Thursday, April 30, 2020

Preview: Tempest Over Texas

Historian Donald Frazier, formerly of McMurry University and currently Director of the Texas Center at Schreiner University, first envisioned his grand history of the Civil War in Louisiana and Texas as filling four volumes (informally called his "Louisiana Quadrille"). However, as sometimes happens with big projects, the series has grown since inception to now include a planned fifth volume. Currently scheduled for a May 2020 release from publisher State House Press is the fourth and now penultimate installment Tempest over Texas: The Fall and Winter Campaigns of 1863–1864. I recently received a prepublication version from the author and thought I would offer a little preview for those readers interested in the topic.

Volume One Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861-January 1863 (2009) covered a lot of ground in both states, but the following two books (2011's Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February - May 1863 and 2015's Blood on the Bayou: Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and the Trans-Mississippi) focused strongly on Civil War events within the Pelican State. Volume Three left off with the Union Army's return to the LaFourche District of SW Louisiana after the July 1863 capture of Port Hudson. With the Mississippi River now open to traffic all along its length, the big question (to be answered in Tempest Over Texas) was what was next for Union and Confederate forces in the region, the former still coveting Texas and the latter again greatly outnumbered and pressed back on their heels.

In addition to documenting numerous skirmishes, raids, and other side-operations, Tempest Over Texas will offer in-depth coverage of the Second Battle of Sabine Pass, the Battle of Sterling's (the author prefers "Sterling" over the more common "Stirling" spelling) Plantation, the fall Texas Overland Expedition, and the seaborne operation that seized the mouth of the Rio Grande before moving north into Matagorda Bay. Big battles are absent from period, with the largest military action being the Confederate victory at Bayou Bourbeau. 

The narrative stresses connections between the Louisiana and Texas fronts (though all of the campaigns have received good standalone coverage in books and articles, the author believes those ties remain largely underappreciated). Associated settings of French intervention in Mexico, Unionist opposition in Texas, and emancipation are discussed as well. The book also appears to offer a treatment of Banks that is more sympathetic than most. Though he doesn't try to broadly rehabilitate the military reputation of Nathaniel Banks, Frazier does believe that Banks "did what he could in a difficult arena,...often with his bosses actively undermining him." The book ends during the winter of 1863-64. As one might guess, the major focus of the fifth volume will be the Red River Campaign of 1864.

That should do for now. I hope the late-May release date is still in play, and the book will surely be reviewed if I can get a copy from the publisher.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Book News: Storm Over Key West

Yesterday's news entry talked about a book covering an important cog in the blockade running trade, so today we'll look at the other side of the equation. From the description, Mike Pride's Storm Over Key West: The Civil War and the Call of Freedom (Pineapple Pr, December 2020) appears to follow two main narrative threads. The first involves the military importance of U.S. forces maintaining control of the Key West forts. "Key West’s harbor and two major federal forts (Jefferson and Taylor) were often referred to as “America’s Gibraltar.” This Gibraltar guarded the Florida Straits between Key West and Cuba and thus access to the Gulf of Mexico. When Union forces seized it before the war, the southernmost point of the Confederacy slipped out of Confederate hands. This led to a naval blockade based in Key West that devastated commerce in Florida and beyond." Many readers will also recall the practice of banishing military prisoners to the Dry Tortugas. Presumably that part of Key West Civil War history will also be discussed in the book.

The "main theme," however "is the denial to black people of the equality central to the American ideal. After the island’s slaves flocked to freedom during the summer of 1862, the white majority began a century-long campaign to deny black residents civil rights, education, literacy, respect, and the vote." When the Union Army was actively forming black fighting units from their sea island bases in South Carolina, recruitment expeditions ranged up and down the South Atlantic coast. One the places visited was Key West. More from the description: "A few weeks after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, James Montgomery sailed into Key West Harbor looking for black men to draft into the Union army. Eager to oblige him, the military commander in town ordered every black man from fifteen to fifty to report to the courthouse, “there to undergo a medical examination, preparatory to embarking for Hilton Head, S.C.” Montgomery swept away 126 men."

Certainly standalone fort studies exist in numbers (especially for Fort Jefferson), but as far as I know this will be the first study of Civil War Key West that aspires to anything like a comprehensive treatment of the larger subject.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Book News: Breaking the Blockade

At least in academic circles, study of the Civil War as a transnational event is currently one of the hottest sub-fields. Quite a number of manuscripts and essay anthologies exploring antebellum, wartime, and postwar connections with Central and South America, Europe, the Caribbean, and even the Pacific Rim have been published in recent years. On the other hand, diplomatic studies (mostly centered on Britain and France) and blockade-related books have always been around. However, one conspicuous omission has been a truly detailed history of the conflict's greatest transshipment point involved in the exchange of southern cotton for much-needed European arms, munitions, equipment, food, and supplies. That gap in the literature will be addressed in early 2021 with the release of Charles D. Ross's Breaking the Blockade: The Bahamas during the Civil War (UP of Mississippi).

From the description: "Boats worked their way back and forth from the Confederacy to Nassau and England, and everyone from scoundrels to naval officers wanted a piece of the action. Poor men became rich in a single transaction, and dances and drinking―from the posh Royal Victoria hotel to the boarding houses lining the harbor―were the order of the day. British, United States, and Confederate sailors intermingled in the streets, eyeing each other warily as boats snuck in and out of Nassau. But it was all to come crashing down as the blockade finally tightened and the final Confederate ports were captured." Breaking the Blockade "focuses on the political dynamics and tensions that existed between the United States Consular Service, the governor of the Bahamas, and the representatives of the southern and English firms making a large profit off the blockade."

On an author note, readers might recognize physicist Ross from his earlier science-related Civil War studies. White Mane titles were once a staple of Civil War sections in bookstores, and it wasn't uncommon to see a copy of Ross's Civil War Acoustic Shadows (2001). I never did read that one, or his other book Trial by Fire: Science, Technology and the Civil War (2000), but it's always nice to see an author return to the fold after a long break.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Coming Soon (May '20 Edition)

*NEW RELEASES* - Scheduled for MAY 2020:

Blood on the Cumberland: The Battle of Hartsville by CL Gammon (Author).
The Desperate Struggle: Louisiana Civil War Compendium - A Military History of Campaigns & Battles 1861-1865 by Henry Robertson (Author).
Galvanized: The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate by Michael Brantley (Potomac Bks).
Till Death Do Us Part: The Letters of Emory and Emily Upton, 1868–1870 by Salvatore Cilella (OU Press).
Major General Philip Kearny: A Soldier and His Time in the American Civil War by Robert Laven (McFarland).
Confederate Citadel: Richmond and Its People at War by Mary DeCredico (UP of Ky).
American Discord: The Republic and Its People in the Civil War Era ed. by Bever, Gordon & Mammina (LSU Press).
The Cavalries in the Nashville Campaign by Dennis Belcher (McFarland).
Reckoning with Rebellion: War and Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century by Aaron Sheehan-Dean (UP of Fla).
Tempest over Texas: The Fall and Winter Campaigns of 1863–1864 by Donald Frazier (State House Pr).
Gunboats, Muskets, and Torpedoes: Coastal North Carolina, 1861–1865 by Michael Laramie (Westholme).

