that night. It was assumed that the perpetrators were Apaches from Victorio’s following.

Colonel George P. Buell immediately ordered Major Noyes to take his company and 10 Apache scouts south to the Florida Mountains to intercept the Apaches (should they have gone in that direction). At the same time, Buell ordered Captain Parker to take his company eastwards to the scene of the attack and to take up the trail of the assumed Apache raiders. Both companies departed Fort Cummings between midnight and 12.30am on 7 September, 1880.

Parker reached Hale’s camp during the hours of darkness. He waited until first light before proceeding to the site of the ambush where they found the body of an additional passenger. Apache scouts confirmed that the perpetrators were Apaches. His scouts also determined that the raiders had come up from the south and had also departed southwards.

At 8am Parker sent his scouts in pursuit – they having estimated that they were pursuing 10 to 15 Apaches – and followed with his company. However, he reported that his scouts appeared to be reluctant to pursue the trail and several times overtook them and questioned them as to the number of Apaches they were pursuing. Parker does not mention this in his report, but the implication being that he was concerned that this reluctance to pursue the trail might reflect a stronger force of Apaches being present. However, the scouts reiterated their estimate.

By around 11am, Parker’s command was starting to ascend a very gentle ridge between higher hills. When he stopped to consult with his scouts again, he received a volley from his left and centre at a range of between 45-50 yards, immediately followed by a volley from his front and right from a large number of concealed Apache warriors. Two Apache scouts and one soldier were instantly killed and another three soldiers were wounded. Lt. James Lockett, in his first action, was even closer to the Apaches and had his horse wounded and received between three and four bullet holes through his coat but was miraculously not hit by hostile fire.

Confusion reigned and the surviving Apache scouts retreated (or in Parker’s words ‘disappeared’ along with their interpreter and mule packer) and took no further part in the battle. Parker rallied his company after a retreat of about 150 yards. After organising horse holders he had about 30 troops available and deployed them in a skirmish line. Each man was 10 yards apart so the skirmish line was approximately 300 yards wide. The line advanced and, as they came within easy range, the Apaches opened up a heavy fire.

Parker noted that the Apaches were still flanking him on both sides which indicated a force considerably larger than the 10 to 15 Apaches whose trail they were following. Parker fell back and re-aligned his skirmish line to the right in order to attack the slightly higher ground but again found the Apaches to be flanking him on both sides and in no mood to vacate their positions.

Moreover, he and one of his sergeants realised that some of the Apache warriors were using adjacent arroyos in an effort to not only surround his skirmish line but to threaten his horse-holders that had been sent to the rear with the company’s horses. Parker withdrew and regrouped again, making a final advance with his skirmish line. Finding that the Apaches were still willing to hold their positions to his front and simultaneously making efforts to surround the skirmish line, Parker withdrew to his horses and withdrew to a ridge a mile-and-a-half distant.

Parker then withdrew towards Hale’s company having sent in a courier to ask for their help. Realising the strength of the enemy, he decided that Hales 25 men might be vulnerable to an attack and withdrew about eight miles until he joined them.

As one can see from the summary of the overall operation below and the appended reports, Buell – on receipt of the news of Parker’s ambush – organised a battalion of Ninth Cavalry and a battalion of Fifteenth Infantrymen (the latter loaded in wagons), from the large garrison at Fort Cummings to go to the rescue.

This map was drawn by the author and is based upon the 1:250,000 US Geological Survey Map. Each grid square measures approx. 27.5km by 27.5km. The original was drawn on A3 paper so it is recommended that the reader use the zoom to enlarge the picture to a more readable magnification.

Parker was subsequently criticised for not keeping in contact with the Apaches and I would agree with Dudley and Buell that his retreat of eight miles was excessively cautious. Equally, Buell’s statement that had Parker remained in contact with the Apaches until the arrival of the reinforcements from Fort Cummings would have led to the destruction of the Apaches is ludicrous. Faced with such opposition, the Apaches would have simply scattered. Parkers’ decision to withdraw from the fight was correct.

The mere fact that the Apaches were holding their line and then going on the offensive round both of his flanks suggests that they had weighed the odds and found that both their numbers and the terrain were heavily in their favour. If this is the case, and Parker’s surviving scouts later estimated that they had been attacked by Victorio’s main following, which could mean that Parker, with just over 40 troopers, was facing as many as 80 to 100 experienced Apache warriors.

