Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Booknotes - "Soldier Life -- Many Must Fall"

The Camp Pope Bookshop has a new release
[ SOLDIER LIFE—MANY MUST FALL: TWO CIVIL WAR NARRATIVES. TRUE HISTORIES OF THE 14TH IOWA INFANTRY IN CAMP AND COMBAT, TOLD BY THE WOLF CREEK RANGERS OF TAMA COUNTY. Iowa City: Camp Pope Bookshop, 2008]. Hardcover, illustrated, maps, notes, index. 288pp.
that contributes to its ever growing line of published Civil War diaries, letters, and reminiscences from the Trans-Mississippi soldiers. Regular Camp Pope customers know of proprietor Clark Kenyon's special interest in Iowa units, and this is the second Hawkeye book to be published this year [the first being Vanishing Footprints -- 22nd Iowa].

Sunday, December 28, 2008

CWBA Profile - University of North Carolina Press


UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS
Home Page
Blog
UNC Press Civil War 150

Civil War-related Series:
Civil War America
Military Campaigns of the Civil War
The Littlefield History of the Civil War Era
The Steven and Janice Brose Lectures in the Civil War Era

Civil War Book Backlist:
Civil War

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* American Civil Wars: The United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Crisis of the 1860s
* The Yankee Plague: Escaped Union Prisoners and the Collapse of the Confederacy
* Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy
* A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People
* Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign
* The Battle of Ezra Church and the Struggle for Atlanta
* Agriculture and the Confederacy: Policy, Productivity, and Power in the Civil War South
* A Gunner in Lee's Army: The Civil War Letters of Thomas Henry Carter
* Nature's Civil War: Common Soldiers and the Environment in 1862 Virginia
* A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People
* Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign
* With a Sword in One Hand and Jomini in the Other: The Problem of Military Thought in the Civil War North
* The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi
* Shifting Loyalties: The Union Occupation of Eastern North Carolina
* West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace
* Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign (link to author interview)
* A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (link to author interview)
* In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat
* The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864
* Shenandoah 1862: Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign
* Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession
* Trench Warfare under Grant & Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign
* Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War & Reconstruction in Piney Woods Georgia
* Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign
* Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Norris: "Potter's Raid: The Union Cavalry's Boldest Expedition in Eastern North Carolina"

[Potter's Raid: The Union Cavalry's Boldest Expedition in Eastern North Carolina by David A. Norris (Dram Tree Books, 2008). Softcover, 5 maps, illustrations, photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN: 9780981460321 $24.95]

Modern armchair strategists often decry the Union high command's lack of a vigorous exploitation of the 1862 Burnside Expedition's success in securing much of North Carolina's vital coastline. With the exception of John G. Foster's late 1862 Goldsboro campaign, Federal forces were largely content (until late in the war) with securing its many coastal enclaves and occasionally raiding inland to secure supplies or attack the important Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. An action fitting the latter category is the subject of David Norris's book Potter's Raid: The Union Cavalry's Boldest Expedition in Eastern North Carolina.

From July 18-23, 1863, 800 Union cavalrymen under the overall command of Brig. Gen. Edward Potter conducted an expedition into the North Carolina interior, striking the railroad at Rocky Mount Station and Tarboro. While damage to the rails was minimal, much in the way of public buildings and property were destroyed. Both homes and businesses were also looted along the raid route, but the author found evidence of only one private dwelling being set afire. Norris's gathering of a broad range of source materials for his study is noteworthy, and he does a fine job of weaving civilian and military accounts into his narrative. Crafting a detailed cavalry raid narrative that doesn't confuse readers unfamiliar with the geographic area traversed can be a difficult task, and Mr. Norris largely succeeds in this regard. He also successfully places Potter's Raid within the context of larger Union military objectives, without exaggerating its importance. Beyond the typos and somewhat unpolished formatting*, there is precious little to complain about.

In addition to Potter's Raid, military events before and after are also covered in the book. The July 3-7 Kenansville-Warsaw Raid is detailed in the main text, as well as the follow-up action at Boon's Mill (July 28). Supplementing these treatments, an appendix recounts other army and navy raids in the region, such as those directed toward the town of Greenville and various locations within Pitt County.

Photographs and other illustrations are sprinkled liberally throughout the text. The five original maps [(1) modern map with marker locations, (2) Potter's Raid route, (3) area of Kenansville-Warsaw Raid, and depictions of (4) New Bern and (5) Rocky Mount locales] are adequate. Other appendices include an order of battle for each side, as well as a detailed register of each known casualty (civilian and military).

David Norris's Potter's Raid is a fine piece of local North Carolina Civil War history. The raid's results may not have been significant or far reaching, but readers that appreciate highly original efforts at producing deeply researched and highly detailed accounts of obscure military events will enjoy and value this title.

