Monday, January 31, 2022

Booknotes: The Carnage was Fearful

New Arrival:
The Carnage was Fearful: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862 by Michael Block (Savas Beatie, 2022).

During the early phase of the Battle of Cedar Mountain fought on August 9, 1862, the much-maligned Union political general Nathaniel Banks achieved some surprising success against Stonewall Jackson's advancing corps before being driven from the field. From the description: "Civil War history typically breezes by the battle of Cedar Mountain, moving quickly from the Seven Days’ Battles into the Second Bull Run Campaign, but the stand-alone battle at Cedar Mountain had major implications. It saw the emergence of the Federal cavalry as an effective intelligence collector and screening force. It also provided Confederate Maj. Gen. A.P. Hill’s first opportunity to save the day—and his first opportunity to raise Jackson’s ire. Within the Federal Army, the aftermath of the battle escalated the in-fighting among generals and led to recriminations and finger-pointing over why the battle was even fought."

Drawing from his background "in developing interpretation for the Cedar Mountain battlefield," author Michael Block provides us with a new history of the battle. His book The Carnage was Fearful: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862 is the latest addition to the Emerging Civil War series. The usual cornucopia of photos, drawings, and maps are present. Including the driving tour overview, there are ten maps in total. The tour presentation is segmented by chapter, tying it more closely to the narrative. There are seven main stops depicted on the tour map, but multiple sites are incorporated into each one.

The appendix collection consists of four items. The first looks at the relationship between Stonewall Jackson and A.P. Hill, the second offers an account of Jackson's crossing of Crooked Run Ford (highlighting quartermaster John Harman's colorful skills at keeping vehicle traffic moving along), the third talks about controversies that arose over the general orders issued by General Pope, and the last discusses Cedar Mountain battlefield preservation.

Robert K. Krick's Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain is still the gold standard when it comes to histories of this battle, but readers that are interested in the topic but aren't up for tackling that tome should definitely give this one a look. Obviously I haven't read this particular installment yet, but the ECW series generally excels at producing these kinds of alternative options.

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