Saturday, October 11, 2014

Booknotes IV (Oct '14)

New Arrivals:

1. Soldiers in the Army of Freedom: The 1st Kansas Colored, the Civil War's First African American Combat Unit by Ian Michael Spurgeon (Univ of Okla Pr, 2014).

Spurgeon's book is the first full history of this pioneering regiment, which fought in Missouri, Arkansas and Indian Territory, most prominently at Island Mound, Honey Springs, Cabin Creek, and the Camden Expedition. A detailed roster is also included.

2. Vicksburg and Chattanooga: The Battles That Doomed the Confederacy by Jack H. Lepa (McFarland, 2014).

Lepa has written several books about western theater campaigns as well as one dealing with the 1864 campaign in the Shenandoah. The research and content of this one appear light, but as I haven't read any of the author's previous works I have no idea of his skill at synthesizing for a popular audience.

3. The Father of Virginia Military Institute: A Biography of Colonel J.T.L. Preston, CSA by Randolph P. Shaffner (McFarland, 2014).

Unlike the above volume, this biography from the same publisher has the type of massive bibliography and expansive scholarly documentation seen in quality original works. I can't say I am familiar with this particular fellow (Civil War readers encounter a lot of Prestons), but, as the title indicates, he was a key figure in the institutional development of VMI. Preston and Stonewall Jackson both married Junkin sisters, and the professor would also serve on Jackson's staff during the war.

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