Comments: In putting together my monthly lists, I don't normally carry over titles (ex. Laramie's) that miss their dates, but we should make exceptions for unusual circumstances. The first two titles included here are self-published books. For a long time now, the only book-length source on Hartsville has been Timothy Heath's long out-of-print (and prohibitively expensive on the secondary market) study. Assessment of Gammon's effort is up in the air (the statement in the intro about the battle "cementing Morgan's reputation as a brilliant tactician" gives me some pause) but its 1980s-level pricing ($6.99!) is low risk. I very much liked Robertson's earlier short study of the 1864 Red River Campaign, and his new book interests me as something of an updated version of Winters's classic The Civil War in Louisiana. A reader recently asked me about the dearth of Richmond studies, and since then two new books have emerged (Ash's late-2019 study and now DeCredico's upcoming one). I've been given an advanced look at Frazier's book and plan to write a brief preview later this week. As far as I know, it is still on track for release next month. I am also very much looking forward to the Laven and Belcher books. Unfortunately, the late Unpleasantness has forced the publisher to suspend physical review copies. I still can't stand reading entire books via PDF, so hopefully they will be willing to send out printed versions at some later date.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Book News: Dreams of Victory

As is the case with most high-ranking Civil War generals, the word on P.G.T. Beauregard's record remains pretty mixed. Thinking back to my earliest forays into Civil War history, a common portrayal of Beauregard in books was that of a flamboyant military fantasist who won at Manassas (perhaps in spite of himself) but then ruined his reputation the following year at the Battle of Shiloh and evacuation of Corinth. On the other hand, he's generally received decent marks for his Charleston work, and a number of very recent Richmond-Petersburg Campaign studies have praised his handling of the defenses of Petersburg and the rail line connecting it to Richmond. Larry Daniel's new exploration of why the Army of Tennessee failed [my review] repeatedly criticized the Davis administration for not returning Beauregard to command.

All this brings to mind that we've perhaps reached a good point for a new reassessment of the general's Civil War career, maybe something along the lines of Earl Hess's thought-provoking reconsideration of a much more maligned Confederate army commander (Braxton Bragg). Considering the general's stature, it is mighty strange that there hasn't been a major new Beauregard biography since T. Harry Williams's P.G.T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray was published way back in 1955.

Meanwhile, to tide us over until such an event occurs, the Emerging Civil War series and publisher Savas Beatie plan to put out a short biographical treatment. From the description available, Sean Chick's Dreams of Victory: General P.G.T. Beauregard in the Civil War (2020) will present its subject's life as a intriguing bundle of personal and professional contradictions, successes, and failures. On balance, it does appear that the general's Civil War career left a largely positive impression on the author. According to Chick, "(o)utside of Lee, he was the South’s most consistently successful commander, winning at Bull Run, defending Charleston in 1864, and defeating Benjamin Butler at Bermuda Hundred and Ulysses Grant and George Meade at Petersburg. Yet, he lived his life in the shadow of his one major defeat: Shiloh." I'm looking forward to reading it.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Booknotes: Galvanized

New Arrival:
Galvanized: The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate by Michael K. Brantley (Potomac Bks, 2020).

Galvanized: The Odyssey of a Reluctant Carolina Confederate integrates a biographical treatment of author Michael Brantley's great-great-grandfather's life with the story of Brantley's research, writing, and personal thoughts on Civil War memory. In the end, the book tries to show how "the complexities of loyalty and personal belief governed one man’s actions—and still influence the ways Americans think about the conflict today."

Getting back to exactly who the book is about, the "reluctant" Confederate of the title is Wright Stephen Batchelor. "Like most North Carolina farmers, Batchelor eschewed slaveholding. He also opposed secession and war, yet he fought on both sides of the conflict. During his time in each uniform, Batchelor barely avoided death at the Battle of Gettysburg, was captured twice, and survived one of the war’s most infamous prisoner-of-war camps. He escaped and, after walking hundreds of miles, rejoined his comrades at Petersburg, Virginia, just as the Union siege there began. Once the war ended, Batchelor returned on foot to his farm, where he took part in local politics, supported rights for freedmen, and was fatally involved in a bizarre hometown murder." I won't spoil the last part but suffice it to say the deranged pet owner is not a purely modern phenomenon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Review - "A Yankee Regiment in Confederate Louisiana: The 31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Gulf South" by Larry Lowenthal

[A Yankee Regiment in Confederate Louisiana: The 31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Gulf South by Larry Lowenthal (Louisiana State University Press, 2019) Cloth, 3 maps, notes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total:xv,283/353. ISBN:978-0-8071-7190-5. $48]

While the more casual Civil War reader is unlikely to associate Massachusetts regiments with military campaigns fought in Louisiana, the truth is that a large number of New Englanders spent the majority of their volunteer service in the Department of the Gulf under the overall command of political generals Benjamin Butler and Nathaniel Banks. The Gulf Department's longest-serving New England unit was the 31st Massachusetts, which has now finally received a modern, full-length regimental history. Larry Lowenthal's A Yankee Regiment in Confederate Louisiana: The 31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in the Gulf South chronicles the unit's entire military service from its late-1861 organization to its October 1865 mustering out.

The ranks of the 31st Massachusetts were filled with men recruited from western counties, and it would become appropriately known as the "Western Bay State Regiment." Civil War readers very quickly become accustomed to the fact that Civil War volunteer regiments were political animals through and through, but Lowenthal shows that political pressures on the budding 31st were a bit more extreme than most. In addition to highlighting the regional prejudice and rivalry that emerged between the western 31st and their eastern Massachusetts counterparts, the author documents the regiment's early history in the context of a patronage battle fought between the War Democrat Butler and abolitionist Republican governor John Andrew. Though conflict over leadership appointments would linger, a proficient officer, Colonel Oliver Gooding, was placed in command. As will be noted below, the other field grade officers would prove less capable.

