Those that can’t write, Review!
James W. Durney
This is going to be a year full of distractions that will compete for time to read. Until early November political calls are a constant interruption. After the election they will go back to ignoring us.
This is the Sesquicentennial of 1862, a year of major battles. If you wish to “read up” on a battle prior to attending the Sesquicentennial, here are some recommendations.
Forts Henry & Donelson: Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson Campaign by Kendall D. Gott can still be found in paperback at a reasonable price.
We do not want to forget Pea Ridge! In my mind, the book is Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West by William L. Shea and Earl J. Hess.
Shiloh is the first great bloody battle of the war created real political problems for Grant. The book to read is SHILOH AND THE WESTERN CAMPAIGN OF 1862 by Edward Cunningham. Gary Joiner and Timothy B. Smith did an outstanding job of editing Cunningham’s masterpiece.
The Seven Day’s battles shakes the North to its foundations as the South drives them from the gates of Richmond into the swamps, forcing a withdrawal to Washington. While a number of books are very good, the best is Brian K. Burton’s Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles.
Second Bull Run or Second Manassas: The choice is still John J. Hennessy’s Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas.
Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain by Robert K. Krick
Tempest At Ox Hill: The Battle Of Chantilly by David A. Welker covers two of the “small” battles during this time. Before Antietam: The Battle for South Mountain by John Michael Priest is a seentimental favorite. However, Tom Clemens editing of Ezra Carman’s manuscript is a masterpiece. The MARYLAND CAMPAIGN OF SEPTEMBER 1862: Volume 1, South Mountain is the book to have. [Note: this is written without seeing UNHOLY SABBATH: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory by Brian Jordan, which could change everything.]
Antietam is going to cause comments no matter which book I select. Fully understanding that, my choice is not a book but Joseph L. Harsh’s brilliant series on Antietam. Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862, Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862 and Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862 are the books on Antietam. Sounding the Shallows is not required and I do not recommend spending big bucks to buy it. My copy was on DEEP DISCOUNT at the battlefield’s bookstore.
Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign by William L. Shea covers this important campaign that is often overlooked.
The Fredericksburg Campaign: Winter War on the Rappahannock by Francis Augustin O’Reilly ends the year’s battles and our list.
No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River by Peter Cozzens ends this list and will begin next year’s list.
In Stores, a second look
The Battle of the Crater by Newt Gingrich, William R. Forstchen and Albert S. Hanser enjoys very good reviews on Amazon. I have not read this book but enjoyed their Gettysburg series. The combination of solid historical knowledge with writing talent make for an enjoyable read.
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Duggard stays on best seller list in spite of very mixed reviews. Much of what is said seems motivated more by O’Reilly then content.
Francis Hamit’s The Queen of Washington is available from Amazon and Brass Cannon Books. This is a novel about the exploits of Rose Greenhow.
The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Western Confederacy by Bradley R. Clampitt looks at the region that witnessed the most consistent Union success and Confederate failure.
Righteous Violence: Revolution, Slavery, and the American Renaissance by Larry J. Reynolds examines the struggles with the violence of slavery and revolution that engaged the imaginations of seven nineteenth-century American writers—Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.
The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2 – 20, 1862 by Bradley Gottfried is the newest full color entry into the fine Savas Beatie Military Atlas Series.
The Northern Home Front during the Civil War edited by Randall M. Miller & Paul A. Cimbala is a look at a nation under the strain of war.
Decided on the Battlefield: Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and the Election of 1864 by David Alan Johnson is another look at the events and election of 1864.
Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried is being released in Paperback.
Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln by James Emerson is a chance to look at this complex man.
Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War by Guy Gugliotta tells about the clash of personalities behind building the Capitol its’ extraordinary design and engineering. The building runs from 1850 to 1863, taking place during one of the most contentious times in our history.
Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory by Brian Jordan. The author is working on a Ph.D. in History at Yale University while speaking at Round Tables and acting as a guide. This book looks at South Mountain as a separate distinct battle not a prelude to Antietam. This book looks at how “history is made” by following the battle into the post war years and what did and did not become “history”.
A History of the Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1865 by George Washington Williams is a paperback of the 1887 book.
The Civil War: The Second Year Told By Those Who Lived It edited by Stephen Sears is part of a four-volume series.
The Civil War in the West Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi by Earl J. Hess is a comprehensive look at how the Union won and held this area.
The Union Forever Lincoln, Grant and the Civil War by John Y. Simon looks at their relationship, how they influenced each other and their individual struggles.
