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Fall 2019

A splendid autumn has arrived in the Shenandoah Valley where I just returned to the farm after leading a Civil War tour. Jackson’s Valley Campaign is often described as Napoleon-like. Accordingly, I emphasized the exploits of the Valley’s two “marshals,” Stonewall Jackson and Phil Sheridan. Always in the back of my mind: my ongoing progress with 1806.

The first days of October 1806 found Napoleon preparing for a war that he still hoped would not occur. He had arrived in Mainz on September 28 and spent the afternoon talking with the Swiss military theorist and author, Henri Jomini, about Frederick the Great’s campaigns. Although Frederick the Great had been dead for twenty years, Prussia’s reputation continued to rest on the prestige conferred upon it by Frederick’s fame. The Emperor wanted to learn everything he could about the Prussian way of war. Meanwhile, the Grande Armeé was demonstrating its superb marching capacity as it rapidly concentrated along Saxony’s southern border. If war began, Napoleon would be in close control of a veteran host commanded by the era’s most able corps commanders.

Whereas the French benefitted from unity of command, Prussia did not. Seventy-year-old Karl Wilhelm Ferdinand, known to English speakers as the Duke of Brunswick, had impeccable blue blood, being the nephew of Frederick the Great and the husband of British King George III’s sister. At the age of twenty-one, he had entered military service as part of a coalition to defend Hanover from the French. He subsequently distinguished himself during the Seven Years’ War, displaying both personal courage and command quality. His dismal performance at Valmy should have rung some alarms. Instead, he remained popular within the Prussian court. Significantly, he was inactive after 1794 and thus missed out on all of the significant French military innovations that had taken place over the past twelve years.

Normally, a chief of staff might have been able to inform the old man. However, Brunswick despised the senior candidate for this position, Major General Karl von Phull. So it fell to the talented Gerhard Scharnhorst to serve. The appointment annoyed the army establishment who observed that Scharnhorst was a mere major and a Hanoverian to boot. Worse, the Duke did not trust him either. Nor did Brunswick get along with his two main subordinates.

In the future, the position of Prussian Chief of Staff would be associated with forming high level strategy and guiding operational decision making. But that time was not yet. In 1806, the three chiefs of staff did not even try to cooperate. Indeed, two of them detested one another and were not on speaking terms. How such a collection was going to make the rapid decisions necessary when confronting a foe like Napoleon remained an open question. It was not promising that Prussian orders for mobilization had been issued on August 9, but Brunswick did not submit his first strategic plan to the king until September 25.

And yet, the Jena Campaign was far from a cakewalk for Napoleon and his army. The metaphorical fog of war confused both sides, leading to miscalculation and blunder. The real fog that shrouded the battlefields on October 14 created huge, tactical challenges.

I have completed the draft text for the majority of the book. During this process, I have been surprised to learn things that go against received wisdom. For example, most Saxon forces performed exceedingly well during the campaign. Prussian mistreatment of them caused a mutiny among senior Saxon leaders on the eve of Jena. Afterward, each nation bitterly blamed the other for the defeat, although this part is unsurprising!

As I previously mentioned, we will produce only one hardcover printing, which will keep the same physical qualities as our previous books. We will contact readers to assess demand, print enough to satisfy that demand, and thereafter sell electronic copies only. Unlike readers of my generation, today’s young scholars don’t like to clutter their lives with physical books. Also, Packing and Shipping has forbidden further additions to the guest bedroom/unsold book storage room. Readers continue to ask when the book will be done. My target is to have it available for Christmas 2020. Rest assured, when it is available, we will let you know.

Until then, wishing you and yours all good things,

By James R. Arnold
Lexington, VA
Autumn 2019

February 2019

I sit surrounded by 1806 research material. The European-like weather (grey, cold, icy rain) that enfolds our farm on this late winter evening draws my mind to Paris to consider what was the Emperor doing 213 years ago around this time? Over the past week he has hunted in the Forest of Boulogne, attended the debut of the Nicomède at the Théâtre-Française, presided over the conseil d’État, met with his Minister of Finance, and more salient to our shared interests, compelled the Prussian envoy to sign a new treaty far less advantageous to Prussia than the one originally agreed upon. While the browbeaten Christian Graf von Haugwitz travels back to Berlin to report, Napoleon instructs the Bavarian king to occupy Anspach, one of the terms of the new treaty. A week later, Napoleon interrupts another theatrical presentation between acts to announce the French occupation of Naples. With this, the Emperor has consolidated his great victories of 1805 and dealt with all his Continental enemies who participated in the Third Coalition. During that February of 1806, Napoleon had no idea that in another seven months he would be leading the Grande Armée into Germany.

