March 2010 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

March 2010

James Durney


Excellent Reads!

March 1865 saw Sherman’s army fight a number of small battles that while doing little to change the situation are interesting and should be included in your studies.  We usually pass over these battles in the rush to Appomattox.  These books will give the reader an excellent understanding of the finial battles in the Carolinas.

Eric Wittenberg contributes Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign published in 2006 by Savas Beatie.  This book covers the March 10, 1865, attack by Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton and Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, on the sleeping camp of Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick, Sherman’s cavalry chief.  This battle gave Hardee the time to withdraw and join J. E. Johnston.

Ironclad Publishing fills a void with NO SUCH ARMY SINCE THE DAYS OF JULIUS CAESAR: Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign from Fayetteville to Averasboro by Mark A. Smith & Wade Sokolosky.  Averasboro, like Monroe’s Crossroads is a critical link in the chain of events leading to the Battle of Bentonville.  I am a huge fan of Ironclad Publishing and their Discovering Civil War America series.  This is the third volume in the series.  That means a quality book with maps, illustrations and a driving tour at a reasonable price.

The Battle Of Bentonville: Last Stand In The Carolinas by Mark L. Bradley, while out of print, is one of the best books on this battle.  Johnston tries to damage a wing of Sherman’s army as it advances North toward the AOP.  Consider completing the set with This Astounding Close: The Road to Bennett Place by the same author from The University of North Carolina Press.  This book takes us from Bentonville to Johnston’s surrender.


New Releases

March 2010

Long out of print, Jeffry Werts’ first book From Winchester to Cedar Creek: The Shenandoah Campaign of 1864 is being released as a Paperback. If you were not lucky enough to get the hardback here is your chance.  This is an excellent book and a valuable addition to your library.

Yes, it is alternate history and most do not read this.  However, the first one was great fun and the second is A Rainbow of Blood: The Union in Peril An Alternate History by Peter G. Tsouras.  This continues the story started in Britannia’s Fist: From Civil War to World War: —An Alternate History.

I only have a title and know the author has a couple of Trans-Mississippi books in print.  Civil War Arkansas 1863: The Battle for a State by Mark K. Christ is scheduled this month.

A total unknown but a subject we have almost zero on is Thunder on the River: The Civil War in Northeast Florida by Daniel L. Schafer.

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 will be available toward the end of the month.

Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter J. Osterhaus by Mary Bobbitt Townsend from University of Missouri is due on the 24th.  The press release says the book “sets the record straight on this important Civil War general as it opens a new window on the war in the West”.

April 2010

Savas Beatie will release as paperbacks Those Damned Black Hats! The Iron Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign by Lance J. Herdegen and Sickles at Gettysburg by James A. Hessler.

The audio supplement to The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest by J. David Petruzzi should be ready.  The author tells me this is much more than simply reading the book aloud.  The supplement covers some places, locales, and actions not in the printed Guide.  There will also be things in the Guide not covered in the audio tour.  The supplement will cover the June 26 actions, the main battlefield, the cavalry battlefields, etc., with many new and different spots along the way.  Savas Beatie is offering signed copies.

Steven Woodworth continues the excellent Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland series with The Chickamauga Campaign. This volume will have essays by Alexander Mendoza, Timothy B. Smith, Dave Powell, Ethan S. Rafuse, Lee White and William Glenn Robertson.

May 2010

Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market by Charles R. Knight is a 264-page book with eight maps covering the “complex prelude” and the battle.  The author is a former Historical Interpreter at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park.

Look for a full-color hardcover edition of The Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried bringing this book on par with the other books in the series.  For those that own the black-and-white version of The Maps of Gettysburg: An Atlas of the Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 – July 13, 1863 by Bradley M. Gottfried, Savas Beatie’s coupon code MAPSCOLOR will give you $10.00 off the new edition and free shipping. Email with the coupon code and they will let you know when the book is available.

Michael T. Bernath’s Confederate Minds: The Struggle for Intellectual Independence in the Civil War South is due on May 15.  This is part of the Civil War America series by the author of Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters.

Rusty Williams has written My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans. This is the story of the Kentucky Confederate Home, a refuge in Pewee Valley for their unfortunate CSA veterans from 1902 until it closed in 1934.

Edwin Cole Bearss will publish Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg: The Battles That Changed the Civil War from National Geographic.

Lincoln and McClellan: The Troubled Partnership between a President and His General by John C. Waugh “is a tale of the hubris, paranoia, and eventual failure of George McClellan” that should reinforce the McClellan wrong Lincoln right school.

