August 2009 Civil War Book Notes

by James Durney on August 3, 2009 · 1 comment

Those that can’t write, Review!

August 2009

James Durney


We Have Books!

After months of waiting the summer publishing season is here.  A number of books we have been following are in stores and filling mailboxes.

J. David Petruzzi’s The Complete Gettysburg Guide made the bookstores in time for July. This beautiful book is much more than a “guide”.  The 320-pages with maps and full color photos by Steven Stanley contain:

  • Detailed driving and walking tours of the entire battlefield (including obscure sites that even veteran visitors miss or never hear about)
  • A tour of every identified field hospital site for both armies
  • Tours of the National Cemetery and the town’s Evergreen Cemetery
  • A tour of the town of Gettysburg, including sites of historical interest before and after the battle Outlying battlefields including the June 26, 1863 skirmish site, East Cavalry Field, South Cavalry Field, Hunterstown, Hanover, and Fairfield
  • A special tour of the various rock carvings on the battlefield, many of which were created by returning veterans and pre-date most of the monuments

The Shiloh Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland) edited by Steven E. Woodworth is the first in a series on Western Campaigns from Southern Illinois University Press.   This is a well-written series of essays on aspects of this campaign.  It is not an introduction but an excellent choice for those who study this battle.

Wars within a War: Controversy and Conflict over the American Civil War edited by Joan Waugh and Gary W. Gallagher is on the shelves.  This is a collection of twelve essays exploring wartime disputes and cultural fissures during the war, the postwar years and beyond.  I found this book to be less compelling than Causes Won, Lost and Forgotten: How Hollywood and Popular Art Shape What We Know about the Civil War.

Pursuit: The Chase, Capture, Persecution & Surprising Release of Jefferson Davis by Clint Johnson in paperback The author tells a good story but the publisher forced the new style of not footnoting anything but direct quotes.  This lack of footnotes detracts from the book’s value as history but it is worth reading.

Sickles at Gettysburg: the Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg by Jim Hessler has excellent reviews.  The book covers Sickles pre war, actions as a Union General and post war activities.  Sickles played a major role in the establishment of the Gettysburg Battle Park and the book covers his actions in congress and on the New York Monument Commission.

The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign by Bradley M. Gottfried includes the Battle of Ball’s Bluff and follows the basic format of The Maps of Gettysburg. We all know how badly we need good detailed maps and this book is that.

In mid-July, Eric Wittenberg reported Like a Meteor Burning Brightly: The Short but Controversial Life of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren is having production problems.  The schedule is for the book to be in the stores by now. This is the only biography of a brilliant, ambitious young man who became the youngest full colonel in the United States Army at the age of 21 yet died before his 22nd birthday.

A Savage Conflict: the Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War by Daniel E. Sutherland argues that irregular warfare took a large toll on the Confederate war effort by weakening support for state and national governments and diminishing the trust citizens had in their officials to protect them.  Daniel E. Sutherland is professor of history at the University of Arkansas and the author of a number of books on guerrilla activities.

Earl J. Hess’ third volume in his study of field fortifications In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat is an excellent and unique look at the Petersburg Campaign.

All the “kinks” in the supply chain seem to be resolved for: Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861-January 1863 by Donald S. Frazier and Lincoln’s Labels: America’s Best Known Brands and the Civil War by James Schmidt.   Reviews on both of these books were posted published in July.


New Releases

Due July 21 is No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864 by Richard Slotkin.  The press review promises “An intellectually dazzling military history that recounts and reassesses one of the most devastating and dramatic battles of the Civil War”.  This 432-page book by a respected historian, a two-time finalist for the National Book Award merits a look-see.

On July 30 is the intriguing title: Irish Soldiers, American Wars: Irishmen in the Mexican and American Civil Wars. I have no information other than the title, publication date and that it is 320 pages.  The paperback is affordable at $30 but the hardback lists for $75.

The publication date of War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta by Russell S. Bonds is the 145th anniversary of the surrender of Atlanta.  The book starts in July and ends with the city being burned.  The author, an Atlanta resident, includes chapters on city after the war and the status of the area’s battlefields.  Expect a serious history fully footnoted but very readable from the author of Stealing the General.

In September, look for A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction by Mark Wahlgren Summers covering “the political culture of Reconstruction”.

Savas Beatie will release Dave Powell’s The Maps of Chickamauga at the West Coast CW Conference on October 1.  David Friedrichs is doing the cartography.  This is a 336-page book with 128 full color maps.  This is the third book in SB’s Military Atlas series.  See “We have Books” for information on the other books in the series.

