American Battles & Campaigns: A Chronicle from 1622–2010
This publication is a compendium of skirmishes, engagements, battles, and campaigns fought by “Americans” from practically day one on this continent to the present. It may not necessarily include each and every possible event in American history, but it does happen to include some unknown and rather obscure ones, which is one of the highlights in this book.
American Battles and Campaigns is divided into chapters, each of which spotlights a particular time period of war or wars. The first chapter, not surprisingly, consists of those conflicts of the colonial era through the War of Independence. Following are chapters on early 19th century wars, Native American wars, the Civil War, wars of the Industrial Age, World War II, and our more recent modern wars from the incursions into the Dominican Republic and Grenada to Iraq and Afghanistan.
With an introduction at the beginning of each chapter, the chapters covering multiple conflicts are further subdivided by specific war, such as colonial wars and the War of Independence. Under each war section are generally short paragraph descriptions of battle, encounters, skirmishes, etc. Needless to say, the more important the event, the longer the narrative provided.
The descriptions give basic informational context along with specifics such as generals and prominent leaders and casualty statistics for both sides, where known. Once again, many of the more important events also have accompanying maps that are clear and with scale, giving geographical locations, positions, forts, presence of participating units, advances, retreats, and so forth.
Interspersed throughout are illustrations, artwork, and, in the case of more modern wars, relevant photographs with explanatory captions. As well, some give a much closer and specific illustrative, map-like look at an event with numbered steps in chronological order that detail the actions taken during the course of the fighting. Indeed, each event in a chapter or subsection is recounted in chronological order.
Unfortunately, mistakes sometimes happen, and two were noted. In the case of the siege of Fort William Henry (August 1757), during the French and Indian War, it is misplaced between the March, 1757, attack on Fort Bull (one of the rather obscure events) and the various listed events of July of that year. Also, the Battle of Pea Ridge is listed as occurring in 1861, as opposed to the actual 1862, and is also out of proper order.
As mentioned above, there are some events here with that one may not be familiar. For example, most may know about the important battles of Monmouth and Saratoga and the siege of Yorktown, yet who knows about the skirmish at Iron Works Hill in New Jersey, just prior to the Continental Army’s attack on Trenton just a few days later? There are a number of these interesting unfamiliar or unknowns in the text, particularly in the very early wars in this country.
Along with the index, this is a helpful volume to which to refer on one’s travels to battlefields and other historic sites, in spite of its dimensions, for additional information and context or for reference if one should happen to run across one of the more unfamiliar events in another publication or location.
Two of the three contributing authors are academics, while the third is a consultant in naval and military technology and operations. All are previously published in the military history genre, albeit only in wars of the ancient world and wars of the previous 150 years.
This a reasonably priced volume primarily for those who want a basic reference work on American wars and campaigns, one that has a little bit of everything but avoids becoming overwhelming for some or bogged down in too much textual detail.
With the additional complement of illustrations and maps, it is informative in more ways than one for those who want to take their American military history in small doses.