Monday, April 24, 2017

Five books on the Burnside Expedition

1. "A Succession of Honorable Victories": The Burnside Expedition in North Carolina
by Richard A. Sauers (1996).
If you're going to read one book on the Burnside Expedition, this one is it. It details  from inception through the end of the first half of 1862 the entire Union operation that seized much of tidewater North Carolina. Its centerpiece is the literature's finest account of the March 14, 1862 Battle of New Bern. Regrettably, the book is long out of print and commands a pretty hefty price on the secondary market. Its quality also makes you wish Sauers authored more military history titles.
2. The Old North State at War: The North Carolina Civil War Atlas
by Mark A. Moore, with Michael Hill and Jessica A. Bandel (2015) [review].
The highest quality maps (by far) created for the Burnside Expedition reside in this atlas, along with a solid supporting narrative.
3. The Battle of Roanoke Island: Burnside and the Fight for North Carolina
by Michael P. Zatarga (2015) [review].
For the campaign to be a success, Confederate-held Roanoke Island needed to be captured and the supporting Confederate "Mosquito Fleet" neutralized. Zatarga's coverage of the February 7-8, 1862 period that encompassed the Union landings on the island and the battle that secured its surrender is arguably the best available.
4. The Siege of Fort Macon by Paul Branch (rev. 2002).
Beginning in the 1980s, Branch's account of the Union capture of Ft. Macon has been revised and expanded, and in the process was transformed from pamphlet to full-length book. I believe the latest iteration is the 2002 revised edition (10th printing). Well-stocked with maps and other illustrations, it recounts in great detail the story of the month-long reduction of Fort Macon during March-April 1862.
5. Richard Gatlin and the Confederate Defense of Eastern North Carolina
by James L. Gaddis, Jr. (2015) [review].
Though the study is largely biographical in nature, those seeking further insights into the failures of Confederate command, resource allocation, and defense arrangements for eastern North Carolina during 1861-62 will find Gaddis's slim history useful reading.


  1. Looks like Sauers would be a good candidate for a Savas Beattie reprint edition.

    1. It will probably happen. It's the expensive books that I don't already own that never get reprinted!

    2. I've always thought that this is one that needs to be reprinted/updated. I don't have it and don't intend to pay ransom for it. Until somebody like Savas Beatie goes for it, I'll stay with the old B&G issue.

    3. John,
      You wonder how many of the sellers online are dropshippers or are just slapping on an outrageous price as a placeholder.

      I have that B&G issue, too, but don't recall if Sauers was the author.

    4. Drew: I'll have to check but I believe he is the author. No idea on the source of the pricing but at the numbers being demanded you'd think the books contained a personal inscription from Burnside.

  2. Sauers peovides an excellent, detailed account of the expedition. As you point out, it's not cheap!

    1. Not many floating around. I wish I knew what Morningside's typical print run size was back then (if there even was a 'typical' number).


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