Saturday, January 28, 2017

Five books on First Bull Run

1. The Early Morning of War: Bull Run, 1861 by Edward Longacre (2014).
Many First Bull Run campaign histories have been published over the years, among them fine contributions from Rafuse, Davis, Detzer, Johnston, and others, but I think Longacre's expansiveness puts it over the top. Even so, the book still leaves me with some nagging feelings of dissatisfaction that I can't fully articulate.
2. The First Battle of Manassas: An End to Innocence, July 18-21, 1861 Revised Edition by John Hennessy (1989, 2015).
Hennessy's slim volume has long been the consensus pick for the best tactical treatment of the core features of the FBR battle. The revised and expanded 2015 edition makes an already great book even better.
3. Bull Run: Its Strategy and Tactics by R.M. Johnston (1913).
In my mind, not very many turn of the century [can we still say that in 2017 and have everyone know what we mean?] campaign histories hold up as well as Johnston's classic does. It's been way too long since I've read it to go into specifics, but I recall being struck by the presence of elements in Johnston's work that distinguished it from the series of campaign overviews published during more recent decades.
4. The Battle of First Bull Run: Manassas Campaign July 16-22, 1861 - An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide by Blaikie Hines (2011).
The short list merits inclusion of an atlas, and, while I respect Bradley Gottfried's The Maps of First Bull Run (2009), I liked the aesthetic creativity expressed in Hines's book.
5. Manassas: A Battlefield Guide by Ethan Rafuse (2014).
It's my opinion that Rafuse's Bull Run tour book (which includes both First and Second Manassas) is the best available for the 1861 battle. The This Hallowed Ground series as a whole is my favorite, as well, though output has slowed to a crawl. The fairly furious initial pace has been sadly reduced to only one release since 2008.


  1. Hi Drew

    I am disappointed that Brad Gottfried's "The Maps of First Bull Run" did not make the list.

  2. Well, Ted, it looks like it DID get honorable mention! :)

  3. I'm great, Ted. Thanks. Even been thinking about resurrecting my own CW blog...

  4. I love these "Five Book On" posts and hope to see more.

    1. Thanks for the comment, John. It's hard to tell if many readers find the series useful or not. I am working on a couple new ones now. They actually take longer to come up with than people might think.

    2. I look forward to the "Five Books On" lists.


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