Saturday, June 6, 2020

Booknotes: The Desperate Struggle

New Arrival:
The Desperate Struggle: Louisiana Civil War Compendium - A Military History of Campaigns & Battles 1861-1865 by Henry O. Robertson (Author, 2020).

From the description: "This book is a guide for the major Civil War campaigns and battles in Louisiana, 1861-1865. The Trans-Mississippi Theater of the Civil War has drawn plenty of attention from scholars who have studied the campaigns and battles that took place in Missouri, Arkansas, and the coastal expeditions against Texas. The historians who have studied the campaigns in Louisiana, one of the southern most of the Trans-Mississippi locations, are a numerous and a tenacious group. Until now, however, the last work to cover the war in the whole state, rather than single campaigns or battles, was published in 1963 [John D. Winters's classic The Civil War in Louisiana]."

More: "This guide uses a state regional approach to understanding the conduct of the war." The book is not a touring guide per se, but lists of places to visit (with location info, website URL where applicable, and some commentary) are inserted at various places. "The Mississippi River and the many other waterways played a great role in the clash between Confederates and Union forces. The city of New Orleans, the large number of slaves, plain folk farms across the hill country, and both sugar and cotton plantations provided a very different backdrop for war here. Along with the terrain, leadership and command decisions made the difference between victory or defeat. This compendium guide is excellent for taking along on visits to find Louisiana's lost battlegrounds."

In writing this book, Louisiana College history professor Henry Robertson's stated purpose is to "give the general reader a regional compendium of the Civil War campaigns in Louisiana." Common to works of this type, new research is not the order of the day in The Desperate Struggle, so the bibliography primarily consists of a selection of notable published sources. In a nod to the target audience, there are no footnotes. The volume is illustrated with both B&W and color images and maps (the latter mostly consisting of reproductions from the public domain).

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