* - the usual problems with galley text are here, and I can only assume they were fixed for the retail version. As mentioned before, I don't normally review uncorrected proofs, but I made an exception here as I neglected to specifically provide a link to my review policy in my correspondence with the publisher.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CWBA Profile - Louisiana State University Press


LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Home Page
Blog

Civil War-related Series:
Conflicting Worlds: New Dimensions of the American Civil War
The Papers of Jefferson Davis
Antislavery, Abolition, and the Atlantic World
Southern Biography Series

Civil War Book Backlist:

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* The Guerrilla Hunters: Irregular Conflicts during the Civil War
* Albert C. Ellithorpe, the First Indian Home Guards, and the Civil War on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier
* Occupied Vicksburg
* Extreme Civil War: Guerrilla Warfare, Environment, and Race on the Trans-Mississippi Frontier
* Abolitionizing Missouri: German Immigrants and Racial Ideology in Nineteenth-Century America
* Two Civil Wars: The Curious Shared Journal of a Baton Rouge Schoolgirl and a Union Sailor on the USS Essex
* Damn Yankees! Demonization and Defiance in the Confederate South
* Citizen-officers: The Union and Confederate Volunteer Junior Officer Corps in the American Civil War
* Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness
* The Enigmatic South: Toward Civil War and Its Legacies
* Corps Commanders in Blue: Union Major Generals in the Civil War
* Gateway to the Confederacy: New Perspectives on the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns, 1862-1863
* Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln
* Greyhound Commander: Confederate General John G. Walker's History of the Civil War West of the Mississippi
* Knights of the Golden Circle: Secret Empire, Southern Secession, Civil War
* Milliken's Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory
* Battle of Stones River: The Forgotten Conflict Between the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland
* Granbury's Texas Brigade: Diehard Western Confederates
* The Last Battle of the Civil War: United States Versus Lee, 1861-1883
* Confederate Guerrilla: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia
* Lincoln and Citizens' Rights in Civil War Missouri: Balancing Freedom and Security
* War No More: The Antiwar Impulse in American Literature, 1861-1914
* Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator
* Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community 1861-1865
* Mosquito Soldiers: Malaria, Yellow Fever, and the Course of the American Civil War
* Homegrown Yankees: Tennessee's Union Cavalry in the Civil War
* John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal
* A Wisconsin Yankee in the Confederate Bayou Country: The Civil War Reminiscences of a Union General
* Bleeding Borders: Race, Gender, and Violence in Pre-Civil War Kansas
* Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era
* Where Men Only Dare to Go Or the Story of a Boy Company, C.S.A.
* Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks
* Walker’s Texas Division, C.S.A.: Greyhounds of the Trans-Mississippi
* The Confederate Cherokees: John Drew's Regiment of Mounted Rifles
* A Crisis In Confederate Command: Edmund Kirby Smith, Richard Taylor, And The Army Of The Trans-Mississippi
* The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Civil War Publishing in 2008: The Year in Review

Maybe it's perception more than reality, but this year's book output* seemed a bit sparse in many areas. Therefore, some categories have been added to last year's list, and some dropped due to lack of standout choices among those that I had an opportunity to read. On the other hand, it was a bit of a banner year for reference books.

* - I consider titles from roughly the period between November 2007 and November 2008. The overlap allows for the time between a book's publication date and when I can reasonably get to it.

The Best of Civil War Publishing for 2008:


Best Book:

Vital Rails: The Charleston & Savannah Railroad and the Civil War in Coastal South Carolina (H. David Stone, Jr., Univ. of South Carolina Press).

Stone's volume is equally adept at illustrating the financial and organizational weaknesses of the Confederate railroad system in general as he is highlighting specific pre-war, wartime, and post-war issues pertaining to the Charleston & Savannah Railroad. On top of that, the author combines this study with an excellent operational and tactical history of the railroad's military role in the mobile defense network aimed at protecting important points along the Georgia and Carolina coastlines.


Best Social-Political History:

Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession (Russell McClintock, Univ. of N. Carolina Press). One of the best examinations of the secession crisis from the viewpoints of northern political leaders.

runner-up:
Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations (Phillip E. Myers, Kent State Univ. Press).



Best Battle/Campaign History:

Three Days in the Shenandoah: Stonewall Jackson at Front Royal and Winchester
(Gary Ecelbarger, Univ. of Oklahoma Press). Like his earlier Kernstown study, this book is another shining example of the best of Civil War battle history research, writing, and analysis.


Best Naval History:

The Timberclads in the Civil War: The Lexington, Conestoga, and Tyler on the Western Waters (Myron J. Smith, Jr., McFarland).


Best Manuscript Editing:

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Ezra A. Carman's Definitive Study of the Union and Confederate Armies at Antietam (Carman - ed. by Joseph Pierro, Routledge). The presentation is spartan, but, in terms of matching skillful editing with the importance of the manuscript itself, this volume is tough to beat.


Best Reference Work:

Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865 (James E. McGhee, Univ. of Arkansas Press) and Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Bruce S. Allardice, Univ. of Missouri Press). In general terms, useful unit histories of Missouri Confederate regiments and batteries are non-existent, making McGhee's thorough and well-researched study particularly valuable. Allardice's book is an essential addition to all research libraries.

runner-up:
Encyclopedia of Civil War Shipwrecks (W. Craig Gaines, LSU Press).



Best Local/Regional History:

Skim Milk Yankees Fighting: The Battle of Athens, Missouri, August 5, 1861 (Jonathan K. Cooper-Wiele, The Press of the Camp Pope Bookshop). Cooper-Wiele spent many years gathering all available materials pertaining to this obscure Missouri battle. His is the first truly noteworthy chronicling and analysis of Athens, as well as the events surrounding it. A very fine effort.

runner-up:
* A Slight Demonstration: Decatur, October 1864, Clumsy Beginning of Gen. John B. Hood's Tennessee Campaign (Noel Carpenter, Legacy Books & Letters).



