Monday, January 9, 2023

Booknotes: From the Mountains to the Bay

New Arrival:
From the Mountains to the Bay: The War in Virginia, January-May 1862 by Ethan S. Rafuse (UP of Kansas, 2023).

Ethan Rafuse's From the Mountains to the Bay "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."

As referenced above, offensive land and river actions in the Virginia theater were conducted along five major lines of operation during the first five months of 1862. More from the description: "In the course of these operations, the North demonstrated it had learned quite a bit from its setbacks of 1861 and was able to achieve significant operational and tactical success on both land and sea. This enabled Union arms to bring a considerable portion of Virginia under Federal control—in some cases temporarily and in others permanently. Indeed, at points during the spring and early summer of 1862, it appeared the North just might succeed in bringing about the defeat of the rebellion before the year was out."

As recalled by the author in the preface, this project began as a brief overview of the interconnected Peninsula and Valley campaigns of 1862. That initial synthesis approach was later expanded to a wider treatment of the January-May period. Interestingly, though actions through July 1862 are mentioned in the publisher's description and Rafuse duly references the two months following May as housing key transformative events, neither preface nor epilogue directly reveal any intentions toward publishing a June-July follow up to this "single stand-alone" volume. On the other hand, life has a nasty habit of disrupting intentions and being cagey about future plans is often appropriate.

1 comment:

  1. Drew: I have this one and look forward to your review. Given the time some of these future projects actually take, I'm good with Rafuse not committing to a sequel at this point. I might extend your June-July time frame into August, since there were still inter-related actions taking place on the Peninsula, in the ending of the Valley Campaign, and then the "preliminaries" that led to the movement from the Peninsula to central/northern Virginia.


***PLEASE READ BEFORE COMMENTING***: You must SIGN YOUR NAME when submitting your comment. In order to maintain civil discourse and ease moderating duties, anonymous comments will be deleted. Comments containing outside promotions and/or product links will also be removed. Thank you for your cooperation.