This engagement constitutes Victorio’s last military success against the US army before being trapped and killed at Tres Castillos by Mexican state troops on the 14/15 October, 1880.

  Date Event
1. 6 Sept. A Stagecoach is ambushed and the occupants killed 16 miles east of Fort Cummings. The wreckage is discovered by a detachment of 16th Infantrymen escorting a railroad survey team. Their commander, Capt. Hale, sends a courier to Fort Cummings who arrives there at 10pm.
2. 6/7 Sept. At midnight Capt. Parker, with Co. A., 4th Cavalry and 10 Apache scouts proceeds from Fort Cummings to the site of the ambush. He is ordered to pursue the hostile Apaches from that point.
3. 6/7 Sept. At 12.30am Major Noyes departs Fort Cummings with Co. H., 4th Cavalry and 10 Apache Scouts for the Florida Mts. in an attempt to intercept the Apache raiders, should they make for that point. He is also ordered to contact Lt.’s Maney and Goodwin who are currently scouting in this area with their Apache scouts and put them in pursuit of the Apaches. He arrives at the Little Floridas at dawn and works his way down the Floridas but find insufficient water and returns to the Little Floridas.
4. 7 Sept. Parker’s detachment reaches the site of the ambush. At 8am he pursues the trail southwards, probably along the eastern side of the Goodsight Mts. until, at approximately 11am, he is ambushed at the southern end of these Mountains. He loses three men killed and three wounded in the ambush. Parker sends a courier to Capt. Hale requesting that he telegraph for reinforcements from Fort Cummings. Unable to shift the Apaches from their positions on the ridge Parker pulls back approximately 8 miles to regroup.
5. 7 Sept. This request is received at about 1.30pm and Lt. Col. Dudley mounts up a large battalion of the Ninth Cavalry and sets out at about 2.15pm. Col. Buell also mounts some Fifteenth Infantrymen in wagons and sets off with them on the road at 2.45pm.
6. 7 Sept. Capt. Hale marches to the aid of Parker and arrives just before the Ninth Cavalry arrive from Fort Cummings.
7. 7 Sept. On the approach of reinforcements the Apaches scatter and re-congregate at a nearby camp in a canyon running down out of the Goodsight Mountains.
8. 7 Sept. Col. Dudley takes command and pursues the Apaches to a point two miles beyond their camp before darkness makes if impossible to follow the trail.
9. 7 Sept. Seeing that they are still being pursued, the Apaches poison the water at their camp using horse entrails and then retreat into Mexico. They are earlier spotted by Dudley, from the southern escarpment of the Goodsight Mountains, 15 miles distant making for Mexico.
10. 7/8 Sept. Major Noyes, finding no signs of Apaches in or around the Florida Mts., is met by a courier from Buell and ordered to march to the Goodsight Mountains. By dawn on the 8 September he was approximately 10 miles from these mountains.
11 8 Sept. Buell and Dudley return to Cummings via Hale’s railroad surveying camp. They are joined by Major Noyes who, on reaching the Goodsight Mountains, had spotted their dust and followed them. Buell and Dudley had both concluded that to pursue the Apaches further would be futile given their lack of supplies sufficient to sustain a prolonged pursuit of Victorio. It would also involve a premature entry into the Republic of Mexico.

Finding the Battlesite

The map I recently unearthed in the archives (see below) gives a very clear indication of the broad location of the engagement and pinpointed it at the southern end of the Goodsight Mountains. This was already clear from the reports of which I was aware. Nevertheless, the specific details given of the hills immediately surrounding the site suggested to me that there should be a good chance of spotting the exact location on the modern maps.

I consulted with my local contacts Daniel D. Aranda and Eric Fuller, and the latter was confident that he could pinpoint the locations using this map and large scale topo maps. We (myself, Dan Aranda, Eric and Kathy Fuller) set out on 9 July, 2014, in an effort to locate the site.

Arriving at the broad location, it looked promising and we split up to look over the site. The description had mentioned bushes, soapweeds and small breastworks. At first, while I could see plenty of small bushes and soapweeds, I could not see any breastworks and no sign of spent cartridges – though the absence of the latter isn’t necessarily surprising. I eventually realised we were in the wrong spot when I crested the low ridge and found myself looking down the Goodsight escarpment to the plain some way below. While this afforded an excellent view of the Potrillo and Florida Mountains, it also demonstrated that I had clearly gone too far south.

