Thursday, February 28, 2008

Airborne: A Combat History of American Airborne Forces by LTG (Retired) E. M. Flanagan Jr.


Airborne: A Combat History of American Airborne Forces by LTG (Retired) E. M. Flanagan Jr. Allow me to state my prejudices up front. I am a former United States Army officer commissioned through the reserve officer training program (ROTC). I have my jump wings. For those who attended jump school at Fort Benning. I was A36 in class 37 - 76. I proudly wore my jump wings.


Airborne: A Combat History of American Airborne Forces by LTG Flanagan reminds me in some ways of a military after action report. It mentions people, equipment, backgrounds, TO & E and the never ending officer name, his West Point class year, his class standing if high or low, and if he currently had and in the future will have a historically significant assignment. Rarely is an ROTC and never a battlefield or OCS commissioned officer mentioned.

The use of Medal of Honor citations throughout the book is good, though it significantly declined after the chapter on the Korean War. The book covers the period of pre World War Two to the end of World War Two in painful detail. At some points the level of detail bogs down and even gets as boring as reading a TO & E.

The best written part of the book was the coverage of Operation Just Cause in Panama. It reads almost like a newspaper account of the operation. Unfortunately, the coverage given to this operation was not duplicated in other post World War Two events. The brevity of coverage from the period 1946 to the end of the 1990s is shocking.

I would be interested in knowing when the airborne troops were integrated. Who was the first African American to get his jump wings? Who was the first African American to make a combat jump? While LTG Flanagan did mention the XVIII Airborne Corps does have a limited number of women in it in non combatant positions, I would like to know when women first earned their jump wings and who was first. I know I had three females in my class at airborne school. Only token coverage was given to other branches of the service and Airborne qualified trooper.

The book needs updated to include the current Afghanistan and Iraq war. All in all, the book is a must read for those interested in US military history. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

The Victors: Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose

The Victors: Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose is essentially a cut and paste compilation of D-DAY, Citizen Soldiers, Eisenhower, and Band of Brothers. If you have read any of Stephen Ambrose's works on World War II, then this one is not worth the time. It has so much material covered in his lengthier works.

It is better to read D-DAY, Citizen Soldiers, Eisenhower, Band of Brothers.and The Wild Blue and to skip this book altogether. Read in 2005 by Jimmie A. Kepler.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (Lewis & Clark Expedition) by Stephen E. Ambrose


The narrative style of Ambrose takes what could be a dry lecture and makes it extremely interesting. The book reads like a best selling novel. The book gives a nice background on Captain Meriwether Lewis. It shows how this background prepared Lewis for the journey and how it provided the relationship he had with Jefferson to lead to his selection for the journey. Lewis was Jefferson’s personal secretary when selected to lead the voyage that would take him up the Missouri River, to wintering with the Indians, to the Rockies, over the mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Lewis experienced hardships and saw wonderful sights. The sites included herds of buffalo and Indian tribes with no previous contact with white men. He and his partner, Captain William Clark, made the first maps of the trans-Mississippi West, provided data on the flora and fauna of the Louisiana Purchase territory, and most importantly established the American claim to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

The book shows how Lewis is financially underwritten by a variety of characters. This list includes Jefferson, Clark, numerous Indian chiefs, and Sacagawea, the Indian girl who accompanied the expedition, along with the French-Indian hunter Drouillard, the great naturalists of Philadelphia, the French and Spanish fur traders of St. Louis, John Quincy Adams, and many more leading political, scientific, and military figures of the turn of the century.

This is a book about a hero and national unity. This is a book also about a tragedy. When Lewis returned to Washington in the fall of 1806, he was a national hero. Lewis greatest failure was he did not get his journals and notes organized and published. The scholarly value of those would have been great. Publishing them in a timely manner would have made Lewis financially independent. Instead Lewis took to drink, drugs, engaged in land speculation, piled up debts he could not pay, made jealous political enemies, experienced severe depression (probably from the drugs), and ultimately took his own life. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in February - March 2005.

Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose


I read Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose in the late 1990's shortly after reading Band of Brothers and D-Day, both also by Ambrose. I reread this book in 2005. I listened to the audio book version in 2006. The book describes how these "citizen soldiers" came to be soldiers, and what they did once they were. There is some overlap with his other titles about World War II. The book follows the battles right after the allies left the beaches of Normandy, all the way through France into German territory.

This lengthy volume details the war in Europe. It tells how Americans were critical to that victory. It gives the story through the eyes of those who participated in the various units. I enjoy this tile and the stories the former GI's share. “Citizen Soldiers“ is the name for the draftees, national guard, and army reserve soldiers, the non-regular army soldiers, which were so necessary to field an army of the size that was needed in World War II. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

D-Day June 6 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose


The late Stephen E. Ambrose used over 1400 interviews for his history of the D-Day invasion. This “oral history" approach brings the reader into the heart of the battle through eye-witness testimony. The tales of the front line infantryman sweeps the reader up into their personal histories. The story is told from the individual and small unit level often failing to describe larger unit actions or explaining how the individual actions fit into the total picture. Let is shared of what happened on the Canadian and British beachheads. Historical controversies are often given minimal coverage. These are simply good stories of many individual experiences.

The book is not a textbook for lessons on strategic decision making or to answer big picture questions. Ambrose touches on these larger issues in a general focus, but that is not his focus. This is a book about the American achievement in Normandy. The individual courage and independence of the American small unit leaders is big story of this book. Ambrose is right on target as he tells the story of their braveness and toughness. Read and reviewed in 1999 by Jimmie A. Kepler.

Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose

I read Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose in August 1996. This is one of the most read and popular books in the last ten years due to the HBO mini series based on the book. The History Channel also periodically shows the mini series. The book is better than the mini series. It tells the story of Easy Company 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment that ultimately became part of the 101st Airborne Division. I enjoyed the book because of the focus on the people in the unit. It has reached cult like status. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler.

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany by Stephen E. Ambrose


The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany by Stephen E. Ambrose is controversial because some scholars point out Ambrose has lifted the work of other authors without placing said work inside "quotation" marks. That is a tragic error. Is it an error of omission or commission? I do not know. I do know it is ethically wrong. The book tells the story of former US Presidential candidate and US Senator George McGovern. It tells of McGovern's upbringing, his journey to college, the outbreak of World War II, his falling in love and marriage, his joining the US Army Air Corps, his training as a pilot, and his combat deployment and action where he was based out of Italy bombing the Axis war machine. It is written in Ambrose's wonderful narrative style. It is highly readable and entertaining. Read in January 2005.

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. I highly recommend Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B. MacDonald. At just 21 years of age, Captain Charles B. MacDonald first commanded I Company, 3 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from October 1944 to January 1945 and later G Company, 2 Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division from March to May 1945. This memoir was written in 1947 when recollections were still sharp. It resulted in a very detailed account of what it was like to take command of a line infantry company and lead it into battle. The book gives us template for writing a personal military memoir.

It is by far the finest memoir of any junior officer in World War II. Charles MacDonald does a great job of keeping his focus on his own experiences. He does not speculate or waste my time by giving conjecture on the big picture. We only have first hand information from the events of his personal participation. He sticks to what life was like for a junior officer in command of an infantry company, sleepless, hungry, dirty, stressful, and very dangerous. He takes us from the Siegfried Line in the Ardennes, through the Battle of the Bulge, and to the end of the war in the Czechoslovakia.

This book is a must-read for all army officers who seek to command at company-level and it is informative for military historians as well. It is still required reading at West Point and on the company level officer (second lieutenant, first lieutenant, and captain) recommended reading list by the U.S. Army today. Upon this book's publication in 1947, Charles B. MacDonald was invited to join the U.S. Army Center of Military History as a civilian historian, the start of a career during which he wrote three of the official histories of World War II in Europe and supervised the preparation of others. The book is simply the best. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler in June 2006.

