The Modern Centaur

The astute subscriber to the Napoleonic Wargaming Club Newsletter may have noticed a delay between the release of edition XXII (July '03) and edition XXIII (December '04 - January '05). The inquisitive subscriber may think to ask, "Why? What gives?" That, my friends, is why periodical publications have Editorial pages.

The grizzled, veteran subscriber, rich in years, and bearing the scars of many a battle won and lost, may hearken back to the Editorial in edition XVII, published in January '02. At that time, the Editor waxed eloquent on the challenges of balancing Gaming, Clubbing, and Life. He (I) wrote that all Club work, be it Army command or Editorship, "must only and always be a labor of love." Were truer words e'er spoken?

After edition XXII, I just wasn't feeling the joy; I wasn't looking forward with zest (as I had always done before) to working on the next issue. So, following my own advice in edition XVII, I took a sabbatical.

The pause was never intended to last so long!

One explanation was the flowering of a new passion: I began translating Arthur Chuquet's monumental Les Guerres de la Révolution (11 volumes*) into English for the Nafziger Collection. That project continues apace. Volume II, Valmy, and Volume IV, Jemappes and the Conquest of Belgium (1792-1793) are now in print. Volume V, Neerwinden and the Defection of Dumouriez, should be published in January '05. I am presently at work on Volume VI, Custine's Invasion of Germany: The Operations of the Army of the Rhine, August 1792 - May 1793. Volume V is richly illustated with my battlefield photographs, as should be the subsequent volumes.

That brings us to another factor influencing the NWCN publication schedule: For several months, I was busy with the preparations and consequences of my move from Oregon to Hanau, Germany, where I have resumed my work as a psychiatrist for the U.S. Army. As it happened, my arrival in July 2004 coincided with the return to Germany of many thousands of soldiers of the 1st Armored Division after a 15-month tour of duty in Mesopotamia.

My work with these combat veterans is immensely rewarding, but also sobering, and sometimes heartbreaking. There are so many ways to be mentally wounded in war: the terror of close brushes with death, with or without physical wounds; the grief and guilt over the death or maiming of a friend; the anxiety of the constant threat of ambush by a faceless enemy, who blends invisibly into the population; for some, a pervasive rage at that population, and a vengeful descent into brutality; for some, remorse over actions that were necessary, justified, and honorable, but resulted in the deaths of innocents; exhaustion and sleeplessness from nightly bombardments by mortars and rockets; long months of separation from home and family, with some marriages collapsing, and soldiers missing the irreplaceable experience of helping their toddlers learn to walk and speak...

By a chain of circumstances, none of them due to relationship problems, I am here alone, while the wife and children remain in Oregon. This state of loneliness and deprivation is small potatoes compared to what the soldiers have gone through, but educational withal for one who would presume to counsel the troops. It contributed in no small measure to the selection of the theme for this issue's installment of The NWC Songbook. Even though our youngest baby was born over 12 years ago, I'd like to think that my true Love sings along with young Polly, "I'll think on lovely Willy, in High Germany."

* Dr. Nafziger had translated Volume I, so I started with Volume II.

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