Photo 1

Dan and I spent about an hour casting back down and along the low ridge. Dan found signs of what looked like metal detecting but the immediate area still did not look right to me. I sat down with the map and once again tried to match up the surrounding hills. looking back north from where I was sitting I saw a very low hogback coming down from what I think is the small hill to the left and below the crossed sabres on the map.

If I am correct then we had actually driven through the ambush site and parked just beyond the centre-right (from the Apache point of view) of the ambush position. Having arrived there, travelling in the broad line of march taken by the army, and not noticing the spot, shows what a good potential ambush position this might constitute.

Photo 2

I climbed to the top of this hill and looked at the map again and could fit all the hills marked to the west, south and east of the crossed sabres. However, the hill to the left and north was present but appears to be bigger than marked on the map. That was the only anomaly between the map and my looking around the site.

Moreover, while we could not see any constructed breastworks, there were along the top of this hill a number of natural low outcroppings which would have provided perfect cover for prone Apache marksmen. (See Photos One and Two above).

Photo 3

Photo Three (left) is taken from the same high ground but overlooks the area where I think Parker withdrew after he was first attacked (Red solid arrow marking rally point).

The Blue arrow outlines his suspected line of retreat.

The Green Line shows one of the flanking arroyos where the Apaches started to infiltrate around Parker’s right flank when he subsequently moved forward with his skirmish line.

Photo Four (below) is taken from almost the top of the ridge on the edge of the Goodsight escarpment, looking north down to the Apache positions. The cloud shadow actually marks where I think the Apache positions were (pure accident on my part as I took this picture about an hour before I spotted what I thought to be the ambush site).

The Red arrow marks the hill with the natural breastworks.

Photo 4

The Yellow line marks the low hogback which I think the Apaches also used for cover. This also extends into a low arroyo which the Apaches could use to work their way around Parker’s left flank.

The Green arrow marks Parkers’s probable line-of-march into the ambush.

Photo 5

 

Photo Five (left) is taken from lower down the ridge looking north. One can see how the hill drifts down into a quite innocuous hogback which the Apache warriors could have used for cover.

Photo Six (below) is broadly looking south and gives Parker’s view of the ambush site as he approached from the north. The terrain does not look dangerous and the crest of the hill beyond the Apache positions is just visible.

Photo 6

The Red arrow marks the hill with the natural breastworks and the blue line marks the broad location of the Apaches hidden behind the hogback: but note that the lie of the land from where this photo was taken actually hides the hogback from view until one moves into very close proximity. It should be recalled that we travelled through this position without spotting its potential.

Reconstruction of Parker Fight, 7 September, 1880.

 

Key Description.
A Point where Parker’s detachment was probably ambushed
B Apache Positions
C Arroyo to Parker’s left
D Arroyo to Parker’s right
E Rallying point after the ambush
F Spot where Parker probably stationed his horse holders.
G Parker’s first advance
H Parker’s second advance
I Parker’s third advance
J Possible location of Apache Camp
K Direction of water ‘rock tanks’ at the bottom of Goodsight Mountains escarpment

 

‘I Will Not Surrender the Hair of a Horse’s Tail’. The Victorio Campaign 1879 by Robert Watt is available to preorder here

 

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Tom Cooper on “the most colourful volume about military flying in the Middle East – ever”

Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1

One might wonder: what is driving one into painstaking, years-long research about air forces and air warfare in such a ‘corner’ of the world as Yemen?

Within the realms of what can be described as ‘public conscience’ or ‘-perception’, Yemen is nowadays known as a hotbed of international terrorism; a country that is on the receiving end of frequent US air strikes flown by UAVs (sometimes by special forces too). Others might know it as a ‘place’ subjected to ‘barbaric’ bombardment by Saudi Arabia and several of its allies.

I do not know anybody who might describe Yemen as a place that would be ‘relevant’ for latest trends in aerial warfare, and even less so for future developments in this branch. It is not a battlefield revealing new tactical methods (or at least not one where the latest technologies are put to their ultimate test). At most, some knowing more about Yemen might describe it as a country with a brutal history, devastating present times, and an unclear future. Only very few people would describe military flying related to Yemen as ‘worth researching’.

Thus, I have to ask my question again: what is driving one into painstaking, years-long research about air forces and air warfare in that part of the world?