Best Self-Publishing Effort:

The Stone's River Campaign: 26 December 1862 - 5 January 1863 (Lanny Kelton Smith, Author). Research and writing of an astounding scale that simply must be seen to be believed.


Best Reprint of a Classic:

Sterling Price's Lieutenants: A Guide to the Officers and Organization of the Missouri State Guard 1861-1865 (James E. McGhee, Richard C. Peterson, Kip A. Lindberg, and Keith I. Daleen; Two Trails Publishing). Out of print for some time, this book came back with a roar with an impressive revised and expanded edition. A vital resource for those researching the Civil War in Missouri (especially the 1861-1862 period).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Booknotes (December 08)

Other acquisitions or review copies received this month:

Sull Ross' Sixth Texas Cavalry: Six-Shooters & Bowie Knives by Stephen S. Kirk (Two Trails Publishing, 2008). I don't have any weblink for this book, but a review will be available in coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have questions you may contact the author at the link above.

Faces of the Confederacy: An Album of Southern Soldiers and Their Stories by Ronald S. Coddington (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2009). Back in 2004, JHUP published Coddington's companion volume, Faces of the Civil War: An Album of Union Soldiers and Their Stories.

Lee in the Lowcountry: Defending Charleston & Savannah 1861-1862 by Daniel J. Crooks, Jr. (The History Press, 2008).

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hoffman: "'My Brave Mechanics': The First Michigan Engineers and Their Civil War"

["My Brave Mechanics": The First Michigan Engineers and Their Civil War by Mark Hoffman (Wayne State Univ. Press - Great Lakes Books, 2007) Cloth, 6 maps, tables, photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 333/498. ISBN:978-08143-3292-4 $44.95]

Engineering and logistics subjects remain small segments of Civil War publishing, a meagerness certainly not commensurate with their wartime importance. The opposing war departments themselves were initially unable to conceive of the critical role of specialized engineering units in the upcoming conflict, with the U.S. army electing to hold off on expanding the ranks of its regular army engineer formations. This left new volunteer units to pick up the slack. The First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics was just such a unit, and Mark Hoffman's recent book My Brave Mechanics is an exemplary regimental history.

Mr. Hoffman's service history of the regiment strikes the right note in terms of scope and level of detail. The First saw initial service in Kentucky, guarding supply lines and having a reserve role during the Battle of Mill Springs. As part of Don Carlos Buell's command, they moved into Tennessee and Mississippi (Corinth Campaign), before falling back into the Bluegrass State to oppose Braxton Bragg's invasion. Often operating in company and battalion sized detachments, the unit also lent its engineering expertise to the 1862-1863 Tennessee campaigns, as well as the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. The final acts of the war saw the engineers in the Carolinas and back in familiar Tennessee. Providing societal insights as well, the best modern regimental histories also explore unit demographics, and Hoffman's is no exception. The data compiled by the author is sprinkled throughout the text, as well as organized into several tables located in an appendix*.

The author does a very thorough job of explaining the many supporting roles performed by engineering formations within the Union army. These include the construction (as well as destruction) of bridges, railroads, telegraph lines, roads, blockhouses, and field fortifications. I only wish more line drawings were provided to go along with the technical descriptions. While often detailed to the rear areas, combat was not an uncommon experience for the First, as supply and lines of communication were frequently targeted by Confederate raiders and regular forces.

My Brave Mechanics
has all the elements of a first-rate regimental history. The research is exemplary, the bibliography displaying a vast array of unpublished source materials, as well as a great volume and variety of published works consulted. The book's six maps, as large-scale representations of the areas traversed by the engineers during their war service, are adequate. The work's construction and materials quality are top notch. Well presented, deeply researched, and appropriately detailed, My Brave Mechanics is an original and important addition to the literature, a wonderful history of the military contribution of the volunteer engineers to the ultimate victory of the Union army in the western theater.

* - A complete roster is not included, but Hoffman has discovered some individuals missing from the list that is provided in vol. 43 of Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Booknotes - "Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State"

Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State edited by Bruce S. Allardice and Lawrence Lee Hewitt (University of Kentucky Press, 2008) is yet another fine reference guide published this year. Each general officer profile includes a photograph, a roughly seven page biographical sketch, and a short bibliography. The number of contributors is large and noteworthy in scholarly stature. Field officers are compiled in alphabetical order at the book's rear, with a small paragraph devoted to each (similar in format to Allardice's earlier work Confederate Colonels).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thompson: "Mexican Texans in the Union Army"

[Mexican Texans in the Union Army by Jerry D. Thompson (Texas Western Press, 1986) Softcover, 3 maps, photos, appendices, notes. Pages main/total: 41/87. ISBN: 0-87404-155-4]

Broadly speaking, the Hispanic contribution to the Civil War has been understudied, but historian Jerry Thompson has devoted a large segment of his research and writing career to the subject. At only 41 pages of main text, Mexican Texans in the Union Army [No. 78 in Texas Western Press's Southwestern Studies monograph series] is only a brief survey. The operations of irregular leaders such as Octavio Zapata and Cecelio Valerio are discussed, among others. Texas attorney Edmund J. Davis and prominent Unionist John L. Haynes attempted to form regular units [1st and later 2nd Texas Cavalry] from men recruited on both sides of the border. A brief operational history of these units is also included.