The Petersburg Campaign: The Eastern Front Battles, June – August 1864, Volume 1 by Edwin Bearss and Bryce Suderow is a “must have” book. This is 488 pages with original maps by Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley.
Eric Wittenberg’s Protecting the Flanks: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 is a new edition with a new map, additional illustrations, two new appendices, and other material.
Shiloh, 1862: The First Great and Terrible Battle of the Civil War by Winston Groom should be a good read.
The Second Day at Gettysburg: The Attack and Defense of the Union Center on Cemetery Ridge, July 2, 1863 by David Shultz & David Wieck. This book expands on their excellent The Battle Between the Farm Lanes. This is a completely revised and expanded study including new photographs, original maps, and a self-guided tour.
When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna. This action caused Grant problems for the rest of his public life. A complete account is overdue and badly needed.
Rules of Rebellion: Guerrilla Warfare during the Civil War by Daniel E. Sutherland is only a title, author and date at this time.
The Peninsula Campaign and the Necessity of Emancipation by Glenn David Basher augers that this campaign is the pivotal event in the emancipation process.
Jeffry Wert’s A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863 is going to be released as a Paperback.
Richard Taylor and the Red River Campaign of 1864 by Samuel Mitcham Jr. looks at this campaign from the Confederate point of view.
Joshua Chamberlain: The Life in Letters of a Great Leader of the American Civil War by Thomas Desjardin brings to public light 300 never-before-seen letters.
Kentucky’s Civil War Battlefields: A Guide to Their History and Preservation by Randy Bishop looks at thirteen major conflicts and details the level of preservation for each site.
Americans Remember Their Civil War by Lesley J. Gordon looks at remembrances from the immediate postwar era to the early 21st century. The conflicting tensions as people sought to commemorate “their” war. The epilogue examines current memories of the war, debates and controversies.
Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg (U.S. Army War College Guide to Civil War Battles) edited by Jay Luvaas, Harold W. Nelson and Leonard J. Fullenkamp. This was the first book in this respected series of guides and is ready for a new edition. Changes in the park, the Cavalry battles on the Third coupled with rewritten and expanded background chapters make a new book not a reprint.
The Northern Home Front during the Civil War edited by Randall M. Miller and Paul A. Cimbala promises a great deal in 250 pages.
Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America by David S. Reynolds is being released as a Paperback.
By the Noble Daring of Her Sons: The Florida Brigade of the Army of Tennessee by Jonathan C. Sheppard. It is almost impossible to find books about Floridians fighting in the war. This book should help fill the gap for the Army of Tennessee.
IRON BRIGADE IN THE CIVIL WAR, THE: Bull Run to Appomattox, 1861-1865 by Lance Herdgen, is his fourth book on the Iron Brigade. His well received Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign published in 2008, is still in print.
Montreal and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: John Wilkes Booth’s Unexplained Visit to Montreal in October by Phil Sherman Taylor looks at the possible connection between the city and the assassination.
Remembering The Battle of the Crater: War as Murder by Kevin M. Levin looks at how we chose to remember or forget, using this one battle, the role of the USCT in the Civil War.
Edifice of Freedom: The Civil War Amendments in Historical Perspective by James S. Hunphreys looks at the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments in detail. The book looks at both the historical and contemporary significance of the Civil War Amendments.
The Long Road To Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution by Richard Slotkin has no information other than the title and publication date.
The Hammer and the Anvil: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the End of Slavery in America by Dwight Jon Zimmerman
The Chattanooga Campaign edited by Steven E. Woodworth and Charles D. Grear has a very impressive list of contributors. This is an excellent series on the Western Campaigns and there is every indication this book will maintain that standard.
38 Nooses: Lincoln, Little Crow, and the Beginning of the Frontier’s End by Scott W. Berg looks at the “Big Picture” of the 1862 Sioux war.
The Best Station of Them All: The Savannah Squadron, 1861-1865 by Maurice Melton
Shiloh: Confederate High Tide in the Heartland by Steven E. Woodworth
We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 by William J. Cooper
The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 2: Antietam edited by Thomas G. Clemens is the second part of the Ezra Carman manuscript, covering the battle has no publication date.
Ethan Rafuse has an essay in The Chattanooga Campaign edited by Steven Woodworth, the next book in the excellent Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland series.
Ethan Rafuse and Charles R. Bowery Jr. are working on a War College guide for Richmond-Petersburg expected in 2012.
Steve Stanley and J. David Petruzzi are hard at work on The Complete Antietam Campaign Guide. Antietam Chief Historian Ted Alexander is doing the Forward. This is a full color book styled on The Complete Gettysburg Guide. The book will feature Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, and Shepherdstown plus many points in between.
