He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning, Part 1

He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly), September 1, 1862
by Paul Taylor

I’ve decided to start off my “Back-to-Back Book” idea by focusing on the small engagement at Ox Hill (Chantilly to the North), which occurred only two days after Second Bull Run. Promising Union Generals Isaac Stevens and Phil Kearny both lost their lives here. Paul Taylor’s Chantilly book He Hath Loosed The Fateful Lightning is the first of two I’ll be reading on the battle. David Welker’s Tempest at Ox Hill: The Battle of Chantilly will be the second book of the pair.

In looking over the book, I notice that it is published by White Mane. There has been concern in the past about what White Mane will publish. Some of their books have not been as well-researched as the average book has. I’m willing to judge a book on its own merits, so this does not necessarily mean the book is poor. He Hath Loosed The Fateful Lightning contains 179 pages, 8 maps, and 41 illustrations. In leafing through the book, I find that it feels and looks a lot like Combined Publishing’s Great Campaigns series of books. A lot of you might know that series by the blue dust jackets one edition of the series used. I read some reviews of the book online and it seems that Taylor believes that the Union attack at Ox Hill saved Washington, D.C. from being captured. I’m not too sure I can agree with that line of thinking. According to unit strength research done by John Owen Allen at George Mason University, Pope had somewhere in the neighborhood of 93,000 men PFD the day after the Battle of Ox Hill. Add to this the Union fortifications and heavy artillery ringing the Capital, and there does not seem to be any way Lee could have taken it, whether Jackson won at Ox Hill or not. The maps in this book are serviceable, but I’ve seen better. Several shades of gray are used to denote the troop placement on each side, but the detail is not great, especially in regards to placement of Confederate Regiments. There are no topographical lines. Indeed, no changes in elevation are depicted at all other than the use of hachures to denote Ox Hill on several maps. Lastly, this is not a very long book, even for a smaller battle such as this. I hope to read the book over the next 2-3 days, along with giving my usual comments on a chapter by chapter basis.

NOTE: If anyone knows how I can get in contact with John Owen Allen, the author of the unit strengths study on the Second Manassas Campaign, please let me know by email. I’d like to get his permission to show the numbers at my OOBs site for wargaming purposes.

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