Mexican-American motivations to fight were complex. According to Thompson, they had more to do with anti-Texas [i.e. the state government and large landowners] feeling than any kind of loyalty to the U.S. or the Union cause in general. Inefficiency (to include communication difficulties) and a massive desertion rate, were probably factors in their ultimate obscurity, but external problems were equally significant. Due to questions about the units's legality, pay and equipment for these men were not forthcoming.

More detailed demographic information can be found in the appendices. Thompson also compiled a list of all known Mexican and Mexican-American individuals that served in the Union army. Each entry includes name, rank, unit, birth date, occupation, and date of death, if known or applicable. Packed with information, this slim volume is an excellent introductory-level study and valuable reference book [although I understand that the soldier list has been updated in the most recent edition of Thompson's Vaqueros in Blue and Gray].

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Booknotes - "South Carolina's Military Organizations During the War Between the States" Volume IV

I mentioned Robert S. Seigler's South Carolina's Military Organizations During the War Between the States series in an earlier post. All four books are now available, and I've just received Vol. IV South Carolina Military Organizations During the War Between the States: Statewide Units, Militia & Reserves (The History Press, 2008). I am very impressed with this guide's research and the depth of the unit histories. The content is annotated, and a bibliography and index are provided as well. After the introduction, unit information is dealt with in narrative subsections, to include discussions of field officers, companies, brigade affiliations, and a really nice summary of major movements and battles engaged. This series appears to be a must-have for your reference library.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

ed. Grear: "The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State"

[The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State ed. by Charles D. Grear (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2008). Cloth, 2 maps, charts, tables, photos, notes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 204/294. ISBN: 1-55728-883-6 $37.50]

From past to present, The Fate of Texas examines a number of broad social issues associated with the Civil War experience of the citizenry of the Lone Star State. Like many recent essay collections published by major university presses, this volume carries a heavy race/ethnicity, gender, and public history focus. No battle or campaign articles were included*, but the first chapter by Joseph Dawson seeks to explain Texas's role in the Confederacy's strategic military planning. It includes a summarization of the state's importance as a key jump off point for the new nation's planned expansion into the southwest. Coastal and border defense are also discussed.

Readers familiar with the scholarship of Richard Lowe and Richard McCaslin** will be familiar with the material presented in their chapters. Through a thorough examination of soldier letters, Lowe discovers that Texas fathers at war, far from the stern taskmasters of Victorian era stereotype, openly expressed great affection for their wives and children, respectful of the former and intimately involved in the raising of the latter. McCaslin reopens his investigation into the tragedy of large scale pro-Confederate vigilantism in North Texas, focusing on the infamous Gainesville hangings.

Concentrating her own study on Colorado County, Angela Boswell, through the use of legal documents and private correspondence, relates to the reader the new public and private roles assumed by Texas women during wartime. Issues covered include farm and business management, divorce, estate execution, and lawsuits, all lying within the male domain in the pre-war period.

Walter Kamphoefner weighs the evidence surrounding the German immigrant attitude toward slavery and secession. He convincingly refutes the contention that, over time, Germans tended to adopt the attitudes of the general population of the state. Of course, selective bias can be problematic in studies such as these, but Kamphoefner's research into slaveholding and voting patters [he supports his case with economic and voting pattern data arranged in tabular format], private correspondence, and German support for Republicans during Reconstruction, is solid.

Picking through tax and census records, Dale Baum was able to, for the first time, provide fairly reliable numbers [approx. 47,800-51,000] concerning the number of slaves relocated ("refugeed") to Texas by their owners -- east and west -- to keep them away from advancing Union armies. Baum also looked at the accompanying planters, finding them to not be additionally motivated by conscription avoidance (contrary to the conjecture of others). Also, both previous owner and ex-slave tended to stay in Texas when the war ended.

General editor Charles Grear explored the reason why so many Texans were motivated to fight on the other side of the Mississippi River, far away from their homes. Narrowly focusing his study on members of the Texas Brigade that fought in Virginia and the western theater's Terry's Texas Rangers, Grear came to the very reasonable conclusion that much of this was based on extended family connections to other states (surprisingly, only 25% of white males living in Texas in 1860 were born in the state). A subject for future inquiry might be to broaden the sample base and also examine how such attitudes changed over time.

Other chapters explore the post-war period. Carl Moneyhon studied the experiences, attitudes, and public roles of Confederate veterans in Texas during Reconstruction and beyond; and Randolph Campbell examined the post-war lives of Harrison County veterans. The final two essays bring the reader to the present, addressing the many challenges and disparate points of view inherent to memorializing divisive figures from the past and in presenting public history. In both content and presentation, The Fate of Texas is a fine addition to University of Arkansas Press's The Civil War in the West series.


Comments:
* - the degree of lament associated with this will vary with the reader, but, as military operations within the state remain comparatively neglected in the literature, I thought the editor missed a good opportunity here.
* - Lowe, Walker's Texas Division (LSU, 2006) and McCaslin, Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, 1862 (LSU, 1994).


