Invariably, when writing books on military history, creating boardgames or detailed computer games (not like the Total War-series), you are going to stumble upon one big defect. The lack of detailed OOBs (Order Of Battles). Next to the official records the most important resource there is. A select group of people specialize in collecting these OOBs probably most prominent of them George F. Nafziger who collected a stunning 8000 files over time. If you have any books on organizational history in your library there is a good chance he has 'written' it.
Nafzinger served in Vietnam aboard the USS Hull. He retired from the US Navy in 1995 as a Captain and is now in his early 60s. In the past year he has written countless books and is a valued editor of numerous books and articles on the subject of military history. He is also the former director of the Napoleonic Society of America and the Napoleonic Alliance. Both of which we will discuss in more detail in a subsequent post about the neverending Napoleon Podcast.
A few weeks ago messages appeared on the internet. Nafzinger had put his entire collection online for everyone to look through and download whichever files they could use. Naturally I had a look and downloaded parts of this massive pdf-library of 596 mb. I was dumbstruck by what I encountered and happy as a child finding a treasure, which was actually just what happened.
According to George Nafzinger's statement he had donated his valuable to the U.S. Army's Combined Arms Research Library and it is now "free to the world" The reasons why he had to make this decision are a bit sad though:
"Technology was killing me. The collection was in WordStar, a DOS-based program, and Windows XP and Vista would not allow me to print the documents, so I found myself having to maintain a Windows 98 machine (and a spare, just in case). Sooner or later, I would no longer be able to get to the data."
As he is in his early 60s he was afraid "my wife and kids know nothing about the collection, could care less about it, would see a Windows 98 machine and think "junk" and place the computer, its hard drive and all the collection on the curb for the garbage collector, that my death would result in the disappearance of something that meant a lot to me as a hobby and a labor of love."
He ends his statement thus: "maybe I will achieve a modicum of immortality, leaving a legacy that will haunt you all long after I've shed this mortal shell. Enjoy, make use of it, and consider it my gift to the wargaming community."
Well, most certainly we will. Captain, thank you for all your hard work and thank you for sharing your collection with us.
You can find the Nafzinger-files here.