Civil War Book Acquisitions: December 2011

by Brett Schulte on January 31, 2012 · 0 comments

Editor’s Note: For those who do not know, my wife had our second son, Brody, on December 30, 2011. I’ve been away from the blog in an active role for far longer than I would have liked. In my absence, Jim and Fred have done a fine job. However, my batteries are recharged and I’d like to jump back in with a multi-part look at some of the books I’ve bought and received for review over the last few months.

Civil War Book Acquisitions: December 2011

The Battle of First Bull Run Manassas Campaign July 16 22 1861Title: The Battle of First Bull Run Manassas Campaign – July 16 – 22, 1861
Author: Hines, Blaikie
Publisher: American Patriot Press
ISBN-13: 978-1-61364-129-3
Price: $39.50 (Paperback)
TOCWOC’s Take: Blaikie Hines has produced an intriguing new atlas on the First Battle of Bull Run, an always popular battle.  Hines has produced an attractive oversized look at the first major land battle of the war.  The book is profusely illustrated and most maps are modern aerial views with troop positions superimposed.  These are unlike any other maps I have ever seen done for a Civil War book, especially an atlas.  Hines’ book does not attempt tnew interpretations of what was a confusing day of fighting, instead relying on many of the books published on the battle over the last few decades and noting consensus, or lack thereof, when appropriate.  The collection of photos contained in the book, both from the Civil War era and today, is very impressive.  Many of the photos are labeled with various famous locations to help readers better understand the battle.  You’ll be reading more about this one shortly, including the addition of several complete maps due to the generosity of the author, in an upcoming review here at TOCWOC.  Stay tuned.

Publisher Site Info:

With its new publication The Battle of First Bull Run – An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide, American Patriot Press is pleased to offer the only illustrated atlas map and battlefield guide book for the first battle of the American Civil War.

Fought on July 21st, 1861, the battle was known in the North as the First Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia while in the South it was called the First Battle of Manassas

The site of this historic battlefield has mostly been preserved as the Manassas National Battlefield Park. The 5,600 acre park is located in Manassas, Virginia which is 30 miles west of Washington D.C. The park has an estimated 800,000 visitors per year. It includes historic sites associated with the first battle such as “The Stone Bridge”, “The Van Pelt Farm”, “Pittsylvania”, “Matthews Hill”, “Henry Hill”, “Chinn Ridge”, “The Thornberry House”, ”Sudley Springs Ford”, and “The Robinson House”. The park also includes sites associated with the second battle fought in August of 1862.

The Battle of First Bull Run, An Illustrated Atlas Map and Battlefield Guide was written for all those who visit the park and would like a very detailed and concise guide. For those that are not able to visit, the book has many photographs of antique views alongside modern views. The true spirit of the battlefield is captured without ever visiting. It is also of great value to those interested in Civil War reenactment, the Civil War video gaming community, and genealogists.

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The Bristoe Campaign General Lee’s Last Strategic Offensive with the Army of Northern Virginia October 1863 TigheTitle: The Bristoe Campaign: General Lee’s Last Strategic Offensive with the Army of Northern Virginia October 1863
Author: Tighe, Adrian G.
Publisher: Xlibris (self-published)
ISBN-13: 978-1-4568-8869-5
Price: $34.99 (Hardcover)$23.99 (Paperback)$3.03 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: For every 1000 people who have heard of Gettysburg, maybe one can name the major campaign in the East which followed it.  For the record, the Wilderness is not the answer as both the Bristoe Campaign and Mine Run Campaign were each contested without a single major battle in the fall of 1863.  It’s the first campaign mentioned which is the subject of this very well done (with one exception) self-published book on the Bristoe Campaign.  We’ll get to the exception in a minute.  I purchased the hardcover version of the book for myself based on Drew Wagenhoffer’s review from  April 2011.  Tighe’s notes and bibliography are every bit as well done as a majority of regularly published books, and his maps are excellent.  I even read with interest an appendix which covers the loss of several Confederate flags at Bristoe Station and which regiments they might have belonged to.  Now to the bad.  The book is filled with grammatical and spelling errors as well as similar sentences very close together.  Heck, I would have agreed to edit the book for $250 and made it a better product in literally one pass.  That’s no testament to my editing abilities.  It’s rather an indictment of just how sloppily the book was put together.  That said, this book is the only modern treatment of this long forgotten and badly overlooked campaign, so if you are willing to overlook the editing, it’s well worth your time.  Also, if you have a Kindle or don’t mind reading it on a computer screen, the Kindle version of the book is going for only $3.03 at Amazon!  I’ve spent $3.00 on a lot less useful stuff than this.

