Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 July 2010
“By the Late Stephen Crane.” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, November 10, 1900, p. 13
Stephen Crane's “Great Battles of the World” was among the very last work which came from his pen. The book is made up of eight sketches, each devoted to a historical conflict of arms. The author's purpose was to give a vigorous and vivid story of a number of the great battles in the world's history, whose consequences were far reaching and epoch-making. The list begins with Bunker Hill, then comes the battle of Vittoria in Wellington's Peninsular Campaign of 1812, then the siege of Plevna and next the storming of Burkersdorf Heights, one of the notable battles fought by Frederick the Great against the Austrians in 1762. The other conflicts described are Leipsic and Lutzen in Gustavus Adolphus' campaign in Germany, the storming of Badajos, the battle of New Orleans and the battle of Solferino. It is probable that had Crane's life been prolonged he would have extended the list still further.
We are so accustomed to regarding Stephen Crane as an almost matchless describer of battle scenes that it seems novel to encounter him in a work that is essentially historical in its character. And it will become apparent as the reader peruses these sketches that when his imaginative genius is limited by the necessity of confining himself to the facts of the history, that his spontaneity and the brilliancy of his descriptive style suffers.