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Posted on Mar 10, 2008 in Stuff We Like

Armchair General’s New Online Editor

By Gerald D. Swick

Reporting for duty, sir!

Let me introduce myself. I’m the new senior online editor for and HistoryNet. The rest of the staff who have been bringing you the history and interactive features you enjoy are still here and will have greater opportunities to develop exciting new content as I assume more of the editorial responsibilities.

Some of you may remember me as the author of the “Commander Dossier” and “Weapon Files” departments in the print version of Armchair General magazine, as well as some of its interactive articles like “Yamamoto’s Dilemma” and “ Washington at Germantown .” You may have seen my name among the authors of articles in ABC-CLIO’s The Encyclopedia of World War II: A Political, Social and Military History or The West Virginia Encyclopedia from that state’s Humanities Council. I may also have rolled dice with you at Historicon, Nashcon, Origins or other game conventions.


A couple of days before writing this blog, I visited Fort Morgan at the mouth of Mobile Bay, where Confederate gunners tried vainly to stop Federal warships from assailing Mobile, Alabama.

As I stood by one of the actual guns used in the 1864 battle, I looked out across the bay, wide even at its narrower mouth, and I better understood the difficulty the defenders faced as they attempted to find the range of a moving target largely by guess and by golly. The large-caliber guns took time to reload with projectiles ranging from 32 to 110 pounds; every missed shot gave the attackers more time to close on the city.

I could also image the crews inside the Union ironclads out there on the dark water being deafened by the echoing clang when solid shot found its mark. Even the heavy shells couldn’t penetrate the thick metal casing, but they jarred bolts loose from the iron plates to bounce around the ship’s interior and tear through the flesh and blood of luckless sailors. At times, a blast thundering across the waves announced a ship had ran afoul of a “torpedo”—submerged mine—that ripped a hole in its hull.

It is in moments like this that history becomes more than words on a page. We experience it on a different level, with deeper understanding, when we stand where brave men once fought and died for the causes they believed in. When we witness a reenactment of a battle or of pioneer life or any other event from the past—from our history—we witness the difficulties faced in maneuvering linear formations or in making tools by hand.

We smell the cordite, feel the ground tremble when a cannon fires, and on some visceral level we become more than spectators. We interact with history and come away with new knowledge. The same can be said for playing a well-designed simulation game that forces us to make strategic or tactical decisions based on the same considerations the actual commanders faced. In all of these situations, we take the knowledge we’ve gained from reading and interact with it, apply it, and multiply it. That almost always results in wanting to know even more.

The staffs of Armchair General , both the print and online versions, have always recognized this. That’s why we offer a mix of historical articles and interactive opportunities. In the coming weeks, you’re going to see some changes to the online version that will offer you even more opportunities to test and share your knowledge.

We’ll be increasing the number of forums and linking them more closely to articles on the site. We’re restructuring the site’s appearance to make it even easier for you to quickly find and instantly jump to the article, news item, review, etc., that interests you most.

I’m very excited to be joining the crew at this time of transition, but please remember you can also be part of this. Join our forums and share your knowledge. Email us to suggest topics for articles or interactive challenges. Let us know what you want to see more of. (Sorry, guys. We already asked our boss about pinup pictures of Amazon queens. He nixed it.)

Our goal is to create a site that makes every visitor say, Man, I gotta bookmark that!

Stay tuned and keep your powder dry. 

Gerald D. Swick
Senior online editor


  1. Mr.Swick

    My name is William.C.C.Cavanagh and I was a close friend of the late Charles B Macdonald. Mac commanded Company I , 23rd Infantry in the battle for the Krinkelterwald during the battle of the Bulge. I have published four books on the battle and have recently written a 10,000 word article which features the experiences of the men in Mac’s battalion. This article includes the experiences of his battalion commander, Lieutenant Eisler of Company L, Hugh Burger of Company I, Major Noton of battalion staff, Lieutenant Smith of Company K etc… It adds most interesting detail to what Mac wrote in hisbook “Company Commnder” and tells the story of the defense of the west bank of the Jansbach creek in the words of the men who were there. I firmly believe that it is well worth publishing as it as it sheds light upon a major action in this battle. My telephone numbr is International plus 44 191 3873422 should you be interested in publishing it.


    Will Cavanagh

  2. I am very interested in Will Cavanagh’s expertise. Please feel free to give him my email address:


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