Monday, June 13, 2022

This year's list of military history releases just got more interesting

And we have University Press of Kansas to thank for this development.

Those of us who are interested in such things will hopefully have a copy of Tim Smith's latest Vicksburg Campaign series installment Early Struggles for Vicksburg: The Mississippi Central Campaign and Chickasaw Bayou, October 25-December 31, 1862 in hand by early July (it now has an end of June release date). But that's far from all that UPK has in store for us in 2022.

Those who follow Hampton Newsome on social media have long known about his upcoming project, Gettysburg's Southern Front: Opportunity and Failure at Richmond (August 2022), and it's now available for preorder. This is exactly the kind of eastern theater military history that I'm looking for at this point. I've read my fair share of Gettysburg books over the years and appreciate them as much as the next person, but a study of what was going on back in Virginia while the two main armies were on their way north and out of the state almost seems catered to my current tastes. Beginning in mid-June, a sizable Union army commanded by Major General John A. Dix was ordered "to threaten Richmond, by seizing and destroying their railroad bridges over the South and North Anna Rivers, and do them all the damage possible." The first book-length study of this operation, "this volume not only delves into the military operations at the time, but also addresses concurrent issues related to diplomacy, US war policy, and the involvement of enslaved people in the Federal offensive." Newsome's study suggests that Dix's campaign might have been "one of the Union war effort’s more compelling lost opportunities in the East."

Another UPK title that will likely go right to the top of the reading pile after it arrives is Ethan Rafuse's From the Mountains to the Bay: The War in Virginia, January-May 1862 (October 2022). I've been wondering what Rafuse has been up to lately, and this answer to my question is a most exciting one that keenly fits my reading interests. Covering Virginia theater operations on both land and sea, this book "is the only modern scholarly work that looks at the operations that took place in Virginia in early 1862, from the Romney Campaign that opened the year to the naval engagement between the Monitor and Merrimac to the movements and engagements fought by Union and Confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley, on the York-James Peninsula, and in northern Virginia, as a single, comprehensive campaign." This is just conjecture/hope on my part, but the "January to July of 1862" reference in the publisher's description and the May conclusion to this book are strongly suggestive of a multi-volume (at least two anyway) treatment being in the offing. The possibility of getting a major Peninsula and Seven Days volume from Rafuse is quite tantalizing.


  1. Drew, this is excellent news. Thanks for bringing to our attention. I knew of the Hampton Newsome Book but not the Rafuse book. Our Roundtable - The Chicago CWRT has begun a second award besides our annual Freeman-Nevins award. The new award is the The Edwin Cole Bearss award in honor of Ed Bearss. The award unlike our Freeman Nevins award is designed to honor "Unique and Outstanding Scholarship in Civil War History". The first recipient this past April was William Jeffrey Hunt for his outstanding and unique scholarship on the G-burg campaign after crossing the Potomac, Bristoe Station, 2nd Rappahanock Station and his upcoming Mine Run Book. (As an aside he mentioned to me that he has enough material and has begun writing yet what would be a sixth book on this period to go back and cover Cavalry actions of the Aug-October 63 period in the east which he feels he could cover in much greater detail than he allready did in the After Falling Waters and Bristoe book.) Anyhow I allready told our Roundtable that if Hampton Newsome published his Blackberry Book that he should be our nominee for the award. His Fight for the Old North State was excellent and original and I can't wait to see this book as I am sure this will be an excellent book as well and fully meet the criteria of original and unique scholarship. Finally I received last week my copy of Theater of a Separate War: The Civil War West of the Mississippi River, 1861–1865. The Bibliography is stunning and it looks to be a fascinating book. Kudos to Thomas Cutrer. He took on a ubelievably daunting topic and tied together the entire Trans Mississippi in what looks to be a well researched book that ties the entire theater together in a unique manner. Curt Thomasco

    1. Curt,
      Your award committee picked a fine winner, and Newsome's book certainly does have the look of another good nominee. He never disappoints.

      The revised edition of "Theater of a Separate War" was delayed for a year already, and seems to have missed its first of June mark as well. Not sure what's going on with that one.

  2. There's two books on the advance to Gettysburg due for publication late fall and early winter. Looks like a good year-end for campaign studies.

    Chris Van Blargan


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