Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hannings: "EVERY DAY OF THE CIVIL WAR: A Chronological Encyclopedia"

Monday morning quarterbacking, theories, and conjectures of all types are endemic to the popular and academic study of the Civil War, yet many of these assertions, no matter how persuasive on the surface, can be rejected simply upon close examination of a relevant timeline of events. In addition to their inherent reference value, day-by-day guides are a great help in facilitating such lines of inquiry. Bud Hannings’s book Every Day of the Civil War: A Chronological Encyclopedia [(McFarland, 2010). Hardcover. 637 Pages. ISBN: 978-0-7864-4464-9. $125 ] might actually go further than any prior effort in chronicling the war's military features.

The net cast by Hannings is exceptionally broad. He's found a prominent place for all scales of combat, from tiny militia and guerrilla ambushes in the Trans-Mississippi on up to the colossal battles of the eastern and western theaters. The latter are often recorded with more than expected operational and tactical detail, but casualties are almost uniformly noted regardless of the fight's size. The degree of attention paid to geographical scope is equally wide.

Daily entries are presented in paragraph form, by state, with naval actions and officer (appointments, promotions, etc.) activities grouped into separate subheadings. Period illustrations are placed throughout, and appendices highlight Medal of Honor recipients as well as delve further in naval matters. An extensive index is essential for a work of this type, and the book does not disappoint.  Every Day of the Civil War is a hefty, oversize hardcover with a price to match, but it should prove to be a useful reference guide for personal and public libraries.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting. I'm curious to see how it stacks up to the landmark "The Civil War Day by Day," by E. B. and Barbara Long. Whatever the case, Hannings must owe something to the Longs.

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  2. David,
    I mentioned Long's work in the extended version I sent to a magazine. I had the same thought as you and went to the local library for a refresher on Long (I actually don't own a copy). I would say that the major difference is Hannings's almost sole focus on the military. In that context, he's deeper than Long, but Long's work is more inclusive (e.g. delves into political events, etc.).

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