Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Book News: A Bloody Day at Gaines' Mill

I know that I've become a bit of a broken record when it comes to continued neglect of the 1862 Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days battles. Atlanta and Petersburg were once in the same boat, but both campaigns have really taken off of late and continue to leave the Peninsula far back in their wake. There has been some good recent work on the intersection between medicine and war (the swampy nature of much of the Peninsula makes it a good laboratory for that kind of study) along with emancipation on the Peninsula before it became general policy, but none of the Seven Days battles have received full-length standalone treatment yet (though Brian Burton's history of the entire week of fighting remains a satisfactory overview), and we could use another Seven Pines book along with an updated account of the entire campaign (Sears's To the Gates of Richmond is over 25 years old). Major studies of Gaines' Mill from R.E.L. Krick and Malvern Hill from Frank O'Reilly have been long rumored, but no concrete news has emerged in a long time.

What news has popped up recently is of A Bloody Day at Gaines' Mill: The Battlefield Debut of the Army of Northern Virginia, June 27, 1862 (McFarland, Sept 2018) from Virginia attorney Elmer R. Woodard, III. There's not much information available so far. This appears to be Woodard's first book, or at least my casual online search didn't uncover anything else. The publisher's description is pretty coy. The sub-200 page count doesn't necessarily mean the monograph will lack detail as McFarland typically packs a lot of text into their 7x10 page format. I'm looking forward to seeing it.

9 comments:

  1. Phil LeDucApril 23, 2018

    About ten days ago I had the opportunity to ask Bobby Krick about his Gaines' Mill magnum opus. He said it's about 80% complete - text pretty much finished, maps being worked on. It will no doubt be well worth the wait.

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    1. Thanks for the update, Phil.

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    2. Phil, do you know who will be publishing it?

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    3. I didn't ask him specifically, but I think he mentioned that he hadn't shopped it yet.

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    4. ...Or at least he hadn't settled on a publisher yet.

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  2. Great news indeed. I was wondering if this one had been shelved for good. Now here's hoping we receive some news regarding the long awaited O'Reilly 'Malvern Hill' title.

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  3. AnonymousMay 14, 2018

    My book is now available at Amazon, published by McFarland. I wrote the publisher's description, and did not want to overblow it. If you want a hard core taste the powder battle book, I sure tried to write it. Y'all will determine if I succeeded!

    Elmer R. Woodard III

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    1. I still see it in pre-order status on Amazon and the publisher's website.

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  4. Its coming out Sept 29, but you can pre order it! I learned a LOT about history in writing this. Rule 1 is that newspapers never, ever get it right. Rule 2 is that the men never ever got the designation of another regiment correct. For example, if they said the 37th New York did x, I found that it was either the 37th from some other state, or some other regiment, not the 37th, from New York. Sometimes both were wrong, but that would have been much easier to sort out! Another thing I found was that one must be careful with first person accounts, because many times they are written after the fact, and incorrect in that the sequence of events is out of order due to memory. Campbell Brown, and Kyd Douglas, I forget which, did this. This is why many sources is important; I was able to sort out the time order by comparing it with other sources. Another advantage that I had was that I was able to figure out the troop movements because I have 30 years of reenacting experience, and know how lines of battle and movements by the flank work in the real world. This was crucial to figuring out who was where and what they were doing. One should note that until now, no one had any good understanding of exactly what happened at Gaines' Mill. Accordingly, any analysis thereof cant' be that great. For example, the short version is Jackson was late and Texas broke the line first. Neither is true.

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