Having taken part in Butler's highly successful 1862 New Orleans expedition, the 31st spent much of its early active service as garrison troops in and around the Crescent City (including Fort Jackson). During this time the regiment rarely served together as a whole. Though the author attributes this to negative political interference, it was perhaps more likely a function of the kind of duty they were performing. To fulfill the need to occupy posts both large and small, it was common practice during the Civil War to split up garrison regiments for extended periods of time.

As described in the book, the regiment's first experience of major combat was at the Battle of Fort Bisland during General Banks's 1863 Bayou Teche Campaign. Both there and during the ensuing Port Hudson campaign and siege, the unit was not at the forefront of the fighting and escaped heavy casualties. After the fall of Port Hudson in July, the regiment returned to more mundane garrison activities at Baton Rouge.

In December, citing persistent weakness in the department's cavalry arm, the 31st was ordered mounted. Assigned to Dudley's Brigade of Albert Lee's hastily assembled command, the regiment's first campaign in their new role was up the Red River in early 1864. Like much of Banks's vanguard, the regiment was swept away during the April 8 rout at Mansfield. Though the 31st fought in the front rank under impossible conditions, the author blames much of its panicked disintegration on the poor showing of the field grade officers. With Col. Gooding temporarily reassigned elsewhere to a brigade command, the regiment's lieutenant colonel was in charge during the campaign. Unfortunately, he was found intoxicated on the side of the road during the approach march, and the major, also an alleged drunkard, fled the Mansfield battlefield after the first shots were fired. Though reassigned to army's rear during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, the unit was thereafter in constant action from Alexandria through the end of the campaign. It played an important role during the daylong skirmish fought between Mansura (May 16) and Yellow Bayou (May 18) and was heavily engaged at the latter battle. This part of the book nicely fills in some details of lesser-known events from the 1864 Red River Campaign.

Though the sacking of Lee highlighted the scapegoating of the cavalry, the Red River disaster did not especially harm the 31st's reputation. Returning to the Gulf after a month-long furlough home, the men exchanged their cavalry carbines for infantry rifles and were expected to operate thereafter in the capacity of mounted infantry. When their three-year enlistments expired at the end of 1864, the remaining men were consolidated into a five-company battalion. Though the current generation of Civil War guerrilla warfare scholars might justifiably cringe at Lowenthal's general characterization of guerrillas as "byproducts of social disintegration" who were "(d)rawn from the lowest strata of society,...coarse, uneducated, violent, and unprincipled" (pg. 250), the author's account of the 31st's new career as guerrilla hunters is otherwise a very fine contribution to the historiography of the topic. Though the irregular war in the LaFourche District of SW Louisiana has already been well documented in the literature, the book's coverage of the 31st's late-war operations there and also on the other side of the Mississippi over a period of several months is both interesting and freshly informative. Later, the battalion would be shipped to Pensacola for the final push on Mobile, and the Massachusetts mounted infantry would end the war in the Department of Alabama.

Even though the veterans of the regiment compiled a large mass of letters, diaries, and other firsthand accounts for a planned regimental history, it was never written or published. Languishing for many decades in an uncatalogued archive in Springfield, the collection proved to be an unexpected research bonanza for Lowenthal, who skillfully integrated those invaluable primary source materials into this study. Supplements to Lowenthal's narrative history are scarce, with only a few maps included in the book and no collection of photographs of people or places related to the regiment and its wartime service. There's also no roster attached to the unit history, an omission that may or may not disappoint the reader.

Lowenthal is persuasive in observing that the Civil War career of the 31st Massachusetts was most remarkable not for its battle record but for its atypically broad range of formal military functions performed in the field, which included both front line and rear area infantry, mounted infantry, and cavalry operations as well as dedicated guerrilla hunting. A fine record of this largely obscure history, A Yankee Regiment in Confederate Louisiana finally accords the men of the 31st appropriate recognition for their service. Along with being regarded as a unique contribution to the unit historiography, the book should greatly appeal to Civil War students of the Lower Mississippi home and fighting fronts. Recommended.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Book News: The Howling Storm

Kenneth Noe's highly anticipated study of weather effects on Civil War armies has now appeared in LSU Press's fall catalog. In The Howling Storm: Weather, Climate, and the American Civil War (October 2020), Noe "retells the history of the conflagration with a focus on the ways in which weather and climate shaped the outcomes of battles and campaigns. He further contends that events such as floods and droughts affecting the Confederate home front constricted soldiers’ food supply, lowered morale, and undercut the government’s efforts to boost nationalist sentiment. By contrast, the superior equipment and open supply lines enjoyed by Union soldiers enabled them to cope successfully with the South’s extreme conditions and, ultimately, secure victory in 1865."

More from the description: "Climate conditions during the war proved unusual, as irregular phenomena such as El Niño, La Niña, and similar oscillations in the Atlantic Ocean disrupted weather patterns across southern states. Taking into account these meteorological events, Noe rethinks conventional explanations of battlefield victories and losses, compelling historians to reconsider long-held conclusions about the war. Unlike past studies that fault inflation, taxation, and logistical problems for the Confederate defeat, his work considers how soldiers and civilians dealt with floods and droughts that beset areas of the South in 1862, 1863, and 1864. In doing so, he addresses the foundational causes that forced Richmond to make difficult and sometimes disastrous decisions when prioritizing the feeding of the home front or the front lines."

Some of the author's work on the topic has already been published (see his excellent essay in Bledsoe & Lang's 2018 anthology Upon the Fields of Battle, also from LSUP) and books like the very recent 2020 study An Environmental History of the Civil War have also addressed weather and climate factors, but The Howling Storm (which will be nearly 700 pages in length) promises the most complete treatment of the subject to date. I am greatly looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Booknotes: Not Till Then Can the World Know

New Arrival:
Not Till Then Can the World Know: Replacement Companies of the Fourteenth Iowa Infantry in the Trans-Mississippi by L. Spencer Busch & Valentine L. Spawr (Laurel Busch-Author, 2020).

From the description: "While the 14th Iowa Infantry was being organized in 1861, its first three companies (A, B, and C) were sent to the Dakota Territory. The remaining seven companies entered the Civil War in 1862, but to be complete the regiment still had to recruit replacements for the first three. This regimental history focuses on the replacement companies and on what the war was like for the men of the regiment in camp, on the march, and in battle in 1863 and 1864."

