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A Dark Bloody Ground: Hurtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, 1944-45 (Texas A & M University Military History) Hardcover – Dec 1995


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Texas A & M University Press (Dec 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0890966265
  • ISBN-13: 978-0890966266
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 2.7 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,750,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"... deserves a place on every soldier's bookshelf." - Army magazine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Maj. Edward G. Miller is a retired army ordnance officer stationed in Germany. His most recent assignment was to the army's Command and General Staff College, where he completed most of this study in his off-duty hours. He earned the B.A. and M.P.A. degrees from Western Kentucky University and has completed several military training programs. His previous publications include articles in "Armor" and "Ordnance" magazines concerning development of U.S. armor doctrine. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Aug 1999
Format: Hardcover
My father was a combat engineer in World War II and served north of Aachen at the time of the Huertgen Forest battles. He has always wanted to go see the forest and, thus, this past father's day I invited him on a self-guided 'Normandy-to-the-Rhine' visit to europe. In preparation for the trip, we found plenty of information on Normandy, the Bulge, Remagen and many other better-known battles and battlegrounds, but found very little useful information on one of WWII's bloodiest battles: The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. That is, until I came across Edward Miller's, 'A Dark and Bloody Ground'. The book, while somewhat dry reading, is a must for anyone who really wants to know about the initiation, escalation and ultimate conclusion of this battle. While citing facts and figures which seem well authenticated and footnoted, Miller avoids editorializing for the most part. Where he does opine, it is seemingly not without sound military reasoning. From a personal standpoint, I used the book in order to pinpoint very specific locations within the forest. If you've ever visited there, you won't find many historical markers to guide you. You better come with some sort of roadmap and knowledge of the battle or your trip will be worthless! The maps that are contained in the book, and the anecdotal descriptions that are provided, gave us excellent references with which to locate places which were strategically important during the battle. In one instance, my father and I ventured down an old logging road (probably 'Road W' as Miller described it) and ventured by foot off the path toward the Wieser Weh creek. The east bank of this creek was the sight of numerous assaults by the americans in an effort to take the Duren-Simerath road and the town of Huertgen.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dave History Student on 16 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
After two months of struggling to get out of Normandy, the Allies made a miraculous run in August to the Seine and then to the West Wall. Once there the German defenses stiffen plus having logistical problems, the Allied advance quickly stopped. General Eisenhower wanted to engage and destroy the German Army west of the Rhine River in order to ease the crossing of this historic river and saw the Roer River Campaign as the way to do it. While other units were involved, the 7th Corps and 5th Corps of 1st Army had primary responsibility in capturing the important ground between the West Wall and the Roer River, south of the Aachen-Duren line through the forest. The distance was only about 20 miles but it would take five months and thousands of casualties to gain control of the river and within this timeframe the 1st Army and others would also have to stop the Ardennes Offensive.