Links to other CWBA reviews of Univ. of Arkansas Press titles:
* Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865
* A Thrilling Narrative
* Confederate Guerrilla
* Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence on the Confederate Home Front
* Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Tennessee in the Civil War
* Civil War Arkansas: Beyond Battles and Leaders
* "I Acted From Principle": The Civil War Diary Of Dr. William M. McPheeters, Confederate Surgeon In The Trans-Mississippi
* Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand

CWBA Profile - Fordham University Press

FORDHAM UNIVERSITY PRESS
Home Page
Blog

Civil War-related Series:
The North's Civil War
The Irish in the Civil War
Reconstructing America

Civil War Books Backlist:


Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:

* Union Combined Operations in the Civil War
* Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians
* Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

CWBA Profile - University Press of Florida

UNIVERSITY PRESS OF FLORIDA
Home Page

Civil War-related Series:
New Perspectives on the History of the South

Civil War Book Backlist:

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* The War Worth Fighting: Abraham Lincoln's Presidency and Civil War America
* From These Honored Dead: Historical Archaeology of the American Civil War
* James Buchanan and the Coming of the Civil War
* A Civil War Gunboat in Pacific Waters: Life on Board USS Saginaw
* Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida
* The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865
* A Brief Guide to Florida's Monuments and Memorials
* Huts and History: The Historical Archaeology of Military Encampment During the American Civil War
* Archaeological Perspectives on the American Civil War

"Cloth" vs. "Hardcover"

A recent post by Dimitri recalls the tactile experience of owning, reading and appreciating quality history books; but it also brings to mind a common misrepresentation. The publishing industry generally deems it an acceptable shorthand to list all hardcovers as "cloth", as if the two terms were interchangeable. Buyers should have a right to expect that "cloth" books be fully covered with real cloth material -- not spine-only cloth, textured faux-cloth, or (worst of all) simply heavy paper. I suppose an important question is whether we have deliberate deception here or simply antiquated supply chain terminology that hasn't yet adapted to the industry's use of ever cheapening materials. I would guess it's more of the latter.

Even the finer purveyors of Civil War books, if they use cloth at all, seem to use it on a case by case basis. It is surprising that those that do do it, tend to never mention it as a selling point. Anyway, as a nod toward the more concerned bibliophiles that frequent CWBA, I try to remember to note the true state in the info line of each review.

CWBA Profile - University of Nebraska Press


UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS
Home Page
Blog

Civil War-related imprints:
Potomac Books
Gettysburg Magazine

Civil War-related Series:
Great Campaigns of the Civil War
This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields Series

Civil War Book Backlist:
CW - Civil War

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Amiable Scoundrel: Simon Cameron, Lincoln's Scandalous Secretary of War (Potomac Books imprint)
* The Civil War and Reconstruction in Indian Territory
* A Scientific Way of War: Antebellum Military Science, West Point, and the Origins of American Military Thought
* Spring 1865: The Closing Campaigns of the Civil War
* Busy in the Cause: Iowa, the Free-State Struggle in the West, and the Prelude to the Civil War
* Manassas: A Battlefield Guide
* Standing Firmly by the Flag: Nebraska Territory and the Civil War, 1861-1867 (Bison)
* The Enemy Never Came: The Civil War in the Pacific Northwest (For Caxton Press)
* The Settlers' War: The Struggle for the Texas Frontier in the 1860s (for Caxton Press)
* Of Duty Well and Faithfully Done: A History of the Regular Army in the Civil War
* Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide
* Counter-Thrust: From the Peninsula to the Antietam
* Shenandoah Summer: The 1864 Valley Campaign
* The Peninsula & Seven Days: A Battlefield Guide
* Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove: A Battlefield Guide, with a Section on Wire Road

Monday, December 1, 2008

CWBA Profile - University Press of Kentucky


UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY
Home Page

Civil War-related Series:
Virginia at War
New Directions in Southern History

Civil War Book Backlist:
History: Civil War

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Kentucky Rebel Town: The Civil War Battles of Cynthiana and Harrison County
* The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River
* The Civil War Guerrilla: Unfolding the Black Flag in History, Memory, and Myth
* For Brotherhood and Duty: The Civil War History of the West Point Class of 1862
* Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase
* A General Who Will Fight: The Leadership of Ulysses S. Grant
* The Union Forever: Lincoln, Grant, and the Civil War
* One of Morgan's Men: Memoirs of Lieutenant John M. Porter of the Ninth Kentucky Cavalry
* My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans
* Lincoln on Trial: Southern Civilians and the Law of War
* Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy
* Camp Nelson, Kentucky: A Civil War History
* Sister States, Enemy States: The Civil War in Kentucky and Tennessee
* Kentuckians in Gray: Confederate Generals and Field Officers of the Bluegrass State
* Virginia at War, 1863
* Contested Borderland: The Civil War in Appalachian Kentucky and Virginia

CWBA Profile - The Kent State University Press


THE KENT STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
Home Page

Civil War-related Series:
Civil War in the North
Civil War Soldiers and Strategies
Civil War History (journal)

