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Outmoded New Model

Jim Lacey and Sharon Tosi Lacey’s article on Oliver Cromwell [“The Curse of Cromwell,” Autumn 2014] helped flesh out the man, but King Charles II had other reasons for disbanding the New Model Army than simple personal animosity. While it was victorious in the English Civil War and fought well in the Franco-Spanish War, it was still a rather outmoded affair compared to the better Continental armies, such as those of France or the emerging Prussians. The French respected its tenacity rather than its fighting prowess. It might have been one of the first forces to typify the “cannon fodder” sobriquet of the gunpowder age. While Charles might have wanted an army to oppose the Dutch, both countries were more focused on naval affairs, and the ensuing Anglo-Dutch naval wars are seen by several historians as the first “world wars.” Britain itself would not wield a fully professional army until the First World War, thanks to the Haldane Reforms.

Nathan Wells

Braintree, Massachusetts

The Cromwell story in the Autumn issue mentions that Charles I was hanged in January 1649. This is false: The king was beheaded via the ax. I will assume that the authors meant to say the king was beheaded by the “Common Hangman,” as that was the official title then for an executioner, though the Common Hangman was supposed to be able to wield an ax as well as operate a gallows. Richard Brandon was the Common Hangman at this time, but there is no definite proof that he actually beheaded his king (that would have been a soul-searching issue for a law-abiding subject).

Cliff Culpeper

San Francisco, California

Editor’s note: The error was introduced in the editing process, not by the authors.

Off the mark

The caption on page 80 of your “Great Guns!” story says the cannon featured in the photo is a 12-pounder Napoleon. The photograph in fact shows a 6-pounder field gun, identified by the base ring and astragal behind the muzzle swell. The 12-pounder Napoleon gun made in America had clean lines with no base ring, fillets, or astragals. Otherwise, a good summary article.

James D. Taylor

 Lieutenant Colonel, USAF (ret.)

Ponte Vedra, Florida

Editor’s note: We sent the photo (above) to Craig Swain, a Civil War artillery expert who maintains a blog on the subject, “To the Sound of the Guns” (markerhunter. His response: The cannons pictured represent the position of Latham’s Battery, located next to the Texas Brigade memorial. On the left is a 6-pounder field gun, Model 1841, cast by Cyrus Alger in 1855 (misidentified as a 12-pounder in the Autumn issue of MHQ) and a 12-pounder field howitzer, Model 1841, cast by Cyrus Alger in 1841.

I enjoyed “Great Guns!” very much, but one photo caption needs correction. The caption on page 83 for the M109A6 Paladin in Bosnia identifies it as belonging to the 1st Armored Division. The bumper markings clearly show 1-I-1-7F, indicating that the Paladin was assigned to the 1st Battalion of the Seventh Field Artillery, 1st Infantry Division. The 1-7 Field Artillery has been part of the Big Red One since the division formation during World War I.

Gene L. Raymond

 Lieutenant Colonel, US Army (ret.)

Elgin, Arizona

Tito’s Gamble

In the Autumn 2014 issue, Douglas Porch [“Irregular Warfare”] states that Marshal Josip Broz Tito collaborated temporarily with the occupying Germans in Yugoslavia. I have always read that it was the Royalist Četniks, under General Draža Mihailović, who did so.

Robert Lanier

Memphis, Tennessee

Douglas Porch responds: My source was Wartime, by Milovan Djilas [a Yugoslav resistance fighter, communist revolutionary, and close confidant of Tito]. The negotiations occurred during Operation Schwarz (May–June 1943), when Tito was surrounded and had lost about half his force. Tito requested an armistice from the Germans while the two sides carried out negotiations in Zagreb aimed at achieving cooperation to eliminate the Četniks. Tito even offered to make common cause with the Germans in case Allied armies landed in the Balkans. As a gesture of good faith, he ordered a cessation of attacks on German communications. But negotiations collapsed for a number of reasons: Hitler opposed them; Tito realized that once Schwarz had run its course, he could deal with the Četniks and the Axis simultaneously; and the British were about to shift support from the Četniks to him. When the Soviets complained of Tito’s negotiations with the Germans, Tito insisted they were simply about an exchange of wounded.

The reader is correct that the Četniks did indeed regularly seek to collaborate with the Germans, who were seen as the main anticommunist force.

Map mix-up

 Your inset map on page 56, “How to Prepare for a Battle,” uses a Soviet union map to show the location of the 1915 Battle of Riga relative to Europe and identifies the island of Russian territory sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania as East Prussia, which no longer exists. East Prussia was much larger than that and was at the time contiguous with Germany. Further, Tannenburg, which you mention as the site of a previous great battle, was in southern East Prussia, which you do not show, and not in Saxony, near the Czech (then Austro-Hungarian) border, as you delineate on your map.

Eric Crouch

Ames, Iowa

Editor’s note: The map’s errors were the responsibility of the editors.

Passion for history

Your editor’s letter, “Repeat the Question,” was just brilliant. I’m a young adult about to embark on my master’s degree in military history, and sometimes it’s tough to have such a passion for history and all things historical in this modern age, when people always seem to be focused on other things. But the way you wrote what you wrote is inspiring. This is a piece that, for the first time I can think of, illustrates exactly what I’ve tried on numerous occasions to reiterate myself: my passion for history. History is a never-ending story filled with mysteries and epic events. And I wish more people understood how important it is to learn from our past. But then, “The past is never dead.”

Devin Serlin

Blacksburg, Virginia

There were a lot of A Companies in the 9th Armored Division as they rolled up Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen in March 1945. Most battalions in that 11,000- man division had an A Company, so designating the successful attacking unit as “A Company, 9th Armored Division,” as you did in your Autumn issue editor’s letter, won’t hack it. The precise designation was A Company, 27th Armored Infantry Battalion. Those civilian soldiers, tired and war weary as they were, had the guts and fortitude to get on with winning the war.

Wayne Long Colonel, USA (ret.)

Chester, Maryland


Originally published in the January 2015 issue of Military History Quarterly. To subscribe, click here.