The Roer River Campaign is one of my favorites in the West. It was important and controversial and it was interconnected to the Ardennes Offensive. Though the Allies were unaware of the upcoming major counter-offensive, the Germans had to not only fight the important defense of the Roer River, they had to fight it with a partial force while the three main armies prepared for the Ardennes Offensive. The Germans did have the advantage of having well built defenses and knowing the rugged terrain of the huge forest and the Americans were fighting with false estimates of the German resistance and with insufficient forces or proper logistical backup. And with the thick huge forest and the many cloudy days, the ground troops did not have the level of artillery or air support they were accustom to. To make it worse the rugged terrain also limited the usefulness of tank support.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
My comments on DARK AND BLOODY GROUND by LTC Edward Miller are lifted from a five page letter sent to then Major Miller 3.5 years ago.
Tom Clancy wrote in DEBT OF HONOR, "If it isn't written down, it never happened." Now with his book, we know the battle(s) in the Hürtgen Forest occurred. However, after battle reports etc. may be incomplete, inaccurate, and 'sanitize and/or fictionalized' by rear echelon scribes. In some respect, reading this book is like reading about a war on another planet, and as in all the others I've read, hindsight is 20/20. This book is a monumental work, and Colonel David H. Hackworth (Ret) is right, he wrote; "***- a must for professional soldiers [members of Congress] and a good, exciting read for anyone interested [and survivors] in one of the most costly blunders of WW II." Those high echelon generals responsible for this debacle, unlike Robert McNamara, did not confess to their errors or say they were sorry. This book, and Colonel Hackworth's observation were too late for those 55,000 plus names listed on the Vietnam Memorial. LTC Miller indicted generals for their misdeeds like Colonel Hackworth indicted generals in his book ABOUT FACE for their misdeed in Vietnam.
I survived eight campaigns with the 45th Infntry Division in Europe.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
96 of 98 people found the following review helpful
If you want the facts, this is it! 17 Aug 1999
By John K. Hurley (ratemaker@aol.com) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My father was a combat engineer in World War II and served north of Aachen at the time of the Huertgen Forest battles. He has always wanted to go see the forest and, thus, this past father's day I invited him on a self-guided 'Normandy-to-the-Rhine' visit to europe. In preparation for the trip, we found plenty of information on Normandy, the Bulge, Remagen and many other better-known battles and battlegrounds, but found very little useful information on one of WWII's bloodiest battles: The Battle of the Huertgen Forest. That is, until I came across Edward Miller's, 'A Dark and Bloody Ground'. The book, while somewhat dry reading, is a must for anyone who really wants to know about the initiation, escalation and ultimate conclusion of this battle. While citing facts and figures which seem well authenticated and footnoted, Miller avoids editorializing for the most part. Where he does opine, it is seemingly not without sound military reasoning. From a personal standpoint, I used the book in order to pinpoint very specific locations within the forest. If you've ever visited there, you won't find many historical markers to guide you. You better come with some sort of roadmap and knowledge of the battle or your trip will be worthless! The maps that are contained in the book, and the anecdotal descriptions that are provided, gave us excellent references with which to locate places which were strategically important during the battle. In one instance, my father and I ventured down an old logging road (probably 'Road W' as Miller described it) and ventured by foot off the path toward the Wieser Weh creek. The east bank of this creek was the sight of numerous assaults by the americans in an effort to take the Duren-Simerath road and the town of Huertgen. My dad and I located foxhole after foxhole with some bunker remnants along this incline that were just as we imagined they would have been installed there by the germans. They had obviously been a bit weathered over the course of 55 years, but if you've ever seen this forest, the sight of so many ordered impressions in this otherwise dark, smooth ground definitely left you with the impression that something significant happened there. We visited Hill 400, the Wilde Sau minefield and the town of Schmidt. We saw remnants of the 'dragons teeth' associated with the Siegfried line. Almost all of this was due to having read Miller's account of this battle and the excellent detail provided therein. After reading this book, I have two recommendations for anyone interested in the subject of the Huertgen Forest battle: (1)read this book and dog-ear any pages which describe locations & events in detail and, (2)go visit the forest for yourself. You will get the feeling of accomplishment associated with the fact that you did your homework and saw something historic that few people have taken the time to see. For that, I salute the work that Mr. Miller has done on this bloody part of US military history.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Attrition warfare at its worse, chronicled at its best 25 Nov 2004
By Mannie Liscum - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Edward G. Miller's "A Dark and Bloody Ground" is a tour de force piece of academic-grade conflict history. Miller's research is solid and thorough and he covers a lot of ground in 200 or so pages, taking us from the initial commitment of American troops to the forest so oft referred to simply as "Hell" (by both sides!), through nearly three months of attrition fighting involving parts or all of TEN US Army divisions, to the final capture of the Roer River dams that lie on the other side of that seventy-odd square miles of Hell. Miller states up front that he wishes to provide a clear and concise overview of the Battles for the Hurtgen in a way previously not done. In this he is quite successful.

With respect to readability, Miller's writing style is quite easy to follow but it is made a bit choppy and (at least initially) hard to follow because he switches between American and German units frequently and unless/until the reader is familiar with which side of the line what unit numbers belong this can make the going tough. A simple use of italics to refer to German units (for example) would have gone a long way towards providing clarity for the reader. Robert Rush (or his publisher) used this tactic in his book on the Hurtgen (see comparison to Miller's book below) with great success.

The final chapter of Miller's book, entitled "Analysis" is worth the price of admission for its insights. Miller provides testimony from commanders who were there and can, looking back, see where problems arose and successes were achieved. The biggest "problem" with the battles of the Hurtgen forest, as Miller and his supporting players see it, was the lack of proper tactical goals, namely the Roer River dams. The dams were not in fact objectives until late in the game after many thousands of casualties were sustained on both sides. Until these proper objectives were articulated the US Army goal in the Hurtgen was to drive the enemy back and capture roads and settlements, as had been the case in Normandy and Brittany. Breaching the Westwall was important and laudable but the casualties were not. Hindsight is always clearer than foresight.