Civil War Book Backlist:
Civil War Era Titles

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Bushwhackers: Guerrilla Warfare, Manhood, and the Household in Civil War Missouri
* Border Wars: The Civil War in Tennessee and Kentucky
* "My Greatest Quarrel with Fortune": Major General Lew Wallace in the West, 1861-1862
* Work for Giants: The Campaign and Battle of Tupelo/Harrisburg, Mississippi, June-July 1864
* Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864
* A German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and Wilhelm Stängel, 9th Ohio Infantry
* Orlando M. Poe: Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer
* August Willich's Gallant Dutchmen: Civil War Letters from the 32nd Indiana Infantry
* Caution and Cooperation: The American Civil War in British-American Relations
* Winfield Scott and the Profession of Arms

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Patrakis: "Andover in the Civil War"

[Andover in the Civil War: The Spirit & Sacrifice of a New England Town by Joan Silva Patrakis (The History Press, 2008). Softcover, illustrations, photos, notes, bibliography. Pages main/total:113/128. ISBN: 978-1-59629-437-0 $21.99]

With her book Andover and the Civil War, local researcher and writer Joan S. Patrakis provides readers with a war and home front narrative history of the Massachusetts town (located near the Merrimack and Shawsheen rivers) and its contributions to the Union war effort. Riding the initial wave of patriotic fervor, the citizens formed the Andover Light Infantry (Co. H, 14th Massachusetts), whose early war duties were spent garrisoning forts [the 14th regiment was later re-designated the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery].

Patrakis traces the men's service at places like Ft. Warren, the Washington defenses, and Maryland Heights. Outside the military sphere, the reactions and contributions of the home front are given equal attention. Prominent citizens, such as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, are featured. The community received a terrible blow when the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery suffered heavy losses at Spotsylvania, the first significant battle the Andover men from Company H participated in. Cold Harbor and the Petersburg Campaign followed. The post-war period and commemorative efforts by Andover to honor the service of its soldiers are also discussed by the author.

In creating her narrative, Patrakis incorporates lengthy excerpts from letters, journals, and newspaper articles -- many of which were unpublished items culled from local historical society archives. History Press publications typically excel in their presentation and visual impact, and this one, heavily supported with period photographs and other illustrations, is no exception; the only drawback is the lack of an index.

The impact of this study will likely be most felt in the local market, where it will serve as a useful, broadly appealing introduction to the impact of the Civil War on the Andover community, highlighting the contributions and sacrifices of its citizens. But others interested in the wartime experiences of small New England communities should find Andover in the Civil War useful as well.

CWBA Profile - University of Tennessee Press


UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE PRESS
Home Page

Civil War-related Series:
Voices of the Civil War
Western Theater in the Civil War

Civil War Book Backlist:
History - Civil War to Late 19th Century

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Historical Archaeology of Arkansas: A Hidden Diversity
* Service with the Signal Corps: The Civil War Memoir of Captain Louis R. Fortescue
* Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi, Vol. 2: Essays on America's Civil War
* To Live and Die in Dixie: Native Northerners Who Fought for the Confederacy
* To Retain Command of the Mississippi: The Civil War Naval Campaign for Memphis
* Confederate Generals in the Trans-Mississippi - Volume 1: Essays on America's Civil War
* Rethinking Shiloh: Myth and Memory
* Ruined by This Miserable War: The Dispatches of Charles Prosper Fauconnet, a French Diplomat in New Orleans, 1863-1868
* The Knoxville Campaign: Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee
* To the Battles of Franklin and Nashville and Beyond: Stabilization and Reconstruction in Tennessee and Kentucky, 1864-1866
* Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 3: Essays on America's Civil War
* Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 2: Essays on America’s Civil War
* Great Things Are Expected of Us: The Letters of Colonel C. Irvine Walker, 10th South Carolina Infantry, C.S.A.
* Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Vol. 1: Classic Essays on America’s Civil War
* Crimson Confederates: Harvard Men Who Fought for the South
* Yale's Confederates: A Biographical Dictionary
* The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged
* The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign: Breaking the Backbone of the Rebellion
* Echoes of Thunder: A Guide to the Seven Days Battles
* Little to Eat and Thin Mud to Drink: Letters, Diaries, and Memoirs from the Red River Campaigns, 1863–1864
* Earthen Walls, Iron Men: Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, and the Defense of Red River
* Through the Howling Wilderness: The 1864 Red River Campaign and Union Failure in the West

Saturday, November 29, 2008

CWBA Profile - University of Arkansas Press

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS PRESS
Home Page
Blog

Civil War-related Series:
Portraits of Conflict
The Civil War in the West

Distributed Presses:
The Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (Blog)

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Slavery and Secession in Arkansas: A Documentary History
* I Do Wish This Cruel War Was Over: First-Person Accounts of Civil War Arkansas from the Arkansas Historical Quarterly
* "This Day We Marched Again": A Union Soldier's Account of War in Arkansas and the Trans-Mississippi (Butler Center)
* When the Wolf Came: The Civil War and the Indian Territory
* Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War
* Worthy of the Cause for Which They Fight: The Civil War Diary of Brigadier General Daniel Harris Reynolds, 1861-1865
* The Die Is Cast: Arkansas Goes to War, 1861 (Butler Center)
* Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Missouri in the Civil War
* Army Life: From a Soldier’s Journal
* The Fate of Texas: The Civil War and the Lone Star State
* A Rough Introduction to this Sunny Land (Butler Center)
* Guide to Missouri Confederate Units, 1861-1865
* A Thrilling Narrative
* Confederate Guerrilla
* Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence on the Confederate Home Front
* Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Tennessee in the Civil War
* Civil War Arkansas: Beyond Battles and Leaders
* "I Acted From Principle": The Civil War Diary Of Dr. William M. McPheeters, Confederate Surgeon In The Trans-Mississippi
* Autobiography of Samuel S. Hildebrand

