Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Various Things (Battle-Related)

1. I've often wondered whether the Command Decisions in America’s Civil War series had any plans to venture into the Trans-Mississippi theater. That question has now been answered with the appearance of a pair of T-M titles in the pipeline. In my mind, the 1864 Red River Campaign (in conjunction with its Camden Expedition component) lends itself particularly well to the format, and Michael Lang will tackle that one with his Decisions of the Red River Campaign: The Fifteen Critical Decisions That Defined the Operation. When it comes to series fit, the relatively tiny scale of most T-M operations can be a concern, but Edward Cotham's Decisions of the Galveston Campaigns: The Twenty-One Critical Decisions That Defined the Operations addresses that by encompassing not one but a series of coastal campaigns hinged upon a single strategic point. Current scheduling puts their release dates at the end of this year to the beginning of the next, but that can change.

2. You might recall Paul Brueske's The Last Siege: The Mobile Campaign, Alabama 1865 (2018), which I liked quite a bit as the latest, and arguably best, single-volume treatment of the land campaign against Mobile. The author's next book will drill down deeper into one of that campaign's key components, the two-week siege of Spanish Fort. Digging All Night and Fighting All Day: The Civil War Siege of Spanish Fort and the Mobile Campaign, 1865 is tentatively set for a Fall '24 release.

3. Chris Mackowski's A Tempest of Iron and Lead: Spotsylvania Court House, May 8-21, 1864 is another Savas Beatie battle book that has popped up on the radar. We already have very good Spotsylvania books from Rhea and Matter (along with a host of others that address the battle in whole or in part), but my attitude toward new ones is always 'the more the merrier.'

4. Nearly thirty years have now passed since the last full-length study of the 1863 Chancellorsville Campaign, but its lesser-known components have received more detailed attention over the interim. Latching onto the "forgotten" battles motif are both Chris Mackowski & Kristopher White's Chancellorsville's Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church, May 3, 1863 (2013) and now Erik Nelson's upcoming contribution to Kent State UP's Civil War Soldiers & Strategies series titled The Forgotten Battles of the Chancellorsville Campaign: Fredericksburg, Salem Church, and Banks’ Ford in Spring 1863 (November 2024).

5. That's it for now. I'll leave you with another November title, William Marvel's The Confederate Resurgence of 1864. Marvel is one of my favorite Civil War historians, always managing to find some thought-provoking new angle of approach to apply to his topics of interest. His latest book "examines a dozen understudied Confederate and Union military operations carried out during the spring of 1864 that, taken cumulatively, greatly revived white southerners’ hopes for independence." In Marvel's view, those often improbable series of early-1864 Confederate gains bucked up army and civilian morale for the vastly greater trials of the ensuing summer and fall, significantly prolonging the war.

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