Friday, February 21, 2020

T is for Tactics in the American Civil War (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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Just how was the Civil War fought? The majority of the military leaders of the American Civil War were educated at West Point. They belonged to the "West Point Club." And West Point taught tactical offensive. So—from their education at West Point and their experiences in the Mexican-American War, the men learned that a tactical offensive (using an infantry that assaulted while being supported by artillery) won battles. They learned their lessons under leaders like Scott and Taylor in Mexico.

The method of fighting remained the same from the time of the Mexican-American War to that of the American Civil War but the weapons had been improved. The lack of high casualties in Mexico was not due to the effectiveness of the tactics employed but due to the inaccuracy of the weapons. With the development of a practical military rifle, the casualty rate would greatly increase during the American Civil War.

Improved Rifle

Blogging Through the Alphabet: T is for Tactics; A Mom's Quest to Teach Logo; Hancock Statue photograph; "An improvement in weaponry meant a change in the way battlers were fought during the American Civil War."The weapons used during the American Civil War changed to ones that were more effective due to two individuals. French Army Captain Claude E. MiniƩ and American James H. Burton helped improve the bullets used in the rifles. Prior to their improvements, rifles were almost useless in large numbers in the military because it was very difficult to get the ball (bullet) down the barrel of the gun. It had to be hammered down with much difficulty.

The miniƩ ball was slightly smaller and had a hollow base. This small bullet was then further developed by Burton who made it cheaper to produce. This led to Jefferson Davis, while United States Secretary of War, converting the U.S. Army to the .58 caliber Springfield Rifled Musket. The Springfield would become the main infantry arm used during the American Civil War.

After the start of the American Civil War, the North was better equipped to manufacture the rifles needed to outfit their men. They were able to manufacture 2 million rifles while the South could not make enough for themselves. So, they needed to import the rifles to equip the Confederate Army.

Increase in Casualties

With the transition to using the rifle more and more, casualties increased. This led to the idea of using a tactical defense approach to battles. However, many were slow to make the actual changes necessary in fighting battles. They did not want to go from offensive to defensive.

Decline in Use of Artillery

Prior to the introduction of the rifle as the main infantry weapon, artillery (cannons) were used to support infantry attacks and advancements. Now with the improvement of guns, they could not advance the cannons with the infantry. It was far too easy for sharpshooters to take out those men operating the cannons and moving them forward. Plus they were not as accurate.

painting of a sharpshooter from

Decline in Use of Cavalry

Another place where improvements in guns changed the tactics was in the use of the cavalry and leadership's own use of horses. Again, it was too easy for sharpshooters to injure or kill leaders as they rode on horseback during battle. (Some leaders even went so far as to wear the same uniform as the privates to avoid being targeted.)

The cavalry charge was made pretty much obsolete as they would be decimated by the infantry with rifles before they even reached the enemy line. The soldier armed with a rifle could take down many horses. During the American Civil War, the horse became used more as a means of transport than as participants in actual battles.

quote from James M. McPherson

How Did Leaders Change Tactics?

According to Professor Gary W. Gallagher, "Men on both sides realized that the defense was more powerful than the offense because of recent developments in weapons." There was an addition to battles in the way of field fortifications. Employing the use of field fortifications alongside the use of the rifle made it easier to defend an attack of the enemy. Defense was winning over offense. (Of course, some political leaders really wanted offensive movements as they saw that as the only way to win.)

In response to the improved rifles, infantry formations were loosened. And due to the fortifications, one needed larger numbers of men to overtake the trenches defended by the enemy troops. And if an assault on a trench succeeded, there would a high casualty rate. And sometimes they didn't succeed, like at Fredericksburg and Marye's Heights. One of the other ways that the leaders responded was relying more upon the use of interior lines to move reinforcements and troops more effectively.

All the changes in tactics, weaponry, and types of troops used had a long-lasting effect on the war. Guns continued to improve which would force the military to rely more upon trenches and defense as time progressed. Just like tactics changed with the American Revolutionary War, the American Civil War would also bring about change.

