Monday, January 24, 2011

Bostick: "CHARLESTON UNDER SIEGE: The Impregnable City"

[Charleston Under Siege: The Impregnable City by Douglas W. Bostick (The History Press, 2010). Softcover, maps, photos, illustrations, bibliography, index. Pages main/total:147/159. ISBN:978-1-60949-015-7 $19.99]

Still going strong after several years now, The History Press's Civil War Sesquicentennial series has been turning out books ranging from well documented specialized works to overviews directed at a more general audience. Douglas Bostick's Charleston Under Siege is a fine example of the latter.

At around 150 of main text, Bostick's brief overview of a big subject is nevertheless quite inclusive. The well known events of the Civil War years in Charleston are covered, including the firing on Fort Sumter, the 1862 Battle of Secessionville, the seizure of the steamer Planter by slaves, the 1863 ironclad and Fort Wagner assaults, the 1863-65 direct bombardment of the city and its defenses, the prisoner-of-war saga of the "Immortal 600", the CSS Hunley tragedy, and the ultimate abandonment of the city in 1865.

The author also notes other less celebrated events, such as the Confederate capture of the USS Isaac P. Smith on the Stono River, the 1862 sortie by the ironclads CSS Chicora and Palmetto State that briefly broke the blockade. Bostick devotes more space to the torpedo boats than the oversaturated Hunley story.

Maps are sparse and borrowed from other publications, but the book is endowed with a nice array of engravings and photographs, 80 in total. For general interest readers seeking a short but comprehensive history of the subject, Bostick's Charleston Under Siege is a good alternative to the only other study of similar breadth, E. Milby Burton's now four decade old work The Siege of Charleston: 1861-1865.

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