I cannot ignore a book on the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi by William L. Shea!  October 24, 2009, The University of North Carolina Press has scheduled Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign. One of the more important small battles, in the area, this looks to be a companion volume to Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West.

Eric Wittenberg reports The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863: North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle, will be part of The History Press’s forthcoming sesquicentennial series on battles of the Civil War.  This is a 68,000-word manuscript with 50 maps and illustrations.  He feels that we have “a reasonable chance” of seeing this book in June 2010. The Civil War Preservation Trust and master cartographer Steve Stanley have given permission to use Steve’s excellent maps in the book.  Clark B. “Bud” Hall will work with Eric to put together a tour for the book.

Brooks D. Simpson has two books due between now and December.  In September, we will see The Reconstruction Presidents in paperback.  In December, Civil War In The East 1861-1865: A Strategic Assessment should be in the stores.

Sam Davis Elliott, author of a fine bio of Alexander P. Stewart, Soldier of Tennessee and Doctor Quintard, Chaplain C.S.A. and Second Bishop of Tennessee: The Memoir and Civil War Diary of Charles Todd Quintard. Reports his newest book has a late fall/early winter publication schedule with the title: Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator.

In March 2010, Clint Johnson’s A VAST AND FIENDISH PLOT – The Confederate Attack on New York City should be in stores.

Thunder Across the Swamps, the second book in the Louisiana Quadrille series, covering the war for the lower Mississippi, February to May 1863 is scheduled for 2010.

We can look forward to a complete history of the Iron Brigade from Lance J. Herdegen.  Those Damned Black Hats! about the Iron Brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign won The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History.

Anyone who studies Antietam knows Tom Clemens name and respects his knowledge.  After looking forward to a book by him for years, the wait is ending.  His many years of work on the Ezra A. Carman’s study is nearing publication.  The two books will contain Tom’s additional research, comments and a full set of maps.  Book one will cover the campaign to Antietam and the battle is book two.

A book on The Petersburg Campaign, taken from a series of unpublished battle studies written by Ed Bearss, is in the works.  Editing the studies into book form with his cooperation is under way.  The publication will be a major event in the historiography of the Petersburg Campaign.


ACW Fiction

Michael J. Deeb’s third novel in the trilogy The Drieborg Chronicles is at the publisher, titled Honor Restored and deals with the first two years of Reconstruction.  In the spring of 1866, Michael Drieborg becomes a US Marshal in South Carolina.  His task is to obtain information for the Joint Congressional Committee on Reconstruction. This novel will be available in the fall.

Nancy Dane is working on the untitled third novel in the Tattered Glory Series and making A Difference of Opinion into an audio book. My understanding is this book will be a continuation of Where the Road Begins.


Book Awards

Darrel Collins’ book Major General Robert Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia has won the distinguished Douglas Southall Freeman Award for 2009.  The award, named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning and distinguished historian Douglas Southall Freeman, is bestowed by the Military Order of Stars and Bars, a historical, patriotic, educational and non-political society chartered in 1938. The Freeman award is for the best-published book of highest merit in the field of Southern history beginning with the colonial period to the present time.

In addition to the Freeman Award, this book was a finalist for The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Biography, 2008


Introducing Author Donald S. Frazier

We need authors that work outside of the Grant/Lee/Sherman/Johnston/Thomas/Hood story of the war.  Doing this means accepting less of an audience that translates into lower book sales and the problems of finding a publisher.  The authors willing to do this make a real contribution to our understanding of the war.  By expanding the history available, we can come to understand the majority of the experiences and see how most served.

This month’s author is Professor of History at McMurry University in Abilene and President of the Grady McWhiney Foundation.   Professor Frazier concentrates on the West producing excellent readable books on the Civil War in the Southwest, Louisiana and Texas.  He is an excellent author who properly footnotes his books.

Blood & Treasure, winner of the Gaspar Perez De Villagra Award, covers the Sibley Campaign of 1862.  Fire in the Cane Field, the first book in the Louisiana Quadrille series, covers the war in Louisiana and Texas to January 1862.  These are excellent books and highly recommended.


HPS Simulations

While this is not about books, I play the games and write about this American Civil War series often.  In June, HPS issued updates to Campaign Vicksburg version 103 and Campaign Chickamauga version 102a. HPS is unwilling to discuss the production pipeline because of “so many things that can derail a game” schedule.  They did say that they are working to bring all games up to the Chancellorsville level of rules and programming.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Eric Wittenberg August 3, 2009 at 6:41 pm

The book has shipped from the printer to the distributor. The distributor has received them, and has shipped them to Amazon and the big box bookstores. I expect to have my copies tomorrow or Wednesday.

Thanks for asking, Jim.



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