Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Sesqui and 1862 campaign and battle anniversaries

Obviously, attention surrounding the Civil War Sesquicentennial provides a good opportunity for publishers to schedule new campaign and battle history releases for their corresponding war year. I'll admit to being quite disappointed that no serious First Bull Run monograph, among other things, emerged last year, but let's see what 2012 might and might not bring.

It would probably be unnecessary to attempt to supplant Rick Sauers's history of Burnside's NC expedition, Hennessy's 2nd Bull Run classic [although Scott Patchan contributed an excellent supplement in '11], or the Noe & Hafendorfer and O'Reilly & Rable double teamings of Perryville and Fredericksburg. I am also more than satisfied with what we already have for Forts Henry & Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island No. 10, the Shenandoah, Cedar Mountain, Iuka & Corinth, Prairie Grove, and Stones River.

I've yet to hear even a rumor of anyone working on a new history of the fall of New Orleans, or anything from 1862 Trans-Mississippi operations. A Seven Days overview is scheduled for this year, but no news obtainable by me is currently available for any of the Peninsula battle histories that are supposedly in process. Brian Jordan's South Mountain book should be something to look forward to, along with the Antietam campaign atlas from the same publisher, but I have no idea if Scott Hartwig's first of two Maryland campaign volumes is expected in 2012. Given the neglect by all Shiloh histories of a rendering of second day events comparable in detail to the first, there is still ample room for a definitive Shiloh battle history. Unfortunately, with Peter Cozzens giving up the attempt, and the 2012 Woodworth and Groom books not of the sort, it appears the opportunity will be lost. If Timothy Smith covers the "siege" in some detail, the freshest entry of the year might very well be his book length examination of Corinth's military role in the war. A new examination of the 1862 portion of the Vicksburg campaign [Sherman's riverine right hook to Chickasaw Bayou and Grant's overland advance] does not appear to be on the horizon.

Of course, 2012 has only just begun and all of this may change when the Fall '12 catalogs come out this summer.


  1. Drew,

    Can you give up the names of the Peninsula battles on which new books are being written. That little tidbit piqued my interest.


    1. Brett,
      There's Malvern Hill and another one I can't remember.

  2. Aw, shucks! I was really hoping for something significant on New Orleans and the Trans-Mississippi. Thanks for keeping us posted on anything forthcoming--we appreciate your dedication to this blog!

  3. Hello Drew

    I was anxiously awaiting this post. It is disappointing that so few 1862 battles/campaigns will receive new treatments. At least there will be something on the battles around Richmond. Hopefully, Mcfarland will not be doing any of the publishing. I had heard that there was going to be something on Stones River, but cannot remember who was doing it. Perhaps 2013 will be better. I know a study of Chickamauga is in the works from Savas. I also wouldn't be surprised to see another interpretation of Gettysburg.

    Thanks for the update
    Don Hallstrom

    1. Hi Don,
      I come across things, and sometimes readers offer up some news for me, but in general I don't really beat the bushes for information so hopefully there are significant projects going on that we don't know about yet.

  4. Frank O'Reilley has been working on a study of Malvern Hill for quite some time but he told me "it'll be ready when it's ready." Bobby Krick is also still working on his Gaines Mill book, but don't expect that out this year. It'll be a doozie when it does come out, though.

    1. Thanks, Jimmy. The Krick book is indeed the other Seven Days battle study I was trying to remember.

  5. Yes, I wish someone would do a book just on the 2nd day of the Battle of Shiloh. That would be very interesting if written well and with some detail. I can't believe it always just gets one chapter in all of the Shiloh books.


  6. I think Seven Pines/ Fair Oaks is crying out for a good, scholarly treatment, along with Stones River (although Cozzens's book was decent) and to a lesser extent, Williamsburg and the individual Seven Days battles.

  7. Drew,

    As you are my primary source on Civil War literature, I particularly appreciate your recaps of battles and campaigns already covered and new works on the horizon, like this one.

    You indicated that Forts Henry and Donelson have been covered satisfactorily. My guess is that you are referring to Cooling's book, but am I missing anything else worthwhile?

    I see a number of new works planned for the Peninsula Campaign which is encouraging. Two McFarland publications on Fair Oaks and Glendale had me excited, but the reviews have not been good. Was not sure if you had a chance to look at either.

    I am also disappointed Cozzens has dropped Shiloh, and the lack of coverage of operations against Vicksburg in 1862. I visited Chickasaw Bayou two years ago, and the best source I found was Bearss' three volume Vicksburg study which was necessarily limited due to the scope of that work.

    A few other areas of 1862 I would like to see covered in greater detail (unless you can point me in the right direction)

    The New River Campaign: I have David Bard's driving tour which provides an excellent overview, but it lacks detail;

    Cavalry operations outside of Eastern Virginia: I have a number of general works which cover Morgan and Forrest's operations, but have not found anything that gives a detailed account of battles like Parker's Crossroads or First Cynthiana. Likewise, I have not seen anything which covers Jenkins' Raid and operations in West Virginia after the Kanawha Division went east;

    Coastal Operations: A number of good books have come out on individual campaigns, but I have not come across anything that puts together everything in context to explain the overall strategy. As a result, it appears many of the smaller operations have not been covered except in local histories (the occupation of Norfolk and operations at Pensacola, Tampa, St. Petersburg, etc).

    Thanks again!

    Chris Van Blargan

  8. Chris,
    For Henry-Donelson, I was thinking Cooling plus Kendall Gott's "Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862." IMO, Hurst's book is worthwhile primarily for the Bearss maps.

    Yes, you can safely forget that the Fair Oaks and Glendale books from McF exist.

    I like the Bard book, too. As for the New River Campaign, there's a little book on the subject by Patricia Givens Johnson titled "The United States Army Invades the New River Valley, May 1864." I read it a long time ago and own a copy, but don't remember much about it. I do recall enough to say that it isn't worth the high prices it commands on the used market.

    In my opinion, the Blue & Gray magazine issue and the 1/3 of "Raiders of 1862" that cover Parker's Crossroads is good enough for me. For Cynthiana, William Penn has been telling me for years that he's at work on a new, expanded edition of "Rattling Spurs and Broad Brimmed Hats: The Civil War in Cynthiana and Harrison County, Kentucky" but I don't know how far he's progressed. Some of the WV county histories [can't recall exactly, maybe McKinney's for Fayette and/or Matheny's for Wood County] cover the Jenkins raid, but I don't know of a book entirely dedicated to it.

  9. Thanks, Drew. I have to retract a bit on the 1862 cavalry raids as I recall "They Died in Twos and Tens" by Hafendorfer (I got it last summer at an extremely reasonable price but I've been working on my 1861 reading). With respect to the cavalry in the Perryville Campaign, you could not ask for much more detail. I have heard some criticism of Hafendorfer from other authors, but not exactly sure what the reasons were.

    Chris Van Blargan


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