Thursday, October 27, 2016

Two upcoming Siege of Charleston-related books

The Sesquicentennial may have been light on Civil War Charleston releases, but the spring '17 catalog from University of South Carolina Press lists a pair of interesting sounding titles. Days of Destruction: Augustine Thomas Smythe and the Civil War Siege of Charleston edited by W. Eric Emerson and Karen Stokes (June 2017) will "chronicle the events of the siege of Charleston, South Carolina, through a collection of letters written by Augustine Thomas Smythe, a well-educated young man from a prominent Charleston family." His writings "depict all that he saw and experienced during the long, destructive assault on the Holy City and describe in detail the damage done to Charleston’s houses, churches, and other buildings in the desolated shell district, as well as the toll on human life." Of added interest is the fact that Smythe was a member of the Confederate Signal Corps, so his perspective of the siege was a decidedly uncommon one. His letters "detail the daily life and service experiences of signalmen in and around the city during the war."

The other piece of book news involves Chet Bennett's Resolute Rebel: General Rowell S. Ripley, Charleston's Gallant Defender (May 2017). Ripley was one of many promising Civil War generals deemed by the judgment of history to have not lived up to expectations. Bennett strongly believes the historiography's generally negative assessment of Ripley to be unfair, and his biography, which apparently will be the first, "strives to paint a more balanced picture of the man and his career."

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