Book Purchases: May 23 to June 5, 2006

by Brett Schulte on June 13, 2006 · 0 comments

Michael A. Palmer. Lee
Moves North : Robert E. Lee on the Offensive
. Wiley, March 19, 1998.

I’ve heard some good and some bad things about this one. The author apparently
argues that Lee was at his best on the strategic defensive, and that the Confederacy
had no need for a strategic offensive. He also says that Lee was a poor offensive
strategist and that he was too secretive before each of his three major offensives
(Antietam, Gettysburg, and Bristoe Station). I honestly bought this one mainly
for its content on Bristoe Station.

Robert Krick. 30th
Virginia Infantry (Virginia Regimental Hist Series)
. H E Howard; 4th
ed edition (October 1983).

Any time I see these Virginia Regiments books from H.E. Howard being sold for
less than their list price of $25, I scoop them up. They are of uneven quality,
but I suspect this Krick-authored book is one of the better books in the bunch.

Lee A. Wallace Jr. First
Virginia Infantry (Virginia Regimental Histories Series)
. H E Howard;
3rd ed edition (September 1984).

See the entry above. I saw this one going cheaply and bought it, no questions
asked. I only recently became interested in regimentals, but I’m beginning to
collect unit histories for those regiments, battalions, and batteries that participated
in the Petersburg Campaign.

Jack Zinn. The
Battle of Rich Mountain
. McClain Print. Co (1971).

I recently saw this little 51-page pamphlet being sold on eBay for a very low
price, and I am always looking for books on campaigns of which I have little
knowledge. I recently completed two overview books of the 1861 West Virginia
Campaign by Newell and Lesser (look for reviews of these books and a “Back-to-Back
Books” entry over the next two weeks), and I was looking for some titles
that concentrated on individual battles in more detail. This book isn’t great
(see
Drew Wagenhoffer’s recent blog entry
), but for the price I paid I’ll take
it. Plus, it’s WAY more available than Zinn’s
book on Cheat Mountain
.

Craig S. Chapman. More
Terrible Than Victory: North Carolina’s Bloody Bethel Regiment, 1861-1865
.
Potomac Books (December 1997).

Here’s another quality regimental (hardback edition) with ties to the Petersburg
Campaign. The 1st North Carolina was involved literally from the beginning of
the war, participating in the battle of Big Bethel, as the title indicates.

Richard M. McMurry. Atlanta
1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy
. University of Nebraska Press
(November 2000).

I had been meaning to pick up Richard McMurry’s Atlanta title for awhile, but
the thing that finally pushed me over the edge was a Civil War Talk Radio interview
Dr. McMurry did this past January entitled “Richard
M. McMurry: Toward A New Civil War Paradigm”
. In the talk, Dr. McMurry
reiterates his opinion that the Civil War was won in the West, and that no matter
what Lee did in the East, it wouldn’t matter. For those of you wondering “what
if Lee had taken Washington?”, McMurry argues that this simply wasn’t possible.

Frances H. Casstevens. Clingman’s
Brigade in the Confederacy, 1862-1865
. McFarland & Company (September
15, 2002).

I was excited about this particular title for several reasons. First, Clingman’s
Brigade was heavily involved in the operations in the defense of Petersburg,
including the actions at Bermuda Hundred in May 1864. Widely disparaged after
the war, Clingman’s Brigade gets a second chance from the author. Casstevens
acknowledges the shortcomings of the unit, but she shows that they fought bravely
in many cases as well. Second, this is a McFarland
book
, which as many of you know offers its books only at ridiculously overinflated
prices. I’ve never seen so many 200 page books go for over $40. The reason for
the high cost is that McFarland sells primarily to libraries, who are willing
to pay higher prices than most individuals. In any case, I managed to procure
this one for less than half of its listed price, and I couldn’t be happier!

Roger H. Harrell. The
2nd North Carolina Cavalry
. McFarland & Company (April 28, 2004).

Here’s another McFarland book, this one a little larger than the title above.
The 2nd performed poorly early on in the war, and for a time Confederate leaders
wanted to disband the unit. However, the officers and men recovered nicely and
fought through to the end of the war, mostly in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
As is usually the case in regimentals I purchase, this regiment was present
for the Siege of Petersburg.

Frank A O’Reilly. “Stonewall”
Jackson at Fredericksburg: The Battle of Prospect Hill, December 13, 1862 :
the Fredericksburg Campaign (Virginia Civil War Battles and Leaders series)
.
H.E. Howard; 1st ed edition (1993).

Here’s another H.E. Howard entry, this time in the Virginia Battles & Leaders
series. I already have O’Reilly’s book The
Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock
, and I suspect
that this book covers Prospect Hill in an ealrier version of O’Reilly’s interpretation
of the Prospect Hill part of the fighting on the southern end of the battlefield.
The maps are excellent, much more so than usual in your typical Howard entry,
and the book itself is fatter than normal. If this one is anything like O’Reilly’s
book above, it will have been a good purchase. He’s a very good author and knows
his stuff when commenting on the Fredericksburg Campaign, having served at that
National Battlefield for quite some time.

Lawrence L Hewitt. Port
Hudson, Confederate Bastion on the Mississippi
. Louisiana State University
Press (1987).

Can you believe it? This is the second “smoked-out” book I’ve received
in less than a month, and again the smell was not listed in the description.
I honestly don’t mind the smell too much, and it goes away after a week or so
of airing out, but c’mon! I’m not a smoker, but some of my friends are, and
I’m around smokers in bars on the weekends (hey, I’m still only 27!), but IMHO
smoking around your books is one of the worst things you can possibly do. Come
to think of it, at least smoking around your books is better than smoking around
your kids! If I were a smoker, I’d probably have an airproof library. On second
thought, I’d probably just give up smoking. It’d be cheaper. Anyway, now that
my little rant is over, let’s talk about the book. I already own David C. Edmonds’
two-volume work on Port Hudson, and more than one person has said it is the
definitive account. In addition, I
reviewed Edward Cunningham’s The Port Hudson Campaign, 1862-1863

several months ago. What I wanted, though, before I dove head-first into Edmonds’
massive work was a modern overview with hopefully more maps than Cunningham
provides (only two!). Unfortunately, I’m only going to get a modern overview.
Hewitt’s book also only has two maps, and these are even worse than Cunningham’s.
I’ll probably have Edmonds’ books handy and just use those maps.

Michael C. Hardy. Battle
of Hanover Court House: Turning Point of the Peninsula Campaign, May 27, 1862
.
McFarland & Company (May 16, 2006).

In this particular set of book purchases, I’ve saved the best for last. As many
of you know, I’m a fan of the Petersburg Campaign. What some of you may not
know is that my second-favorite campaign is the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.
In this particular McFarland book (which I picked up for less than half of the
retail price even with shipping thrown in), Michael C. Hardy covers the small
battle of Hanover Court House (aka Slash Church). McClellan had sent part of
Fitz-John Porter’s V Corps north to link up with McDowell’s I Corps, which was
supposed to be moving south from Fredericksburg, but also to protect McClellan’s
vulnerable right flank. The Yankees ran into Lawrence O’Bryan Branch’s Confederate
Brigade and a short, sharp fight ensued. The Confederates were defeated, but
Jackson’s victories in the Shenandoah Valley caused Lincoln to recall McDowell.
I am ecstatic that a book has come out on this battle. No prior work on the
battle existed, as far as I know. I’m also delighted that I was able to get
a brand new version of this brand new book cheaply. I would have broken down
and bought it from McFarland directly soon anyway, so my discovery of this one
was fortuitous, to say the least!


***

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