Eric Wittenberg is working on a project is for The History Press entitled The Battle of Yellow Tavern: Jeb Stuart’s Last Battle. This will be a study of Phil Sheridan’s May 1864 raid on Richmond, with particular focus on the May 11, 1864 Battle of Yellow Tavern, where Jeb Stuart is mortally wounded.
James M. Schmidt is doing a book for The History Press, tentatively titled Galveston and the Civil War: An Island People in the Maelstrom scheduled for mid- to late 2012.
A complete history of the Iron Brigade from Lance J. Herdegen is in the works. His Those Damned Black Hats!, the Iron Brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign won The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational Battle History.
Savas Beatie has an option to publish Scott L. Mingus, Sr.’s next book titled Gettysburg’s Controversial Old Confederate General: Gov. William “Extra Billy” Smith of Virginia.
Joseph Reinhart sent the manuscript for Yankee Dutchmen under Fire: Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry to the publisher. The book is undergoing peer review.
Nancy Dane reports book four in The Tattered Glory series is being edited before going to the publisher. The title is An Enduring Union.
Yankee Dutchmen under Fire by Joseph Reinhart has completed peer review and is approved for publication. It should be in the stores in 2013. This is his latest book on Germans in the Civil War.
Tom Desjardin’s biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain is due out in 2013.
David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction
A prize to encourage and reward excellent American historical fiction is a natural element in our effort to make the rich history of America accessible to the educated general reader. The David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Historical Fiction is offered annually to the best book in American historical fiction that is both excellent fiction and excellent history. Any press may publish the work, with the exceptions that the book may not be self-published or published by a subsidized publisher. The prize and $1,000 honorarium is awarded every year for the best book in American Historical Fiction published in the preceding year.
FINAL SHORTLIST FOR 2011
1) John M. Archer, After the Rain: A Novel of War and Coming Home (Gettysburg, PA: Ten Roads Publishing, 2011). The protagonist, Captain Daniel Spencer, is a line officer in the Union army. Wounded at Antietam badly enough to receive a discharge, he makes his way home to his wife and farm, located close to the location of the future Gettysburg battlefield. Civil War books are very common, and many focus of the theme of return. What makes this novel different is its focus on the psychological impact of battle on the protagonist. He feels guilty for leading so many men to their deaths. He experiences nightmares about the fighting, and this affects his relations with his wife. He is afflicted with concern about his dead comrades and ponderings about why he himself was not killed. The actual battle scenes depicted, a small fraction of the book, are not gratuitous, because they are necessary to understand Spencer’s role as company commander. In short, he has what today we would call “post-traumatic stress disorder.” Well-written, and with photographs illustrating many locations and personalities in the plot, the book holds in suspension until the end the central conflict.
Civil War Sesquicentennial Publications
In an effort to support, sesquicentennial publishing this will be part of this column through 2015. If you know of a book, please contact me so it can be included.
New Jersey Goes to War part of the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial is in its’ second printing. It is so popular that New Jersey’s Odyssey using the same format is available. This book is “An Anthology of Civil War Tales from 1850 to 1961”; Joseph G. Bilby edits both books.
Discover Your Community’s Civil War Heritage, by Steven D. Glazer, is a comprehensive and up-to-date manual for those wishing to research the stories of their own community’s Civil War veterans.
Only available from www.njcivilwar150.org 100% of the purchase price goes to support the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial. All those involved contributed their time and contributions paid for printing.
York County, Pennsylvania
Civil War Voices from York County, Pennsylvania: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign by Scott L. Mingus Sr. and James McClure contains the rich oral tradition coupled with letters, diaries, photographs and newspaper accounts to tell the stories of York in those bleak days 150 years ago. They give a vibrant voice to those living, serving and dying in this most tumultuous period in America’s history.
Adams County-based Colecraft Industries published the book.
The authors coordinated the project with the Pennsylvania Civil War 150, the York County Heritage Trust and the York Daily Record/Sunday News.
Contact: Scott Mingus, email@example.com.
Lists the book America on the Eve of the Civil War edited by Edward L. Ayers and Carolyn R. Martin, as 160-page book with four black & white photos.
***Check out the Siege of Petersburg Online for daily posts on battle accounts in newspaper articles, diary entries, letters and more!
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Want to read some interesting Civil War content from amateurs and pros alike? Check out the Top 10 Civil War Blogs and Top 10 Civil War Blogs: 11-20.