Monday, August 30, 2021

Booknotes: A Fine Introduction to Battle

New Arrival:
A Fine Introduction to Battle: Hood's Texas Brigade at The Battle of Eltham's Landing, May 7, 1862 by Joseph L. Owen (Fox Run Pub, 2021).

From the description: "The Battle of Eltham's Landing on May 7, 1862 was the baptism by fire for the Texas Brigade of Gen. John Bell Hood. The Texans distinguished themselves throughout the war as members of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. The Battle of Eltham's Landing was considered small compared to the battles the brigade fought soon afterwards: Gaines' Mill, Second Manassas/Second Bull Run, Sharpsburg/Antietam, Gettysburg and Chickamauga. However, the brunt of the fighting at Eltham's Landing was done by the Texans. Hood's Texas Brigade's first combat experience proved they were a force to be reckoned with."

As was the case in Owen's earlier compilations Texans at Gettysburg, Texans at Antietam, and Lone Star Valor, the new book is also a collection of transcribed reports, letters, newspaper articles, diary entries, and interviews. Most accounts included in the book were first published in newspapers, but material was drawn from other sources (including books, articles, manuscript collections, and magazines), too.

More from the description: "In these accounts, the soldiers wrote how bravely the brigade fought in its first battle. Newspapers throughout Texas, Georgia and the whole South expressed their pride about the gallantry and aggressiveness of Hood's Brigade in their first battle, and began building the reputation of Hood's Texans becoming Robert E. Lee's "Grenadier Guard."" Together, they "provide a valuable view of this overlooked, early battle through the eyes of the Texans that reflected pride not only in themselves but in fellow brigade members of the 18th Georgia and Hampton's Legion." These brigade sources are organized in four main chapters organized by unit (First, Fourth, and Fifth Texas along with a very brief Eighteenth Georgia section). There is also a chapter-length collection of material written by generals, and the volume concludes with a useful casualty appendix.

Owen does not provide a narrative history of the battle written in his own hand that explores the action in detail, but the introduction section of the book does contain a very brief summary of events. In addition to some writer biography remarks preceding each source entry, the author contributes other background and bridging text throughout the volume. Many accounts have a photograph of the writer attached. Certainly if one were to begin a research project on the battle, this book would be a very valuable resource to own.

1 comment:

  1. Drew: This one looks interesting. The only modern study of this fight that I'm aware of is a solid essay in the Symonds collection on combined ops.


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