Academic journal article Military Review

AMERICAN COURAGE, AMERICAN CARNAGE: 7th Infantry Chronicles: The 7th Infantry Regiment's Combat Experience, 1812 through World War II

Academic journal article Military Review

AMERICAN COURAGE, AMERICAN CARNAGE: 7th Infantry Chronicles: The 7th Infantry Regiment's Combat Experience, 1812 through World War II

Article excerpt

AMERICAN COURAGE, AMERICAN CARNAGE: 7th Infantry Chronicles: The 7th Infantry Regiment's Combat Experience, 1812 through World War II, John C. McManus, Tom Doherty Associates, New York, 2009, 534 pages, $35.00.

I think one of the most difficult tasks any historian can take on is to write a definitive regimental history and maintain objectivity. John McManus takes this on with gusto and produces an extremely readable account of the 7th Infantry Regiment.

McManus refers to the regiment by its nickname "Cottonbalers," a name earned in the Battle of New Orleans in 1814, where, firing from behind cotton bales, they decimated the attacking British regulars. His account of the 7th in the Mexican War demonstrates that it was no "walkover" but a hard fought, bitterly contested affair. McManus relates the 7th's Civil War service, especially the major battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, as well as the 7th's campaign against the Nez Perce in the Battle of Big Hole. In addition to defeating the Spanish in combat, the "Cottonbalers" had to fight the effects of heat, spoiled rations, and malaria.

McManus relates numerous firsthand accounts of combat in his treatment of World War I and World War II. However, in an attempt to show the horror of combat, his history starts to sound like historical fiction (e.g., "20mm anti-aircraft guns, inflicted terrible wounds on infantrymen, shredding abdomens until guts hung out and trickled halfway down walls, sawing off arms and legs too.").

The book is technically sound with a few minor exceptions. McManus questions the nickname "Cottonbalers" based on the fact that British cannonballs bounced off the cotton bales in the Battle of New Orleans. …

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