Book Profile
The Wastage
The Wastage
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Publisher: Rowe Publishing
Release Date: Jan. 25, 2016
Pages: 596
ISBN: 1-939054-58-3
ISBN-13: 978-1-939054-58-6
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"It is good that war has become so terrible, else we shall grow too fond of it," General Robert E. Lee famously said to his officers as they watched the carnage his cannon made of Union brigades assaulting Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The Wastage, a novel by Dean Halliday Smith (aka Ron Smith) is about the mid-winter battle in December, 1862 that almost brought the American government to its knees.  Fredericksburg was the "Valley Forge" for the Army of the Potomac and the national government during the civil war.  It is a must read for those students of the era. 

The movie and book, Gods and Generals, which focused on Confederate General Stonewall Jackson touches on the  battle at Fredericksburg but the focus was on Jackson and not the other major personalities.  Americans who have stood at the stone wall and imagined the brigades of Union troops advancing on the Confederate positions, one and two at a time, bayonets forward, into an inhuman caldron of fire, can only imagine the courage it took to make that advance. 

And when Second Corps repulsed Picketts Charge at Gettysburg six months later, they jeered at the rebels retreating, "Fredericksburg!   Fredericksburg!"  Second  corps had earned their metal trying to take Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg and they knew the folly that Pickett's men had advanced into.

Fredericksburg was a debacle that everyone saw coming.  General Longstreet's chief of Artillery, Porter Alexander, predicted when his cannon opened fire with canister, "A chicken won't be able to live on that field."  The machines of war had taken over, a mechanized killing that would carry over to "modern" American wars in the 20th and 21st century.

There was heroism and great sacrifice by many. Fredericksburg became the first southern city whose inhabitants were ordered to evacuate, and those that did not were bombarded by federal guns. Martha Stevens, the magdalene who "kept a house" at the end of Telegraph Lane, where the killing was greatest, saw her house turned into an ill-equipped hospital.  Henry Villard, a newspaperman, sees the developing horror close and personal. 

Historians like to claim that Fredericksburg was a sideshow and stalemate compared to the horrific battles to come, especially at Gettysburg and the spring campaigns of 1864.  The casualties at Fredericksburg, however, caused a near collapse of Abraham Lincoln's presidency just when Lincoln needed military victories to support his issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation.  For the only time in our national history a Congressional cabal of Senators attempted to take over a wayward Presidency.  Only Lincoln's deft manipulation of Congress Republican leadership avoided a constitutional disaster. 

The Wastage is out now and in bookstores everywhere!  Avid civil war readers will want their own copy of "The Wastage." 

Upcoming Events

Sep. 27, 2017
Battle of Pilot Knob Reenactment
Location: Fort Davidson
Pilot Knob, MO

Every third year a full-scale reenactment of the Battle of Pilot Knob is staged, attracting tens of thousands of spectators.  The 2014 re-enactment commemorated the 150th anniversary of this pivotal battle in the West.  The assault on Fort Davidson in 1864 by Confederate troops left 1,300 of their most experienced soldiers dead, missing or wounded and thwarted the last best hope the Confederacy had to sweep Missouri back into the Confederacy, destroy St. Louis, and embarrass the Lincoln Administration, perhaps costing Lincoln the 1864 presidential campaign. 

The fort and site are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. 

Oct. 25, 2017
Battle of Mine Creek
Location: South of Pleasonton, Kansas
Sponsor: Kansas History

    The Battle of Mine Creek was the aftermath and final downfall of Confederate General Sterling Price's ill-fated attempt to invade Missouri and then Kansas during late 1864.  As stated in Jeff Stalnaker’s excellent book on this battle, “Union troops controlled much of the South, Sherman's men marched with impunity through Georgia and defeat at Gettysburg was a painful and distant memory,” and Grant and Lee were stalemated in the east in the Petersburg trenches.  “The Confederacy needed to stem the tide. Confederate major general Sterling Price led an army of twelve thousand mounted infantry on a desperate charge through Missouri to deliver the state to the Confederacy and dash President Lincoln's hopes for reelection. This daring campaign culminated with the Battle of Mine Creek. A severely outnumbered Union army crushed the Confederate forces in one of the war's largest and most audacious cavalry charges.”

    Imagine what the Confederals saw:  two brigades of Union cavalry, several thousand horses, in two long lines thundering toward your positions, with your backs to a swollen river and trying to protect wagons loaded with plunder and loot from the Missouri campaign.  Mine Creek was a disaster for the Confederacy. The clash of the outnumbered Union force against a hamstrung CSA line of battle was an overwhelming Union victory.  Price's army scattered and remnants limped back into Arkansas.  Actual CSA casualties from Price's Missouri raid are unknown but some historians place the losses at 75% killed, wounded, or missing.

Ron Smith
111 E 8th St.
PO Box 360
Larned KS 67550

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