Sunday, March 12, 2023

Booknotes: Searching for Irvin McDowell (new edition)

New Arrival:
Searching for Irvin McDowell: The Civil War’s Forgotten General by Frank P. Simione, Jr. & Gene Schmiel (Savas Beatie, 2023).

There's certainly more to the McDowell Civil War story than a big-appetite guy more ferocious than Gallagher's mallet when it came to crushing watermelons and who played a major part in losing two key eastern theater battles at Manassas. However, as anyone interested in the man has been repeatedly informed, the lack of any significant body of McDowell personal papers has long held potential biographers at arm's length. It is unquestionable that he was one of the most important Union figures of 1861-62.

From the description: Major General Irvin McDowell "was a prominent figure during the early months of the Civil War. With so much at stake, he was called upon to lead the Union’s largest Eastern Theater army. Pressed by the media and President Abraham Lincoln to move into Virginia and defeat the Confederates gathering there, McDowell led his neophyte army out to the plains of Manassas and was soundly defeated. McDowell went on to hold an independent command in northern Virginia during the Peninsula Campaign and serve in the Army of Virginia under Maj. Gen. John Pope during the disastrous Second Bull Run Campaign." The general was also a key witness in the infamous Porter court martial trial that followed.

A fresh cache of McDowell papers may or may not emerge (for now we just have "official documents, a few letters, and orders to and from others"). Until such an event occurs, Frank Simione and Gene Schmiel's Searching for Irvin McDowell: The Civil War’s Forgotten General serves as "a reliable and readable synthesis of the man and his career." You might recall that this biographical treatment was self-published just a short time ago under the slightly different title of Searching for Irvin McDowell, Forgotten Civil War General (2021). You can peruse my review of that version HERE.

If you are understandably wondering whether this new title is a revised and expanded edition or a straight reprint reformatted in the SB style, I've been informed by Gene Schmiel that the former is the case. Indeed, as mentioned before in March's Coming Soon post, according to Schmiel the SB edition is "much enhanced, with considerably more attention to the trials of Porter and McDowell." More detail than that I do not know. The new preface is coy about what differences there are inside. William Marvel's Porter book from 2021 appears in the new bibliography so there is presumably some fresh engagement with that major work.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Drew, I am pleased you noted our publication of this revised edition. It is selling steadily and early comments are very positive. Onward. -- Ted Savas, Savas Beatie


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