Contemplating Napoleon’s work schedule makes one feel very lazy indeed. Still, over the past two years I have managed to complete a three-volume reference work for ABC-Clio, Americans at War: Eyewitness Accounts from the American Revolution to the 21st Century. It was a time-consuming labor, requiring locating, reading, and evaluating hundreds and hundreds of first-hand combat narratives. I was not interested in the stories of the senior commanders but instead concentrated on the soldiers in the front lines. I am proud of the product and very, very glad to be done. I also completed the sequel to my Civil War novel, namely, 1898: Let Freedom Ring. The wonderful thing about writing a novel is letting the story tell itself. The process takes the writer to surprising places, destinations he never expected to visit. The novelist opens a vein and sometimes releases vexation and tail chasing. Other days produce an exhilarating elixir. Like its predecessor, 1898 is meticulously researched with the climactic scenes taking place in the Philippines where The United States fought a brutal counterinsurgency. My peerless editor, wife Roberta (best known to you all as “Packing and Shipping”) is currently working to upload the novel to Amazon.

So on to 1806 and Jena-Auerstädt. When I visited the fields in 1991, they were behind the newly-opened Iron Curtain. We stood on the Landgrafberg and saw the terrain as Napoleon saw it (ignoring the nearby Soviet radar station). Walking through the narrow alleys of Vierzeheiligen, we looked across the fields where the Prussian musketeers stood so gallantly as the tactics of Frederick the Great collided with the tactics of the Grande Armée. Then and thereafter, I knew that someday I would tell their story.

We will probably produce only one hardcover printing, which will keep the same physical qualities as our previous books. We will contact readers to assess demand, print enough to satisfy that demand, and thereafter sell electronic copies only. Unlike readers of my generation, today’s young scholars don’t like to clutter their lives with physical books. Also, Packing and Shipping has forbidden further additions to the guest bedroom/unsold book storage room.

Readers may ask when the book will be done. I would love to say by Christmas this year, but that is probably wildly ambitious. Rest assured, when it is available, we will let you know. Until then, wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2019.

James R. Arnold
Lexington, VA
February 2019

Fall Update 2016: Postage Relief Offer

The first hard frost of the season came to our farm last night and it recalls me to my duty to provide an update for the season. My wife Roberta, known to you as the Packing and Shipping Department, asks: when will unsold book boxes evacuate the guest bedroom? Mulling this over, I returned to the staggering increase in postage rates, particularly for our overseas readers. Thus, our Postage Relief Offer to coincide with the holidays. For American customers, we offer Free Shipping on all orders. For overseas customers we offer a substantial Postage Discount of 50 percent off the actual cost of postage: pay only $15 (€14 or £12) postage for one book, instead of the usual $30; and $30 (€28 or £24) for an order of two or more books, instead of the usual $60. Canadian customers will pay $10 instead of $20 for one book, and $20 instead of $40 for an order of two books or more. This postage offer will be in effect from now through December 31st and will be applied at checkout.

Pawing through the unsold pile revealed a number of my non-Napoleonic books, including several devoted to the American Civil War (e.g. The Armies of U.S. Grant and Grant Wins the War: Decision at Vicksburg). In addition, I discovered a handful of duplicate Napoleonic books by other authors, all in pristine condition. All hardbacks, including my own, are available for twenty dollars each, paperbacks (my old Osprey Campaign Series and Bantam Vietnam War series, also in pristine condition) for ten dollars. If interested, contact us via napoleonbooks@gmail.com and we will send you the complete list.

So what next? Currently I am contractually committed to ABC-CLIO for an encyclopedia collection of first-hand accounts of Americans in combat from the Revolution to Afghanistan. It’s been challenging and time-consuming as well as informative. I’m proud to report that this year Roberta and I won the Army Historical Foundation’s Distinguished Writing Award in the Reference category. I think that I have broadened my understanding of the history of warfare, which, in turn, has helped me to research and write better about Napoleonic warfare. For example, learning about what used to be called shell shock, and is now labeled post-traumatic stress disorder, informed my Napoleon 1813. I became convinced that numerous French and French-allied officers and men suffered from this syndrome following their exodus from Russia, almost certainly including Napoleon himself.