"A Dark and Bloody Ground" is, in the end, a solid piece of historical work worthy of a read. Despite some potential "readability" problems Miller has crafted a four star gem. Anyone interested in learning more about the Hurtgen Forest battles should check out Robert Rush's "Hell in the Hurtgen" which, unlike Miller's book which deals broadly with the whole campaign, focuses on a single 4th Division Regiment, the 22nd, and its time spent dying in the Hurtgen. In a literary sense Rush's book is superior, although both hold their own against each other on content!
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This should be a text nook at West Point 2 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
My comments on DARK AND BLOODY GROUND by LTC Edward Miller are lifted from a five page letter sent to then Major Miller 3.5 years ago.
Tom Clancy wrote in DEBT OF HONOR, "If it isn't written down, it never happened." Now with his book, we know the battle(s) in the Hürtgen Forest occurred. However, after battle reports etc. may be incomplete, inaccurate, and `sanitize and/or fictionalized' by rear echelon scribes. In some respect, reading this book is like reading about a war on another planet, and as in all the others I've read, hindsight is 20/20. This book is a monumental work, and Colonel David H. Hackworth (Ret) is right, he wrote; "***- a must for professional soldiers [members of Congress] and a good, exciting read for anyone interested [and survivors] in one of the most costly blunders of WW II." Those high echelon generals responsible for this debacle, unlike Robert McNamara, did not confess to their errors or say they were sorry. This book, and Colonel Hackworth's observation were too late for those 55,000 plus names listed on the Vietnam Memorial. LTC Miller indicted generals for their misdeeds like Colonel Hackworth indicted generals in his book ABOUT FACE for their misdeed in Vietnam.
I survived eight campaigns with the 45th Infntry Division in Europe.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Same Sad Song: Miller Covers MacDonald's First Hit 11 Nov 2004
By Gregory Canellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If _ A Dark and Bloody Ground: The Hurtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams 1944-1945_ (1995) were a song, it would be a cover tune first recorded by Charles B. MacDonald in 1963 (see my review of MacDonald's _The Battle of the Huertgen Forest_). Like Elvis Presley's rendition of Frank Sinatra's standard "My Way," opinion would vary as to who performed the song better. A younger generation might even hold that Presley was the original artist, while older fans would stand by Sinatra's as the better performance. The song has not changed, only the artist's style and delivery has. Such is the case with Edward G. Miller's contribution to the Huertgen Forest canon. Miller emphatically echoes MacDonald's original thesis that the American planners chose road junctions and towns as primary objectives when in fact they should have concentrated their efforts on two Roer River dams. Miller contends that the dams should have been the main objective from the onset of the campaign. If this had been the case, he argues, there would have been no need to enter the Huertgen Forest, thus eliminating the chance of becoming embroiled in a bitter contest there. In addition, Miller supports the claim that in order for the Americans to cross the Roer River successfully they first had to secure the dams to prevent the Germans from destroying them, flooding the entire region, and causing substantial delay. This last point is just the type of 20/20 hindsight that Miller and others cannot resist when supporting this argument. This is exactly what happened in February 1945, delaying the American attack crossing of the Roer River by two weeks.Miller also rehashes other criticisms such as the Americans had sacrificed mobility and firepower by entering the forest; the American planner's failure to consider the harsh weather conditions and terrain favorable to the defense, and the forest should have been by-passed altogether. As narrative history, Miller is top-notch. The author skillfully retells the sequence of events that made up the Huertgen Forest Campaign. From the VII Corps's first encounter with the forest in September 1944; the failed October attacks of the 9th Division; the tragedy of the 28th Division efforts in and around heavily fortified town of Schmidt in early November; to the renewed two-corps offensive that finally broke out of the forest. Miller covers the complete campaign with thoroughness and efficiency.Along the way, Miller conducted an enormous amount of research that includes the standard primary and secondary sources, as well as a substantial amount of correspondence and personal interviews from both American and German veterans of the fighting. The author has certainly succeeded in blending thorough analysis with readable narrative, however, he got a little careless at one point. To support a contention that Eisenhower and the high command were obsessed with reaching the Rhine River in favor of destroying German forces, Miller paraphrased Martin Blumenson in the official history. Upon checking this source, it clearly showed Blumenson was referring to Germans trapped within the Falaise Pocket in August 1944, not at the German border as Miller had hinted. The biggest question with all these notions is "how? How should the Huertgen Forest have been avoided? The author admits that it would probably been dangerous for the Americans to by-pass the forest initially, but that this does not mean First Army should have committed units time and time again in a fruitless battle of attrition. I agree! Miller states that the area north of the city of Aachen presented the best avenue of approach into Germany, yet he stops there without substantiating this claim or offering a suggestion of how this maneuver could have been carried out. How could the dams have been captured earlier? Miller implies that had there not been an American manpower shortage, they "might have succeeded" in taking the Roer River Dams in September or October. Again, the author offers no clear plan on how this would have been performed. He then goes on to state that had V Corps been reinforced with one or two regiments, it "would likely have" taken the two dams in November. "Ifs," "might haves" and "would likely haves" are not concrete enough in this unending controversy. Miller has written a fine book, equal to MacDonalds first study. That is an impressive achievement in itself. Whether you like the cover tune or the original is a matter of taste. They are both the same sad song.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Top Rate Professional Job 16 May 2006
By Bonner '62 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I echo what others have said about this book. It is not a fun or easy book to read but it is an excellent study of one of the most useless wastes of American soldiers in the ETO. How 28th Division CG Coda, one of the heros of D-Day, could turn into such a poor operational commander is sobering. I was also struck by how the author pointed out the weakness of the US policy (continued thru Vietnam) of plugging individual replacements into front line units with predictable disastrous results. Our current rotation of units is 100% more effective. He does all this in about a page and a half. This is indicative of the insights the author brings to the work.
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