Military history is one of the oldest forms of study of the past. It has become divided on the approach beneath its “big tent.” There are many who pursue one of the two main approaches of either what might be called the old and new schools of the study such as, Reed Browning, Dennis E. Showalter, Geoffrey Parker, Donald R. Shaffer. Whether they stick to the grit of how a battle occurs or looks to the surroundings for the why it would happen, they search through many periods for reasons that shaped the happenings of the world. The second approach sees the way a battle turns out directed by what decisions are made or the tools available to those commanding. These resources or decisions fall into the “old” or operational aspects of military history. On the other-side looks to the reasons the mentioned items come from or are introduced the parts of the developments of the world and politics that shape it. There is a third school and it looks to not just history but also memory. The way things are remembered or memorialized can and do shape military history just as much as the arguments historians show about what made the battles happen or shaped their outcomes. Not all historians in the present want to look beyond the event studied to the memory or later cultural icons that may have resulted and remain in tied to the studies of the first two schools that have been labeled in Robert M. Cintino’s writing. Studies are not simply new or old military histories, but often fallow the cultures, societies, and even memory to shape the studies of this branch of history. Should this type of development be reflected in branches of the study in history or is it better to leave some to the current reach and development they achieve? Military history evolved based on cultural and societal elements that shape the reason for the study, but other branches do not contain the restrictions based on the distance from the potential effects on how we view of our identity. Military history is likely to find other angles to be analyzed but will another group evolve from it cannot be predicted. No matter era there are battles recorded that can use any of these methods whether it is the social reasons why whether that is mistrust of government the or the misrepresentation with in the government like the history or memory surrounding the Revolutionary War or political happenings that are used to motivate the the push for lebensraum that was a major push in World War II there are social reason that the “new military history” put as reasons for battles happening as well as how they reach their outcomes. Other historians will examine the events and technologies in a battle like the use of cavalry in the battles around the battles to face the Huns and latter development of feudal age. whether these developments in the tales of history help us find the truth or something closer to a memory developed with some fiction as the German’s presented for WWII.
As budding historians, we have a semblance of a modern historical conscience. Much like the errors that have been identified and addressed surrounding such an understanding of the past, we are learning to remove biases and let the past shape itself. We must not allow the understanding of our present alter the past’s shape or fit the characters to be closer to the present. This is in part done by learning to understand and use the available sources. Being able to differentiate between primary and secondary sources for the subject is important but analyzing these things is just as important to seeing how the item might shape the past. Just as important to seeing the use of these types of documents is the reason you sought them out the subject or kind of history you are trying to address. Finding the focus of the question or analysis might touch on ideas like trying to encompass the entirety of the thing or idea that brought about the research, but be careful this can lead a flood of information that may not seem related. Students of history will often look for things that are too challenging, this is why we have a developmental process available and even required in courses such as the History or Practicum class. We need to learn how to take bits and then hole projects and see how our betters would interpret our endeavors in future.
As historians we are looking to the past constantly, but how can we see its truth? Historians face many struggles to find what happened through bias of sources, or even a bias we hold and cannot seem to overcome, but these events or theories are what shape public identity. If you take away an event that shapes social memory and identity is it more of a historical or philosophic victory. Errors, lies, and bias are many and numerous when looking at documents throughout history whether it’s a misunderstanding of an event or taking something they know and adapting it to fit what the society can use to fuel its politics or identity. Historians might be guilty of something similar using some part of the past and likening it to what the theory. How can we find the truth in the past and in resources surrounding it without being bombarded as though drinking from a fire hose? As students focusing on history we can only practice and look to people with more experience but understanding is something we are always trying to reach whether looking through primary sources that shape the metahistory of your topic or looking to secondary sources and experts to wade through what else can we do but practice?