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Author: Jeff Grim Page 1 of 162

Jeff Grim has been a reader all of his life. He has had a particular interest in military history, any war at any time. His fascination with military history has brought him to an interest in historical fiction where the history comes alive with fictitious heroes and villains. Recently, Jeff has become interested in historical mysteries set in various time periods.

The Winter that Won the War: The Winter Encampment at Valley Forge, 1777-1778 by Phillip S. Greenwalt

Continuing to delve into the Revolutionary War some more, I recently read The Winter that Won the War: The Winter Encampment at Valley Forge, 1777-1778 by Phillip S. Greenwalt. It is an excellent brief history of the American army at Valley Forge.

The Winter that Won the War is part of Savas Beatie’s Emerging Revolutionary War Series. The Series offers an overview of the Revolutionary War’s most important battles and stories.

The Winter that Won the War does not disappoint. It is a succinct history that summarizes the major events and characters that molded the American army into the fighting machine that eventually won the war.

Greenwalt establishes Valley Forge’s place in the timeline of the war – immediately following the disastrous Philadelphia campaign (which had the Battles of Brandywine and Germantown). He follows that with the encampment at Valley Forge and the training under Prussian Baron von Steuben. He finishes the book with a study of a small battle after Valley Forge (Battle of Barren Hill) that illustrated how well the newly trained army maneuvered under stress.

Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for Philadelphia, October 4, 1777

I have been trying to familiarize myself more with the Revolutionary War. I started a few years ago with Brandywine: A Military History of the Battle that Lost Philadelphia but Saved America, September 11, 1777 by Michael C. Harris. I recently read another book by Harris, Germantown: A Military History of the Battle for Philadelphia, October 4, 1777.

As I stated in my previous review of Brandywine, Harris did a superb job of bringing that battle to life by stating the facts of the battle in a relatable writing style. However, Germantown misses the mark a little. It is a good read, but seems a bit disjointed at times as Harris tries to seamlessly incorporate quotes from various primary sources. At times, the text is a conglomeration of primary source quotes with no flow.

“The Devil’s to Pay” John Buford at Gettysburg: A History and Walking Tour by Eric J. Wittenberg

Gettysburg – one of the key battles in the Civil War that turned the tide in favor of the Union. It also is an excellent example of the use of cavalry. General Buford expertly led Union cavalry on the first day of the battle. Eric J Wittenberg chronicles the actions of Buford and his men as they delayed Confederate forces in his book “The Devil’s to Pay” John Buford at Gettysburg.

Wittenberg brings his traditional skills of excellent writing and thorough research to this book. I consider the book a “page turner” because Wittenberg’s writing is casual and easy to follow. He sprinkles in plenty of maps to keep the reader apprised of the tactical situation.

As with most descriptions of the Gettysburg Campaign, Wittenberg gives an excellent summary of the Union and Confederate movements prior to the battle. For obvious reasons, he gives particular attention to Buford and his division. Wittenberg also gives good biographies of the main actors in the fighting—giving particular attention to Buford and his brigade commanders Colonels William Gamble and Thomas Devin.

Tullahoma: The Forgotten Campaign that Changed the Course of the Civil War by David A. Powell and Eric J. Wittenberg

When I am struggling to figure out what to read, I go to a familiar topic—the Civil War. I also try to read an excellent author’s work. My latest read hits both of these. Although Tullahoma: The Forgotten Campaign that Changed the Course of the Civil War is not solely written by Eric Wittenberg (it is co-written by David Powell), I can see his influence in the words.

Although the Tullahoma Campaign under General William S. Rosecrans does not garner the attention of the other two major campaigns that occurred simultaneously (Gettysburg and Vicksburg), the success of his army (Army of the Cumberland) was pivotal in the Union’s war efforts to conquer the South. The Campaign’s success cleared most of Tennessee of Confederate forces and changed the course of the war in the Western Theater.

Powell and Wittenberg do yeoman’s work establishing the situation for both sides prior to the Campaign. They describe the strategic and tactical circumstances in the region and Theater. They also detail the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, including in leadership and supplies.

Soldiers of a Different Cloth by John Wukovits

Military chaplains—if the person does their job correctly, they are some of the most underappreciated people in the military. John Wukovits brings his superb World War II knowledge to chronicle some of the University of Notre Dame’s clergy who served as chaplains in the U.S. military during World War II in Soldiers of a Different Cloth: Notre Dame Chaplains in World War II.

Wukovits highlights a few of the 35 clergy members from Notre Dame who served during the war. He pays particular attention to Rev. Joseph D. Barry, Rev. John E. Duffy, Rev. Henry Heintskill, and six missionaries caught in the Philippines at the beginning of the war (Sisters Mary Olivette and Mary Caecilius and Brothers Theodore Kapes and Rex Hennel, and Fathers Jerome Lawyer and Robert McKee).

Wukovits’ strength of highlighting the individual is in full display in the book.

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