Thinking of an answer, only additional questions with similar content come to my mind, such as: what prompts one to spend days, weeks and then months and years searching for precise details about camouflage patterns and markings of specific aircraft? About the pilots flying them? About the ground crews maintaining them? About the motivation and reasons for political and military commanders ordering humans and machines into wars?

Describing this appears hard to me. For me, it’s far more than issues such as finding out exact details about camouflage patterns, or how many aircraft were shot down by what air force.

It might surprise many of readers of this blog, but for me, one of most fascinating sensations in this process is what I call ‘finalizing a book’: the last two-to-three weeks of highly intensive writing, re-writing, editing and ‘polishing’ of the manuscript before it is delivered to the publisher. In my mind, this is an exceptionally intensive period: a period when in my head, I travel to the part of the world in question, ‘visit’ the various places mentioned, ‘meet’ the people in question, ‘feel’ the heat and dust, and ‘smell’ the kerosene, smoke and exhaust gases.

This experience is something that never ceases amazing me. I enjoy it so much, it is driving me into finalizing one such project after the other.

But, it is also a period of ‘finalizing a product’: a process during which all the work is coming together… all the gaps in knowledge filled. The story gets its flow, and its results are starting to make sense. Very often, it is only then – and rather ‘all of a sudden’ – that I start understanding why the affairs in question developed the way they did; why air forces obtained the aircraft they did obtain, and why they obtained as many (or as few) as they did; why their crews were trained the way they were trained, only poorly trained, or not trained at all. Indeed, it is during this period when I find out and realize why some war erupted and why it developed the way it did.

Much more often than I could ever explain, it is during this period of time that the content of the book turns out to be entirely different than originally planned too.

When all that is said and done, there follows a period of ‘expectation’. The manuscript is delivered to the publisher – and, a few weeks or months later – the editor calls back to provide the ‘proof file’. This is like a birth of one’s child. Although often still months away from the book actually being published and thus reaching its readers, one ‘finally’ gets to see and feel the results of all the work in a ‘book form’. Although sometimes a rather stressful and troublesome period, I enjoy this one very much.

And then, once all of this is over, the book goes into print and, a few weeks later, ‘hits the stores’. Then there is the next period of ‘expectation’: one where I am looking forward for reader’s reactions.

My books are no ‘bestsellers’ – and they are never going to be any. They are read by a relatively small community of readers. Some of my readers can be described as ‘enthusiasts’: people fascinated by all the different camouflage colours and patterns applied by different air forces; people interested in individual markings of specific aircraft; people interested in specific aircraft types (perhaps their service abroad too, or in their national markings). They foremost appreciate the author’s dedication to research, their ability to find necessary sources, and then deliver his or her work with the necessary attention to the detail.

Plenty of others are ‘professionals’: people with one or the other sort of ‘professional interest’ in the topic at hand. Sadly, too few of these are professional historians. Many of them consider books of the kind I’m writing and publishing ‘too technical’. Most other professionals have their very own and very different reasons – ranging from journalism to military intelligence.

I share a lot with enthusiasts and professionals alike, and can only conclude that there is hardly any bigger satisfaction for me than when all of them express their satisfaction with my work.

The final question is: what can readers expect from Hot Skies over Yemen. Volume 1?

This is foremost a story of ‘little known aircraft and little know aviators in a little known corner of the world’. It starts with early (North) Yemeni efforts to establish their own air force (dating back to the 1920s and 1930s), and then goes on with the story of the Egyptian – and then the Russian – military interventions in Yemen of the 1960s. This is set against the backdrop of British military aviation’s presence in what was then the Protectorate of Aden, (later the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, or simply ‘South Yemen’).

I dedicated at least as much attention to detail and illustrations of the growth of no less than two indigenous – Yemeni – air forces of the 1970s and 1980s, and conflicts involving them. The latter cannot really be described as ‘spectacular’, but they were still as ‘fascinating’ to research and describe as ‘surprising’ the outcome of some of wars in question was.

Perhaps the most fascinating result of the work on this book is the realisation just how colourful the camouflage patterns and markings of Yemeni aircraft were. Indeed, in regards to these two topics, I have a strong feeling that Hot Skies over Yemen, Volume 1 is likely to become the most colourful volume about military flying in the Middle East – ever.

The Volume 1 ‘culminates’ in the Yemen Civil War of 1994. This little known, bitter conflict pitted the two Yemeni air forces against each other, and ended with the demise of South Yemen. It was this war that created Yemen as we known it today: a country nominally ruled from Sana’a, but actually dominated by Saudi interests, and one that became a playground of multiple foreign powers.

