Friday, March 10, 2017

Up on Peach Tree Creek

In terms of Atlanta Campaign battle books, it continues to amaze me how quickly we've gone from decades of next to nothing to, after only a few short years, the existence of competing (for lack of a better term) major works. Full length studies of Ezra Church from Gary Ecelbarger and Earl Hess were published only a year apart, and now Hess is applying his own inimitable touch to another major Atlanta battle. I had more than a few problems with the clunkiness and poor presentation of Robert Jenkins's 2014 study of Peach Tree Creek [see the review] but still appreciated its great strengths and found it more than worthy of recommendation. This coming September, Hess's The Battle of Peach Tree Creek: Hood's First Effort to Save Atlanta will be published by UNC Press.

From the description: "Offering new and definitive interpretations of the battle's place within the Atlanta campaign, Earl J. Hess describes how several Confederate regiments and brigades made a pretense of advancing but then stopped partway to the objective and took cover for the rest of the afternoon on July 20. Hess shows that morale played an unusually important role in determining the outcome at Peach Tree Creek—a soured mood among the Confederates and overwhelming confidence among the Federals spelled disaster for one side and victory for the other."

The proper spelling of the battle — 'Peach Tree Creek' over the more traditional 'Peachtree Creek' — is one obvious point of agreement between the two authors.

7 comments:

  1. Hi Drew

    Thanks for the update. Mr. Hess also has a book on Civil War Logistics being published by LSU press this summer. This author brings new meaning to prolific.
    Wonder what he is planning for 2018?
    Don

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    1. Maybe we should ask what he's not planning!

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  2. John FoskettMarch 11, 2017

    Meanwhile nothing yet on Resaca or Jonesboro. We'll probably get two of each at the same time. As always I hope there's a good explanation in an introduction as to why we need this one. And I'm a big fan of Hess;s books.

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    Replies
    1. This reminds me of a post I've been meaning to do regarding the underutilization of introductions, specifically those for new books that add to an already established literature. They still too often serve as just meatier abstracts of what's inside rather than any kind of in depth discussion of what the book means within the related literature. I love reading the 'literature review' sections that accompany theses and dissertations.

      On a related note, I always appreciate it when the introductions of new revised/improved/expanded editions specifically address the changes. Publishers are doing a better job of this, but many still drop the ball completely.

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  3. Hello Drew
    I think we continue to need good well researched Civil War studies. Specifically we need more coverage of the western theater.
    Drew is correct on previous coverage of the Atlanta Campaign. There was hardly any coverage and in the last 5 years, this is getting better and better.
    I also agree with John, that there are other aspects of this campaign that need attention. Perhaps more will follow.
    Don

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  4. I wonder what ever happened to his battle study of Stones River which he was supposedly working on?

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    Replies
    1. I don't know. Maybe he said what he wanted to say about that campaign in his Bragg book. I was looking forward to reading it as I wasn't entirely satisfied with Larry Daniel's recent treatment.

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