TOC – War in History, Vol. 20, No. 2

Here is the latest table of contents for War in History.

Kevin Linch and Matthew McCormack, ‘Defining Soldiers: Britain’s Military, c.1740–1815’

This article offers a critique of the methodology of military history. The question of what constitutes a ‘soldier’ is usually taken for granted, but history of Britain’s military between the wars of the 1740s and the end of the Napoleonic Wars suggests that current definitions are inadequate. By focusing on the themes of language, law and citizenship, life cycles, masculinity, and collective identity, this article proposes new ways of thinking about ‘the soldier’. In so doing, it suggests that military historians should rethink the relationship between the military and society, and engage further with the methodologies of social and cultural history.

Gervase Phillips, ‘Writing Horses into American Civil War History’

Anthropomorphism has generally been considered a fitter device for poets and writers of sentimental literature than for historians. Yet mankind has largely moved beyond the arrogant dismissal of our fellow creatures as soulless machines, a divine gift for us to exploit without thought for their suffering or pain. Historians might now recognize that their, conventionally, most anthropocentric of disciplines needs to understand those animals that have contributed so much to shaping our past, to think with them and credit them with a perspective. Here, taking up the challenge laid down by the historian of the South African War Sandra Swart, an examination of the methodological issues surrounding the ‘writing in’ of animals into military history will identify an established tradition of ‘subaltern studies’ within the historiography of war, which has prepared the ground intellectually for the inclusion of non-human animals. Following this, a consideration of the experiences of horses during the American Civil War, informed by both contemporary records and modern equine science, will then demonstrate both the possibility, and the desirability, of according due attention to ‘animal soldiers’ in the writing of military history.

Nikolas Gardner, ‘Charles Townshend’s Advance on Baghdad: The British Offensive in Mesopotamia, September–November 1915’

This article examines Major General Charles Townshend’s offensive against Ottoman forces in Mesopotamia during the autumn of 1915. It challenges the prevailing view that the offensive was destined for failure due to the numerical superiority of Ottoman forces in the region. Examining Townshend’s role in the battle of Kut-al-Amara in late September 1915, and focusing in particular on his conduct of the battle of Ctesiphon in late November, the article argues that Townshend was confident that his 6 Indian Division could defeat the Ottomans at Ctesiphon, and he devised a feasible plan to do so. Townshend’s decisions under fire, however, undermined the success of his force and contributed to the heavy casualties that led to its withdrawal from the battlefield and its subsequent retreat to Kut-al-Amara, where the division was besieged until its surrender in April 1916.

Marie Coleman, ‘Military Service Pensions for Veterans of the Irish Revolution, 1916–1923′

In 1924 the Irish Free State government passed legislation to award pensions to veterans of the Irish revolution and Civil War. This article argues that the motivation for the pensions was the need to placate the national army after a failed mutiny in 1924 and that this explains their unusual nature in being based on service alone rather than disability. It will also explore the problems this created for defining service, examine the extension of eligibility to former republican enemies of the state and women revolutionaries in 1934, and describe the application and assessment procedure.

Christopher E. Goscha, ‘Colonial Hanoi and Saigon at War: Social Dynamics of the Viet Minh’s ‘Underground City’, 1945–1954′

Because much of the existing literature on the Indochina War (1945–54) remains focused on its diplomatic and military aspects, scholars have tended to overlook the transformative impact of this violent war of decolonization on the Vietnamese city ‘down below’. This article shifts our view of the Viet Minh’s war against the French in this direction by exploring how the colonial cities of Hanoi and Saigon were a vital part of the rural-based Democratic Republic of Vietnam’s war and state-building efforts. Of particular concern are two socio-economic phenomena and one related military one. On the economic front, the colonial city exported badly needed manufactured goods, electronic products, people, and medicines to the isolated and unindustrialized guerrilla state. Second, in order to build ‘underground cities’, to connect them to the maquis state, and to obtain and export hard-to-find materials, the Viet Minh cultivated a complex set of social relations going into and out of the cities. Third, these social relations involved civilians from the start, which was essential to the DRV’s ability to transform the colonial city into a major battle zone first in Hanoi, then in Saigon. The urban–rural divide was never a sharp one during the Indochina War.

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