Laurel Busch's Not Till Then Can the World Know: Replacement Companies of the Fourteenth Iowa Infantry in the Trans-Mississippi contains both an annotated diary and a unit history narrative. "The first part is the diary kept by 8th Corporal Valentine L. Spawr, a member of the new Company C and the 14th Iowa color guard, in camp at Fort Halleck, Ky., in 1863. 

The second part covers the regiment’s fighting in the Trans-Mississippi in 1864—Sherman’s Meridian Expedition, Banks’s Red River Campaign, and battles at Tupelo, Miss., and Pilot Knob, Mo. It includes the controversy over the dismissal of Colonel William T. Shaw, the regiment’s organizer and first commander—later a brigade and division commander in the 16th Army Corps—for publicly criticizing General Nathaniel Banks and other officers after the battle of Pleasant Hill, La."

The editor/author uses "primary sources as much as possible, incorporating letters from soldiers in the same regiment and brigade, newspaper articles, and officers’ reports." The bibliography lists only a small number of online sources, but it appears to be only a select compilation (though it is not designated as such) as just a quick perusal through the footnotes reveals sources (the most obvious ones being newspapers) not listed there. The detailed roster of the three replacement companies was assembled from Roster and Record of Iowa Soldiers in the War of the Rebellion.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Review - "The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect: The Life and Diary of Confederate Artillerist William Ellis Jones" by Constance Jones, ed.

[The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect: The Life and Diary of Confederate Artillerist William Ellis Jones ed. by Constance Hall Jones (Southern Illinois University Press, 2020) Softcover, 9 maps, photos, illustrations, appendix, notes, bibliography, index. Pp. 263. ISBN:978-0-8093-3761-3. $26.50]

The Richmond-born son of a well-to-do Welsh immigrant merchant, William Ellis Jones (1838-1910) enlisted as an artillery private in the Crenshaw (Virginia) Battery in March 1862. He served with the Army of Northern Virginia's long arm until a Spotsylvania wound led to his 1864 medical discharge. Jones spent the rest of the war years employed as a Quartermaster Department clerk in the capital. After the war, Jones returned to his prior occupation in the printing and publishing business. The firm he worked with and eventually purchased was highly successful and a major publisher of Confederate history in partnership with the Southern Historical Society Papers and other organizations (including the Virginia Historical Society). In The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect one will find not only an annotated version of Jones's diary but also a rather extensive biographical treatment of its author.

Though spanning less than ten months of early-war campaigning, Jones's wartime diary (March 14, 1862 through December 31, 1862) is noteworthy on several counts. Published diaries of Confederate artillery privates are uncommon enough on their own, but Jones's diary is even more remarkable for its exceptionally observant account of the most fluid year of fighting in the eastern theater. Jones also writes well, fulsomely, and regularly. Replete with literary allusions, environmental notations, and detailed commentary on camping, marching, and fighting, the diary is a rather extraordinary day-by-day record of an artillerist's ground-level viewpoint of the Peninsula, Second Manassas, Maryland, and Fredericksburg campaigns. Most descriptive is the diary's Seven Days coverage, but it should also be mentioned on the other end of the spectrum that the detail contained in Jones's daily musings decreased steadily from the Maryland Campaign onward. Unfortunately for us, the diary simply ends at the conclusion of the calendar year, with no evidence that Jones picked up the pen again for the duration.

The considerable research editor Constance Hall Jones applied to her diary notes and commentary adds much in the way of supporting background information and useful context. On the other hand, in repeatedly questioning the diarist's wartime commitment (positioned in the book as contrasting significantly with his later "Lost Cause" advocacy) she arguably makes too much of Jones's March 1862 enlistment date, his clashes with battery officers (particularly Capt. Crenshaw), the abrupt termination of his diary, and his acceptance of a disability discharge. What the editor sees as collective evidence of lukewarm ardor others might see as rather unexceptional circumstances. On the last point, nothing solid is presented to raise suspicion that Jones's disability certificate was irregularly obtained.

A research effort similar to that devoted to annotating the diary was also spent on creating a wonderfully evocative portrait of Jones's antebellum Richmond upbringing and social circle. His family's extensive prewar business and trade interests in the city are explored at some length, as are its wartime enterprises. Picking up again after the diary ends, the editor's biographical narrative briefly describes the rest of Jones's Civil War career, that section concluding with a vivid account of the ruinous economic consequences of the wanton destruction that engulfed the capital during its April 1865 evacuation. Finally, notable insights into the nineteenth-century Richmond publishing scene are interspersed throughout the book, with particular emphasis placed on Jones's prominent role in promoting Confederate history and remembrance in print.

In expanding her study's purview beyond a brief Civil War diary to encompass its writer's personal, family, and professional connections with Richmond commerce, culture, and society over many decades, Constance Hall Jones has created a work of significant historiographical value on multiple levels. The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect is highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Book News: Civil War Supply and Strategy

In recognition of the impossibility of fitting anything approaching a comprehensive examination of the topic inside a single book of standard size, historian Earl Hess instead decided to focus on transportation issues for his fine 2017 study Civil War Logistics. What I didn't realize at the time (though I should have expected it!) was that Hess himself was close to finishing a companion work on supply. Going even further, the upcoming Civil War Supply and Strategy: Feeding Men and Moving Armies (LSU Press, 2020) promises readers "a sweeping examination of the decisive link between the distribution of provisions to soldiers and the strategic movement of armies during the Civil War." In it, Hess "reveals how that dynamic served as the key to success, especially for the Union army as it undertook bold offensives striking far behind Confederate lines. How generals and their subordinates organized military resources to provide food for both men and animals under their command, he argues, proved essential to Union victory." No one can argue with that.

More from the description: "Logistics and supply empowered Union offensive strategy but limited it as well; heavily dependent on supply lines, road systems, preexisting railroad lines, and natural waterways, Union strategy worked far better in the more developed Upper South. Union commanders encountered unique problems in the Deep South, where needed infrastructure was more scarce. While the Mississippi River allowed Northern armies to access the region along a narrow corridor and capture key cities and towns along its banks, the dearth of rail lines nearly stymied William T. Sherman’s advance to Atlanta. In other parts of the Deep South, the Union army relied on massive strategic raids to destroy resources and propel its military might into the heart of the Confederacy."