American Soldier by General Tommy Franks


President Bill Clinton promoted General Franks to fours stars. President Clinton also appointed Tommy Franks as Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command beginning in July 2000. General Franks served in that role through July 2003. In between was 9/11.

Tommy Franks led the American and Coalition forces to victory in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The part of American Soldier covering these wars are the most interesting because they combine military maneuvers, politics, action, and commentary. This does not mean that the rest of his autobiography is dull. They are not. General Franks’ writing is clear and engaging and his insider's perspective is informative and interesting.

In addition to his years as a war general, his memoir covers his childhood, his early years in the Army, his tours of Vietnam, his return to college to complete his degree at the University of Texas at Arlington, and how he considered retirement before being called up as commander of Central Command.

The "good old boy" from Midland, Texas rings throughout the book. We also see the diplomacy of General Franks. He provides insights into many of the individuals he interfaced. Those looking for criticism of persons in political office will be disappointed. Many will see his expressing admiration for his own staff, for President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in particular, but he also has high respect for the office of the president leaving no criticism for Mr. Clinton or Mr. Bush. He lets us know he was surprised by the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and that no WMDs were used against American troops under his watch. American Soldier is a compelling book giving significant insights on the war on terrorism from the point of view of both warrior and diplomat. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in November - December 2005.

Jungle in Black by Steve Macguire


Jungle in Black is the memoir of Steve Maguire. McGuire was a young, gung-ho, Airborne Ranger who lead a 9th Infantry Division battalion Reconnaissance Platoon in the 6th Battalion, 31st Infantry in the Mekong Delta. The story opens with drawn-out and generic combat descriptions that lead up to Maguire's wounding. The rest of the book covers his treatment. We learn that an exploding Vietcong mine blinded him for life. This is an honest first-person account that never wallows in self-pity. Unfortunately, he in no way offers sufficient background about his life to round out his person. He missed the mark with his book. He paints a broad description of the early stages of rehab. The description covers the usual male boasting, lust for nurses and hopes dashed by physicians not healing or restoring his sight. He fails to feature how he coped with his loss of sight and earned a doctorate in psychology (not mentioned until in an epilogue). This could have been a very inspirational and motivational story; instead it’s just another war story memoir.

Crusade in Europe by Dwight David Eisenhower


Crusade in Europe is General Dwight David Eisenhower's memoir from the early days of World War II through the early post-war. His story and observations are crucial to an understanding of the Great Crusade. Among memoirs, this is a gem.

General Eisenhower takes the reader along with him through each stage of the Crusade. Having attracted attention for his performance in Army maneuvers in Louisiana in 1940, General Eisenhower was called to Washington immediately after Pearl Harbor because of his recent experience in the Philippines. He was first assigned to work on plans for the Pacific. At this point the reader is reminded that, in contrast to the later Germany First Policy, the American public, for a time, screamed for revenge on Japan before dealing with Germany.

Assigned to command Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa in 1942, General Eisenhower was charged with obtaining Allied Cooperation. He was plunged into the quagmire of French politics. The disappointing involvement with General Giraud presented an intra-allied problem, as did cooperation of Admiral Darlan, who while too helpful to rebuff, brought with him the stigma of association with a collaborator. The age-old Arab-Jewish hostility further complicated the administration of the liberated territory.

With North Africa cleared out, General Eisenhower was charged with the conquest of Sicily. Management of the Patton-Montgomery rivalry was a major challenge of the campaign. Success having been achieved, the Patton slapping incident in Sicily forced General Eisenhower to reprimand a close friend while threatening to deprive him of one of his most effective Army commanders.

Speculation that General Eisenhower would return to the Washington as Chief Of Staff while General Marshall commanded Overlord, the invasion of Europe, distracted General Eisenhower's attention from problems at hand. General Eisenhower's eventual appointment to command Overlord forced him to leave the Mediterranean while the Italian campaign was still in doubt. Upon arrival in England he immediately switched gears to plan the size, timing, supply and location of the invasion of France.

