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"Any one actually read Battles and Leaders?" Topic

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989 hits since 1 Jun 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Trajanus01 Jun 2017 3:18 p.m. PST

Just a thought. I've had the four volume Castle reprint of Battles and Leaders for more years than I can recall.

While I have dipped in and out many times around specific battles, I've not read them through by several country miles.

Anyone out there who can honestly say they have read all four volumes (or an equivalent) from cover to cover?

Personal logo ACWBill Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 3:31 p.m. PST

I use these as a reference just as one might use a dictionary or an atlas. The reading is typical Victorian style laced with hyperbole. It is not readable in the way one would read a book, story, novel or a full account of a battle. I cannot imagine doing so. I think your use of the work as a research tool is the manner in which most of us use the series.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 3:43 p.m. PST

+1 ACW Bill

John Leahy01 Jun 2017 4:01 p.m. PST

I agree. I read parts that I am interested in, but not the books as a whole.

shadoe0101 Jun 2017 4:52 p.m. PST

Yes, all 4 volumes – cover to cover, in sequence. That was about 20 years ago. Fascinating reading.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 5:09 p.m. PST

Yeah, but so many years ago--and I was so ignorant--that it hardly counts. Now I go to them for specific battles or campaigns.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian01 Jun 2017 5:38 p.m. PST

I've started a few times, never kept with it.

rmaker01 Jun 2017 5:46 p.m. PST


DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP01 Jun 2017 6:13 p.m. PST

Reference and then read areas of specific interest

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian01 Jun 2017 6:51 p.m. PST


jowady01 Jun 2017 6:58 p.m. PST

Yes, I've read it cover to cover. No, it is not a "novel" but the articles (which is what they were originally) are written by people who were there at the battles, how can anyone not find that interesting? And the gems that you can find like Ericsson's explanation for why the Monitor sank can't be found anywhere else.

Noble Crow01 Jun 2017 9:46 p.m. PST


bgbboogie Inactive Member01 Jun 2017 10:02 p.m. PST

Yep three or four times not bad for an Englishman :-)

raylev302 Jun 2017 12:07 a.m. PST

Meh, it's a reference book; not designed to be read from cover to cover. Of course, unless you're the type that reads encyclopedias from cover to cover.

Trajanus02 Jun 2017 1:23 a.m. PST

Interesting comments. The thing that strikes me is that the articles were never supposed to be references as we know or treat them they just appear en mass in the books.

Obviously that could be said of most things from the past in any period but I was initially surprised at the language used, in that I found it far more modern than I would have imagined prior to reading.

Qudos to those who have read through by the way!

Calico Bill02 Jun 2017 1:25 a.m. PST

Likewise, I read sections of interest and treat it as a reference book.

Old Pete02 Jun 2017 4:28 a.m. PST

Use them as a reference, however I have completely read the third volume.

Normal Guy02 Jun 2017 6:19 a.m. PST

Have had them for many years and struggled with the writing style. Learned to appreciate Henry Hunt's articles; they seemed more written in the style of today. However, I would pore over the TOEs that were included. At a time when such material was not available elsewhere those TOE's were invaluable. Pleasant memories reading those. Great question.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2017 7:30 a.m. PST

It's a reference book. It is not really meant to be read from beginning to end. Not that kind of book. It is more like an old school encyclopedia. Just like "Lee's Lieutenants" from another post. Its a resource.

Personal logo svsavory Supporting Member of TMP02 Jun 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

Reference. When I was a teenager, I used to "borrow" my dad's copy. Later bought my own set.

Lots of nice period artwork in those volumes as well.

donlowry02 Jun 2017 8:59 a.m. PST

Yes, I did, many years back. (1975, to be exact.)

Rev Zoom02 Jun 2017 9:18 a.m. PST

Yes. Right after Catton's trilogy on the Army of the Potomac. That's what really got me into the ACW.

Bill N02 Jun 2017 10:13 a.m. PST

To say I have "read through it" would be misleading. On several occasions I have read a volume, but there were always parts that I skipped over.

122nd NYVI Inactive Member19 Jun 2017 8:24 a.m. PST

I have the original 8 volume, Grant-Lee edition. I bought it for the pictures. Unbelievable printing – still after 140 years.

I have just recently (After owning these for 20 years…) started to read the first volume. Great perspectives. Some of the articles read better than others, but all offer a refreshing perspective from the people that were there.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2017 5:41 a.m. PST

Also, I have old bound Harpers magazine which also has "first hand" "reporters", who, of course, always tell the truth.
…. or, at least, allows you to see the original lies…………………. here are some extra commas that I didn't use ,,, ,, ,,, ,,,, ,

11th ACR20 Jun 2017 8:10 p.m. PST

I have and do read them like clock work.
Using them for as a reference for scenarios with my 15mm ACW army's.

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