Fall 2020 Edition
The Fall 2020 issue of Army History offers up a couple of intriguing articles, an interesting Army artifact, a look at the National Museum of the United States Army’s Medal of Honor garden, a varied selection of book reviews, and words from both the Center’s executive director and chief historian.
The first article, by Ricardo Herrera, examines George Washington’s decision to winter the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Utilizing an impressive amount of primary research, Herrera shows that cantoning anywhere for the winter, let alone at Valley Forge specifically, was not a forgone conclusion. Struggling with these decisions, Washington consulted his senior leaders. Many of these generals lobbied for numerous different locations for cantonment—all with their own drawbacks and advantages—while others instead called for a continuation of the fighting during the winter months. This article provides an in-depth look at Washington’s decision-making process and how his councils of war shaped his thinking.
The second article, by Frank Blazich Jr., tells the story of U.S. Army homing pigeons during the First World War. This engaging article documents the U.S. Army Signal Corps’ Pigeon Service from its inception and early struggles to its effective use on the battlefield. With the help of British and French pigeoneers, the U.S. Army established numerous lofts in France; deployed mobile lofts to the front lines; and sent baskets of pigeons into battle strapped to doughboys, who used them to send back important messages and intelligence. Most famously, one of these Army-trained pigeons helped save the Lost Battalion when that unit was trapped behind enemy lines. This episode skyrocketed awareness of the Pigeon Service in the minds and imaginations of the American public back home.
The last few months have been a difficult and trying time. During this period, the folks who work on this publication with me have been performing their duties largely from home. Teleworking has presented its own unique obstacles to the production of this journal, but the small team of dedicated staff that produces it has overcome all impediments. We have, so far, produced two issues while dealing with the challenges of the pandemic outbreak. I commend my teammates for their diligence and dedication and I assure Army History’s readers that we will continue to provide them with original and thought provoking content in the months to come.
While I usually end by asking for your submissions and critiques, I will instead mention that our book review program is currently suspended and will remain so for at least the next few months, due to the pandemic. I hope you enjoy this issue and know that we are already hard at work on the next one.
Bryan J. Hockensmith