Thursday, January 23, 2014

Booknotes II (Jan '13)

The first of the 2014 titles are in, and they're a pair of doozies.

1. Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri, Volume III, January - August 1864 by Bruce Nichols (McFarland, 2014).

Bruce Nichols is an indefatigable researcher and his ongoing multi-volume (currently at 3 of 4) Guerrilla Warfare in Civil War Missouri is one of those landmark publishing projects that fly a bit under the radar. The breadth of evidence gathering and coverage, digging into every corner of the Show Me State, is awe inspiring to the degree of worrying for the author's sanity. The end is finally near, with only the indexing of the fourth and final volume remaining to complete. This book takes the reader through the penultimate year's uptick in violence in anticipation of the expected Confederate invasion, what would be known as the Price Raid.

2. The Pennsylvania Reserves in the Civil War: A Comprehensive History by Uzal W. Ent (McFarland, 2014).

Like the above work from the same publisher, this encyclopedic unit history is another massive piece of scholarship, boasting over 400 8 1/2 x 11 sized, small print pages augmented by a flurry of maps, drawings, photos, and organizational tables. "This history chronicles the division’s service from its organization in May 1861 through June 1864 [among other places, fighting at Mechanicsville, Frayser's Farm, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, and Cloyd's Mountain], when most of its soldiers reached the end of their service commitment. Short biographical sketches, most accompanied by photographs, introduce the Reserves leadership. Throughout, excerpts from letters, journals, diaries, and books from more than 150 members of the Reserves provide a personal perspective on the action and reveal the human side of battle."


  1. Drew, I too was amazed by both, but the Reserves book especially. I wish the author had followed the 190th and 191st PA through to the end of the war, but it looks like a very thorough effort. As you say, the Missouri guerrilla volume pulls from a wide variety of sources. The first thing I do when I get a new book is flip to the bibliography out of habit to see if it's worth my time. Both of these books get a resounding yes based on that metric.

    1. If you can get Richard Sommers to write the Foreword then you must be doing something right. BTW, I like the new rubbery-feeling covers that McF uses, although for some reason the MO book had the old material.


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