September 2009 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

September 2009

James Durney


New Releases

Due July 21 is No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864 by Richard Slotkin.  The press review promises “An intellectually dazzling military history that recounts and reassesses one of the most devastating and dramatic battles of the Civil War”.  This 432-page book by a respected historian, a two-time finalist for the National Book Award merits a look-see.

On July 30 is the intriguing title: Irish Soldiers, American Wars: Irishmen in the Mexican and American Civil Wars. I have no information other than the title, publication date and that it is 320 pages.  The paperback is affordable at $30 but the hardback lists for $75.

The publication date of War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta by Russell S. Bonds is the 145th anniversary of the surrender of Atlanta.  The book starts in July and ends with the city being burned.  The author, an Atlanta resident, includes chapters on the city after the war and the status of the area’s battlefields.  Expect a serious history fully footnoted but very readable from the author of Stealing the General.

In September, look for A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction by Mark Wahlgren Summers covering “the political culture of Reconstruction”.

Savas Beatie will release Dave Powell’s The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 – September 23, 1863 at the West Coast CW Conference on October 1.  David Friedrichs is doing the cartography.  This is a 336-page book with 128 full color maps.  This is the third book in SB’s Military Atlas series.

I cannot ignore a book on the Civil War in the Trans-Mississippi by William L. Shea!  October 24, 2009, The University of North Carolina Press has scheduled Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign. One of the more important small battles, in the area, this looks to be a companion volume to Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West.

Years of Change and Suffering Modern Perspectives on Civil War Medicine edited by James M. Schmidt and Guy R. Hasegawa is due in October.  Jim has reported indexing the book during August.  James M. Schmidt writes on 19th Century medicine and is the author of Lincoln’s Labels.

Brooks D. Simpson has two books due between now and December.  In September, we will see The Reconstruction Presidents in paperback.  In December, Civil War In The East 1861-1865: A Strategic Assessment should be in the stores.

Sam Davis Elliott’s newest book: Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator is listed on Amazon with a January 2010 publication date.

In March 2010, Clint Johnson’s A VAST AND FIENDISH PLOT – The Confederate Attack on New York City should be in stores.

Thunder Across the Swamps, the second book in the Louisiana Quadrille series, covering the war for the lower Mississippi, February to May 1863 is scheduled for 2010.

We can look forward to a complete history of the Iron Brigade from Lance J. Herdegen.  Those Damned Black Hats!, about the Iron Brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign won The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History.

Savas Beatie is working on a two-volume set on The Petersburg Campaign, taken from a series of unpublished battle studies written by Ed Bearss.  Bryce Suderow is the editor on this.  This will be a major event in the historiography of the Petersburg Campaign.  A second major item from this publisher is a two-volume Maryland Campaign study edited by Tom Clemens.   After many years of work on the Ezra A. Carman’s study, Professor Clemens is nearing publication.  The two books will contain additional research, comments and a full set of maps.

Eric Wittenberg’s Like a Meteor Burning Brightly: The Short but Controversial Life of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren continues to be plagued with multiple production problems.  Expect the book to be in stores mid to late August.  This is the only biography of the brilliant, ambitious young man who became the youngest full colonel in the United States Army at the age of 21 yet died before his 22nd birthday.

Eric Wittenberg reports The Battle of Brandy Station, June 9, 1863: North America’s Largest Cavalry Battle, will be part of The History Press’s forthcoming sesquicentennial series on battles of the Civil War.  This is a 68,000-word manuscript with 50 maps and illustrations.  He feels that we have “a reasonable chance” of seeing this book in June 2010. The Civil War Preservation Trust and master cartographer Steve Stanley have given permission to use Steve’s excellent maps in the book.  Clark B. “Bud” Hall will work with Eric to put together a tour for the book.  A second project for The History Press titled 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 received his mortal wound. It will cover the raid, including Beaver Dam Station, Yellow Tavern, and the fight at Meadow Bridges on May 12. It will also address Stuart’s death, funeral, and burial at Richmond’s famous Hollywood Cemetery, and will include a driving tour.