I am also working on a sequel to my historical novel, the Cost of Freedom. In that novel I pretty much said everything I wanted to say about the Civil War. Instead of writing a linear sequel, I have moved forward to the turn of the century. A child from the first novel serves under Civil War veterans in the fight against the Filipino insurgents, the nation’s first major counter-insurgency conflict. His sister plays a key role with the Anti-Imperialist League, an organization that actively opposed the war. Hopefully the book will be a page-turning adventure story that also informs about the national security choices we make today.

After these projects are finished, I intend to write one more Napoleonic book. I decided to complete the trilogy (1809, 1807, and now 1806) by writing about Napoleon in the war against Prussia. I have walked the fields of Jena and Auerstädt and collected quite a lot of research material. I look forward to getting under way.

As we prepare the farm for the coming winter, we again thank you for your support and wish you and yours health and happiness.

James R. Arnold
Napoleon Books and Burro Station
Fall 2016

Fall Update 2015 and Sale

With the approach of the holiday season, Packing and Shipping has convinced me to launch the first-ever Napoleon Books holiday sale. On offer are reduced prices for two of our best sellers, Napoleon’s Triumph and Napoleon 1813: Decision at Bautzen. Both books are reduced by $10.00. To be clear, if you purchase both, you will save twenty dollars (discounts to be applied at checkout). Also, we have eight copies of Masson’s Napoleon’s Cavalry left and they too are on offer for ten dollars off. Napoleon’s Cavalry is not on the website, so if interested, contact us at napoleonbooks@gmail.com and we will send you an invoice. Our holiday sale will extend until January 1, 2016 (or until we run out of stock.)

On a personal note, I recently achieved a lifetime goal of visiting the Peninsular battlefields so vividly described by Jac Weller in his “Wellington in the Peninsula.” As a very young man I would leaf through Weller’s book, complete with battlefield photos, and dream of visiting. Last month, Roberta (known to you all as “Packing and Shipping”) and I flew to Lisbon where we met my old friend and 1807 co-author, Ralph Reinertsen. Together we toured the fields associated with the 1808-1812 campaigns.

We followed the approach of first locating the rival commanders’ vantage points, and then considering what they could see. We had a ball and learned a great deal. A few observations: almost every map we had previously seen is either erroneous or misleading. Consequently, almost every account from Oman/Fortescue forward is flawed. I realize that is a big statement and probably sounds arrogant. But standing on the actual ground with multiple maps in hand, hiking to Junot’s headquarters on the ridge above Vimeiro, or eating a picnic lunch atop the Greater Arapiles in company with Marmont’s memoirs, provokes many questions.

Some of you have already asked if I am intending to write a book about any of this. I went there with the belief that previous books had already covered this fascinating topic. Now I am no longer so sure. I have little doubt that virtually all British sources have been discovered by the plethora of writers who celebrate the feats of the British Army. It seems that the French archives have been far less utilized. I know from my own research there that the French archivists can present vexing challenges. I do not know how much relevant, untapped information exists. So the answer is, I don’t know. I think I have another Napoleonic book in me, but whether it’s Bonaparte in Italy (a cherished interest ever since Roberta and I spent our honeymoon touring the fields), Napoleon versus Prussia 1806, or the Peninsula is not yet known. Feel free to send us your recommendations. In the meantime, a photo montage of the Peninsula fields is now on the site.

Also new on the site is a new essay, “Napoleon: A Great Captain.” This resulted from a publisher’s request to participate in a forthcoming book that will use a “for and against” approach to examine military controversies. Given the offer, perhaps the more interesting ‘side’ would be against Napoleon. But in good conscience, I could not go there. Originally I was told to make my case in some 2,000 words (ridiculous!). Then 1,200 words (more ridiculous!). You will find my ‘long version’ and hopefully it will stimulate some thought.

As we prepare the farm for the coming winter, we again thank you for your support and wish you and yours health and happiness.

James R. Arnold
Napoleon Books

Fall Update 2013

We hope this finds you and yours well. One season folds into another with alarming speed! Here on the farm, the signs of autumn abound while our list of chores seems eternal.

