Sunday, September 18, 2011

Research Tips & Future Intent

Research Tips

Anyone wishing to delve deeper into this period or those who have already done so will soon become familiar with the issues surrounding the identification of individuals and units. Whilst search engines of various types within the World Wide Web are an invaluable tool, their limitations are soon determined around issues of spelling. Now I'm no linguist - I speak and write in only one language and at an average level at best - but when looking into this particular period for continental military details, sources or even references within English sources draw upon Dutch, German and French spelling variants which can confuse the monolingual researcher.

By way of example, I was looking for a Colonel Proprietor (Kolonel) for a Dutch regiment by the name of Sander which, whilst obvious to others did not register in my mind as a continental variant of Alexander until all the other details lined up and I enjoyed that 'Aha' moment. There's also the aristocratic titles which vary across the European nations which, if known, may give a tip to the variance in a particular title holder's name.

Then there's the spelling. Again, I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the evolution of languages other than English but if comparable, within these various languages there will be variations in spelling as no standardisation had been achieved at this time. This all confuses the amateur researcher and you can't be too ready to declare a person or unit as present or not at a particular conflict according to 'the record' until other possibilities are exhausted. Also, whilst admittedly reliant upon the previous work of others, one needs to be ever mindful of the possible adoption and repetition of errors and the conversion of theory or supposition to accepted fact over time. My old university training in historical principles always remind me to seek primary over secondary and tertiary sources always - but even first hand accounts can be in error.

I suppose what I'm saying is that I am bound to have missed stuff as I go along and I can't emphasise enough the need amongst us (the small community of interested wargamers) to share knowledge and ideas whilst we assemble a more detailed picture of this previously ignored period of military history.

Future Intent

I will move onto the French order of battle at Seneffe next but do so fearfully. My principle interest for this period is the Dutch and this will be my first army but I do want to build the opposition simultaneously - a demi-brigade each at a time. I would like to guarantee that I will similarly attack the Spanish and Imperial forces but we shall see. Somehow I doubt it. I say I am fearful about the French order of battle because I have not as yet ventured into research here and I doubt I'll be as fortunate to have a French equivalent of the Dutch Regiments Website. Then again, much has been written in the journals of Wargames Illustrated over time on the French army of this period so I may be pleasantly surprised. If anyone has some good website recommendations for me or other works done which is available, please let me know.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with you on this one, I've been trying to disifer the order of battle for the Battle of Steenkirke from an old online manuscript, not only do you have to work out and translate the spelling, I'm having trouble reading some of the old fashioned writing, I'm slowy be driven insane....................