Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Booknotes: The Kentucky Campaign Of 1862 and Battle of Perryville (2 Vols)

New Arrival:
The Kentucky Campaign Of 1862 and Battle of Perryville (Volumes I and II)
  by Kenneth A. Hafendorfer (KH Press-author, 2017).

For many years now I've been anticipating a satisfactory campaign history replacement for James Lee McDonough's War In Kentucky: Shiloh To Perryville (1994), a book that's held its place as the standard work on the 1862 Kentucky Campaign both because it still provides readers with an adequate overview but also because the field lacks contenders. Physician by training and historian by avocation, the late Kenneth Hafendorfer published over a nearly three-decade period a number of Kentucky Civil War titles (several of which directly addressed the 1862 campaign): Perryville: Battle for Kentucky (which underwent multiple improved incarnations in the years following the publication of the rougher 1981 first edition), They Died by Twos and Tens: The Confederate Cavalry in the Kentucky Campaign of 1862 (1995), Nathan Bedford Forrest - The Distant Storm: The Murfreesboro Raid of July 13, 1862 (1997), Mill Springs: Campaign and Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky (2001), The Battle of Wild Cat Mountain: Kentucky, October 21, 1861 (2003), and Battle of Richmond, Kentucky - August 30, 1862 (2008).

Hafendorfer's massive final project, which one might consider his magnus opus, was published in September 2017 shortly before his passing. A two-volume set [The Kentucky Campaign Of 1862 and Battle of Perryville, Vol I: Tupelo to Perryville and Vol II: Perryville to Knoxville], the books address as a whole the summer heartland campaigns in the West at what looks to be unprecedented breadth and detail. Even though this is the kind of unobtainable review candidate that I set up the CWBA book fund to help acquire for the site, I was initially held back by the high premium price and general lack of information. Then reader and patron Curtis T. emailed me some photos and bibliographic details. That hooked me even though picking up the set blew through the remaining book fund balance and far beyond!

Including the index the set runs 1,390 pages in total length. I didn't count them myself but according to Curtis's report there are 174 maps(!) as well. The pair is unbalanced in terms of relative girth, which Vol. II at least 50% thicker than Vol. I. The set covers theater-wide Union and Confederate operations during the summer of 1862, recounting a multitude of concurrent movements conducted over parts of six states (Kentucky, Tennessee, N. Mississippi, N. Alabama, NW Georgia, and SW Virginia). Included are those military events that took place between the Confederate evacuation and Union occupation of Corinth at the end of May/beginning of June 1862 and the conclusion of Bragg's Kentucky Campaign in late October. If you've read the author's earlier works (my personal favorites are Mill Springs and Wild Cat Mountain) you'll see in these two books a similar presentation style and traditional military focused narrative.

Most of Hafendorfer's out of print works still command pretty hefty prices on the secondary market. This print run is even smaller than those. The set is limited to only 108 numbered copies, with the first eight being full-leather special editions and the rest very sturdy hardcovers sporting a brand of binding and board robustness very little seen anymore. It was intended that all copies would be signed by the author but his death at the time of publication precluded that. My set is #74 so there aren't too many left. If you're a serious player for this sort of thing, I would get it sooner rather than later. It's probably fair to say that the books will be nearly unobtainable down the line.

9 comments:

  1. State tax return, I hardly knew ye!

    Along the same lines of limited print Kentucky books, have you heard anything from Lanny Smith on a second Morgan volume?

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard from Lanny in a long time. I don't know what he's up to now bookwise, if anything.

      Delete
  2. Drew, did you buy it at the Amazon link you have above? Is that the only way to purchase it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I did. It's the only place you can buy it.

      Delete
    2. Thanks Drew. I pulled the trigger on this one. Perryville is probably the closest large Civil War battle to my home in Southern Illinois, so I've always had a soft spot for it. I've also spent years looking for reasonably priced copies of some of Hafendorfer's books. They don't exist. I'm getting in now while the getting is good.

      Delete
    3. I was fortunate to obtain most of them regular retail from Morningside Books back when they were still in print! The only one still missing from my collection (besides the Trask book that doesn't interest me) is the Murfreesboro study. I almost bought a worn copy at a high but reasonable online price but it disappeared while I was mulling it over. It's funny how I see so many books for cheap on eBay today that cost a pretty penny a decade ago. These aren't any of those!

      Delete
    4. My set arrived today, impressively packaged to prevent damage. It is numbered Set #85, so apparently only 15 left of the regular hardback edition. Perhaps your Booknote spurred sales! Using the term hardback does not do justice to the quality of the production as it is far sturdier and superior to a customary hardback. The maps look quite detailed though my aging eyes may need a magnifying glass for some as they are not full-page maps (understandable given the length of the book). I will also have to use my B&N book rest to place Volume 2 on my lap while I read it on my recliner given its huge size. I am hoping you are ambitious enough to tackle this long work as it will require such a large commitment of time and effort on your part.

      Delete
  3. Would love to, but with a 200 dollar price tag, just can't do it. I have two of the late Doctor's works: Perryville (2nd or 3rd edition) and Richmond.
    Have to make do with those.

    ReplyDelete

Blogger ID not required, but if you choose not to create one please sign your post with your name (no promotional information, please). Otherwise, your comment and/or link may be deleted.