Publisher Site Info:

Described by John Esten Cooke, of JEB Stuart’s staff, as “one of the liveliest episodes of the late war” the Bristoe Campaign was a small and seemingly unimportant event sandwiched between the battle at Gettysburg and the Wilderness bloodbath. Bristoe receives scant attention from historians, despite being an attempt by Lee, to seize the strategic initiative. Marking the decline in Confederate leadership, Lee’s inability to compensate, and the growing Union confidence and capability. The campaign outcome was significant; being the turning point of the war as Lee was now on the defensive and from now on, the Union forces held the initiative.

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The Wartime Papers of Robert E. Lee Dowdey ManarinTitle: The Wartime Papers of R. E. Lee
Author: Dowdey, Clifford (ed) & Manarin, Louis H. (ed)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ASIN: B0055MVSJU
Price: price
TOCWOC’s Take: I picked up the Hardback version of this one as a useful reference work for my Siege of Petersburg site.  This book, originally published in 1961 and edited by Clifford Dowdey and Louis Manarin, contains only those items deemed the most useful and interesting by the editors.  As far as I know, the entire collection of Lee’s letters and official correspondence was never published in book form.  If anyone knows of a web site or other method by which all of Lee’s written words have been collected, please leave me a comment.

Publisher Site Info: N/A

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A Small but Spartan Band The Florida Brigade in Lee's Army of Northern VirginiaTitle: A Small but Spartan Band: The Florida Brigade in Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia
Author: Waters, Zack C. & Edmonds, James C.
Publisher: The University of Alabama Press
ISBN-13: 978-0-8173-1679-2
Price: $29.95 (Hardcover)
TOCWOC’s Take: This history of the Florida regiments of the Army of Northern Virginia was another purchase to use in my Siege of Petersburg research.  This is the only book to focus on these units, a surprising circumstance given the crucial but controversial roles played by Florida men at famous battles, especially Gettysburg.  A quick glance through the book indicates pretty decent maps for a unit history, with maps of the Battle of Ream’s Station and Hatcher’s Run included.  The book draws on a wealth of archival resources in Florida and throughout the South.  Anyone interested in ANV unit histories might find this worth their time.

Publisher Site Info:

A unit that saw significant action in many of the engagements of the Civil War’s eastern theater
Until this work, no comprehensive study of the Florida units that served in Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia (ANV) had been attempted, and problems attend the few studies of particular Florida units that have appeared. Based on more than two decades of research, Waters and Edmonds have produced a study that covers all units from Florida in the ANV, and does so in an objective and reliable fashion.
Drawn from what was then a turbulent and thinly settled frontier region, the Florida troops serving in the Confederacy were never numerous, but they had the good or bad luck of finding themselves at crucial points in several significant battles such as Gettysburg where their conduct continues to be a source of contention. Additionally, the study of these units and their service permits an examination of important topics affecting the Civil War soldier: lack of supplies, the status of folks at home, dissension over civilian control of soldiers and units from the various Confederate states, and widespread and understandable problems of morale. Despite the appalling conditions of combat, these soldiers were capable of the highest courage in combat. This work is an important contribution to the record of Lee’s troops, ever a subject of intense interest.
Author/Editor
Zack C. Waters is Adjunct Professor of history at Georgia Highlands College. He has published articles on Florida’s CSA history in Florida Historical Quarterly, Civil War Regiments, Apalachee Review, and El Escribano.
James C. Edmonds is self-employed in Port Royal, South Carolina.

