Saturday, May 13, 2017

Chris Fonvielle

One of my favorite Civil War military history books from the 1990s is Chris Fonvielle's The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope (1997). It's a truly superior campaign study and easily the best of the handful of other Wilmington contenders. A couple of years later he followed it up with a really impressive history and map study titled Fort Anderson: The Battle For Wilmington. Fast forwarding to today, I was lamenting to myself the fact that I hadn't come across much of anything from him between then and now. However, it didn't take long to find out that he's still at it. Unbeknownst to me, far from retiring from the Civil War scene Fonvielle's instead kept himself incredibly busy releasing with a local publisher a boatload of new works on his apparently favorite subject. Before I did a quick web search today, I'd only heard of one of the books listed below.

Historic Wilmington & The Lower Cape Fear (2007).
Last Stand at Wilmington: The Battle of Forks Road (2007).
Louis Froelich (2008).
Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O'Sullivan. (2011).
Faces of Fort Fisher, 1861-1864 (2013).
To Forge a Thunderbolt: Fort Anderson and the Battle for Wilmington (2015).

Most of these books are pretty brief, but the last one appears to be a significantly revised and expanded version of Fonvielle's earlier Fort Anderson study.


  1. Thanks for this Drew.

    Chris F. is and has been a good friend of my for more than two decades. The original Savas Woodbury produced his massive and definitive "Last Rays of Departing Hope," (what I have always considered the sibling of the other title we had published, "Last Stand in the Carolinas," by Mark Bradley, a similar outstanding title). After I sold my company I helped Chris get "Last Rays" into paper with Stackpole.

    Chris will be back with Savas Beatie in the near future with two books. One will be an ECW title on Fort Fisher/Wilmington. The second will be a full Revolutionary War battle study (the topic of which I am not yet at liberty to reveal).

    Chris is an amazing fellow, and one of the best researchers and writers I have ever worked with. The odd thing is he also has a Ph.D., which often (not always, often) limits those abilities. Take that as you wish.

    -- Ted Savas

  2. Ted: Thanks for the news. Now for some lobbying - let it be Camden. Jes sayin'....

  3. Heh. Hi John.

    I can definitively tell you it isn't Camden, but that campaign could use one.

    -- Ted

    1. Smoked that one out (LOL), Seriously, a good tactical study has never been done. I suspect that the brevity of the actual fighting, coupled with its reputation as an easy and resounding British victory and the popular perception of Gates as an inept coward who raced his militia to the rear, has steered historians away. In fact, there are some interesting tactical aspects and the battle had some significant "big picture" implications for the war in the South which get buried. If you could find somebody to take it on, you've got a guaranteed buy here. Even if it's ECW.....

    2. Heh. That could be an ERW (Emerging Rev War) title....


  4. One of my great finds was a first edition of 'Last Rays' for less than $4.00. Wonderful book with pullout map.



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