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of Ishmael Covenant

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Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of Ishmael Covenant from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

While I love historical fiction and I tend to gravitate towards those that involve Tudor kings and queens, I usually shy away from contemporary fiction—even if it has a historical or political focus. I was unsure as to how much I would enjoy reading Ishmael Covenant: Empires of Armageddon # 1 by Terry Brennan. So, I prayed over the decision to join the Book Review Tour. I am very happy that I requested to be part of Ishmael Covenant's release and that I was chosen to review Terry Brennan's book published by Kregel Publications.

When I first opened the book and saw a map of the Middle East and its surrounding area (as well as a cast of characters), I was worried. Sometimes, when there are that many characters, I get lost and confused while reading. This was not the case while reading Ishmael Covenant. I discovered that each character came to life for me. I wanted to know what was happening to them. So much so that when Brian Mullaney received a letter that upset him, I skipped and scanned ahead so I could see what was written in the letter. (I never do this; that is, I never skip ahead in a story because I don't like spoilers.) Alas, I have to wait till the next book to really see what was in the letter but Brennan does give his readers an idea as to what it contained.

cover of Ishmael Covenant book

What to Expect from Ishmael Covenant 

The book is categorized a fiction, Christian, and suspense. I agree completely. It is a wonderful, suspenseful story of 298 pages. From the prologue set in 1784 Prussia to the closing pages set in 2014 Jerusalem, Ishmael Covenant really is a page turner. At the heart of this story is a 250-year-old prophecy written in code by the Vilna Gaon that is being transferred to the Rabbinate Council of Israel who are at the Hurva Synagogue. No one knows what the prophecy says—only that it is connected to the coming of the Messiah. Does this refer to the second coming of Jesus or the Jewish Messiah? No one really knows but it does encourage the reader to think of the end times prophecies and Scriptures.

The main characters are woven together in a plot that involves the box that contains the prophecy and a plan being set in motion by the nations of the Middle East. How will the US Ambassador Cleveland handle all these responsibilities that have been thrust upon him? It is clear that he relies upon God's assistance and wisdom especially as his life and the life of his daughter, Palmyra, are threatened. Readers also meet a member of the Diplomatic Security Service, Brian Mullaney, who also puts his faith in God even at his most trying times.

What Did I Think? 

cover of Ishmael Covenant Book; "Diplomatic Security Service agent Brian Mullaney is at the end of his rope. Banished to Israel as punishment by his agency, he's assigned to guard a US ambassador and an insignificant box."I really enjoyed reading Ismael Covenant: Empires of Armageddon # 1 by Terry Brennan. This was yet another fantastic book that I have read recently that I could not put down. I wanted to see what would happen in the next section, the next chapter, and so on. As the story of the Turk and the box unravels, I wanted to know what the plans were to keep the Ambassador and the box safe, as well as how far would the leaders of the Middle East nations go to bring about peace. And how does this peace tie into the prophecies?

I appreciated that at the start of each section Brennan provided the location, date, and time. This helped with a fast-moving plot. I was also very happy to read the author's notes (located after the story but I read them while I was in the middle of story and none of  the plot-line was given away). It was great to read that while Ishmael Covenant is fiction, there is a lot of true details in the plot-line. The Vilna Gaon  (Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman) was a real Talmudic scholar who wrote a prophecy that was revealed in 2014. However, his second prophecy is the result of Terry Brennan's imagination. But even though there is no actual second prophecy, it does not make Ishmael Covenant any less intriguing or thought-provoking.

Finally, I found the discussion of prophecies and the end of the world very interesting, if scary. I completely sympathized with Palmyra when she said, "How can we be safe – ever be safe – if we're staring down the end of the world?" (280).

photograph of Terry Brennan

I recommend Terry Brennan's novel Ishmael Covenant to readers of Christian fiction who enjoy suspense, political books, tales set in the present-day Middle East, or stories that weave Biblical prophecies into them. I think it would fit well on the shelves of many readers. It was a quick read and one that I think I will re-read again.  I eagerly await the second book in the series, Persian Betrayal.

"Terry Brennan is the award-winning author of The Sacred Cipher, The Brotherhood Conspiracy, and The Aleppo Code, the three books in The Jerusalem Prophecies series. His latest release, Ishmael Covenant is the first in his new series, Empires of Armageddon."

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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Book Club: Book Review of More Than We Remember

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Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please see my Terms of Use and Disclosure Policy page. Thank you.

