Reading Response

Military Histories

History writing early on was either military or writing on the monarch to legitimize their reign. The change in which military history is written can be divided into three sections. The first being the old way of writing on military history. These historians only wrote about the battles. They did not focus on the reasons they were fighting but on the formations. A change happened later when historians started to look at the social aspects of war and the technological advances of war and weapons.

The writing on wars changed with the Civil War and the change from looking at soldiers and the formations. The first change was looking at inclusion of those who are not usually talked about in war writing. The first were the black slave soldiers who fought on both sides and how what they were fighting for was different than what the white soldiers were fighting for. The black slave were fighting for their own definition of manhood, “black soldiers not only had to fight to get into the war, they then had to fight to get into the history of the war.” (1073) the stories of race in the army, women in and off the field, and civilian life were starting to emerge as part of the narrative. Another not talked about narrative was the soldiers themselves. Those before the battle, during, and after whether they survived, died, or captured.

Those who wrote for the earlier military history though were already writing further than just the battles that took place. Medieval historians were looking at the technical advances of the time and how those effected the outcomes of battles. Early war historians were also able to write in-depth about the acts of war that happened too. Going in-depth on the memories of war while looking at other sources allowed them to wring fully about the battles from all viewpoints.

Military history today should best be defined as a social history of what brought the war on and how this affected those involved while also looking at the battles themselves. Focusing too much on the battle and campaigns is not bad, but when you forget the people fighting in them and only focus on the movements it makes it harder to understand the war itself.

Military History Old and New