Thursday, June 29, 2017

Booknotes: Days of Destruction

New Arrival:
Days of Destruction: Augustine Thomas Smythe and the Civil War Siege of Charleston edited by W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes (Univ of S Carolina Pr, 2017).

Charleston native Augustine Thomas Smythe had quite the varied Civil War military experience. He fought at the Battle of Secessionville [if you haven't already done so, do yourself a favor and read Patrick Brennan's excellent Secessionville: Assault On Charleston], served afloat on the C.S.S. Palmetto State, and was also posted to the Confederate Signal Corps. In performing his Signal Corps duties, he was perched high above the city inside the steeple of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, where he was uniquely positioned to view the many land and naval actions fought around the city of Charleston and inside its contested harbor. His letters home describing these events and experiences have now been published in Days of Destruction: Augustine Thomas Smythe and the Civil War Siege of Charleston, edited by W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes.

From the description: "The Confederate Signal Corps played a vital role in the defense of Charleston and its environs, and Smythe’s letters, perhaps more than any other first-person account, detail the daily life and service experiences of signalmen in and around the city during the war." His correspondence home offers valuable insights into "the fierce attacks on Fort Sumter, the effects of the unrelenting shelling of the city by enemy guns at Morris Island, and the naval battles and operations in the harbor, including the actions of the Confederate torpedo boats and the H. L. Hunley submarine."

Like the Ripley bio referenced on the site earlier in the week, this book looks to be another highly distinctive contribution to the history of Civil War Charleston.

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