Wednesday, July 5, 2006

"The Siege of Fort Macon"

I just finished Paul Branch, Jr.'s The Siege of Fort Macon (Griffin and Tilghman: New Bern, NC. 2002 revised and expanded ed. - 10th printing. Maps, photos, drawings, notes, garrison roster. pp. 168) and it's an impressive little book. Branch, the park ranger-historian there at the fort, writes well and the material is deeply researched.

As the guardian of the port of Beaufort, Ft. Macon was an important target of Ambrose Burnside's 1862 North Carolina expedition. Much like Ft. Pulaski, Ft. Macon could not withstand the power of modern rifled artillery. Poor planning and equipment only made matters worse. Once the bombardment commenced, the fort fell quickly to Union forces under the immediate command of John Parke.

The Siege of Fort Macon appears to be about as complete a description of events as we are likely to get. The month-long series of operations that led to the isolation and reduction of the fort are described in minute detail and supplemented by useful maps and well-chosen drawings and photographs. Sure it's a narrow interest subject, but it's so well done that I think anyone interested in the conduct of coastal military operations would profit from reading this book. This latest softcover edition includes a great deal of new information from previous staple-bound pamphlet editions, so it's worth revisiting if you already own an older copy.

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