Civil War Book Review: The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65

by James Durney on December 13, 2011 · 1 comment

The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65
by John C. Tidball, edited by Lawrence M. Kaplan

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Westholme Publishing; 1 edition (October 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594161496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594161490

The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65In 1848, John C. Tidball graduated from West Point entering the U.S. Army as a brevet second lieutenant.  As a graduate in the second tier of a class, his assignment is the artillery.  For the next 40 years, the author is either in the field or training artillerymen.  After the Civil War, He writes the standard textbook for heavy artillery.  The Army recognizes him as one of their best artillerymen.  From 1891 to 1893, he writes a series for the “Journal of Military Service” on Artillery in the Civil War.  Each essay considers how the artillery fought during specific battles, many of which he was in, or how the organization and use of artillery helped or hurt the Union Army.

This is the first time these essays are available as a book.  Lawrence M. Kaplan works with the idea that “He who edits lest edits best”.  His editing brings these essays into the 21st Century by changing some words to current usage.  Additionally, he fully identifies the officers mentioned.  In the last 120 years, some participants are not the well-known person they were in the 1890s.  The result is John C. Tidball’s work is as fresh and interesting now as it was then.  An unpublished study written in 1905 has been incorporated into this book adding depth and Tidball’s views on the Western Theaters.

This is a study for a professional that works for us.  In clear concise sentences, the author looks at the organization and usage of artillery in the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Tennessee.  He contrasts the pace of development, the different requirements and the consequences for each army.  While very few officers and politicians are directly attacked, more than a few must have been uncomfortable with what is said.

The heart of the book is the battle studies.  Eight battles and the Peninsula Campaign are considered.  Chickamauga and Shiloh each are two essays covering each day.  Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Petersburg and Stones River complete the list.  Except for the Western Theater battles, the author is present at each battle he writes about.

This is a valuable book for anyone interested in how the artillery moved and fought.  The organization and usage of guns on the battlefield and during a march increases our understanding of the mechanics involved.  This helps us understand the all to often-unexplainable occurrence.

This is an easy book to read lacking excessive jargon and never bogs down in details.  This produces a crisp, easy to understand and a pleasure to read study.


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

William Schroeder December 14, 2011 at 8:31 am

An interesting review of the” Artillery Service in the Civil War .” There does not seem to be very much published on the artillery branch in the Civil War and I think this book will help fill that gap .

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