Hot Skies Over Yemen. Volume 1: Aerial Warfare Over the Southern Arabian Peninsula, 1962-1994 by Tom Cooper is available to preorder here.

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For budding authors and more! OPEN BOOK 2017: The brand new Literary Festival for Hitchin – Saturday 29 July 2017

By Allan Esler Smith

I am part of the Group organising the inaugural Open Book 2017 at British Schools Museum and we have a significant ‘history’ content in the day.

Please see some detail below on one of my talks on my new book Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film, published by Helion and Company, and then information on everything else relating to this event.

I’m really looking forward to the event and delighted to have Hugh Bicheno joining me to talk about Arnhem and Conflict on film. Hugh is an historian of conflict who has published ten books ranging from the Falklands War (Razor’s Edge) to his latest, a two-book account of the War of the Roses. He was born in Cuba and went to school in Chile and Scotland, and to the University of Cambridge. He was an intelligence officer for eight years and a kidnap negotiator in Italy and Latin America for 15. He wrote a brief account of the Arnhem campaign for the book ‘Battlefields of the Second World War’ by his lifelong friend the late Richard Holmes in 2002.

Some folk may know my side of the story:  I look after the Estate of Brian Desmond Hurst, one of the greatest film directors to come out of Ireland. Hurst directed Scrooge and Tom Browns Schooldays and 28 other films; the list includes an impressive catalogue of war films. At the top of the list is Theirs is the Glory – a 1946 film about the Battle of Arnhem. I believe it is the greatest war film ever made in the UK because it ooozes authenticity but is now rarely screened. My new book Theirs is the Glory. Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film, co-authored with Arnhem expert David Truesdale, looks at how my Uncle, an infantry private, survived the slaughter of Gallipoli then trained as an artist and went on to use film as his vast canvas for interpreting and portraying warfare.

I am also talking on my other book which hit the Amazon best sellers in its category earlier this year – The Good Retirement Guide 2017. The subject is: ‘Can you retire early rich and happy?’

It’s an all afternoon event with 17 authors, an agent and lots of tips for budding authors in case you have ambitions to publish your first book. So much choice and only £4. More info about all the authors taking part can be found here, and an overview of the programme can be seen below:

12.15pm

Lifestyle Neville Davis The Dangers, Limitations & Fascinations of Family History Research

Creative Owen Knight Young Adult Fiction: Writing, Getting Published and Beyond

History Jon Beattiey The hidden depths – behind the bookshelf

1pm

Lifestyle Ella Kahn (agent) How to Hook an Agent

History Hugh Bicheno Hertfordshire – Battleground of the Wars of the Roses

Creative Rowena M Love School Days: Poetry Workshop

Kids Andrea Shavick Grandma Was Eaten By A Shark!

2pm

Lifestyle Allan Esler Smith Can you retire early, rich and happy?

History Dr J D Davies Don’t Mention Jack Sparrow: the Best (and Worst) Sea Stories

Creative Julie Stock My Journey from Complete Beginner to Self-Published Author

Kids Andrea Shavick Grandma Was Eaten By A Shark!

3pm

Lifestyle Terry Gillen You Can Do It: 7 Ways to Unlock The More Confident You

History Jane Dismore Royals, Rebels and Aristocrats

Creative J.S. Watts Writing with your senses: Creative Workshop

4pm

Lifestyle Simon Michael “Murder. It’s a living.”

History Hugh Bicheno & Allan Esler Smith The battle of Arnhem and conflict on film

Creative D A Adamson The Joys and Sorrows of Self-Publishing

5pm

Lifestyle David Lister Dr Johnson’s blockheads

Lifestyle Wendy Berliner Great minds and how to grow them

Creative Rowena M Love & J.S. Watts Chalk and Cheese: A fun interative poetry reading

 All day Banter Carol Deacon Cake Characters: Demonstrating the ‘icer’ things in life

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Passchendaele: The Forgotten Last Act

With the centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July-10 November 1917), popularly known as ‘Passchendaele’, imminent, most people remain unaware that the last attack of the controversial campaign actually occurred on 2 December 1917.

Launched on the orders of the British Second Army, the subordinate VIII Corps and II Corps were tasked with overseeing a night operation north and north-west of Passchendaele village following relief of Canadian Corps by the former formations on 18 November.