No longer new but notable!

These are books that I do not want to see fall off because they are no longer “just in” or not published.  While looking at the new books, do not ignore these.

J. David Petruzzi’s The Complete Gettysburg Guide made the bookstores in July. This beautiful book is much more than a “guide”.

The Shiloh Campaign (Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland) edited by Steven E. Woodworth is the first in a series on Western Campaigns from Southern Illinois University Press.   This is a well-written series of essays on aspects of this campaign.  It is not an introduction but an excellent choice for those who study this battle.

Sickles at Gettysburg: the Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg by Jim Hessler has excellent reviews.  The book covers Sickles pre war, actions as a Union General and post war activities.

The Maps of First Bull Run: An Atlas of the First Bull Run (Manassas) Campaign by Bradley M. Gottfried includes the Battle of Ball’s Bluff and follows the basic format of The Maps of Gettysburg.  We all know how badly we need good detailed maps and this book is that.

A Savage Conflict: the Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War by Daniel E. Sutherland argues that irregular warfare took a large toll on the Confederate war effort by weakening support for state and national governments.

Earl J. Hess’ third volume in his study of field fortifications In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat is an excellent and unique look at the Petersburg Campaign.


People and the Civil War

Most histories look at military or political organizations.  This started me thinking about books that look at people and families caught up in the war.  This type of book personalizes history and forces us to remember the 39th Whatits is comprised of real living people not cardboard counters or pixels.

The Fighting McCooks – America’s Famous Fighting Family by Charles & Barbara Whalen.  No major battle took place in the western theater of war that did not include at least one of the seventeen Fighting McCooks. Four of them are killed during the war.  This well written book brings home the impact of the war on one Union family.

House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds, A Family Divided by War by Stephen Berry.  The border between the USA and CSA did not follow the neat maps we have.  The border ran through families dividing them into opposing camps.  This book covers what happened to Lincoln and his wife’s family.

Proud to Say I am a Union Soldier: The Last Letters Home from Federal Soldiers Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865 by Franklin R. Crawford, contains the final correspondence written by soldiers that did not survive the conflict.  Some died on the battlefield during combat but others understood they were about to die and counsel their family regarding their final disposition.


Introducing Author Dave Powell

My introduction to Dave Powell was at the Chickamauga Visitor’s Center where he was leading a two-day battlefield walk about five years ago.  Each March, I have made the trip to Chickamauga and followed Dave and James Ogden through the park.  More than once, I have asked Dave when we will get a book from him.  He has started answering my question with The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 – September 23, 1863 due next month. I still hope to see a full detailed history of Chickamauga with his name on it.

In 1983, Dave Powell graduated from VMI with a BA in History.  He pays the bills as owner/operator of a courier company in his native Chicago.  He has maintained a life-long fascination with history, concentrating on the Civil War, by being a re-enactor, war game designer, battlefield guide and now an author.   His war game titles include This Hallowed Ground and This Terrible Sound, regimental level games on Gettysburg and Chickamauga.


HPS Simulations

While this is not about books, I play the games and write about this American Civil War series often.  In July, HPS issued updates to Campaign Gettysburg version 1.04 and Campaign Chickamauga version 1.03, the second consecutive monthly update. HPS is unwilling to discuss the production pipeline because of “so many things that can derail a game” schedule.  They did say that they are working to bring all games up to the Chancellorsville level of rules and programming.


Welcome Ten Roads Publishing!

We have a new publishing company with a mission “to publish the highest quality contemporary works, in terms of the standard of product and scholarship, in addition to reprinting classic titles of historical significance.”

Their first book is Gettysburg Glimpses:  True Stories from the Battlefield by Scott L. Mingus, Sr.  contains over two hundred first-hand accounts of the Gettysburg Campaign through the eyes of officers, enlisted men, and civilians.  Scott Mingus is the author of the excellent Flames Beyond Gettysburg.

The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg by Dr. Walter Powell is a history of one of the most famous homes in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in addition to telling the story of many of the people who over time called the Dobbin House home.


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