A new book by Kevin Dougherty STRANGLING THE CONFEDERACY: Coastal Operations in the American Civil War “examines the various naval actions and land incursions the Union waged from Virginia down the Atlantic Coast and through the Gulf of Mexico”.  This is not something we see a lot of and rates a look-see.

Reluctant Rebels The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861 by Kenneth W. Noe offers a nuanced view of men often cast as less patriotic and less committed to the cause.  He rekindles the debate over who these later enlistees were, why they joined, and why they stayed and fought.   Most of us know this author from his book Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle

June 2010

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 1: South Mountain is expected.  Thomas G. Clemens edited part of the Ezra Carman manuscript into a 694-page book with ten maps covering the action leading up to Antietam.

William Marvel’s The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War is scheduled for the 22nd.  The press release says “The Great Task Remaining is a striking, often poignant portrait of people balancing their own values—rather than ours—to determine whether the horrors attending Mr. Lincoln’s war were worth bearing in order to achieve his ultimate goals.”

At the Precipice Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis by Shearer Davis Bowman looks at how Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the late antebellum years

Confederate Minds The Struggle for Intellectual Independence in the Civil War South by Michael T. Bernath looks at the fight to prove the distinctiveness of the Southern people and to legitimatize their desire for a separate national existence through the creation of a uniquely Southern literature and culture.

My Old Confederate Home A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans by Rusty Williams is the story of the Kentucky Confederate Home, a luxurious refuge in Pewee Valley for their unfortunate comrades. Until it closed in 1934, the Home was a respectable if not always idyllic place for disabled and impoverished Confederate Veterans could spend their last days in comfort and free from want.

Scheduled for 2010 with an unavailable date

Joseph R. Reinhart expects German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and William Stängel, 9th Ohio Infantry to be out in the Spring.  The book contains 110 translated letters written by two fiery, highly opinionated German-born officers who fought in the Ninth Ohio Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War. Published in two German-American newspapers, the letters helped connect German Americans in the Ohio Valley to their native landsmen at the battlefront.

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

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

Eric Wittenberg is working on a project is 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.   The project after that is a book on the Revolutionary War Battle of Camden with Scott Patchan.

From Ten Roads Publishing we can expect:
Gettysburg Glimpses 2: More True Stories from the Gettysburg Campaign by Scott L. Mingus Sr. This is the fourth in a series of very popular books about human interest stories from Gettysburg, this installment offers more than 200 of the best anecdotes, amusing incidents, and funny stories from the Gettysburg Campaign.
Human Interest Stories from the Civil War by Scott L. Mingus Jr. and Dr. Thomas M. Mingus.  Similar in style and variety as the Gettysburg series by Scott L. Mingus Sr., this inaugural work by two professionally trained historians/educators contains some of the very best stories from the Civil War. Many have not been retold since the 19th century. Balanced between Union and Confederate accounts, this upcoming new book covers the gamut of the war from 1861 through 1865 with many very amusing true tales.

Jim Schmidt announced his next book Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory from the History Press.  This book will be the first book to incorporate the Notre Dame story into a comprehensive and unified narrative.

Savas Beatie has a two-volume set on The Petersburg Campaign, taken from a series of unpublished battle studies written by Ed Bearss, edited by Bryce Suderow in the works.  This has no publication date.

Sometime in the Fall, Savas Beatie has a Dave Powell book tentatively titled “Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign”.


Meet the Author J. David Petruzzi

This author’s The Complete Gettysburg Guide: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest is generating very good comments (see April for information on the audio supplement).

A graduate of Pennsylvania State University with graduate courses at Dickinson University he has insurance agency among other businesses.  With a life-long interest in US history and Gettysburg a 3-hour drive, he started collecting “old ACW books”.  By 1998, he had a website on Buford’s Cavalry.  Increased the trips to Gettysburg, lead to meeting more people which lead to writing articles.  He and Eric Wittenberg started conversing on the internet; meetings at Gettysburg resulted in them doing books together.

Between managing his insurance agency and maintaining an active presence on Facebook he co-authored One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 and Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg.

He is married to Karen (Gens) Petruzzi, they have one child, Ashley.


An Interview with Charles Knight, author of

Valley Thunder: The Battle of New Market and the Opening of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, May 1864

Valley Thunder is the first full-length account in nearly four decades to examine the sweeping combat at New Market on May 15, 1864—the battle that opened the pivotal 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Charles R. Knight recently discussed his upcoming book with publisher Savas Beatie LLC.

