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Leopard

Leopard

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Taiga?s True Views: The Language of Landscape Painting in Eighteenth-Century Japan by Melinda Takeuchi (1994-06-01)
Melinda Takeuchi
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David Hume
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Richard H. Popkin
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Marcus Tullius Cicero, Raphael Woolf, Julia Annas
Das Goldene Vlies: Dramatisches Gedicht in Drei Abteilungen
Franz Grillparzer
Euripides IV: Rhesus / The Suppliant Women / Orestes / Iphigenia in Aulis
Charles R. Walker, Frank William Jones, William Arrowsmith, David Grene, Euripides, Richmond Lattimore
Notes from Underground & The Double
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Jesse Coulson
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A Little Short of Boats , by James A. Morgan

A Little Short of Boats - James Morgan

This book does a very nice job of covering a significant engagement early in the American Civil War at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, on the Potomac River. After the first cataclysm at Manassas (Bull Run), the Civil War had entered into it's version of World War II's drole de guerre with the antagonists facing each other across the Potomac but with relatively little in the way of active hostilities.

 

On the basis of detailed research into many sources, Morgan describes how a "demonstration" became a "reconnaissance" and then a completely abortive pipe dream of an "occupation" of Leesburg, VA. As the ambitions of the Union officers grew, more and more Union units were slowly moved across the Potomac in a very small number of boats (viz. the title of the book). Morgan details these transfers across a wide river, as well as the numerous command mistakes of the Union officers in charge. But even a civilian like myself could have seen what was coming - Union soldiers with their backs to the river and no means of rapid withdrawal quickly surrounded by Confederate troops. Yes, a crushing defeat complete with rout...

 

Anyone familiar with the Civil War literature knows of the storyline (at least concerning the engagements of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia) of the hard-fighting, invincible soldiers in grey besting the panicking lads in blue led into disaster by incompetent officers. During this12 hour engagement, however, most of a Confederate regiment fled the field in disorder (the 8th Virginia) after being pushed by two Union companies (from California! - it was news to me that the Army of the Potomac had units from California in it), and the Unionists had an opportunity to change the ultimate outcome, even in their extremely disadvantageous situation. Of course, this opportunity was not recognized by the Union officers. Nonetheless, the Union soldiers repulsed multiple major assaults by the Confederate forces and then countercharged, though never as a single unit (that would require competent senior officers). Although the senior Union officers were not gifted, they were certainly not cowards - when the crew of an Union cannon had been shot down and the gun was brought out of the line, three of the four commanding Union colonels returned it to position and manned the gun until they could be relieved at that task!

 

Of additional interest was the fact that the Union officer in command on the Virginia side of the Potomac, Edward Baker (a name which was previously unknown to me, despite the many books I have read about the Civil War), was a sitting U.S. Senator and a close friend of Abraham Lincoln. His good friend had already composed a special order to the War Department giving Baker an independent command of a division-sized unit but had not yet sent it off. I could not help but think that Baker's death in this engagement was a great boon to the men of that prospective division...