Another wonderful work of contemporary fiction that I feel blessed to have read for review is More Than We Remember: A Novel by Christina Suzann Nelson. The lives of three women intersect during the course of one summer all because of one fateful event. Will they stay the same women they were before a tragic accident brings their lives together or will they "become who they were meant to be?"

A Page Turner 

Book Club: Book Review of More Than We Rememeber (book cover image and tree clip art; A Mom's Quest to Teach logo) "When one wreck impacts the lives of three women, can they become who they were meant to be?"From Chapter One when Deputy Emilia Cruz arrives upon the scene of a deadly accident to the final chapter where hope is breathed back into the lives of multiple families, More Than We Remember was truly a page turner. I chose to read Nelson's new book in the evenings before bed and each evening I struggled to put my bookmark in the pages of the 345-page paperback book. I wanted to see how Addison would handle her mother-in-law, what Brianne had discovered about an old case, and what changes were happening in the family of Emilia and Roger. Each character came to life and jumped off the page. I truly felt like I could connect with their lives as I read about Addison and Caleb's three children exploring their new hometown, Tally struggling with her stepfather's accident, and Brianne's growing relationship.

At the heart of the story is a car accident which left a woman dead and how Caleb Kilbourn's actions on that night impact the lives of his wife, Addison, his mother, Caroline, and their children, and even Brianne, their neighbor. Brianne had been facing her own tragedy and was trying to start a new life for herself when she found Addison and her family needed her friendship and ability as a counselor (mostly her friendship). Woven into the life of the Kilbourn is that of Deputy Emilia Cruz seeking justice for all those who were ever wronged. But Emilia is facing her own tragedy. Her husband, Roger, was injured over a year ago in an accident while fighting a fire. His entire personality changed which is causing problems to mount both in their marriage and with their daughter Tally.

qt: "The silence swam around her. Growing up, when anything had to be done in the basement, her father had taken care of it." More Than We Remember: A Novel by Christina Suzann Nelson

What Did I Think? 

As if you couldn't tell, I really enjoyed reading More Than We Remember. It had beautifully written passages which made the town and people come to life. I also felt like I could really connect to the individuals as they struggled to trust God during their difficult times. Some of them were returning to their church and others were slowly accepting help from new and old friends. All these little pieces of the lives of the characters really connected them to mine.

So if you like Contemporary Christian Fiction, I recommend More Than We Remember. It is an emotional read with an uplifting ending. Now I am off to read more by Christina Suzann Nelson.

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I have quite a few book reviews including ones about historical fiction, ones featuring children's books, and ones featuring non-fiction. Please be sure to spend some time browsing my reviews. Thank you!


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Journaling Through the Bible: Honor

clip art of a knight

During the month of November in Sunday School, our first grader was focusing upon Honor. He brought home papers that we read together that speak of letting others know that we see how valuable they are to us, the world, and to God. What a wonderful thing to focus upon, especially before Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Along with short readings asking our son to think about how to treat others and offering suggestions for daily prayers, we read verses from the Bible like: Romans 12:2; Romans 12:3; Romans 12:16; Romans 12:10; and Proverbs 3:27.

Romans 12:2 Quote

Romans 12:3 quote

Romans 12:16 quote

Romans 12:10 Quote

Proverbs 3:27 quote

During November, we talked about putting others first and not holding back to show how we care about others. For our younger son this might mean that his sister gets to pick what board game to play or which television program to watch during lunchtime. These are simple ways he can put his sister first. 

Going through the readings and exercises with our son opened my own eyes to the things in me I also need to work on right alongside our son. I need to ask God for His help to put others before me. This is a "me first" world but it should be about others first. What a great way to honor others!

While it is important to not overlook my own needs and care, I need to look towards how I can give, agree, value, and help others more each day. What a balancing act for any parent! 


Dear God,
Please help me to put others first.
To give more of myself.
To agree more often to fun (and reasonable) requests of my children.
To show how much I value my family.
To provide help where and when I can.


Bible Journaling art; Honor

Friday, February 14, 2020

S is for Sherman (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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Hated by many in the South, Major General William Tecumseh Sherman was a key figure in the American Civil War. When his name is said, what image does that evoke for you? Do you think of fire and destruction? Total warfare? Perhaps you've seen Gone with the Wind and images from the movie of Atlanta burned play through your mind. Well, Sherman did not practice cruelty just to destroy land, people, and the livelihood of people; he wanted to end the war as quickly as possible to spare as many lives as possible. But just how did he get this reputation?