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Hard Marching Every Day The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk 1861-1865Title: Hard Marching Every Day: The Civil War Letters of Private Wilbur Fisk 1861-1865
Author: Rosenblatt, Emil (ed) & Rosenblatt, Ruth (ed)
Publisher: University Press of Kansas
ISBN-10: 0-7006-0529-0
Price: $15.95 (Paperback); $23.97 (Hardcover)
TOCWOC’s Take: Wilbur Fisk of the 2nd Vermont wrote almost 100 letters to his hometown newspaper, the Green Mountain Freeman.  I came across one of these letters on the fighting abilities of Black soldiers, and I knew Wilbur Fisk was out of the ordinary and an excellent writer.  Fisk was at the Siege of Petersburg, so I picked this one up as another resource for my site.  My understanding is that this is one of the more unique sets of letters published in that Fisk wrote regularly and his letters spanned the entire war.

Publisher Site Info:

As a war correspondent, Wilbur Fisk was an amateur, yet his letters to the Montpelier Green Mountain Freeman comprise one of the finest collections of Civil War letters in existence. “Literary gems,” historian Herman Hattaway calls them. “In fact, they are so goodthat it would be believable that some expert novelist had created them.”

But Fisk was no novelist. He was a rural school teacher from Vermont, primarily self-educated, who enlisted in the Union Army simply because he believed he would regret it later if he didn’t.

Unlike professional war correspondents, Private Fisk had no access to rank or headquarters. Instead, he wrote of life as a private–as one of the foot soldiers who slept in the mud and obeyed orders no matter how incomprehensible.

Between December 11, 1861, and July 26, 1865, Fisk wrote nearly 100 letters from the battlefield. At the beginning of the war he was exuberant and eager for contact with the enemy. Two years later, Fisk was disillusioned and war weary. “The rebel dead and ours lay thickly together, their thirst for blood forever quenched. Their bodies were swollen, black, and hideously unnatural. They eyes glared from their sockets, their tongues protruded from their mouths, and in almost every case, clots of blood and mangled flesh showed how they had died, and rendered a sight ghastly beyond description. I thought I had become hardened to almost anything, but I cannot say I ever wish to see another sight like that I saw on the battle-field of Gettysburg.”

Fisk wrote as eloquently on the moral and political issues behind the war as he did on the everyday hardships of life in the Army of the Potomac. He saw the war as a question of right and wrong and he continued to believe that it had to be fought, even after he was well acquainted with its horror and pointlessness.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

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The 47th Indiana Volunteer InfantryTitle: The 47th Indiana Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History
Author: Williamson, David
Publisher: McFarland & Company
ISBN-13: 978-0-7864-6595-8
Price: $45.00 (Paperback)
TOCWOC’s Take: I received this regimental history for review from McFarland, but since I am so Petersburg focused right now this one is not on my review short list.  With that said, those interested in this regiment or the Civil War in the west may want to consider this one even with the rather steep cost for a paperback.  The maps were sketches based on Official Atlas plates and Google maps, though I didn’t see any alterations to specifically show the location of the 47th Indiana in its battles, something I prefer in regimental histories.  If you’ve read this one leave me a comment on it below.

Publisher Site Info:

About the Book
Organized at Indianapolis in December 1861, the 47th Indiana Volunteer Infantry’s Civil War service spanned the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf South. From Louisville to New Orleans and on to Mobile, General James R. Slack and the 47th Indiana took the war to the inland waterways and southern bayous, fighting in many of the Civil War’s most famous campaigns, including Vicksburg, Red River and Mobile. This chronicle of the 47th Indiana follows the regiment’s odyssey through the words of its officers and men. Sources include Chaplain Samuel Sawyer’s account of their exploits in the Indianapolis Daily Journal, soldiers’ accounts in Indiana newspapers, stories of war and intrigue from newspapermen of the “Bohemian Brigade,” and General Slack’s own story in letters to his wife, Ann, including his postwar command on the Rio Grande. Numerous photographs, previously unpublished battle and area maps, and a full regimental roster complete this detailed account.

About the Author
David Williamson (Ph.D., Tulane) has written numerous books on the history of the American Civil War.


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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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