Thursday, May 19, 2005

Saw a copy of a Cheeky Angel volume sitting in the cutout bins when i went in to the Comic Swap yesterday. That's a bad sign.

Bought that PVPonline compilation, the Dork Ages, mostly as filler. If there was ever an artist who ought to be working in the smaller manga-style page format, it's Scott Kurtz. He uses a cartoony style with few, economical lines. He's coming out of the newspaper comic-strip tradition. He doesn't *need* a big comic-book-style page layout. It detracts from the presentation, in fact, to blast his compositions up to that page-size. As for the content... mostly OK, but he needs to stay away from anime/manga/Japanese parody. He's not very good at it, and it's outside of his stylistic tradition. It didn't work, and felt like audience-abuse.

I finished the Nosworthy book the other day. His conclusions can be summed up as "Dimitri Rotov, distilled". No wonder Dimitri loved it so much. Personally, I'm a little suspicious of his conclusions in regards to infantry firefight ranges and lethality calculations. He hangs an awful lot of speculation on that single Mexican-American War lead-to-casualty datapoint. If that falls through on closer examination, then his overall data definitely supports higher lethality for the rifled-musket combat of the Civil War.

Nosworthy kind of pooh-poohs the increase in average firefight ranges from 90-some yards with smoothbore muskets to 140-some yards with the rifle-muskets. This is still an increase of more than half. Even these days, with laser-targeting and all the advantages of technology, firefight ranges average under 400 yards. (I thought I had seen some material on that, but I can't find it this morning...) This whole line of revisionism on infantry fire strikes me as likely to quickly get stuck in a cycle of the revisionists and counter-revisionists talking past each other, playing blind-men-and-the-elephant with the data.

Kind of wish he had dropped the sections on ironclads from the book. the Bloody Crucible of Courage has the feel of a number of monographs and papers bundled together without much attention paid to the connecting material. Kind of like this post. The sections on cavalry, however, are pretty interesting, though I'm not exactly sold on the idea that the late-war sabre blustering of cavalry instructions and doctrine represent anything more tangible than the bravado of aggressive display of leadership.

He had a lot of striking things to say about Jomini, about whom I may have been entertaining mistaken ideas. Namely, that Jomini represented a conservative, indeed, reactionary interpretation of Napoleonic warfare, with more in common with pre-Revolution linear tactics than the articulated, flexible innovations of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic French armies. His sections on European technological and tactical innovations are very useful, and put a dynamic face on the pre-War doctrine which I had viewed as a set, unmoving mass previously. That is, Nosworthy makes an excellent case that the ten years before the war were a period of rapid swings of doctrine and churning ideas about tactics, and that the equipment and tactics eventually used were a late-period reactionary upsurge of quite recent vintage, born of the French disillusion with the performance of the new technology and innovations in fire tactics during the 1859 war with Austria.

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