December 2009 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

December 2009

James Durney


In need of a holiday gift?

It might be a gift for someone else, an answer to “What do you want?” or something you buy yourself.  These books are available online and in some stores.

Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign by William Shea from UNC Press is available. Prairie Grove is one of the most important battles in the Trans-Mississippi.  This is a handsome book with maps and illustrations by an excellent author.  This book will complement Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West by the same author.

Edward Longacre’s Cavalry of the Heartland: The Mounted Forces of the Army of Tennessee uses a wide array of research materials including the unpublished writings of more than 300 officers and enlisted men.  This is the only book-length study of the strategy and tactics of the Army of Tennessee’s mounted forces from its inception in the spring of 1861 to Bentonville, four years later.  The book describes numerous campaigns and battles including Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro (Stones River), Tullahoma, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Nashville, and the Carolinas.

Commanding Lincoln’s Navy: Union Naval Leadership During the Civil by Stephen R. Taffee might be a “must have” for naval buffs.  The author wrote the well received Commanding the Army of the Potomac in 2006.

Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825 – 1861 by Earl M. Maltz covers eight major cases involving slavery that came before the Court in the years leading up to the war.

Entrepot: Government Imports into the Confederate States by C. W. Webster from Edinborough Press is history of civil war blockade running.  The publication date is October but Amazon lists this as a November/December shipment.

A Dangerous Stir: Fear, Paranoia, and the Making of Reconstruction by Mark Wahlgren Summers should be in the stores this month.  Reconstruction policy after the Civil War is shaped not simply by politics, principles, and prejudices. Also at work were fears–often-unreasonable fears of renewed civil war and a widespread sense that four years of war had thrown the normal constitutional process so dangerously out of kilter that the republic itself remained in peril.

Punitive War Confederate Guerrillas and Union Reprisals by Clay Mountcastle.  This is a look at how guerrilla attacks and Union reaction drove a cycle of violence contributing to a punitive war.  The author is a member of the US Army, currently in Korea, who has taught military history at West Point.

Available online from Ten Roads Publishing is The Alexander Dobbin House in Gettysburg: A Shirt History by Dr. Walter Powell.  Gettysburg Bicentennial Album by William A Frassanito.  Look for Fight as long as possible: The Battle of Newport Barracks, February 2, 1864 by Eric Lindblade about now.

The Louisiana Tigers in the Gettysburg Campaign, June-July 1863 by Scott L. Mingus, Sr., made its’ October date.  I last listed this author for his excellent Flames beyond Gettysburg: The Gordon Expedition, June 1863 and Gettysburg Glimpses: True Stories from the Battlefield.

Dave Powell’s The Maps of Chickamauga: An Atlas of the Chickamauga Campaign, Including the Tullahoma Operations, June 22 – September 23, 1863 is out.  This is part of the continuing Savas Beatie Maps of series.


New Releases

Brooks D. Simpson’s Civil War In The East 1861-1865: A Strategic Assessment is scheduled for this month.  Publicity says the author “offers an integrated interpretation of military operations and shows how politics, public perception, geography, and logistics shaped the course of military operations in the East.”

UNC Press scheduled Blue and Gray Diplomacy A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations by Howard Jones for January 2010. In this examination of Union and Confederate foreign relations during the Civil War from both European and American perspectives, Howard Jones demonstrates that the consequences of the conflict between North and South reached far beyond American soil.

Sam Davis Elliott’s newest book: Isham G. Harris of Tennessee: Confederate Governor and United States Senator is 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.

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

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 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 received his mortal wound.

Savas Beatie has published their Spring 2010 schedule.  In May, expect Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market by Charles R. Knight.  This is a 264-page book with eight maps covering the “complex prelude” and the battle.  In June The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 1: South Mountain is due.  This is the Ezra Carman manuscript edited by Thomas G. Clemens a 694-page book with ten maps covering the action leading up to Antietam.

In April, we can look for a full-color hardcover edition of The Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried.  Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign by Lance J. Herdegen, Sickles at Gettysburg by James A. Hassler and Saratoga by John Luzader is being released as paperbacks.  Saratoga is American Revolution but it is outstanding military history and a great read.

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.

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


Browsing in the bookstore

Most publishers treat spines as the ugly stepchild of jacket design, the smallest part of the jacket and thus the easiest to ignore. All a spine needs is the title running along it, the publisher’s name/logo on the bottom, and the author’s name on top.
The vast majority of books are shelved spine out. When walking through a store we are faced with hundreds or even thousands of books and the only thing we sees is a spine.  This gives that ugly little stepchild suddenly takes on an entirely new meaning.  [Borrowed from Ted Savas]


Savas Beatie LLC.

The webpage says they are “Publishers of Historical Titles of Distinction” with “Independent … Scholarly … and a bit old fashion” as a motto. Attorney and author Russel H. “Cap” Beatie joined Theodore P. “Ted” Savas in 2003 to form this company.  Ted Savas brought experience in consulting with and working for a number of publishing companies in addition to being a principle in Savas Woodbury Publishers.  An early coup was Champion Hill: Decisive Battle for Vicksburg by Timothy B. Smith.  This book was a selection of the Civil War Preservation Trust fundraising program and remains the standard work on the battle.

Their books have won a number of impressive awards.  The winning Civil War titles are Major General Robert E. Rodes of the Army of Northern Virginia: A Biography by Darrell Collins won the Douglas Southall Freeman Award for Best Book on Southern History, 2009 & Those Damned Black Hats!: The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign by Lance J. Herdegen, wining The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History, 2008.

The company has the ability to attract established authors and highly gifted new authors.  This is not a Civil War only publisher.  They have a very aggressive schedule publishing books on various aspects of military, sports, and general history.  Much of my library is from this publisher.  They produce a physically high quality book that is always an interesting, informative read.

In addition, the company is supportive of Round Tables with special offers for book purchases and financial support when a Round Table is referenced at purchase time.

Major services this publisher provided our community are the publication of Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 by O. Edward Cunningham, Edited by Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith.  Until this book, this vital work was not available to the public.  The second is getting Thomas G. Clemens to edit the Ezra Carman manuscript.  Joseph Pierro’s The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Ezra A. Carman’s Definitive Study of the Union and Confederate Armies at Antietam is the only commercial publication of this manuscript to date.  Publisher decisions left maps out and limited the coverage of events leading up to the battle.


I would like to take this chance to wish you all the happiest of holidays.  Thank you for taking the time to read my column & reviews.  I hope we will have many more years together with many excellent books.

“God Bless us, one and all!”

Editor’s Note: Jim is a Top 500 reviewer.

Check out Beyond the Crater: The Petersburg Campaign Online!

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