As hinted at above, it appears the book will employ the concept of logistical theaters to illustrate the various ways Union forces were able to meet the most difficult geographical challenges. "As Hess’s study shows, from the perspective of maintaining food supply and moving armies, there existed two main theaters of operation, north and south, that proved just as important as the three conventional eastern, western, and Trans-Mississippi theaters. Indeed, the conflict in the Upper South proved so different from that in the Deep South that the ability of Federal officials to negotiate the logistical complications associated with army mobility played a crucial role in determining the outcome of the war." Look for it in October.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Book News: Courage Above All Things

Major General John E. Wool was one of those highly respected yet superannuated Old Army officers entrusted with mostly administrative roles during the Civil War. Before he finally retired in 1863, he had led at one time or another three eastern theater military departments (East, Virginia, and Middle). "At the onset of the Civil War, when he assumed command of the Department of the East, Wool had been a brigadier general for twenty years and, at age seventy-seven, was the oldest general on either side of the conflict." Harwood Hinton and Jerry Thompson's Courage Above All Things: General John Ellis Wool and the U.S. Military, 1812–1863 "marks the first full biography of Wool, who aside from his unparalleled military service, figured prominently in many critical moments in nineteenth-century U.S. history."

This Wool biography appears to have been a passion project for Harwood Hinton, who was a history professor at the University of Arizona and devoted half a century to researching and writing this book before his untimely passing in 2016. Finished by noted Southwest historian Jerry Thompson, "(t)his deeply researched and deftly written volume incorporates the latest scholarship to offer a clear and detailed account of John Ellis Wool’s extraordinary life—his character, his life experiences, and his career, in wartime and during uneasy periods of relative peace. Hinton and Thompson provide a thorough account of all chapters in Wool’s life, including three major wars," [War of 1812, War with Mexico, and American Civil War] "the Cherokee Removal, and battles with Native Americans on the West Coast."

Civil War readers, if they give Wool much of a second thought, remember him most for his actions on the Virginia Peninsula and his part in quelling the New York City draft riots. I don't know if I will be able to set aside the time necessary to digest the entire book, which will apparently run well over 500 pages, but I am certainly interested in reading the Civil War sections. Publisher University of Oklahoma Press currently has it scheduled for an October 2020 release.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Sharpen your Civil War proofreading skills (and maybe have a little bit of fun doing it)

Since there are no more new releases to talk about, let's have some small amusement with a little editing exercise. As you might know, I read a fair bit of Civil War writing. Though a brilliant summary of the early-war period, the following paragraph does contain some of my favorite common (and apparently ineradicable) word usage and spelling mistakes. If you have a minute or two to spare (what else do you have to do sitting there at home?), give it a go as proofreader and leave your error count in the comments section. Just stick to individual words (i.e. don't get hung up on sentence structure, punctuation, and the like). Writing a short paragraph that would fit everything in while still making at least some cohesive sense was difficult enough!
"After South Carolina's Ordnance of Succession touched off a wave of Deep South defections, any lingering doubts that war was immanent were completely erased by the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumpter. Fearing eminent attack on his own department, Albert Sydney Johnson, former colonel of the 2nd U.S. Calvary, busied himself with the defense of the new Confederacy's vast western front, of which Fort Donaldson would become a key anchor point. On the home front, while the actions of some provost marshalls were heavy-handed, wild rumors regarding a general imposition of marshal law proved largely unfounded. After his home state of Kentucky remained in the Union, even former Vice President John C. Breckenridge joined the Confederate cause. At the same time, southern troops were disbursed along a long, thin line of defense and already cash-strapped departments had difficulties dispersing adequate funds. Lamenting their own outdated cannon, Confederate ordinance chiefs could only eye the Union Army's new Parrot guns with envy. Meanwhile, off to the east Union general George B. McClelland was busy repairing the morale damage of Irwin McDowell's embarrassing defeat at Bull Run."

[UPDATE: Well, one person (unfortunately anonymous) arrived at the expected error count. I didn't ask respondents to show their work, but I will give OMW the benefit of the doubt. The "correct" answer is: 18.].
"After South Carolina's Ordinance [1] of Secession [2] touched off a wave of Deep South defections, any lingering doubts that war was imminent [3] were completely erased by the Confederate bombardment of Fort Sumter [4]. Fearing imminent [5] attack on his own department, Albert Sidney [6] Johnston [7], former colonel of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry [8], busied himself with the defense of the new Confederacy's vast western front, of which Fort Donelson [9] would become a key anchor point. On the home front, while the actions of some provost marshals [10] were heavy-handed, wild rumors regarding a general imposition of martial [11] law proved largely unfounded. After his home state of Kentucky remained in the Union, even former Vice President John C. Breckinridge [12] joined the Confederate cause. At the same time, southern troops were dispersed [13] along a long, thin line of defense and already cash-strapped departments had difficulties disbursing [14] adequate funds. Lamenting their own outdated cannon, Confederate ordnance [15] chiefs could only eye the Union Army's new Parrott [16] guns with envy. Meanwhile, off to the east Union general George B. McClellan [17] was busy repairing the morale damage of Irvin [18] McDowell's embarrassing defeat at Bull Run."

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Review - "An Environmental History of the Civil War" by Browning & Silver

[An Environmental History of the Civil War by Judkin Browning and Timothy Silver (University of North Carolina Press, 2020). Hardcover, 3 maps, photos, illustrations, notes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total:xi,199/272. ISBN:978-1-4696-5538-3. $30]

A joint effort from military historian Judkin Browning and environmental historian Timothy Silver, An Environmental History of the Civil War both synthesizes and expands upon the subdiscipline's existing literature. In its pages one can clearly identify major influential works such as Andrew McIlwain Bell's Mosquito Soldiers (2010), Lisa Brady's War Upon the Land (2012), Megan Kate Nelson's Ruin Nation (2012), Kathryn Shively Meier's Nature's Civil War (2013), the 2015 essay anthology The Blue, the Gray, and the Green from editor Brian Allen Drake, Joan Cashin's War Stuff (2018), and Erin Stewart Mauldin's Unredeemed Land (2018). One can readily discern from the publication dates referenced above that Civil War environmental history is a relatively new scholarly development in the field, yet Browning and Silver clearly demonstrate that enough has been published already in book and article formats to warrant the broad, state-of-the-field analysis that their own study provides. On the surface, Browning and Silver's work displays an integrated chronological and theme-based chapter arrangement, but it also uses well-selected examples from the academic literature to impressively highlight how and where those themes closely intersect.

