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The Journal of Military History Essay

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“More than most professions, the military is forced to depend upon intelligent interpretation of the past for signposts charting the future.... The facts derived from historical analysis he [the soldier] applies to conditions of the present and the proximate future, thus developing a synthesis of appropriate method, organization, and doctrine.... These principles know no limitation of time. Consequently the Army extends its analytical interest to the dust-buried accounts of wars long past as well as to those still reeking wit the scent of battle. It is the object of the search that dictates the field for its pursuit.”1 --General Douglas MacArthur

I want to first state that the syllabus for this year's course was remarkable in that it seamlessly managed to include various perspectives and issues in historiography within the short parameters of the year, and so the task of fitting one extra week's worth of reading for this assignment was quite daunting. Unfortunately, this response is not sufficient, and I am obliged to continue. I'm an avid follower of military history, and so I decided that this form of history may arguably be a feasible theme for the course syllabus and crucial to the understanding of historiography.
An all encompassing definition for military history is it is a special historical discipline that “deals with military phenomena” and “covers the entire spectrum of diverse manifestations and interconnections.” It qualifies as a science as long as it retains its “historicocritcial method”, and the neglect of this method would compromise its bid to “scientific scholarly status.”2 Forming a part of the large family of historical scholarship, military history abide the same principles that govern methodology. Howev...


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...”, but it must be pass the test of reality in order to for the fact to be deemed scientifically acceptable. They should be able to answer these pertinent questions: “Is it possible, and at the same time credible that a certain fact has actually occurred, or that it really could have been such as it is rendered by the sources?” “The correctives available in this process are provided by (1) the 'laws' (condensed historical experience) of the theory of war, by 2) historically unchanged topo-geogrpahic conditions and by (3) what we know is physiologically or technically possible.” It was due to Delbruck's Sachkritik that “altered several 'established truths' about major battles or characteristics of classical and medieval warfare”, and this method of factual criticism became a “conscious part of the normal approach of historians of warfare to their objects of study.”15


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