Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  James McCaffrey  

Pen Name: James M. McCaffrey


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1946 in Springfield, Illinois

-- James McCaffrey on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

McCaffrey was born in Springfield, Illinois.

Biographical and Professional Information

James McCafrfey is a retired Professor of History at the University of Houston-Downtown where he specialized in American military topics. Along with the books listed, he also edited the books, ''Surrounded by Dangers of all Kinds: The Mexican War Letters of Lieutenant Theodore Laidley'' and ''Only a Private: A Texan Remembers the Civil War : The Memoirs of William J. Oliphant.''

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

This Band of Heroes: Granbury's Texas Brigade, C. S. A
ISBN: 089096727X

Texas A&M University Press. 2000

Brigadier General Hiram Bronson Granbury led a brigade of Texans, fighting in the Army of Tennessee, for only nine months. Others had preceded him, and others would follow—only to be snatched away by death, transfer, or promotion. But Granbury remained the most popular of the brigade’s lengthy list of commanders—so much so that after Granbury’s death and well after the end of the Civil War, men referred to themselves as members of Granbury’s Brigade, one of Texas’ most famous fighting units.

James M. McCaffrey traces the history of the brigade, from the formation of the individual regiments by Texas’ citizen-soldiers to the last days of the war, when heavy losses had reduced the brigade to a single regiment. The brigade’s involvement in early confrontations, such as the Battle of Arkansas Post, are discussed.

First published in 1985, This Band of Heroes is now once again available to readers drawn to Civil War history and researchers and historians interested in Texas’ military heritage. McCaffrey supplements his text with maps, drawings, historical photographs, and appendixes that describe the flags and weapons of Granbury’s Brigade. Of particular interest to genealogists researching the period is a comprehensive list of the men who served in the brigade.

Army of Manifest Destiny: The American Soldier in the Mexican War, 1846-1848 (The American Social Experience)
ISBN: 0814755054

NYU Press. 1994

James McCaffrey examines America's first foreign war, the Mexican War, through the day-to-day experiences of the American soldier in battle, in camp, and on the march. With remarkable sympathy, humor, and grace, the author fills in the historical gaps of one war while rising issues now found to be strikingly relevant to this nation's modern military concerns.

Wake Island Pilot: A World War II Memoir (Memories of War)
ISBN: 157488736X

Potomac Books. 2005

Wake Island Pilot is the story of John F. Kinney - hero, POW escapee, and aviation pioneer. It contains the first full-length account of a successful escape by a Marine captured in one of the great battles of World War II. Within hours of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Japanese struck the small U.S. garrison on Wake Island. As his squadron's engineering officer, young pilot John F. Kinney used all his considerable ingenuity to oversee the cannibalization of crippled planes for spare parts when he himself was not in the air fighting off the Japanese assault. His gallant efforts helped enable the desperate Marine and Navy defenders to hold out for an incredible two weeks, a truly epic struggle. After the island's inevitable surrender, Kinney was a Japanese prisoner in China for the next three and a half years. During this time, he put his amazingly inventive mechanical skills to work, creating from scratch numerous items, including a radio, to improve his fellow POWs' situation. Toward the end of the war, Kinney escaped from a prison train and, with the assistance of both Nationalist and Communist Chinese troops, made his way to an American airfield. He was thus one of the few Americans to escape from Japanese captivity outside the Philippines. General Kinney's subsequent Marine Corps career was equally distinguished: He flew fighters in the Korean War and helped develop the classic A4-D Skyhawk.

Only a Private: A Texan Remembers the Civil War : The Memoirs of William J. Oliphant
ISBN: 1931823081

Halcyon Pr Ltd. 2004

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, 16-year-old William J. Oliphant left Austin and rushed to join Confederate service with thousands of other Texans. Oliphant initially joined the Travis Rifles, and was later mustered into the Sixth Texas Infantry, CSA at Camp Henry E. McCullough, near Victoria, Texas in 1862.

Oliphant and the Sixth Texas were sent to Arkansas in May of 1862, where Oliphant saw action in Battle of Arkansas Post. After the surrender of Arkansas Post in 1863, he was sent to an Illinois prison camp. Oliphant was later exchanged and participated in the battles of Missionary Ridge, Ringgold Gap, Pickett's Mill, and Atlanta, where he was again captured.

He was exchanged in Virginia in March 1865, but was not able to rejoin his command before the war ended. The young Oliphant then made his way home to Texas, narrowly escaping death at the hands of bandits. His descriptions of the destroyed South offer a poignant reminder of the physical, economic, and psychological devastation of the war.

