Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Booknotes: Cincinnati in the Civil War

New Arrival:
Cincinnati in the Civil War: The Union's Queen City by David L. Mowery (Arcadia Pub and The Hist Press, 2021).

With a population slightly larger than St. Louis's, Cincinnati was a major western city with an underappreciated Civil War history. Well-known Camp Dennison was constructed nearby, and the city briefly occupied the limelight when its defenses were marshalled against the invasion threat from Braxton Bragg's 1862 Kentucky Campaign, but Cincinnati itself doesn't figure very prominently in general Civil War narratives. The city's Civil War history certainly deserves to be raised out of obscurity, and David Mowery's Cincinnati in the Civil War: The Union's Queen City aims to draw more appropriate attention toward the city's important role in the war.

From the description: "During the Civil War, Cincinnati played a crucial role in preserving the United States. Not only was the city the North's most populous in the west, but it was also the nation's third-most productive manufacturing center. Instrumental in the Underground Railroad prior to the conflict, the city became a focal point for curbing Southern incursion into Union territory, and nearby Camp Dennison was Ohio's largest camp in the Civil War and one of the largest in the United States. Cincinnati historian David L. Mowery examines the many different facets of the Queen City during the war, from the enlistment of the city's area residents in more than 590 Federal regiments and artillery units to the city's production of seventy-eight U.S. Navy gunboats for the nation's rivers. As the Union's "Queen City," Cincinnati lived up to its name."

The text portion of volumes from the publisher's long-standing and still highly prolific Civil War Series generally run in the 125-page range, and this book's narrative portion is of similar scale and is enhanced through numerous maps, tables, and photographs. However, this particular series entry is further expanded by nearly 200 pages of appendix material. Those sections offer detailed information about Civil War sites in and around the city (including Spring Grove Cemetery), the many fortifications constructed there during the war, navy vessels "built, refit or purchased" there, and the many military units containing Cincinnati-raised companies. The book hits the trifecta of history, reference tool, and touring guide.

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