Morningside Bookshop: The American Civil War Source

by Brett Schulte on November 22, 2005 · 0 comments

I’ve gotten away from spotlighting my favorite book publishers and game developers in recent weeks, so I thought I’d take a look at Morningside Bookshop today. I have never been disappointed in the quality of a Morningside book. These cloth-bound books are made to last, and you can tell from the moment you hold one in your hands. Like Camp Pope Bookshop, Morningside publishes a solid minority of the books they offer. At the time of this blog entry, Morningside has nearly 100 books in print. Their usual fare includes reprints of rare and hard-to-find memoirs and unit histories. Some of the highlighted books include:

1. History of the Bucktails by William H. Rauch
2. Forrest at Brice’s Cross Roads by Glenn Tucker & Ed Bearss
3. Mississippi Brigade of Brig. Gen. Joseph R. Davis by James Willis
4. Lee’s Sharpshooters: Forefront of Battle by Major W.S. Dunlop
5. Arkansas Confederates in the Western Theater by James Willis
6. Son’s of Old Monroe by Brian A. Bennett
7. The Campaign of Chancellorsville by John Bigelow, Jr.
8. The Artillerist Manual by John Gibbon
9. From Richmond to Texas: The 1865 Journey Home of Confederate Senator Williamson S. Oldham by W. Buck Yearns

I want to go into some detail on the Morningside Books that I personally own. The first is Ed Bearss’ monumental 3 volume Vicksburg Campaign. Bearss’ account of the sprawling Vicksburg Campaign is a little short on analysis, but the author covers the actions and movements of the campaign in great detail. The following excerpts are from my Vicksburg & Port Hudson books web page:

Since this is a three-volume set, I’ll give you the overall picture first and then talk about what each individual volume contains. This is the finest Campaign study I’ve ever read. The maps are solid and there are many of them. Bearss also has OOB’s following every chapter which involved any relatively major operation of the Campaign. It is the beginning and the end as far as knowledge of the campaign. If you want to know what truly happened during Grant’s masterpiece then buy this set. It is expensive at $125, but you get the definitive work on the campaign and need never buy another book on it. You can get each individual volume from Amazon.com, but I would recommend going to Morningside Books to buy these. In Volume 1, Vicksburg Is the Key, Bearss discusses Grant’s first attempt to start the Vicksburg Campaign over land from northern Mississippi. He then details how cavalry raids by Van Dorn and Forrest showed Grant how vulnerable his supply line was. Then Bearss talks about the Union move down the Mississippi River to the west side of Vicksburg. He sketches out Grant’s numerous waterway plans and the skirmishes that resulted. 769 pp., 18 maps

In his second volume, Bearss details Grant’s plan to send his men south, run the Vicksburg gauntlet, and then ferry his army across the Mississippi River. After this, Bearss recounts the battles as Grant worked his way inland: Port Gibson, Raymond, Jackson, Champion Hill, and finally the Big Black River. By the end of the volume, Grant is poised to begin his siege. 689 pp., 28 maps

The third and final volume concentrates on the Siege of Vicksburg itself. Bearss relates how after two failed major assaults and a mine explosion experiment, Grant finally settled down to starve Pemberton out. 761 pp., 17 maps

The second Morningside book I possess is Wiley Sword’s Shiloh: Bloody April. I have not had the pleasure of reading this one just yet, but quite a few of my online ACW book reading acquaintances prefer Sword’s book to Larry Daniel’s effort on the battle.

The last book I own courtesy of Morningside is Richard A. Sauers’ excellent “A Succession of Honorable Victories”: The Burnside Expedition in North Carolina. The book is out of print at this time, and I hope that Morningside decides to reprint it in the future. As the title implies, Sauers covers Burnside’s efforts along the coast of North Carolina in 1862, including the battles of Roanoake Island and New Berne. If the title interests you, I would suggest searching for it at Abebooks. I saw several copies there when I tried that method.

A second reason to go to Morningside would be for Gettysburg Magazine. I’ve read several issues in the past, but I’ve never been a subscriber. This has nothing to do with the quality of the magazine, which is in fact excellent and on par with North & South and Blue & Gray. Instead, I’m just not a big fan of the Battle of Gettysburg itself, which I feel has been covered to an extreme at the expense of other engagements. Regardless, the detailed, accurate maps and informative articles brought to you by many well-known historians combine to create an outstanding magazine. Early back issues are also offered in bound editions.

A third reason for a visit to Morningside’s site includes some of the various primary sources they offer such as The Official Records, the Southern Historical Society Papers, and the Works of John Bachelder. Most readers of this blog need no introduction to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies During the War of the Rebellion. Started in the 1880’s, the Official Records eventually comprised 70 volumes in 128 parts (or individual books). They attempted to collect all official records of the leaders involved in the war. The fact that not all records were included in the end is another story, fascinating in its own right. The Southern Historical Society Papers are also available. This set is a sort of Southern Official Records, with no official stamp and with some bias. However, it contains many fascinating accounts of the battles of the war from a Confederate point of view. I own both the ORs and the SHSPs in CD-ROM format, though I do plan to buy both of these sets when I make more money, have more shelf space, and have more time to read! Winning the lottery wouldn’t hurt. John Bachelder became an expert on the Battle of Gettysburg. Bachelder interviewed hundreds of Gettysburg veterans. In addition, he commissioned a set of troop movement maps for the battle. Morningside offers the Complete Three Volume Set of the Bachelder Papers, covering the numerous correspondence Bachelder had with these veterans. In addition, they also offer the 7 map troop movement set. Anyone wishing to gain a full understanding of the battle would do well to have these items in their collection.

The Morningside site is an interesting place to go, also offering online excerpts from their Morningside Notes newsletter and a forum for customers to discuss the various books for sale and to ask other research questions. I’d highly encourage Civil War buffs to go check them out.

Check out Brett’s list of the Top 10 Civil War Blogs!

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Check out Beyond the Crater: The Petersburg Campaign Online for the latest on the Siege of Petersburg!

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