Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Coastal City Studies 3 - Mobile

Unfortunately, a definitive military study of the 1864-5 Federal campaign that first closed the port then captured the city of Mobile itself does not exist. On the other hand, readers in need of a short survey of the city's war years cannot do better than Art Bergeron's Confederate Mobile, first published back in 1991. Bergeron has written an overview in the style of New Military History. He begins by outlining Mobile's strategic role as a blockade running port and rail hub. This is followed by a discussion of the various Confederate commanders who passed through.

In addition to outlining Mobile's progressive strengthening of it's defenses throughout 1862-3, chapters are included that deal with the hardships of civilian life, both white and black. Bergeron's treatment of the Battle of Mobile Bay and the subsequent massive land campaign against the forts guarding the city itself is accurate but disappointingly brief (the maps are weak as well). Overall though, as with all of his work, Bergeron's research is solidly based on primary source material and he writes an engaging narrative that is equal parts social and military history.

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