North & South Volume 9, Number 1

by Brett Schulte on April 12, 2006 · 4 comments

Here’s a summary for Volume 9, Number 1 of North & South magazine. For those of you who have never read an issue, I consider this, along with Blue & Gray, to be the two best Civil War magazines today. (Note: I haven’t seen much of Gettysburg Magazine, which I hear is excellent from everyone I’ve talked to.) North & South features extensive endnotes, highly detailed maps (including topographical lines in many cases), and a who’s who of current authors. I hope to make these short summaries of each issue of North & South and the other Civil War magazines I subscribe to a regular feature of the blog. Feel free to add any comments on articles if they are of interest to you.

Page 8
Albert A. Nofi’s Knapsack
Al Nofi’s Knapsack is a regular column in North & South that features
vignettes and other reminiscences of the late War Between the States.
In this issue, topics covered include the surrender of Arkansas Post,
the War of the Pacific (which I learned was “the largest international
war in the history of the Americas”), and the Prince and Princess
zu Salm-Salm, among other things..
Page 12
“Set Your Spades to Work”: Field Fortifications
in the Chancellorsville Campaign
by Earl J. Hess
Dr. Hess here provides us with an excerpt from his new
book, Field
Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War : The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864
.
The author takes a look at the use of fortifications during the Chancellorsville
Campaign. Just from reading the opening few paragraphs, one learns that
Hess sets out to challenge some commonly held beliefs about field fortifications
in the Civil War. He notes that, contrary to popular belief, field fortifications
were used quite often in the early years of the war, showing up in about
47% of the battles fought during this time. He contrasts this with the
use of fortifications only 31% of the time in battles fought between the
French and Indian War and the Mexican War. In other words, there was definitely
a growing trend towards their extensive use from 1861-1864, setting up
the massive siege lines around Petersburg and Atlanta. After briefly describing
typical terms used in identifying fortifications, Hess moves quickly into
the use of earthworks in the campaign. He goes on to say that Hooker’s
fortified bridgehead built on May 3-4, 1863 was the most extensive use
of fortifications from 1861-early 1864, with the possible esception of
Magruder’s line on the Virginia peninsula anchored by Yorktown. The “first
recorded use of headlogs in the eastern campaigns” occurred during
the Chancellorsville Campaign as well. The author concludes by examing
the ways in which each side had used entrenchments at Chancellorsville,
and the relative success of each side. I enjoyed the article and I’m looking
forward to reading the full book.

Page 24
Loosening The ties That Bind: The Conflicting Moral Visions of
Men and Women in the Civil War North by Nina Silber
Professor Silber discusses the effects the war had on husbands and
wives on the Northern home front during the war. She notes that particularly
for Northern soldiers, God and “the Union” were placed above
mothers, wives, and girlfriends in the list of priorities. This led to
a certain moral laxness on the soldies’ part, with women trying, many
times in vain, to exert their moral influence over their now-distant loved
ones. At the same time, wives of soldiers were held to an even higher
moral standard than they were prior to the war. Even dressing up or receiving
looks from men still at home risked disgrace for the already overburdened
soldier’s wife. Women did use the war as an opportunity to take new jobs
as nurses, teachers, and government workers. This article was well-written,
and although I am not particularly interested in the social aspects of
the war, I found it to be an informative read.
Page 36
The “Fighting Doctor”: Bernard John Dowling Irwin in
the Civil War by John H. Fahey, M.D.
Dr. John Fahey, who is currently writing a biography of “The Fighting
Doctor”, B. J. D. Irwin, here presents us with a condensed view of
his Civil War activities. Irwin was present at the Battle of Shiloh, and
his excellent care of the wounded under his charge drew rave reviews from
the generals in charge after the battle. He was captured at the Battle
of Richmond, Kentucky, but this act saved Gen. William “Bull”
Nelson from capture. Irwin later became the Medical Director of the Army
of the Southwest, and he later was present at the explosion of the Sultana
in 1865. Irwin led a long life after the war eventually passing away in
1917.
Page 52
July 1, 1863: George Gordon Meade’s Lost Afternoon Re-Examined
by Robert Himmer
Robert Himmer brings us this informative look at General Meade’s actions
on July 1, 1863, and he takes a stance opposing the commonly held view
that Meade was timid or inactive during the afternoon of that day. In
1864, Meade testified several times before the Joint Committee on the
conduct of the War. Himmer notes that Meade’s initial testimony seems
to back the commonly held view of a timid, indecisive leader in a pressure-filled
moment. However, in subsequent testimony Meade changed his tune. He also
indicated he had documents to prove that he had in fact been quite aggressive
considering the circumstances if he failed. The author argues that the
second Meade was the true Meade on July 1, 1863. He details Meade’s actions
and outlines the overall and specific situations on and prior to that
day. Himmer argues, I believe successfully, that once Meade had been assured
that Lee was indeed concentrating at Gettysburg and was not trying to
flank the Army of the Potomac, the Union general took decisive action
because he realized that Gettysburg was to be the scene of a major battle.
I look forward to Part Two of this two part series, due out in Volume
9, Number 2.
Page 66
Raising The Blockade: The Nighttime Attack of the CSS Palmetto
State
and the CSS Chicora by R. Thomas Campbell
On January 31, 1862, two Confederate ironclads and sister ships, the
CSS Palmetto State and CSS Chicora, steamed over the
bar and out of Charleston Harbor. They intended to sink or scatter as
many ships of the Northern blockading force as possible. Although they
didn’t sink any Yankee vessels, the two Rebel ironclads did manage to
badly damage several and drove the entire blockading force far enough
away to allow Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard to declare that the blockade had
been lifted. Under international law, this meant that technically the
Union fleet had to allow vessels in and out of Charleston for a full month.
However, the Northern force refused to honor this provision, returning
to enforce the blockade within hours. The two Confederate vessels had
achieved some success, but it was fleeting.
Page 76
Best Of… The Gettysburg Battlefield by D. Scott Hartwig
D. Scott Hartwig brings us exactly what the title says: the best of
the Gettysburg battlefield. He mentions Culp’s Hill, the XI Corps line,
East Cavalry Field, and Pickett’s Charge as the best places to see for
the first-time visitor. The newly cleared areas of the battlefield are
then recommended for veterans of the field.
Page 78
John Brown, the Election of Lincoln, and the Civil War by David
S. Reynolds
David S. Reynolds argues in this thought-provoking piece that John
Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry was a major cause of the Civil War happening
at the time it did. He believes that the anti-Lincoln opposition would
not have splintered into three camps had Brown’s famous raid not taken
place and points out that the total votes against Lincoln outnumbered
the total votes for Lincoln by around 900,000. He further argues that
Southern fireeaters used the Harpers Ferry incident to divide the Democratic
Party, which resulted in Lincoln’s election and secession.
Page 89
Briefings
Books reviewed in this issue:

