Nosworthy and ACW history

Napoleonic combat expert Brent Nosworthy's has issued a large volume constructively trying to reground Civil War military historians in the "big picture" of international military theory/practice as it was in the mid-19th Century and to reground the practice in the particulars of American armament and tactics during the ACW. I would call it a massive debunking effort except that it is so much more concerned with supplying missing information and perspectives than with picking apart minsconceptions.

I want to deal with this criticisim of ACW military historians in another post.

Here are some of his comments about Civil War history in general that I hope resonate with you as much as they did with me:

Molded by the received wisdom that permeates the Civil War literature we unquestioningly accept the traditional view of the Civil War and its place in history. [But] many commonly accepted beliefs about the Civil War are largely unfounded.

Unfortunately, the very universality and longevity with which these views have been held appear to make them unassailable. Intuitively, it is difficult to accept analyses and conclusions contradicted by hundreds of other works, no matter how thorough the research or meticulous the treatment.

These biases [of the ACW writer] generally fall into two broad categories: the urge to simplify and the desire to validate one's "place in the universe."

Seeking an understanding with the least amount of effort, the human mind tries to reduce complex, multilayered phenomena to easily digested "bite size" units of "high concept."

If the urge to simplify reduces the type of information the historian is willing to explore, the desire to validate one's place in the universe insidiously influences evaluation processes.

Unfortunately, he [the ACW historian] has also demonstrated a proclivity to immediately abandon or deflect the research the moment the clues lead into literally or metaphorically foreign territory.

At this stage of military history [i.e. historiography], the challenge is less in finding completely new repositories of historical information than in learning to interpret the vast storehouse of available data more accurately.