SB: Your book Valley Thunder contains a lot of primary accounts from soldiers, civilians, and politicians. Why do you think these are important to include in a battle history?

CRK: In telling of an event, no historian can fully capture or convey the emotion of someone who was actually there as witness to that event, so first-hand accounts are vital not just to battle studies, but to a study of any historical event. Often the after-action reports by the higher-ups ignore some aspects of the battle which they thought to be inconsequential or maybe were even unknown to them completely. Going to lower levels you find interesting personal anecdotes, and in some cases even humor on the battlefield as the bullets were flying thick and fast. And one must beware too of the all-too-present “spin” put on these reports by the commanders to paint themselves in as good a light as possible. When you look at accounts left by those who really had nothing at stake in the larger scheme of things, you do not find this restraint. And the closer to the event a memoir is written, usually the more accurate and detailed it is. And speaking of primary accounts, the official reports from both the Confederate commander, John Breckinridge, and his Federal counterpart, Franz Sigel, somehow did not find their way into the Official Records after the war, nor were they included in Broadfoot’s more recent Supplement to the ORs. Both reports exist: Breckinridge’s among his Chief of Staff’s papers in the New Market Collection in the VMI Archives, and Sigel’s in his extensive papers housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland. Yet because they were omitted from the ORs, they are very seldom cited. So they are both included verbatim as appendecies in Valley Thunder.

SB: You mentioned some of the previously accepted “facts” of the battle being called into question by new sources. What are some of these?

CRK: As I mentioned before, I think the biggest is the role of the 23rd Virginia Cavalry. Source material for John Imboden’s brigade at New Market has always been sparse, so earlier writers have not had much to work from. Edward Turner and his 1912 book The New Market Campaign could have answered this question very early on, since Turner spoke and corresponded with many veterans of the battle, primarily Confederates. Yet he provides no definitive answer, indeed may not even have thought the question needed answering, since Imboden had addressed it in his own writings years earlier. Yet for more recent authors there were enough conflicting and confusing sources out there to make it possible that the 23rd fought dismounted during the battle. This is the conclusion Davis reached, and has been used by many subsequent authors based on Davis’ book. However, looking closer at the “old” sources as well as comparing them with “new” ones, it seems that the 23rd did not fight dismounted, remaining instead with Imboden and the 18th Virginia Cavalry. The confusion seems to arise from the fact that since Confederate cavalrymen were responsible for providing their own mount, unlike their Northern counterparts who received government issued horses, a good number of Imboden’s men were without horses in early 1864 – both in the 18th and 23rd regiments. Horseflesh was so hard to come by in fact that the 62nd Virginia Mounted Infantry was entirely dismounted in early 1864. The troopers without horses from the 18th and 23rd were formed into several temporary companies attached to the 62nd, and as these troopers acquired mounts they would rejoin their own regiment. Thus when a casualty report published in the Staunton newspaper a few days after battle included men from the 23rd, without other sources, it could be interpreted to mean the 23rd fought dismounted. But again, taking all known sources from Imboden’s brigade together, it shows – to me at least – pretty conclusively that the 23rd remained mounted. Of course, all the maps on the brochures and signs at New Market Battlefield State Historical Park show the 23rd in line with the infantry . . .

SB: Previously you worked at New Market Battlefield as a Historical Interpreter. What sort of insight does that give you that other writers might not have?

CRK: I actually lived for a summer on the park grounds in the original farmhouse there, which dates to about 1817. This has always made me feel a sort of connection to the battlefield. I spent many evenings wandering the park grounds, so I am intricately familiar with the terrain, especially the “not on the regular tour” parts of the park. In giving tours to school groups, visiting military VIPs, bus tours, and regular park visitors, I noticed quickly that many of them had some of the same questions, and most of these were not addressed anywhere in writing. The two most frequently-asked ones concerned the family whose farm comprises the core of the battlefield park today and was at the center of the hottest fighting during the battle, the Bushong family, and the other the history of the park itself. So one of the appendices in my book addresses in some detail the Bushong family, their farm, and how it came to be owned by VMI and operated as New Market Battlefield State Historical Park. Although the amount of literature about battles is in some cases legion, the story of the battlefields themselves is almost forgotten. Some recent works, Tim Smith’s books about Shiloh and Chickamauga in particular, have begun to look at how the land itself was preserved and interpreted, which is an important part of the historiography of the battle.


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

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