With the invasion ashore, General Eisenhower skillfully managed his coalition of impetuous commanders in their march across Europe. General Eisenhower brings the reader into the thought processes and conferences leading to decisions on the liberation of Paris, Operation Market-Garden, and the Battle of The Bulge.

Americans are familiar with Patton's claim that, with supplies, he could capture Berlin and win the war. General Eisenhower relates that Monty bothered him with similarly impractical suggestions. He then explains why the proposals were doomed to failure. Spirited arguments with the British over Project Anvil (Invasion of Southern France) come within the reader's vision through General Eisenhower's eyes.

The greatest criticism of General Eisenhower's wartime leadership is reserved for questions about whether the Western Allies should have advanced further to limit the Red Army's area of occupation. General Eisenhower assesses the claims and presents support for his decisions.

After V-E Day, General Eisenhower's role shifted more into that of a statesman as he attempted to obtain cooperation with the Russians over the administration of occupied Germany.

Some things come clearly through the pages of this book. The reader is constantly impressed with the importance of supplies, bringing to mind the adage that "Amateurs speak of tactics, professionals speak of logistics." Despite later controversies, General Eisenhower's admiration for General George Marshall is made clear on the pages of this book. Written in 1948, I find the statement that General Eisenhower disagreed with many of FDR's domestic policies to be surprising and a hint of his later political initiatives. Crusade in Europe is written in a very clear, easy to read and follow style. It never becomes bogged down in boring details. It does not have any mention of his relationship with his female English army driver. Read by Jimmie A. Kepler in 2004.

It Doesn’t Take a Hero by H. Norman Schwarzkopf


I first read this book in 1995. I have read it once since. "It Doesn’t Take a Hero" by H. Norman Schwarzkopf takes its title from a quote Schwarzkopf gave during an interview with Barbara Walters in 1991; "It Doesn’t Take a Hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle."

Schwarzkopf came from an upper middle class family, his father was a West Point graduate, head of the New Jersey state police (who later led the hunt for the Lindbergh kidnappers), and served President Roosevelt on a special assignment in Iran. They lived in the best house in their town, and even employed a maid, but there was a dark family secret... his mother's alcoholism. His experiences in the Middle East in Iran as a young man, where he lived with his general father, gave him a unique insight into the Arab world that served him personally, and the coalition as a whole. He went to boarding schools in the middle-east and in Switzerland. This helped him develop the cultural understanding and build some relationships that he would later call on during the Gulf War.

The part of the book that deals with his duties in Vietnam is interesting. He expresses the popular hindsight viewpoint against the stupidity and arrogance of the politicians and 'Brass' who ordered young men to lay down their lives in that far away land for no good reason. He became convinced that he had to do something to change the army from within; it was either that or he resigns his commission.

His role in leading the rescue of the medical students in Grenada is extremely interesting. It provided him with lessons that were applied during the Gulf War.

The most interesting part of the book is his telling of the Gulf War, Desert Storm. It is probably true to say that without "Stormin'" Norman, there wouldn't have been a, successful, Gulf War. He was able to play on the links his father had with Arab Royalty, and then forged his own links with the current Saudi Royal Family, working with Crown Princes on a first name basis to get things done, everything from releasing endless millions of dollars in payments to the US - what is the daily rental on an aircraft carrier?! - to arranging for "tent cities" to be erected to shield the incoming troops from the scorching desert sun.

The most interesting aspect of the Gulf War section was the politics of the coalition, especially in the Arab world, something that was almost completely missing in Colin Powell's memoir. In this crucial, although mostly unknown area of the War, Schwarzkopf's experiences in the Middle East were invaluable. Middle Eastern politics are a lethal mine field at the best of times - us Brits have had our fingers burnt on more than one occasion over the years! - and pouring hundreds of thousands of free thinking, free drinking, Western troops of endless religious and moral persuasions into the autocracy that is the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, should have been a recipe for utter disaster!

