Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Big Bethel book

I've been hoping for some time for a book length study of the 1861 Battle of Big Bethel to emerge. It appears the wait is over.  Later this month, frequent Civil War on the Virginia Peninsula writer John Quarstein's new book Big Bethel: The First Battle will be published by The History Press. The Civil War Sesquicentennial Series "battle books" are a fairly uneven bunch, with synthetic works directed at general readers on one hand and carefully annotated, deeply researched, and impressively mapped studies on the other. I don't know which category this one will fall into. Hopefully, a table of contents will be added to the listing soon. I like that folk art cover image.


  1. If the book is as interesting as the cover, I am buying. It may be folk art, but it resembles the official maps. Wish this one came out a year earlier as I visited the site last summer. Much of the battlefield is under water, and a school is located right of the road, but it is still interesting as you can pick out the major land features, and the Big Bethel Cemetery, which is located about where the Confederate flag appears in the picture below the church, has a monument.

    Chris Van Blargan

  2. We at Savas Beatie have a full-length battle study of this underway, but it won't be out until 2012. The quality and quantity of the primary source material uncovered by the authors is really surprising.

  3. How does one identify those History Press titles that are "carefully annotated, deeply researched, and impressively mapped studies"?

  4. There is no way to tell unless you can find a reviewer that will reliably distinguish among them, but you can often get an idea yourself from the Look Inside function on Amazon if it's available for a given title.

    I've reviewed several of the best (in my opinion, anyway) ones on this site that you can find by doing a publisher search. I put Patchan's Piedmont book and others like the Simmons book "Defending South Carolina's Coast" and the Elizabeth City study by Meekins (although the latter two are not really "battle" studies) in this category. There are others that I have not seen or read as they are released at a fast clip. From what I've heard, Eric Wittenberg's Brandy Station book fits into this category.

  5. Thanks for the tips. You are one of the few sites that I have found that reviews the titles, but as you say, they come out at a fast and furious pace. The History Press web site is one of the worst publisher sites I have seen in terms of providing useful information and functionality.


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