Monday, January 6, 2014

New military history research: WWII in Ireland and Northern destruction of the South during the American Civil War

The International Journal of Iberian Studies presents an abstract discussing a study of Basque exiles who fled General Franco’s Spain during WWII.  The study points out that the Basques chose Ireland because it was democratic, free and Catholic.  Many of these Basques continued to resist fascism from Ireland while at the same time, General Franco’s government representatives in Ireland worked hard to have the Irish government extradite these people back to Spain for trial and punishment.  
The December 2013 volume of Civil War History presents a review of War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes during the American Civil War by Lisa M. Brady.  The book examines how the geography of the South affected the Northern campaigns and how the Northern Generals used the destruction of the Southern environment to win the war.  The book is both a military history and environmental history aimed at exposing the importance of the land during the Civil War.

The author uses the campaigns of Grant, Sheridan and Sherman to illustrate her points.  Brady discusses how the Union forces attempted some transformations of the landscape for their military purposes and failed but also how they determined what kind of destruction they could wreak to demoralize and weaken the South.  One of the prime targets was agricultural land which was destroyed both to reduce food available to Southern forces but to also provide a concrete example to Southerners of the destruction they would and did suffer for continuing the war.

The reviewer praises the book as an important study of the war and one that opens up new ideas about the war that require further study.  Other reviewers have commented quite favorably on the book as well.  This book is recommended to any student of the American Civil War looking for a new perspective on Northern strategy and anyone interested in Southern agricultural and environmental history.
Philip Sheridan

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