Civil War Book Review: The Battles of New Hope Church

by James Durney on June 10, 2010 · 0 comments

The Battles of New Hope Church
by Russell Blount Jr.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Pelican Publishing (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589807480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589807488

This is an impressive first book, with much to recommend it.  The author’s writing style produces a vivid easy to read narration.  Couple this with seamlessly switching between participant’s accounts and the author’s narration to produce an enjoyable reading experience.  This combination captures the experience of the battlefield without being unduly graphic.

Another thing to like about this book is the topic.  We do not have many histories in this area.  Much of the Atlanta Campaign concentrates on the siege, battles around the city, the action further north or at Kennesaw Mountain.  New Hope Church, Pickett’s Mill and Dallas, occurring in early May 1864, often get lost.  This book centers on the overall situation when both armies went to ground and fought things out.  In the end, Sherman returns to maneuver and Johnston is forced to retreat.

This book is on the divisional level with the brigade being the smallest unit normally mentioned.  Those seeking regimental alignments, specific information and causalities will be disappointed.  In the heavily wooded terrain, given the poor communications and line of sight problems, the author’s decision to work at the divisional level produces a crisper narration that keeps things moving.

The only “problem” I found was the author’s acceptance of items that are often being questioned.  A bland assertion on Grant’s drinking was the first discordant note.  Dwelling on Hood’s physical condition brought up his supposed opium use.  There are a couple of other assertions similar to this but they do not damage or really detract from the overall good history of the battles.

There are serviceable maps in the front of the book that work with the narration.  A series of period illustrations from Harper’s and photographs appear as needed, end notes, a Bibliography and index complete the book.

This small book provides good value for the price, is informative and a pleasure to read.


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