Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Ten Most Highly Anticipated Titles (first half of 2023)

Well, now that 2022 is nearly over and done with, let's look ahead to 2023. Of course, news of many more releases of great interest will emerge in coming months, but as of now these ten books are the ones that I'm most looking forward to seeing in my mailbox during the first half of next year.

So, without further ado ...

1. Union General: Samuel Ryan Curtis and Victory in the West by William Shea (Potomac).

As mentioned before, this one was released early. I am reading it right now, and the review will appear sometime in January.

2. July 22: The Civil War Battle of Atlanta by Earl Hess (Kansas).

It's common knowledge that Hess is hard at work on more than one major project at any given time, but late-2022 news of this one's impending release was still a pleasant surprise to me. Look for it in just a few weeks.

3. The Civil Wars of General Joseph E. Johnston: Confederate States Army - Volume I: Virginia and Mississippi, 1861–1863 by Richard McMurry (Savas Beatie).

His reputation already deservedly transformed from master of Fabian strategy to a key factor in hastening Confederate defeat, Johnston's treatment in McMurry's two-volume set will undoubtedly increase the velocity of the general's spinning in his grave.

4. Cherokee Civil Warrior: Chief John Ross and the Struggle for Tribal Sovereignty by Dale Weeks (Oklahoma).

A modern Ross study focusing on the Civil War years has been on my wish list for a long time, and it looks like Weeks has granted it.

5. More Than Just Grit: Civil War Leadership, Logistics and Teamwork in the West, 1862 by Richard Zimmermann (McFarland).

I don't know anything about this one beyond the title and very brief description, but they have me hooked.

6. Sand, Science, and the Civil War: Sedimentary Geology and Combat by Scott Hippensteel (Georgia).

Hippensteel takes to the embattled coast his already well-developed and fascinating approach to examining the impact of geology on the Civil War battlefield.

7. Yankee Commandos: How William P. Sanders Led a Cavalry Squadron Deep Into Confederate Territory by Stuart Brandes (Tennessee).

This is the first book-length history of Sanders's June 1863 East Tennessee raid, it's greatest single achievement the destruction of the Strawberry Plains railroad bridge. I could do without the title's modern US Army-inspired, but ahistorical to the period, use of "squadron" to describe Sanders's brigade-sized raiding force, but it won't keep me from wanting to read the book.

8. We Shall Conquer or Die: Partisan Warfare in 1862 Western Kentucky by Derrick Lindow (Savas Beatie).

The Bluegrass region is popularly considered the heartland of pro-Confederate Kentucky, but such sentiments were really strongest in the western part of the state, in the Jackson Purchase in particular. Lindow's book promises to be a fairly expansive study of irregular warfare in western Kentucky, with what looks to be (at least as gathered from the description) a strong focus on the activities of Johnson's 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers regiment.

9. Agents of Empire: The First Oregon Cavalry and the Opening of the Interior Pacific Northwest during the Civil War by James Jewell (Nebraska).

Jewell is among the very few scholars specializing in the Civil War in the Far West. You might recall his edited collection of soldier writings from the First Oregon Cavalry regiment, and now he's found a fine landing place for the first full regimental history of that unit. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it.

10. Twelve Days: How the Union Nearly Lost Washington in the First Days of the Civil War by Tony Silber (Potomac).

I've often said that, when it comes to my own eastern theater reading, the early-war period interests me most. The events covered in Silber's upcoming book are as early as it gets.


  1. Wow! The Hess title on Atlanta came out of left field for me. Didn’t even know that he was working on a book regarding July 22. I understand that he is working on Jonesboro which I’m looking forward to, but the Battle of Atlanta!, 2023 just got better! Hopefully we’ll see more really good battle studies in the coming year (Seven Days, Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill). One can only hope.

    Cheers, John

    1. I was expecting Jonesboro before anything else Atlanta-related, too. I liked Ecelbarger's book on the July 22 battle a lot, but it doesn't diminish my interest in reading another one (esp. one from Hess).

    2. Drew, I'm looking forward to your review of Shea's Curtis biography. Santa kindly delivered it earlier than expected and I'm nearly finished with it. It doesn't disappoint.

      Tom Jones

    3. Good to hear, Tom. I'm still in the early Civil War chapters.

  2. Drew: I am looking forward to Scott Hartwig's Antietam book (Vol.2). His face-book page suggests mid-year (2023) time frame. My interest is based on having ancestors who fought in the battle, as well as, the first volume [To Antietam Creek] was a very good read... George Hazelton

    1. George: Yes, a 2023 release seems highly likely, perhaps around the Sept. anniv.

  3. John: At the risk of playing the Grinch, I'm close to giving up on seeing the Gaines's Mill study by Bobby Krick and the Malvern Hill book by Frank O'Reilly at any time in the foreseeable future. Those have supposedly been in the works for years but I have yet to see anything about even having publishers lined up. It's too bad because both are highly needed and IMHO would be snapped up instantly

  4. Most definitely they would snapped up by many. It still boggles my mind as to why the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days in particular have not been accorded the same attention as many of the other campaigns have been as of late.