Of course, military historians have always appreciated the debilitating effects temperature extremes had on marching and fighting armies, and their own works have also routinely documented the decimation of regiments (especially new ones) through disease; however, Browning and Silver's opening chapter dealing with soldier health also appropriately stresses the idea that armies themselves were wandering agents of biological and ecological disruption. For instance, in many settled areas with rural populations dispersed enough to prevent epidemics, diseases almost unknown to most locals for generations reemerged with a vengeance when tens of thousands of warm bodies possessing varying degrees of immunity arrived in their midst as instant incubators. Civil War armies could also have the opposite effect. For example, General Butler's intensive cleanup and environmental policing of occupied New Orleans effectively (though mostly inadvertently) quashed southern hopes that the city's regular outbreaks of yellow fever and malaria would made the city too hot for the enemy to hold. It is also suggested that Union armies, by passing through both the friendly Midwest and hostile South, altered the country's "pattern of microbial exchange," bringing contagions such as measles and smallpox deeper into those areas. How permanent those effects would prove to be is unstated. Though mentioned mostly in passing, the book also provides another perspective on emancipation, as mass movement of slave populations across great distances contributed another factor to the war's sudden alteration of microbial equilibrium.

Weather effect is another well-developed facet of traditional Civil War military history. However, it is most often addressed in a campaign-specific manner. Browning and Silver also do this, but, in another example of how they insightfully stress connectivity in their study, they additionally address how climate oscillations had continental-scale impacts on military campaigns in the Civil War. For example, in late-December 1861 massive rain storms rolled into California from the Pacific (a surprise episode that occurred during a prolonged La Nina pattern of below-normal rainfall). This 1,000-year "atmospheric river" event in the midst of a ten-year drought caused devastating flooding and tremendous losses in crops, livestock, and property. It also materially hampered the progress of the famed California Column's march across the southern desert. Spreading east, extraordinary flooding also occurred in the Tennessee Valley. This had a major impact on U.S. Grant's twin river campaign, when high water allowed Union forces to easily capture a flooded Fort Henry and Confederate commanders at Fort Donelson surrendered rather than push their men through flooded ground amid frigid temperatures. Weeks later, heavy rains critically affected both Union and Confederate army movements during the Shiloh Campaign. Even back east, General McClellan's drive up the Virginia Peninsula was similarly affected by exceptional downpours that ruined poorly drained roads not designed for heavy traffic (here the authors' views and interpretations align closely with those expressed in historian Kenneth Noe's contribution to the recent essay anthology Upon the Fields of Battle). Later, McClellan's army would become perilously divided by the rain-swollen Chickahominy Bottom, a weather event that would impact the course of the campaign in several different ways. For one, the swampy conditions created a perfect breeding ground for sickness, and July 1862 would prove to be the worst month of the war for the Army of the Potomac when it came to the percentage of sick soldiers on its rolls. Certainly, weather is just one factor in the success and failure of armies, but the chapter does a fine job of demonstrating that the surprise weather extremes of early to mid-1862 had a major impact across all major fighting fronts.

The next section of the book moves on to the topic of food. Flooding during the aforementioned wet spring of 1862 ruined many crop lands, but the prolonged rains also created perfect environmental conditions for damaging outbreaks of agricultural blights such as wheat stem rust. The authors cite figures as dire as 50% wheat losses in the Shenandoah and perhaps the loss of one-sixth of the South's entire wheat production for the year. Making matters worse, as spring turned to summer and fall, severe drought returned and even more vital corn crops failed. Government and social pressure to grow less cotton and more food was only partially successful, and conscription, land loss, army foraging, and burdensome requisition laws only worsened food shortages on the southern home front. As has often been repeated, obtaining food and forage were important considerations behind both failed northern offensives launched by Robert E. Lee's army. By contrast northern food production grew by leaps and bounds, leaving a substantial surplus even for export.

As with the case of food production, animal procurement and care was another indispensable area where the North achieved marked superiority by 1863. Veterinary care was neglected by both sides, but the Union system of horse procurement and rehabilitation, accompanied by the ability to create a superabundance of shoes and other equipment, far outpaced the South's tardy and insufficient efforts. The drought of 1863 also fatefully taxed Lee's ability to feed his animals, and both artillery and transport in the Army of Northern Virginia inexorably declined from that point onward. The concentration of dead horses along march routes and battlefields also created an ecological challenge, as their bulky bodies were difficult to dispose of in a way that did not create unsanitary conditions for nearby soldiers and civilians.

As much as horses were essential to transportation and work, hogs were a staple of the southern diet. With the war shutting off traditional sources of hog importation, pork procurement became integrated with Confederate war strategy. However, a major environment consequence of gathering hogs together in large holding areas for processing was disease, and hog cholera swept through entire regions. The book notes that the virus killed nearly the entire hog population of Arkansas in 1862. To make up for the shortfall in pork, beef became a larger part of the southern diet during the war. However, Union military successes in the West, bovine diseases endemic to southern climes, and the losing combination of great distances and deteriorating transportation networks (the great cattle-raising states were frontier Texas and Florida) meant that sufficient supplies of beef could never consistently reach the front. After the bitterly harsh winter of 1863-64 killed the majority of Texas cattle, the weather also had its say in making a bad situation even worse.

The next chapter addresses the environmental effects of human battle deaths, with particular emphasis placed on the consequences of 1864's advent of more continuous contact between opposing armies. The general ecological effects of mass casualties are examined, from internal biological processes of decay to sanitary issues for both the survivors and local populations. Environmental interactions between various organisms (including bacteria, worms, insects, and rats) and battle wounds are also discussed. The huge number of deaths and disabling wounds among the country's working-age population affected the farm labor force in both sections, but in the South the deficits were far less replaceable. According to the book's sources, southern land improved for cultivation decreased by ten million acres between 1860 and 1870. How much of this environmental change was due solely to labor factors is difficult to assess, but the deaths of well over one-quarter of all southern soldiers (along with the permanent disablement of many thousands more) must have had a tremendous impact even without taking into account the loss/redirection of forced labor through emancipation.