The objective, a necessary preliminary to further operations astride Passchendaele Ridge during the winter of 1917-18, was to make a short advance from the dangerously exposed Passchendaele Salient, created during Anglo-Canadian operations from 26 October to 10 November, on a 2,870-yard front.

On the right, 8th Division (left formation of VIII Corps) would assault the Venison Trench defences with 25 Brigade; on the left, 32nd Division (right formation of II Corps) employing a reinforced 97 Brigade, would prolong the left flank by seizing the Vat Cottages Ridge.

The proposed operation would, if entirely successful, open out the west side of the salient whilst simultaneously carrying the British line “sufficiently far northward along the ridge to give us observation into the valleys running up to the Passchendaele plateau from the north and east.”

Occupation of these new vistas would also prevent the enemy from massing troops along the ridge line’s reverse slope thus reducing potential threats throughout the winter months.

Subsequently regulated to a local operation whilst the Battle of Cambrai (20 November-7 December 1917) raged to the south, the attackers would be operating under the aegis of a novel but ultimately flawed operational plan that would lead to disastrous consequences…

To read more about this opaque episode of the First World War, see Michael LoCicero, A Moonlight Massacre. The Night Operation on the Passchendaele Ridge, 2 December 1917: The Forgotten Last Act of the Third Battle of Ypres (Helion, 2017).

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Centenary Commemorations: Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell

A TV historian and author is set to mark the Centenary of the Third Battle of Ypres by telling the personal stories of those who fought during a nightmare struggle which has become known a Passchendaele. 

South-West London-based Alexandra Churchill penned Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell with researchers Andrew Holmes and Johnathan Dyer.

Drawing extensively on official military records and working with the descendants and families of their chosen subjects, the authors paint a vivid and engaging picture of a battle that has become synonymous with the suffering and horror of the Western Front.

“This is a book about people,” Alexandra stresses. “It tells us what happened at Passchendaele through the eyes of those who were on, behind, above or below the battlefield. Almost everyone featured died – either during battle or due to their injuries – which is why we felt it was essential to make their stories heard.”

After explaining the contribution of the Battle of Messines, the book begins on 31 July 1917 when the Allies launched a renewed assault on German lines in Flanders, Belgium. The village of Passchendaele was eventually captured after 103 days of bloody fighting – hence the title of the book – but there was no substantial breakthrough on the Western Front. More than 300,000 British casualties and 260,000 German casualties were recorded, making it one of the war’s costliest and more controversial offenses.

“There are so many fascinating and tragic individual stories: Pte Harold Henry Mann, who had pioneering facial reconstruction surgery; Lt Arthur Rhys Davies of the Royal Flying Corps, who is credited with 25 victories in the air in just six months; and Gunner Norman Manley who survived the war and later became Premier of Jamaica. Tragically, his brother Roy was killed by shrapnel while trying to carry a wounded comrade to safety,” explains Alexandra, who contributed to Channel 5’s popular First World War archaeological series ‘The Big Dig’.

“We have ensured that all corners of the Empire, as it was then, are represented, from New Zealanders to West Indians, as well as every rank of soldier. Women feature too, including Muriel Thompson of the Calais Convoy, First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, who is pictured on the front cover. It has been a remarkable experience but reading and writing about death every day for nine months has taken its toll. I never want to have to describe mud again!”

The book is the latest collaboration by Alexandra, Andrew and Jonathan, who share a mutual interest in the First World War and a passion for Chelsea FC. They co-wrote Over Land and Sea. Chelsea FC in the Great War in 2015, and followed up with Somme. 141 Days, 141 Lives last year.

Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell has been released in time for the UK national commemorative events to mark the centenary, which will take place on 30 and 31 July. It contains over 100 images including portraits, original and modern photographs of the battlefield, and of Commonwealth War Graves sites.

“You don’t need any prior knowledge of Passchendaele to read this book,” says Publisher Duncan Rogers of Helion and Company Ltd.

“It offers a broad understanding of the battle without getting too bogged down in the technical detail. Alexandra and her fellow authors are to be commended on assembling an imaginative and balanced selection of voices from both sides of no man’s land. These combine to make a lasting and worthy tribute to own for the centenary of Passchendaele.”

Passchendaele. 103 Days in Hell is available direct from the publishers as well as from Amazon and all good bookshops.

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