Monday, April 15, 2019

Booknotes: Morris Island and the Civil War

New Arrival:
Morris Island and the Civil War: Strategy and Influence by C. Russell Horres, Jr.
  (Arcadia Pub & The Hist Press, 2019).

With scale of military activity at any given time varying between routine patrols and desperate battles, the period between the return of Union troops to the barrier islands near Charleston in late 1861 and the fall of the city in February 1865 is often said to be the longest continuous campaign of the Civil War. A key piece of military geography used by both sides at times during the war was Morris Island, the topic of Russell Horres's Morris Island and the Civil War: Strategy and Influence. A retired scientist, Horres has volunteered extensively as a researcher and guide for the National Park Service, his interests and work focusing on Charleston and particularly on forts Sumter and Johnson.

From the description: "From Charleston's doorstep, Morris Island held a critical position in the Civil War. It was first used by Confederates to assist in the bombardment of Fort Sumter and later became the scene of an epic struggle to prevent Union forces from gaining control. After the battle, the roles reversed, and Union forces used the site to bombard Fort Sumter and Charleston. Hundreds lost their lives, and both sides expended a vast amount of war capital for what appeared to be little value. Confederates greatly underestimated how events at Morris Island played into the hands of the Civil War's master strategist, Abraham Lincoln."

From the chapter headings, it looks like the book addresses all the major military events that occurred on the island, with dual perspectives (Union and Confederate) on everything. Equal attention is paid to both halves of the war, with the "siege" aspect of the campaign beginning in earnest in 1863. A little bit over 100 pages, it's a brisk narrative, and the volume is well illustrated with drawings, photographs, and old maps.

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