Happy 4th (and a couple of new books)

by Fred Ray on July 4, 2018 · 0 comments

Hope everyone is having a bang-up (so to speak) 4th of July. It was not such a great day for the Confederacy in 1863, when the news came that Vicksburg had fallen and Lee had been defeated at Gettysburg.

Picked up a couple of books recently, which I will try to review in due course. The first I found while waiting at Sam’s Club for a tire rotation and new battery.  Sam’s seems to have a policy of displaying local history books—they had several on our local Blue Ridge area. Some time ago I found an interesting book on Alabama steamboats at Sam’s during a visit to Mobile, which I reviewed.

The book I found here was Kirk’s Civil War Raids Along the Blue Ridge by Michael Hardy. “Kirk” is Col. George Kirk, an infamous Union raider from Eastern Tennessee. Legends still linger in Western NC about his bold raids and their savage execution.

The other is Confederate Odyssey, a beautifully photographed large format book of rare period arms and artifacts collected by George W. Wray and now in the Atlanta History Center.

Throughout his life, Atlanta resident George W. Wray Jr. (1936–2004) built a collection of more than six hundred of the rarest Confederate artifacts including not just firearms and edged weapons but also flags, uniforms, and accoutrements. Today, Wray’s collection forms an integral part of the Atlanta History Center’s holdings of some eleven thousand Civil War artifacts. Confederate Odyssey tells the story of the Civil War through the Wray Collection. Analyzing the collection as material evidence, Gordon L. Jones demonstrates how a slave-based economy on the cusp of industrialization attempted to fight an industrial war.

The broad range of the collection includes many rare or one-of-a-kind objects, such as a patent model and early inventions by gun maker George W. Morse, the bloodstained coat of a seventeen-year-old South Carolina soldier, battle flags made of cloth imported from England, and arms made in Georgia, the heart of the Confederacy’s burgeoning military-industrial complex.

Well worth reading and keeping on your coffee table. I found a used copy for about $35 that looked new.


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