Schwarzkopf's deft handling of the endless 'difficulties' involving religious services, the consumption of alcohol, the reading of magazines of dubious 'artistic' merit, even the receiving of Christmas cards and the erection of Christmas decorations, were handled with a skill and subtlety that one would not have thought a mere 'soldier' possible. And then of course there was the Israeli question. The one thing above all else that would have blown the coalition apart would have been Israel attacking Iraq in retaliation for the Scuds that fell on Israeli territory. Although much of the efforts to keep Israel out of the action were handled direct from Washington, Schwarzkopf's handling of the Saudi's in particular, on the ground as it were was masterful.

"It Doesn’t Take a Hero" is a fascinating tale, a real inspiration; it shows what one man can achieve through clear thinking, a positive attitude, boundless enthusiasm, and a profound love, not only of his own country, but of mankind. I would recommend it highly. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

One Soldier's Story: A Memoir by Robert Dole


The book tells the story of former US Senator and Republican presidential candidate Robert Dole, of Kansas. It shares tales of his growing up in Russell, Kansas. We learn of his running track, attending high school, working as a soda jerk, and attending Kansas University (KU). He opens the window to his experiences at KU where we see him running track, joining a fraternity, working odd jobs to help pay for his college, buying a phonograph, and experiencing the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

His story continues where he struggles with the choice of joining the US Army Air Corps or the US Army infantry. He joins the Army, goes through Officer Candidate School, and ultimately becomes an infantry officer. His tour of duty in World War II takes him to the Italian theater of the war. In Italy, his life is forever altered. He receives a critical wound while on a combat mission.

The remainder of "One Soldier's Story" tells of his struggles through hospitalization, evacuation, and transport to the USA, rehabilitation, depression, learning to walk again, falling in love and his first marriage, return to Russell, Kansas and his daily challenges. We follow Bob Dole through his return to complete his college degree and his decision to attend law school. We experience his building a career as a young lawyer, the decision to run for political office, and his ultimate service as a US Senator, and being both a vice presidential candidate (1976) and presidential candidate (1996).

Whether you like Bob Dole's conservative politics or not, you will find his story very inspirational. This extremely well written memoir is hard to put down. Read in March 2006 by Jimmie A. Kepler.

About Face: The Odyssey of An American Soldier by Col David H. Hackworth and Julie Sherman


About Face: The Odyssey of An American Soldier by Col David H. Hackworth and Julie Sherman. It was released in hardcover in March 1989. This 875 page book chronicles the 25 year career of David Hackworth. The writing is excellent and interesting. In one section of the book, Colonel Hackworth proceeds to describe his effort to turn the 4/39th into an effective fighting force. Casualties went down and morale went up. The 60 pages he devotes to the 4/39 and 9th Infantry Division provide valuable insight on how political influences and personal ambitions affected the lives of soldiers who served their country. This part of the book was expanded into the book Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of the U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam (released in 2002) by Col. (Retired) David H. Hackworth and his wife Eilhys England. Read in May 2005.

Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of the U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam by David Hackworth




Steel My Soldiers' Hearts: The Hopeless to Hardcore Transformation of the U.S. Army, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam by Col. (Retired) David H. Hackworth and his wife Eilhys England. The book is about David Hackworth. It is memoir about his time in Viet-Nam in the spring of 1969. He embodies both the best and the worst of US Army officers. He is a hard-charging, mission-oriented, and motivational officer. He demands excellence from the men under his command. He suffers the hardships they do. He is also quite egotistical and hubris can describe his self-confidence that borders on attitude of self love.

The book is about the U.S. Army’s 9th Division, 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry, Vietnam. This book is about Hackworth's transformation of a what he viewed as a combat-ineffective battalion of draftees that he lead into a solid American fighting unit. The story is a good case study of leadership. The descriptions of combat operations contained in the book are some of the best I have read since “We Were Soldier Once … and Young”.