Only a Private provides a first-hand account of the common soldier's point of view of the Civil War. No colonel or general, William Oliphant was, in his own words, "only a private." His unique perspective provides a window into Texas during the first days of the Civil War, as well as first-hand descriptions of battles in Arkansas and throughout the Confederacy, life in a Federal prisoner-of-war camp, and survival in the devastated post-war South. Contains numerous photographs, maps and valuable primary source material, including the Company "G" roster, in which Oliphant served.

The Army in Transformation, 1790-1860 (The Greenwood Press Daily Life Through History Series: American Soldiers' Lives)
ISBN: 0313331723

Greenwood. 2006

What was it like to be a heavily burdened U.S. soldier on the march in the first half of the 19th century? How did soldiers survive in leaky, flea-ridden huts in Kansas? How many men were convinced to enlist based on the promise of easy, pleasing work? From the early Indian wars in the Ohio Territory in the 1790s, to the Mexican wars in Texas in the 1850s, American Soldiers' Lives: The Army in Transformation, 1790-1860 by James M. McCaffrey describes the soldiers lives, often by letting them speak for themselves through their letters, diaries, and journals. This book describes recruitment, training, the day-to-day routine and living conditions and some of the most significant battles and campaigns of the period. It also includes a timeline and an extensive, topically arranged bibliography of more than 500 sources.

James M. McCaffrey provides a social history of soldiers that goes beyond the publications on warfare that deal with strategy and tactics and the big picture. Understanding what motivated soldiers to do the things they did-whether it was enlisting in the first place, or getting drunk, or deserting from the army, or any number of other activities-helps to complete the study of how the army was able to succeed as it did and, perhaps, why it failed to accomplish even more. High school and college students, researchers, and those interested in military history will find these features and information included: -A timeline of military-related events from 1790 to 1861. -The early 19th conflicts facing the young United States' security, such as Indian wars and forced resettlements, the War of 1812, the wars against Mexico in Texas, and the Mormon battalions that fought both for and ran afoul against the U.S. government. -Recruitment and training. -The day-to-day routine of most soldiers, in and out of combat. -The experience of being in battle. -Food and clothing. -Medical care. -Military justice, including court martial offenses and executions -An extensive bibliography with more than 500 sources, ranging from historical surveys and illustrated histories to articles, diaries, and primary documents from the U.S. government. -A comprehensive index.

Inside the Spanish-American War: A History Based on First-Person Accounts
ISBN: 078644150X

McFarland. 2009

This is the story of the Spanish-American War, told not from the perspective of generals, policy makers, or politicians, but from that of the soldiers, sailors and marines in the field and the reporters who covered their efforts. Concentration on the daily lives of these people provides insight into the often overlooked facets of a soldier's life, detailing their training and interaction with weaponry, their food, clothing, and medical supplies, and their personal interactions and daily struggles. While the Spanish-American War set the stage for America's emergence as a global power, this is its history on an individual scale, as seen through the eyes of those upon whom the war had the most immediate impact.

Going for Broke: Japanese American Soldiers in the War against Nazi Germany (Campaigns and Commanders Series)
ISBN: 0806159413

University of Oklahoma Press. 2017

When Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Americans reacted with revulsion and horror. In the patriotic war fever that followed, thousands of volunteers—including Japanese Americans—rushed to military recruitment centers. Except for those in the Hawaii National Guard, who made up the 100th Infantry Battalion, the U.S. Army initially turned Japanese American prospects away. Then, as a result of anti-Japanese fearmongering on the West Coast, more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent were sent to confinement in inland “relocation centers.” Most were natural-born citizens, their only “crime” their ethnicity.

After the army eventually decided it would admit the second-generation Japanese American (Nisei) volunteers, it complemented the 100th Infantry Battalion by creating the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. This mostly Japanese American unit consisted of soldiers drafted before Pearl Harbor, volunteers from Hawaii, and even recruits from the relocation centers. In Going for Broke, historian James M. McCaffrey traces these men’s experiences in World War II, from training to some of the deadliest combat in Europe.

Weaving together the voices of numerous soldiers, McCaffrey tells of the men’s frustrations and achievements on the U.S. mainland and abroad. Training in Mississippi, the recruits from Hawaii and the mainland have their first encounter with southern-style black-white segregation. Once in action, they helped push the Germans out of Italy and France. The 442nd would go on to become one of the most highly decorated units in the U.S. Army.

McCaffrey’s account makes clear that like other American soldiers in World War II, the Nisei relied on their personal determination, social values, and training to “go for broke”—to bet everything, even their lives. Ultimately, their bravery and patriotism in the face of prejudice advanced racial harmony and opportunities for Japanese Americans after the war.



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