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Military History - January 2013 - Letters From Readers

Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: November 02, 2012 
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Archaeology…Not 'Digging'
As a longtime subscriber and a contributing writer to Military History, I was disappointed in your recent news article ["Diggers Dismantle Fort to Study Earlier One," by Brendan Manley] on Jamestown in the November 2012 issue. To me the word diggers as a description of the Jamestown Rediscovery Project staff (including chief archaeologist William "Bill" Kelso, who was recently made an honorary commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for his nearly two decades of dedicated service at the 1607 original site of James Fort) is an injustice to their vast professional archaeological and scholarly skills. In addition the article implies by its utilization of the phrase "digging through" that this work at Historic Jamestowne is a haphazard destruction of the Civil War–era Fort Pocahontas, in order to reach the desired remains of the first permanent English settlement in the New World, as opposed to our staff's carefully planned and executed archaeological exploration of the Civil War site. While these Civil War fortifications are briefly exposed during the sesquicentennial commemoration of this tragic period in American history the Jamestown Rediscovery Project encourages everyone to visit the site or read about it online.

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Andrew A. Zellers-Frederick
Director, Historic Jamestowne Fund
Colonial Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Va.

Editor responds: We have the utmost respect for the Jamestown Rediscovery Project and its painstaking efforts to study both forts. Our article did highlight the startling fact that the team must dig through the Civil War–era earthworks to reach the 1607 ruins. It also stated that the archaeologists have "digitally mapped nearly half of Fort Pocahontas" and made several worthwhile discoveries. Space dictated the headline: Diggers is simply a shorter word than archaeologists.

Chippawa Lessons
The Battle of Chippawa [What We Learned, by Ron Soodalter, November] resulted in Maj. Gen. Phineas Riall, commander of the British Right Division, retreating precipitously to Fort George, across the Niagara River from Fort Niagara and Youngstown. Lt. Gen. Gordon Drummond, commander of all British forces in Upper Canada and the province's lieutenant governor, took direct command of Riall's division in time for the bloodiest battle in the Niagara frontier campaigns, Lundy's Lane, weeks later. Riall was wounded and taken prisoner. Among the wounded were Drummond and also the Americans Maj. Gen. Jacob Brown and Brig. Gen. Winfield Scott. The American Left Division was subsequently withdrawn to Fort Erie. With few exceptions the Niagara campaigns were characterized by inept generalship on both sides, with significant losses in senior officers.

Further to Soodalter's sixth lesson ["Stop invading Canada!"], the Americans invaded Upper Canada (now Ontario) seven times in the War of 1812. Had they been successful in any of these, Upper Canada would have become an American state, and the Canada we know today would not exist.?I have written a historical novel [The Red Dawn] on these campaigns.

David B. Clark
Barrie, Ontario

This latest issue had some very good articles. Ron Soodalter's short piece on the Battle of Chippawa in 1814 said one of the lessons to be learned from the battle was to "Stop invading Canada!" Agreed. But that doesn't make me understand or like Canadians…especially French Canadians. In the Seven Years' War, which ended about a dozen years before the American Revolution, the French Canadians had just got their rear ends royally kicked by the British, yet they accepted British rule and refused to help the Americans. Same with the War of 1812. They apparently hated the Americans so much, and liked living under the king of England, that they again refused to help us. Even after 200 years I haven't forgiven them.

Tom R. Kovach
Nevis, Minn.

Balkan Wars
[Re. "The Balkanized War," by Anthony Brandt, May] on the war in the Balkans: Brandt has missed an opportunity to make a more balanced article.

He was right to mention the fact that the Germans had put a bounty of 100,000 Reichmarks on Tito's head. However, the Germans [offered] the same amount for the capture of Mihailovic. Of course, it becomes difficult to explain how someone could be accused of collaborating with the German forces but at the same time would be considered one of the two most wanted terrorists by those same German authorities. One could claim that Mihailovic only collaborated with the Germans after [the reward was offered]. However, by July 1943 Tito had been accusing Mihailovic of collaborating with the enemy for quite some time.

In fact, it seems that both camps were opportunistic. In an interview I made in 2002 with Vladimir Velebit, one of Tito's senior officers, he confirmed he had been sent to discuss with German authorities an exchange of prisoners. On that occasion the Partisan delegation declared that their true enemies were not the Germans but rather the Chetnicks. All the same, the Partisan delegation underlined the fact that should the British send an expeditionary force to Yugoslavia, they would fight them. After the war I believe Tito kept his word. He even had two American planes shot down in 1946.

I wish Brandt had mentioned the fact that Mihailovic had been posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit by President Truman—another question mark on Mihailovic's presumed collaboration.

Stephan Woollcombe
Vevey, Switzerland

Anthony Brandt responds: As we all know, the winners write history, so it should come as no surprise that in most histories of Yugoslavia in World War II Marshal Tito comes out smelling somewhat better than the Chetniks, the Ustase or certainly the Nazis. But it should also come as no surprise that almost all Serbian histories of Yugoslavia in World War II make Mihailovic look better than he was.

The facts are Great Britain abandoned Mihailovic when it became clear he was not fighting the Nazis and was much more interested in fighting Tito; and so did the United States. Mihailovic was fighting for the royalist government of Yugoslavia in exile, which had urged him to ease up, to prevent harsh Nazi reprisals against its citizens. But Mihailovic did not ease up on Tito's Partisans, and for the Nazis that meant the enemy of their enemy became their friend. I cannot explain Truman's posthumous award of a medal to Mihailovic, but I suspect it had more to do with Yugoslav politics postwar and American dislike of communist regimes than with his behavior during the war.

Send letters to Editor, Military History, Weider History Group, 19300 Promenade Dr., Leesburg, VA 20176 or via e-mail. Please include name, address and telephone number.

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