    1. It's just my own personal observation, but I've often sensed a weirdly limited popular passion for the Peninsula Campaign, disproportionate to what we'd expect for an eastern theater campaign of such grand scale and significance. It can't be attributed in any big way to McClellan being a downer because Antietam is a publishing powerhouse.

    2. Couple of points.
      I agree with both John’s points. Drew, I don’t get it either. I don’t understand it either to be honest because ever since I was a kid the Peninsula Campaign was always my favorite Eastern Theater Campaign. Perhaps it is the visions of fighting in the (then) backwater Tidewater swamps of Peninsula VA and “Chickahominy Fever” or Lee’s ascendancy to command. Not sure.
      Perhaps it has something to do with the lack of a signature Massive Battle of the Campaign such as Gettysburg, Antietam, Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville and the fact that it might be classified more a campaign of “maneuver”. If you think about it Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign, the 1864 Valley Campaign(s), the Petersburg Campaign although they do not lack coverage are not as flashy and don’t receive the disproportionate study that Antietam and G-burg do because of a string or Grade 3 or Grade 4 Level Battles instead of a Massive Grade 5 Level Battle. The lone exception that I can think of that is a “maneuver” campaign that has 6 stars out of 5-star coverage drilling down to the tactical level on each battle of the campaign is the Overland Campaign and that is thanks to one man – Gordon Rhea. Doesn’t hurt that Brad Gottfried did a Wilderness Campaign Map Book and his forthcoming Spotsylvania Campaign Map book through Cold Harbor.
      Nevertheless, to echo everyone’s frustration about the Frank O’Reilly-Malvern Hill Book I saw a 2014 post that said he was in the final stages of completing his book…. but to give everyone hope on our tour with him in 2020 he told me that he is 85% complete with the book and that was has held him up is not being allowed to work on the book while an NPS employee – something to do with conflicts of interest that I do not fully understand.
      He is retired from the Park Service as of 2021. So maybe now that he is retired progress will get on the fast track and the book will get finished soon. Plus, there is this talk on Malvern Hill that he gave to the Scottsdale Roundtable in April 2021. (Hint that he is seriously picking up the project again?)
      SCWRT - The Battle of Malvern Hill with Frank O' Reilly - YouTube
      Regarding your post on 12 Days how the Union nearly Lost Washington in the First Days of the Civil War. Mixed Feelings. There is another book - The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the Twelve Days That Shook the Union by John Lockwood on the subject and still another Six Days in April: Lincoln and the Union in Peril by Frank Marcotte already on the topic. These books along with the myriad of books that exist on April 19, 1861 Baltimore Riots, Dissonance the Troubled Days between Fort Sumter & Bull Run, a book on the 7th New York -Saviors of Washington, The First Defenders by John Hoptak on the 5 PA Companies that arrived before the 6th Massachusetts, numerous books by Daniel Toomey on Baltimore in the Civil War and the Elk Ridge to Annapolis RR and early Civil War Maryland, etc. leaves me to wonder how much more can be written on the topic.

      In my world I would rather (although I am eagerly looking forward to Hess’s July 22, 1864 Atlanta Book) see Hess write a Jonesboro book or Garry Echelbarger (whom I heard was writing a Jonesboro book.) One can only hope. As you have noted many times before it seems as if a topic will go unnoticed for years than in quick succession 2 or 3 books will appear on the topic – ala The Assaults at Vicksburg. Still a Hess book is NEVER a disappointment.

    3. Thanks for the update, Curtis. I don't understand the conflict of interest issue either (unless it is something very specific to his own situation), as we see current NPS employees publishing books all the time.

    4. My understanding is that the author/employee/NPS issue is definitely a kid gloves sort of thing.
      = Phil LeDuc.

  5. To Curtis's points: That's positive news on the O'Reilly/Malvern Hill project. I don't understand the specific conflict issues but if it's moving forward that's all that matters. I hadn't heard that before but it might explain the delay in the Bobby Krick Gaines's Mill project, as well. I disagree somewhat on the marketability of these books. Both are significant battles and can be addressed without becoming too involved in the maneuver aspects of the campaign. Drew may be correct that we're living in a Peninsula Campaign "echo chamber" but I do see these as battle narratives that will sell. And while we're at it, here's another from the "echo chamber" - there is a glaring need for something that amounts to an updated and significantly expanded version of Steve Newton's good but thin study of Seven Pines/Fair Oaks. That's a battle which, while tactically indecisive, had all sorts of unique accompanying features.


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