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Books

Take a closer look at my two publications below.

Battle Hardened: An Infantry Officer's Harrowing Journey from D-Day to VE Day

Cover of Battle Hardened

This story chronicles the combat experiences of Lieutenant Bill Chapman during the campaign to liberate western Europe in World War II. Bill Chapman served with the 12th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division from its landing at Utah Beach to final victory near the German Alps. Except for his time recovering from wounds, Lieutenant Chapman spent the entire campaign in an infantry company. His oral history and letters to his wife reveal a dedicated and determined young officer who is forced to insulate his emotions while he leads men in battle. Besides his many combat recollections, Battle Hardened provides a detailed history of an infantry battalion through some of the most hard-fought actions of the war. The reader confronts the trauma of ground-level action, made all the worse by the savage conduct of the Nazi troops Bill and his men faced.

Excerpts

Chapter - Montebourg

The huge warheads thudded into the fields right in the battalion’s path. The ground erupted like a volcano, spitting earth and smoke skyward. Blast waves smacked the riflemen the same moment the deafening roar of the exploding shells boomed in their ears. Colonel Reeder realized how devastating rockets could be to exposed troops. Jumping up and down and waving his arms to the west he shouted, “Everybody go over that way!” Following the orders of their agitated regimental commander, the troops immediately darted to their left. This saved lives but caused confusion. Company commanders, platoon leaders, and squad leaders had no chance to control their formations as the men stampeded out of the impact area. The situation became even more critical when the Germans launched a counterattack out of Emondeville that hit the disorganized 2nd Battalion.

The regiment’s executive officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Luckett, marveled at the battalion’s reaction. “[T]his counterattack far from routing the 2d Bn seemed to be the thing that straightened them out. The men quickly adjusted themselves into units and went after the Germans.” The Americans “opened up with everything they had”—rifles, machine guns, and 81mm mortars—and sent the Germans reeling back to Emondeville.

Chapter – Schnee Eifel

Bill clung to the ground as a stream of bullets snapped overhead. The German machine gunner swept the open ground from left to right then back again. Bill spotted a small gully off to one side that offered cover. He waited until the machine gun’s rounds passed overhead then jumped to his feet and ran for it. He had only taken a couple of strides when a near-by blast from a 120mm mortar round knocked him to the ground.

The enemy machine gunner continued his sweep of the clearing. Bill only had a few seconds to reach the protection of the gully. He jumped back to his feet, took a step, then crashed to the ground. His left leg did not move. Unable to run, Bill did the only thing he could to get out of the clearing—he started rolling his body toward the gully. Over and over he tumbled while the machine gun’s bullets cracked closer and closer. Just as he reached the edge of the gully, a machine gun round slapped into his upper thigh only inches from where he had been hit by mortar shrapnel. Bill dropped into the safety of the low ground clasping his left leg.

Extras

Special D-Day Map      Special Montebourg Map      Siegfried Line Map

Journal Page from Mortain    Overlay from Fouhren    Battalion History Page

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More Terrible Than Victory: North Carolina's Bloody Bethel Regiment. 1861-65Book Cover

This vividly written history of North Carolina's Bethel Regiment recounts the epic struggles of a distinguished but tragic volunteer unit that fought on the first battlefield of the Civil War and figured prominently in many of its most famous campaigns until the war's end at Appomattox. It is a unit-focused tour of the war's Eastern Theater.

Excerpt

Chapter - Cemetery Ridge

The 11th N.C. pressed its attack through the horrific canister fire. Pettigrew’s forces routed the Union skirmishers along Emmitsburg Road, capturing several of them. The troops did their best to maintain a solid line of battle, but the orderly advance ran into trouble at the road. The post fence blocked the way and forced the attackers to climb over the rails, while Woodruff’s and Arnold’s batteries fired a “storm of lead” at them. Once over the fence, the regiment tried to reform its thinning line of battle, but the defenders struck a mighty blow as the Confederates strained to reform their line. Smyth’s and Sherrill’s Brigades rose as one mass and leveled their weapons at the line of gray. With a single thunderous volley, the Union troops opened fire from behind the rear wall of the salient. More than 2,000 rifles, added to the artillery fire, produced a terrible slaughter among Pettigrew’s men. The neat infantry formations disintegrated, blown apart in a whirlwind of smoke, minie balls and canister shot.

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