Finally taking readers through the end of the conflict and beyond, the book examines the war's widespread assault on both natural and improved landscapes. Also discussed are examples of how the need to secure vital natural resources (ex. the salt-producing parts of SW Virginia) brought the war to isolated places with no other strategic value and forbidding fighting topography. The need to cut down vast tracts of forest lands to fuel local industries transformed landscapes for miles around, and the frequency of those efforts contributed to what would become the predominant Civil War battlefield terrain type—a mixture of woods (both primary and secondary) and adjacent clearings of improved land. Though the publication of Scott Hippensteel's Rocks and Rifles (2019) is perhaps too recent to have been included as a source, both books come to similar conclusions about how geology, limestone deposits in particular, shaped the strategy and tactical decisions of Civil War commanders. The section also looks beyond the battlefield in examining wartime actions with long-term consequences far beyond 1865. In addition to the arrival of Sherman's army group before Atlanta overwhelming an already precarious water supply, tree losses due to wartime consumption (as well as the bombardment of the city itself) subjected Atlanta to greatly increased water runoff and soil erosion that altered the landscape on a semi-permanent basis. New South urbanization certainly must have contributed to the more permanent reduction in tree cover, but, according to the sources, even after a century of replanting campaigns the city had only regained a tiny amount of the vegetative cover that it enjoyed prewar. Of course, historians have often observed that forests disappeared at an alarming rate wherever Civil War armies roamed, but few have recognized that it was typically the most valuable types of wood that went first. This harmed the economic futures of local residents already struggling through postwar economic devastation. Through erosion deforestation also had the compound effect of further reducing farmland acreage. According to often startling figures cited in the book, deforestation, fence destruction, draft animal shortages, and other factors frequently meant that entire southern counties still had only a fraction of prewar levels of improved acreage in production by 1870. Citing the Mauldin book referenced earlier, the authors also note that the societal advancements brought by emancipation were not generally extended to the agriculture-supporting environment. Apparently, contract labor was no match for enslaved labor when it came to performing the backbreaking essential work of land maintenance (ex. drainage, fertilization, land use rotation, etc.). Indeed, the book references the study of one expert who estimates that topsoil erosion in the states of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina was up to 120% higher in 1880 than it was in 1860, the affects of which profoundly reduced crop yields over that period.

Further solidifying environmental history's maturing status as a true sub-field of Civil War studies, the volume clearly demonstrates that this growing body of work represents more than a transient academic fad. As evidenced in the book, Civil War environmental history continues to perform a valuable service through highlighting and deepening our knowledge and appreciation of the many connections between the natural world and the Civil War's military and home fronts. In this manner, Browning and Silver's synthesis convincingly treats the war as an "ecological event" as well as a clash between armies and societies.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Booknotes: Obstinate Heroism

New Arrival:
Obstinate Heroism: The Confederate Surrenders after Appomattox by Steven J. Ramold (UNT Press, 2020).

The surrender of Lee's army on April 9, 1865 still left many thousands of organized Confederate troops physically and materially capable of further resistance. In some places, the nearest Union forces were well out of contact and very far away indeed. Nevertheless Appomattox and evolving events quickly convinced most Confederate generals and common soldiers alike that further resistance was fruitless. Recounting the Confederate surrenders in North Carolina, Alabama, and the Trans-Mississippi along with the final clashes of arms that preceded them is Steven Ramold's Obstinate Heroism: The Confederate Surrenders after Appomattox.

From the description: "Although pressed by Union forces at varying degrees, all of the remaining Confederate armies were capable of continuing the war if they chose to do so. But they did not, even when their political leaders ordered them to continue the fight. Convinced that most civilians no longer wanted to continue the war, the senior Confederate military leadership, over the course of several weeks, surrendered their armies under different circumstances."

Though General Johnston's capitulation in North Carolina has been abundantly documented in the recent literature, events the occurred out west and across the Mississippi have received lesser attention. As mentioned above, Ramold's study demonstrates how differently each major post-Appomattox surrender played out. "Gen. Joseph Johnston surrendered his army in North Carolina only after contentious negotiations with Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. Gen. Richard Taylor ended the fighting in Alabama in the face of two massive Union incursions into the state rather than try to consolidate with other Confederate armies. Personal rivalry also played a part in his practical considerations to surrender. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith had the decision to surrender taken out of his hands—disastrous economic conditions in his Trans-Mississippi Department had eroded morale to such an extent that his soldiers demobilized themselves, leaving Kirby Smith a general without an army. The end of the Confederacy was a messy and complicated affair, a far cry from the tidy closure associated with the events at Appomattox."

This review copy made it through the blockade in a fast runner. The port remains open for business, but only time will tell when it is considered safe again for the supplier warehouses to discharge their contents generally.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Booknotes: The Cornfield

New Arrival:
The Cornfield: Antietam's Bloody Turning Point by David A. Welker (Casemate, 2020).

If I'm correct, The Cornfield is David Welker's first Civil War book since the 2001 publication of his Chantilly battle study Tempest at Ox Hill. If memory serves, I recall thinking at the time that the author was a more than capable writer of battle history and his version was the better of the two major Chantilly studies.

But is there a great need for another Cornfield narrative? According to the description: The Cornfield: Antietam's Bloody Turning Point "tells for the first time the full story of the exciting struggle to control “the Cornfield,” the action on which the costly battle of Antietam turned, in a thorough yet readable narrative. It explains what happened in Antietam’s Cornfield and why. Because Federal and Confederate forces repeatedly traded control of the spot, the fight for the Cornfield is a story of human struggle against fearful odds, of men seeking to do their duty, of simply trying to survive." I know it is almost routine marketing strategy, but I always cringe when I read claims that a particular book "tells for the first time" the story of a topic most would consider already exhaustively treated, but there's always room for new interpretation.

In hinting at how Welker's account differentiates itself from the pack, the description states that "many of the included firsthand accounts have never been revealed to modern readers and never have they been assembled in such a comprehensive, readable form." Of an even more intriguing nature, it is claimed that the book "offers new perspectives that may be controversial—particularly to those who accept unchallenged the views of the battle's first historians and its generals, who too often sought to shape our understanding for their own purposes—but which are certain to change modern understanding of how the battle of Antietam was fought and its role in American history." I was hoping there would be an introduction section that would provide us with some hints regarding the nature of some of these new perspectives but no dice.

Finally, the book doesn't present the Cornfield fighting in a vacuum. It also "offers fresh views of the battle as a whole, arguing that it turned on events in the Cornfield because of two central facts — Union General George McClellan’s linear thinking demanded that the Cornfield must be taken and, because of this, the repeated failure by the generals McClellan charged with fulfilling this task created a self-reinforcing cycle of disaster that doomed the Union's prospects for success—at the cost of thousands of lives."