CWBA Profile - University of Alabama Press

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA PRESS
Home Page

Civil War-related Series:
Seeing the Elephant (Gallagher and Krick)
Classics of Civil War Fiction

Civil War Books Backlist:
Civil War

Civil War Books and Authors Reviews:
* Opposing the Second Corps at Antietam: The Fight for the Confederate Left and Center on America's Bloodiest Day
* Lincoln's Trident: The West Gulf Blockading Squadron during the Civil War
* The Best Station of Them All: The Savannah Squadron, 1861-1865
* By the Noble Daring of Her Sons: The Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee
* Tried Men and True, or Union Life in Dixie
* The Perfect Lion: The Life and Death of Confederate Artillerist John Pelham
* Trailing Clouds of Glory: Zachary Taylor's Mexican War Campaign and His Emerging Civil War Leaders
* A Small but Spartan Band: The Florida Brigade in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia
* Columbus, Georgia, 1865: The Last True Battle of the Civil War
* Engineering Security: The Corps of Engineers and Third System Defense Policy, 1815-1861
* Battle: The Nature and Consequences of Civil War Combat
* Camp Chase and the Evolution of Civil War Prison Policy
* Blockaders, Refugees, and Contrabands: Civil War on Florida's Gulf Coast, 1861-1865 (Fire Ant)
* Civil War Weather in Virginia
* From Conciliation to Conquest
* Like Grass Before the Scythe
* Navy Gray
* Sherman's Mississippi Campaign
* Confederate Florida (Fire Ant)

Booknotes (Nov 08)

Other acquisitions or review copies received this month:

A Revised List of Texas Confederate Regiments, Battalions, Field Officers, and Local Designations (Author, 2007) by James E. Williams.

Virginia at War, 1863 ed. by William C. Davis and James I. Robertson, Jr. (Univ. of Kentucky Press, 2008).

Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Thomas Keneally (Penguin, 2008 - paperback reprint).

Andover in the Civil War: The Spirit & Sacrifice of a New England Town
by Joan Silva Patrakis (The History Press, 2008).

Now the Drum of War: Walt Whitman and His Brothers in the Civil War by Robert Roper (Walker & Co., 2008).

Mystery of the Irish Wilderness: Land and Legend of Father John Joseph Hogan's Lost Irish Colony in the Ozark Wilderness by Leland and Crystal Payton (Lens and Pen Press, 2008).

Mexican Texans in the Union Army by Jerry D. Thompson (Texas Western Press, 1986).

Potter's Raid: The Union Cavalry's Boldest Expedition in Eastern North Carolina by David A. Norris (Dram Tree, 2008).

2008 Pate Award - Stephen Dupree

Author Stephen A. Dupree's Planting the Union Flag in Texas: The Campaigns of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks in the West was recently chosen as the winner of the 2008 Pate Award. Presented by the Fort Worth Civil War Round Table, the award honors "outstanding original research on the Trans-Mississippi sector of the Civil War". Congratulations, Dr. Dupree.

If you'll recall, last year's winner was Steven Mayeux for Earthen Walls, Iron Men: Fort DeRussy, Louisiana and the Defense of Red River.

I'll be posting my own list of favorites from the past year soon, probably in early to mid December rather than January this time.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Estaville, Jr.: "Confederate Neckties: Louisiana Railroads in the Civil War"

[Confederate Neckties: Louisiana Railroads in the Civil War by Lawrence E. Estaville, Jr. (Louisiana Tech Univ., 1989) Hardcover, 12 maps, photos, drawings, notes, bibliography, index. 123 pp. ISBN: 0940231050]

Part of a series of scholarly monographs, Confederate Neckties is a fascinating little military, economic, and financial study of Louisiana's 395 miles of track. In 1861, there were twelve railroad companies in the state, the longest 88 miles and the shortest 0.5. Estaville's brief, but fully documented, study is packed with information. Company financial concerns are covered as well as the regional economic impact of each line. Additionally, a physical description [materials used, stations, depots, number of locomotives and cars, etc.] is provided. The maps trace the course of each railroad, showing the important stations and depots along the way. Also, if relevant, the operational and tactical military use of each railroad is explained.

On a side note, I learned of a previously unknown to me peril of riding over strap-rails. With the cheap, flimsy iron rails, a phenomenon called "Snake Heads" occurred. With this situation, a passing train would cause the rail to separate from the tie and spring up; the next wheel would roll under the "sprung" rail, shooting it through the floor of the car and impaling the passenger against the roof. How quaint.

