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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » May 19th, 2016, 4:37 pm

The roll of eyes was not about Sens comment, it was more about me losing the will to live :lol:
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 19th, 2016, 6:15 pm

:D
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » June 11th, 2016, 10:41 am

I see the British Library has copies of Ross and Quimby, so I will have a look when i next go to London. However, my money is on lifting it all from Colin, who as per the initial posts in this topic, has misinterpreted Broglie for his own purposes.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » June 11th, 2016, 11:03 am

Criticizing a book, especially one by a noted historian such as Robert Quimby, before reading it is ridiculous, besides being a failure in historical methodology.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » June 11th, 2016, 11:49 am

Quimby wasn't writing solely on the subject of divisions and it is clear from what is available on the Net that both Ross and Quimby are using Colin in particular - his 1911 work was translated into English in 1912 and used heavily by Wilkinson. They do seem to get rather muddled on whether they are talking about "permanent" or "combat" divisions and in using Colin, they are relying on a deliberate misrepresentation by him of Broglie's divisions, designed to predate the key late 19th century Prussian permanent divisions with their own divisional staffs. That seems to me to raise issues, which are worthy of further investigation, so I will look at these later works to see exactly where their claims are coming from.

Every historical inquiry has to start somewhere and often necessitates querying a source and then checking that one to an earlier source for it claims. That is legitimate historical enquiry. That is also my point about "dodgy terminology" and the effects of Ruling Theory. For a detailed critique of a work, it is necessary to look at the whole work - to develop an idea worthy of investigation does not, at least initially, require an in-depth analysis of the sourced work.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » June 12th, 2016, 11:37 am

I hear what Dave is saying.
As a collector, I have many old books. Some of the authors are, these days, considered "old hat" and out of date.
For me though that doesnt matter, Its the financial value of the book and the building of a library that interests me. Plus they are still a good read.
I'm still collecting for example, works by Alfred Thayer Mahan- he is considered now past his best.
I have a full set of Laird Clowes "History of the Royal Navy" even though it is now considered dated.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » June 12th, 2016, 12:17 pm

Despite being a bit "old hat", these authors still have influence and often statements are made in modern books, which go back to claims in such books, not an original text. While your appreciation is more aesthetic, I am more interested in untangling the facts from the claims.

There is a thread on the NSF about a story in Chandler's Campaigns of N, the basis of which is being queried. Chandler himself told me that he didn't mind if his version was proven 100% wrong, because he knew that Campaigns of N had prompted someone to delve deeper. I can think of a few things in that book I might delve into, but although I have owned a copy for 25 years, I have never read the whole work. Chandler also said he acknowledged that his work was largely based on secondary materials, but he and others (we could include the likes of Rothenberg, Elting, Ross and Quimby from this era) did not have the access to material that we increasingly enjoyed recently.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » June 12th, 2016, 12:37 pm

I think thats why works go "out of date", new material comes to light.
19th Century historians are oft accused of being biased or Jingoistic. I dont mind that, although I know some do.
One of the first things I ever read when I started out with an interest in Napoleonic history was a set of three books that were written by someone now greatly picked at... yet they are easy to read... Arthur Bryant.

On the naval side of things, where is where all my interest now lies, Alexander Allardyce wrote a book on the life of Lord Keith.
Very little other material on Lord Keith exists, apart from his original letters and correspondence as published by the Navy Records Society.
I found Allardyces book (1887) a relaxing read. Yet others now discredit it. It still sells for £75-100 in first edition however.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » June 15th, 2016, 11:55 am

Sometimes terming volumes 'out of date' is merely a euphemism for something you don't agree with either in those volumes or because the author isn't liked because of what they have written.

Military history books, no matter when they were written, should be judged by the accuracy of their material and the logic of their conclusions. There are certainly plenty of modern works that are, in the words of John Elting, 'a waste of paper and good printer's ink.'

And there are certain facts that when presented, and that have been presented, that have not been disproven, such as who developed the division; Bourcet and his staff college; Berthier as the first of the great chiefs of staff in military history; and the development of artillery from the middle of the 18th century to 1789.

As for works on large subjects, such as the organizational history of the Grande Armee and the Austrian army of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, John Elting and Gunther Rothenberg are still the current authorities on those armies, no matter the criticism, just or not, of the work of those two historians, both of whom, by the way, had military service and understand soldiers and the armed forces. And while those attributes are advantages they are not necessary for good military history.

Quimby's work on the Background of Napoleonic Warfare is still as valuable as it was when it was written, and criticizing it for whatever reason without reading it is nonsense. Oman is still the standard on the Peninsular War, though modern works such as John Grehan's on The Lines of Torres Vedras and Thompson's work on Wellington's Engineers are certainly valuable, as is Lipscombe's Peninsular War Atlas (which, by the way, uses Oman as a principle source).

The interest in naval history usually falls by the wayside too often. In my personal library I have some pretty good volumes in naval history in general and in the Napoleonic period in particular and, as my father was both a professional seaman and commanded a US Navy attack transport in War II, I have a particular interest in the navies, especially the US Navy from 1798-1815.

Anyways, books should be judge by accuracy and the credibility of the author, not by personal bias or nationalistic overtones. And some of the comments relating to French innovation during the period are inaccurate. They led the way in technical education in Europe from about 1500 to 1850 (see the excellent book by Frederick Artz), and they led in artillery in Europe from 1763-1815, although were certainly not the only artillery innovators on the Continent. The French artillery schools were the model for both the British and Austrians, but the Prussians and Russians went their own way. The French artillery arm was admired by Adye ca 1800 and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding-the French artillery dominated battlefields in Europe, even when the French lost.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » June 15th, 2016, 7:33 pm

"there are certain facts that when presented, and that have been presented, that have not been disproven, such as ... Bourcet and his staff college"

So, let me get this right: a fact is an unsourced claim made 100 years after the event, which when checked against a large quantity of material sourced from the period, is shown to be wrong.

Okay, I thought I had heard some nonsense in the EU referendum campaign here .... :roll:
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