Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Booknotes: Faces of the Civil War Navies

New Arrival:
Faces of the Civil War Navies: An Album of Union and Confederate Sailors
by Ronald S. Coddington (Johns Hopkins Univ Pr, 2016).

The carte des visite was a cheap and popular way for the Civil War soldier and sailor to obtain a photographic keepsake for loved ones, and, fortunately for us, they survived the passage of time in large numbers. They are the bread and butter of Ronald Coddington's "Faces of" series, which has now reached four volumes. In these books, the author selects numerous CDVs (mostly of common fighting men and lower ranking officers) and, in around three to five pages, tells the story of the person behind the photograph in a lively manner. The well-researched text is annotated and many of the photos are of the rarely seen variety. 

With his previous books covering Union, Confederate, and African American soldiers, Coddington takes to the water with Faces of the Civil War Navies. Through the images:
"... Coddington uncovers the personal histories of each individual who looked into the eye of the primitive camera. These unique narratives are drawn from military and pension records, letters, diaries, period newspapers, and other primary sources. In addition to presenting the personal stories of seventy-seven intrepid volunteers, Coddington also focuses on the momentous naval events that ushered in an era of ironclad ships and other technical innovations."

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