Grisly interlude aside, I would recommend this well researched and informative volume for any Trans-Mississippi theater or Civil War railroad history reference library.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Northern Appalachia in the Civil War

The flurry in recent decades of scholarly activity dealing with the Civil War experiences and attitudes of the Appalachian population has been overwhelmingly centered on the southern reaches of the great range. Finally, we have someone directing his efforts north of the Mason-Dixon line, investigating whether parallels exist between mountain South opposition to the Confederate war effort and northern Appalachia's relationship to the Union cause. Robert M. Sandow's Deserter Country: Civil War Opposition in the Pennsylvania Appalachians (Fordham Univ. Press, April 2009) sounds very promising, and I hope to review it when the time comes.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spurgeon: "Man of Douglas, Man of Lincoln: The Political Odyssey of James Henry Lane"

[Man of Douglas, Man of Lincoln: The Political Odyssey of James Henry Lane by Ian Michael Spurgeon (Univ. of Missouri Press, 2008). Cloth, photos, notes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total: 278/301. ISBN: 978-0826218148 $42.50]

The view of Senator James H. Lane conveyed by the popular and scholarly literature is an often negative one1. A fiery and effective stump speaker, his public rhetoric was unfailingly inflammatory. His political actions were also baffling to many, leading to persistent allegations of unprincipled political opportunism. In the Kansas-Missouri border conflict, his military depredations, while popular in some fronts, were often denounced by both sides.

Unfortunately, writers' characterizations of Lane are often presented in black and white, with little serious effort to delve below the surface. Ian Michael Spurgeon's study Man of Douglas, Man of Lincoln maintains that previous efforts at understanding Lane are too heavily dependent on the superficial judgments of the past. He argues for a new view of the man, one that recognizes a string of consistency throughout Lane's political career. It is the main theme of Spurgeon's tightly focused political biography covering the period beginning with Lane's 1854 move from Indiana to Kansas through the senator's 1866 suicide.

One of the main charges of political opportunism leveled against Jim Lane was his transformation from Douglas Democrat to Lincoln Republican. Spurgeon argues persuasively that it was the Democratic Party that abandoned Lane, not the other way around. In perhaps his book's best section, the author details Lane's shabby treatment at the hands of Douglas and other party leaders during Lane's presentation in Washington of the Kansas Memorial2 in 1856. Even so, as a member of the Free State party in Kansas, Lane remained a supporter of popular sovereignty and Democratic principles generally. It was the Civil War that eventually transformed Lane into a pro-Lincoln Republican, a path certainly not unique to the Kansan's career.

Spurgeon concentrates his biographical study on the political sphere of his subject, and thus does not delve heavily into the 1861-1862 raids into Missouri conducted by the Lane Brigade3. However, Spurgeon does recognize Lane as an early supporter of the enlistment of black troops, and also an early adopter of "hard war". The author also sees strong consistency in Lane's views on slavery, which were based on practical, not humanitarian, grounds. According to Spurgeon, the Kansan supported the raising of black regiments primarily as a war measure, a move to spare whites more than a means to raise the status of blacks in society.

The post-war period was especially difficult for Lane. His support of President Andrew Johnston's Civil Rights Bill veto was extremely problematic for the maintenance of Lane's political career, but Spurgeon again sees a pattern of consistency in his actions rather than an about-face. Fire-breathing political rhetoric, and public insistence of his radical credentials aside, Lane was at heart a conservative Republican, more like Lincoln than any of the prominent Radical Republican senators.

Ian Michael Spurgeon's fresh and highly original treatment of Lane's political career is an important contribution to the literature. His thoughtful assertions are well supported and largely persuasive. While the "Grim Chieftain" awaits a definitive full biography, Spurgeon has added a new voice that any future author of such a work must seriously consider.

Comments:
1 - The author feels the best Lane biography to date is Wendell Stephenson's
The Political Career of General James H. Lane (B.P Walker, 1930).
2 - A petition from the Free State settlers of Kansas urging the U.S. Congress to accept the Topeka Constitution, which would allow Kansas to enter the Union as a free state.
3 - Presumably, we can expect this from Bryce Benedict's forthcoming history of the Lane Brigade (University of Oklahoma Press, Spring 2009).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Even more Spring/Summer 09 books

Continuing on from previous posts (here and here) listing book scheduled for the first half of next year that I have my eye out for:

John Bankhead Magruder: A Military Reappraisal by Thomas Settles (LSU, June 2009). As a subject of a book length study, this one is somewhat surprising. I'll be keeping my eye on it, and I hope it takes a broader view of his Civil War service than simply his time on the Peninsula. I am far more interested in Prince John's Trans-Mississippi career.

A Wisconsin Yankee in the Confederate Bayou: The Civil War Reminiscences of a Union General by Halbert Eleazer Paine, Samuel C. Hyde, Jr. (ed.) (LSU, May 2009).

Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863 by Scott Mingus (Ironclad Publishing, Q1-Q2 2009). -- according to the author, it's scheduled for limited publication around the end of the year, with a late winter or early spring general release. Nice cover art, too.

I've read two of the four volumes from Ironclad's
Discovering Civil War America series and found them thoroughly satisfying. Both "No Such Army Since the Days of Julius Caesar" and A Little Short of Boats: The Fights at Ball's Bluff and Edward's Ferry, October 21-22, 1861 are fascinating and truly original military studies. From the same publisher, while not part of the series noted above, John C. Pemberton's manuscript Compelled to Appear in Print (ably edited by David M. Smith) is an essential part of understanding the Vicksburg Campaign.