In close support of the author's extensive Cornfield narrative is an impressive-looking set of troop movement and terrain maps, the kind of battlefield cartography that doesn't skimp on showing practically every ear of corn, fence post, and furrow in the field. The bibliography is of expected size and breadth for a book of this type, and there is pretty extensive adjudication of source conflicts in the endnotes. If you are an Antietam person, this looks to be well deserving of your consideration.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Review - "Caught in the Maelstrom: The Indian Nations in the Civil War, 1861-1865" by Clint Crowe

[Caught in the Maelstrom: The Indian Nations in the Civil War, 1861-1865 by Clint Crowe (Savas Beatie, 2019). Hardcover, 12 maps, photos, footnotes, bibliography, index. Pages main/total:x,243/271. ISBN:9781611213362. $32.95]

In many ways, the early twentieth-century scholarship of historian Annie Abel has served as the foundation of modern studies of the Civil War experiences of the "Five Civilized Tribes" (Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole) of Indian Territory. After the 1925 completion of her pioneering trilogy, the subject largely languished outside the pages of the history journal Chronicles of Oklahoma. A larger revival of publications in book form really didn't occur until decades later, and it would be 1975 before the first attempt at a comprehensive overview (Rampp and Rampp's The Civil War in the Indian Territory) was published. However, even with wide recognition of the general inadequacy of works in the field, many more decades would pass before the publication of Mary Jane Warde's When the Wolf Came: The Civil War and the Indian Territory (2013), which immediately became the new standard history. In some ways less expansive than Warde's study but still satisfying all the essential expectations is Clint Crowe's Caught in the Maelstrom: The Indian Nations in the Civil War, 1861-1865.

No insightful examination of Civil War histories of the five principal nations of Indian Territory is possible without first reaching back to the removal treaties of the 1830s as chief source of the most bitter divisions that existed within them. Particularly among the powerful Creek and Cherokee populations, no united front was possible when it came to confronting the dangers of encroaching Civil War. It would mischaracterize the population of Indian Territory as a whole to say that all full-bloods were pro-Union and mixed-bloods pro-Confederate, but when it came to choosing allegiances the ethnocultural discord being traditional and non-traditional members was certainly highly pronounced among those nations. Crowe also usefully reminds readers of the role played by secret society membership in facilitating Cherokee factionalism and side choosing (the Keehtoowah Society being popular among pro-Union full-bloods and Knights of the Golden Circle influencing those members most closely associated with southern culture and slave-based economic activity). After U.S. forces abruptly withdrew from the frontier in 1861, representatives of all five nations (with varying degrees of enthusiasm) negotiated alliance treaties with the Confederate government and contributed military units for defense. On the Union side, Indian Home Guard regiments were eventually formed from refugees in Kansas as well as from numerous Cherokee defectors. Both home and fighting fronts are accorded significant attention and detailed consideration in Crowe's book, though, in common with of all general examinations of Civil War-era Indian Territory, Cherokee affairs tend to overshadow others.

On the military side of the discussion, Crowe addresses the many campaigns, battles, and skirmishes fought within Indian Territory (ex. Opothleyahola's escape, the Indian Expedition of 1862, Old Fort Wayne, First and Second Cabin Creek, Honey Springs, Perryville, Phillips's 1864 Raid, Massard Prairie, and more) as well as Union and Confederate Indian participation in operations outside the borders of Indian Territory (ex. Pea Ridge, Newtonia, Cane Hill, and Camden Expedition). Most, if not all, of these events are covered in more detail in other published sources, and the greatest strength of Crowe's series of military action accounts (which are perfectly adequate in their own right) is in their comprehensive integration. Like others have before him, Crowe sees the Union victory at the July 17, 1863 Battle of Honey Springs as the major turning point that eliminated once and for all Confederate hopes of permanently reoccupying Indian Territory. For the rest of the war, Confederate forces, while still dangerous, could do little more than launch raids and demonstrations. In common with Warde, the irregular war in the territory is mostly addressed tangentially. As has become standard practice, Confederate general Stand Watie dominates much of the narrative, but Crowe also offers suitable coverage of other military leaders, along with way presenting a renewed appreciation of the military and administrative talents of Confederate major general. Samuel Bell Maxey. Though political interference from high above eventually sidelined him, Maxey proved himself to be arguably the most effective overall commander of Confederate forces in Indian Territory.

Scholars have pointed out before that Indian Territory residents suffered the Civil War's highest proportional losses in population and property destruction, and Crowe's book contains a fairly extensive exploration of home front displacement and material loss. A handful of insightful case studies detail individual stories that mirror civilian experiences common to Missouri and other regions of the country wracked by similar levels of home front violence. In response to the back and forth fighting in Indian Territory, tens of thousands fled their homes. Pro-Union families temporarily settled in Kansas in large numbers while pro-Confederate Indians relocated to refugee camps established along the Red River border with Texas. Disease and deprivation were rampant, and both tribal and government authorities struggled to supply the needs of refugees. Though government assistance (aided by active lobbying from religious groups) allowed some farms in Union-controlled areas to return to production during the war's final months, the vast majority of displaced persons could not return home until the war ended.

When peace returned, the nations of Indian Territory were surprised to learn that all of their antebellum treaties with the U.S. were voided and needed to be renegotiated. As was the case before the Civil War, factionalism prevented a united diplomatic front. The new treaties with the United States ended slavery, addressed citizenship, and included extensive (though compensated) land cessions and railroad right-of-way concessions. At least for the time being, though, the sovereign nations avoided the single government and U.S. territorial status desired by many political leaders in Washington. Spread over two chapters, Crowe's discussion of postwar recovery is less extensive than Warde's (which stretched into the following century), but it provides a good overview of the immediate postwar struggle to obtain the best terms possible from the federal government.

Those seeking a general history of the experience and participation of Indian Territory nations (particularly the Five Civilized Tribes) in the American Civil War now have two reading options worthy of recommendation. With both works exhibiting up to date scholarship while covering roughly similar ground (though at varying degrees of depth), preference will largely be a matter of individual taste. The best option to take, however, is to appreciate their complementary strengths by reading both. Generally speaking, it is probably safe to say that Crowe's Caught in the Maelstrom is more accessible to a wider audience and its military coverage more thorough in places (and with far better maps) while Warde's social, economic, and political treatments are deeper throughout.