Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Best of White Mane - "We are in for it!"

Gary L. Ecelbarger's definitive account of the first battle of the Valley Campaign We Are in for It!": The First Battle of Kernstown March 23, 1862 is a prime example of the best of White Mane publishing. Credit goes to the author for his exhaustive research and crisp writing. The bibliography lists an impressive array of manuscript and other primary sources consulted. Any question that a reader interested in the opening action of Stonewall Jackson's famed Valley Campaign has will likely find his answer here in this book. Nathan Kimball finally gets his due as it was he rather than Shields that really directed the battle and deserves the lion's share of the credit for the victory over Jackson.

The regimental-level maps (all 20 of them) are among the best you'll find in a modern battle study. They include all relevant terrain features, such as roads, trails, countour lines, fields, tree stands, and fence lines. The heart of the book, of course, is a masterful microhistory of the battle itself, but this text is nicely bookended by a well-written prologue and epilogue that places Kernstown in the context of the larger campaign. The author also includes some useful appendices analyzing numbers and losses.

Ecelbarger is also the author of two biographies of prominent Civil War figures, Frederick W. Lander: The Great Natural American Soldier and Black Jack Logan : An Extraordinary Life in Peace and War (unfortunately, I haven't read either one). Lander is one of those interesting Civil War figures that didn't live long enough to fulfill promising beginnings. Whether he would have overcome his personal flaws to achieve greatness is impossible to guess, but I would like to read his bio someday to see what author Ecelbarger came up with.


  1. Without a doubt Ecelbarger's book is the creme of White Mane's crop. Gary may be the only person to jump directly from White Mane to respected LSU Press, which published the Lander bio (also a very good book).

    I now wonder just which book made him more money?


  2. Hi Harry,
    It is undisputed #1 in my book too.



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