Sherman is not the typical Civil War General as he did not fight in the Mexican-American War. After graduating from West Point in 1840 (6th in his class), he served briefly in the Second Seminole War in Florida and then in California. Even though he saw action at the First Battle of Manassas, Battle of Shiloh, and Battle of Chattanooga, Sherman is most known for his involvement with the city of Atlanta and the "March to the Sea."

photography of Sherman from

Preparing to Attack Atlanta

Atlanta became a vital point for the Confederacy. They needed to hold onto this city. Confederate John Bell Hood needed to hold onto this city. During 1864, Sherman and his men continued to move closer and closer to Atlanta. There were a series of battles that took place around Atlanta that changed the position from which Sherman and his men would be able to approach Atlanta.

Sherman photograph from and quoteEven though the Battles of Peachtree and Atlanta did not turn the tide for the Confederates, these two battles did stop Sherman along the north and east of the city. He would now approach Atlanta from the west on July 25 through July 27, 1864. This was another failure for the Confederacy as they lost 5,000 men and the Federals only lost about 600. But it did help prevent Sherman from cutting the major supply line into Atlanta.

As time passed, Sherman's men continued to bombard Atlanta and continually worked to cut the rail links between Atlanta and the outside world. In late August, he decided to use the infantry to work at cutting the rail lines. On August 31, 1864, at the Battle of Jonesboro, the Union forces held as the last of the rail lines were cut. The Confederates were forced to give up Atlanta.

The Confederate Army, the Army of Tennessee, evacuated Atlanta the night of September 1-2, 1864 and burned anything of military value left in the city. On September 2, Sherman marched into the city. Praise was showered upon Sherman for his success.

background picture of cannons at Gettysburg; Sherman quote

Prelude to the March to the Sea 

After some of the troops from Sherman's army were transferred to Nashville, to continue the fight against Hood near Chattanooga, Sherman was left with about 62,000 veteran troops. He kept the best of the men. According to Professor Gallagher, "It's an army that is absolutely perfectly adapted for the kind of campaign that Sherman was going to undertake." These were the perfect men to march the almost 300 miles from Atlanta to Savannah: The march to the sea.

The March to the Sea 

On this march to the sea, Sherman was to leave nothing behind that could possibly be used by the Confederate Army. This was total warfare. The idea was to show the Confederate citizens that the United States military was so strong they could reach any part of their nation. Sherman believed the morale of the people would fall.

On November 16, 1864, Sherman and his 62,000 troops left Atlanta and burned what was left in the industrial area. In response to the protest, Sherman said, "If the people raise a howl against my barbarity and cruelty, I will answer that war is war and not popularity-seeking. If they want peace, they and their relatives must stop the war."

Sherman's men were confident as they traversed the almost 300 miles. The cavalry did the fighting but there wasn't a lot of it. The largest army of the Civil War was mostly unopposed as it went through the enemy's territory. They destroyed telegraph lines so that the enemy couldn't get word as to what was happening to their superiors. They also destroyed bridges, tunnels, and railroad tracks. They had a specific way in which they destroyed the ties. The rails were pulled from the ties and heated. When they were hot enough, they were twisted into what were called "Sherman's neckties" or "Sherman's hairpins."

On December 21, 1864, Sherman and his men occupied Savannah. They had traveled about ten to fifteen miles a day and were able to present Savannah as a Christmas gift to President Lincoln.

photo of soldiers cutting rail lines from


Sherman estimated that he and his men left behind about $100 million dollars worth of property. Some will have you believe he burned every house in Georgia but, in reality, the damage was great but not nearly as awful as stories would lead you to believe. In fact, there were Confederate deserters and guerrillas who looted along the March to the Sea path.

The morale of the South was impacted quite a lot. The march also had an impact on the war-related industries in the South and railroads. So while a few had their morale bolstered due to the March to the Sea, there was a growing belief that victory might not come for the Confederates.

Were Sherman's actions destructive? Yes, but there was significantly less loss of life during this March to the Sea (which was about 6 weeks long) than there were during the three-day Battle of Gettysburg (3,000 to 51,000 casualties). So, while one is remembered as an extremely significant battle – a turning point – the other is remembered as the act of a barbarian.

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