I have two new products to announce, and progress to report about my Spring 1813 campaign study. Regarding 1813, after re-reading my “Spring Update,” I decided I could do no better than repeat: the “voyage of discovery” continues, with each week adding a new piece to the puzzle. A fourth visit to the U.S. Army Military History Institute library at Carlisle, Pennsylvania filled in a few gaps. However, research has advanced to the point where new discoveries are increasingly rare. Instead, new sources mostly confirm my tentative conclusions. I have arrived at a fairly clear understanding of the sequence of events, written some 60,000 words of first draft, and am focusing on the “why” now that I understand the “what.”

Sometimes a new source provides a valuable tidbit, like reading a French lieutenant’s account of his experience at Bautzen. He was wounded early on the second day and spent the next many weeks in a difficult convalescence. At one point he finds himself lying next to a colonel of the 1st Naval Artillery regiment. Although he misspells that officer’s name, a search through Martinien’s “Officers Tués et Blessés” produced the man and a re-read of the regimental history provided confirmation that Colonel Falba was wounded at Bautzen. Then, Tony Broughton (who has published much valuable data on the French army on the Napoleon Series site) kindly answered a query and gave me Falba’s Christian name. Thus, I was able to add an informative, colorful account of French casualty clearing operations to my narrative.

The challenges of reading old German script remain. I have electronic copies of various primary Prussian sources but since I read only minimal German, translation is terribly slow. Making the problem harder was the decision of one of my helpful volunteer translators to go and get married! Somehow, his time and interest in Napoleonic history has temporarily receded. Go figure. Anyway, if any of you, dear readers, want to help out with small bits of German translation (mostly action-packed battle material) please contact me.

Also, since all our sales, and hopes to publish future titles, depend upon word of mouth, if you feel inspired to write a short review (it only takes about five minutes) of any of our books on Amazon, or anywhere else, I, and “Packing and Shipping,” (my wife, Roberta) will be most appreciative.

By the way, my article, “America’s Napoleonic War,” appeared in Issue 19, December 2012 of the War of 1812 Magazine. It can be downloaded for free at: www.napoleon-series.org

As promised, now available on the Napoleon Books website is a first wargame scenario, “The Battle of Alexandria, March 21, 1801.” This represents an experiment. Our Battles for Empire, which is still available, offers a set of printed scenarios that provide everything a gamer requires to stage a game. The color illustrations add visual stimulation. As you probably know, printing in color is costly. Also, there appears to be a fine abundance of published color photographs of tabletop games, many more expertly taken than my own, that fill this niche.

So, I decided to focus on what I think I do well; namely, provide my own interpretation of how to re-fight select, historical battles. Once you purchase the scenario, you will be redirected to the download page where a PDF of the scenario awaits. The risk to me is that there is nothing to prevent the buyer from reproducing or retransmitting the files. I will rely upon the honorable conduct of the buyer to recognize that I have an implicit copyright. It’s a risk I happily accept because I have experienced nothing but gentlemanly behavior from my readers.

If this experiment works, I have pre-tested a second scenario, The 1814 Battle of Orthez, and it will become available in short order. If there is demand, Napoleon Books intends to branch out and offer scenarios for other periods as well. Already, I have two American Civil War scenarios completed and play-tested (Sabine’s Crossroads-Pleasant Hill, 1864). Over the years I have collected a lot of information that makes for some compelling and fun table top fights, but again, this is an experiment, so we will see how it goes.

Since my Spring Update, we have published a paperback version of my first work of historical fiction, The Cost of Freedom, a novel of the Civil War. It sold enough copies as an e-book that we decided to plow our profits back into a print version and offer it both here and on Amazon. I have been promoting it a bit by giving presentations to Civil War Roundtables about the historical background to the book’s characters and events. People are amused and informed by incidents like a Virginia Quaker, Isaiah Virts, who joined a Union-loyal ranger outfit, and, rationalized his presence in the fighting line by saying, as he squeezed trigger, “Friend, it is unfortunate, but thou stands exactly where I am going to shoot.” I weave these historical incidents to form what I hope is a page-turning adventure story as well as an examination of character challenged by stark choice. The target readership is male and female alike.

Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous season,

James

Napoleon Books