Monday, June 6, 2016

Booknotes: The Civil War on the Mississippi

New Arrival:
The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (Univ Pr of Kentucky, 2016).

I liked Tomblin's Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy (2009). Her new book offers naval accounts of the Mississippi River campaigns that captured Island No. 10, New Orleans, Memphis, Vicksburg, and Port Hudson, while also covering Arkansas Post and the Twin River operation that led to the fall of forts Henry and Donelson. Scholars are always lamenting the paucity of surviving sailor diaries and letters (and there isn't a particularly large number in the bibliography of this study either) but from the book description they appear to be a large part of Tomblin's focus. 
"Drawing heavily on the diaries and letters of officers and common sailors, Barbara Brooks Tomblin explores the years during which the Union navy fought to win control of the Mississippi. Her approach provides fresh insight into major battles such as Memphis and Vicksburg, but also offers fascinating perspectives on lesser-known aspects of the conflict from ordinary sailors engaged in brown-water warfare. These men speak of going ashore in foraging parties, assisting the surgeon in the amputation of a fellow crewman's arm, and liberating supplies of whiskey from captured enemy vessels. They also offer candid assessments of their commanding officers, observations of the local people living along the river, and their views on the war."

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