I highly recommend the book to those interested in military history or Vietnam War history. David Hackworth relates a narrative about himself. It is a good story of the men in the 4th Battalion, 39th Infantry that deserves to be read. Read in November 2005.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Uncertain Seasons by Elizabeth Shelfer Morgan


Elizabeth Shelfer Morgan, wrote Uncertain Seasons in 1994. It was published by University of Alabama Press. It contains the unedited letters from her uncle, 1LT Howard Shelfer, who was with the 9th Infantry Division, 60th Infantry, B Company in North Africa, Sicily, England (as S4 ) and France. He was killed on Aug. 11, 1944 during the counterattack near Mortain. Uncertain Seasons may be of interest to 9th Infantry Division veterans. This book has been awarded the Best Book for Young Readers by the Florida Historical Society (1995). It is an excellent example of using letters as the premise for a book. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

A Soldier's Story by General of the Army Omar Bradley


A Soldier's Story by General of the Army Omar Bradley is the story of World War II as General Omar Bradley saw it. It is also the primary source book for the movie Patton. Bradley's unassuming and straightforward style underscores how he is portrayed by contemporary accounts. General Bradley was known as the "G.I. General". In the book, he comes across as an island of equanimity in a sea of incredible egos like Patton, Montgomery et. al.

Remember, this book is Bradley's take on events. I am sure that some involved in controversies he covered would defend their actions or inactions. Yet this account has an aura of authenticity due to the author's lack of need to tout his own accomplishments. This inner peacefulness, along with command ability, probably explains Bradley's rise to the level of senior American ground commander in Europe. He even comments about working calculus problems for relaxation!

Written in 1951, this book is superb. It gives insider's account of the American effort and strategic management in the European Theater of Operations. It is well written, clear and largely devoid of the bombast that can weigh down some combat and command accounts. Although a big book, it reads quickly.

One of the highlights of my life was getting to interview Omar Bradley for a boy scout merit badge I was working on in 1964. He was living in a house on the William Beaumont Hospital grounds at Fort Bliss, Texas. My dad was stationed in El Paso at the time. The general was very kind to a kid interviewing him. I remember my dad getting exasperated when I told him I need a ride to do an interview for my God and Country merit badge. I told him I had called and set up an appointment with an old retired soldier though the boy scout council HQ. When he asked who and I said Omar Bradley my dad about passed out. He had served under Bradley in World War II. I remember his kindness and patience. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.

The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Perryville. Vol 1


The book covers the beginning of the war through December 1862. The late Shelby Foote writes with a down home, comfortable style that is like he is sitting beside you telling a story. Make no mistake, he is a southern and tells the story from a southern point of view. The book is a work of creative non-fiction. It is a first class narrative. It is the example of how to write history.

Many students of the Civil War are limited in their knowledge of the war to the major battles of Fort Sumter, Bull Run, Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Antietam (Sharpsburg), etc. (battles in 1861 -1862) or the generals. Foote covers all the battles. And he covers what takes place in between the battles though with minor battles tend to be brushed over with the simple reference to their being fought.

I admit some parts of the book were a struggle for me to get through. The time between the campaigns and battles, the endless maneuvers and debates were challenging. Once he moved on to the next battle or fight, the action and pace of the book picked up. Foote shared enough strategy and tactics as well as some of the intellectual processes the key players used to help us understand what leadership on both sides will do under such situations. At times it was like reading the strategy behind a chess game. The back stories of the political considerations were actually enjoyable at times and problematic to boring at others.

I recommend this to any American or person with an interest in American history. Yes, the battles may seem to be repetitious. Yes, the politics and maneuvers do at times get somewhat dry. They must be included to tell the entire story. We need know the story well to know who we are as a people.

I wish the editor had placed better divisions in the book. Even knowing the history of the civil war well, I had trouble at times with where we were at what battle. Many of the battles are referred to by their southern name, usually the nearest town e.g. Sharpsburg instead of their northern name e.g., Antietam, usually the nearest body of water. Read and reviewed by Jimmie A. Kepler.