1. Sheridan’s
Lieutenants : Phil Sheridan, His Generals, and the Final Year of the Civil
War by David Coffey

2. Lincoln’s
American Dream: Clashing Political Perspectives edited by Kenneth L. Deutsch
and Joseph R. Fornieri

3. Simon
Bolivar Buckner: Beyond the Southern Storm by Stephen Russell

4. Autobiography
of Samuel S. Hildebrand: The Renowned Missouri Bushwhacker edited by Kirby
Ross

5. Following
the Greek Cross; Or, Memories of the Sixth Army Corps by Thomas W. Hyde

6. A
Crisis In Confederate Command: Edmund Kirby Smith, Richard Taylor, And
The Army Of The Trans-Mississippi by Jeffrey S. Prushankin

7. Breaking
the Confederacy: The Georgia and Tennessee Campaigns of 1864 by Jack H.
Lepa

I do not normally comment on the book reviews unless I see a book that I’ve heard particularly good things about. In this case, though, I write for another reason. John Marszalek reviewed the book and mentioned that “there is no evidence of the new military history–references to blacks and women, for example, are practically non-existent.” The context in which it was written infers that this is universally a bad thing. As someone who is bored to tears by Social History, I personally do not consider that to be the case, at least universally speaking. I doubt others such as myself who are mainly interested in military history would consider the lack of “new military history” a bad thing either. I’m not saying the comment is necessarily wrong. It just seemed a little odd that every new book that comes out on the Civil War, especially battle and campaign studies, would need to include these topics, unless of course the book is written on a topic like Petersburg, where USCT troops were present in large numbers. Even then, the focus in a purely tactical book would not be on the color of soldiers’ skin. Instead, it would be on their maneuvers on the battlefield.

8. Hell’s
Broke Loose In Georgia: Survival In A Civil War Regiment by Scott Walker

9. Lincoln’s
Melancholy : How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness
by Joshua Wolf Shenk

Check out Beyond the Crater: The Petersburg Campaign Online for the latest on the Siege of Petersburg!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephen Graham April 12, 2006 at 11:48 pm

I would hope that a volume covering the 1864 Tennessee campaign would devote some attention to the USCT. In terms of numbers and actions, it was a very significant campaign for them, certainly more important than the Crater.

Reply

Brett S. April 13, 2006 at 8:45 am

Stephen,

I agree with you 100%. But I don’t think that’s what Dr. Marszalek was referring to when he talks about no mention of “women or blacks”. He is specifically referring to topics that the “new military history” method covers, and these social history topics simply aren’t very interesting to me.

Brett S.

Reply

Stephen Graham April 13, 2006 at 11:42 pm

Well, Brett, ultimately I’m on Marszalek’s side – you need to know the social history to understand much of what’s driving strategic and operational considerations.

Reply

Brett S. April 13, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Stephen,

That’s cool. To each his own. We’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t believe that you need to understand what caused the war or what women on the home front were thinking to understand why George Thomas attacked Hood’s redoubts on the left, or why Hood decided to drive north into Tennessee in the first place.

Brett

Reply

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