August 2010 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

August 2010

James W. Durney


In my mailbox or on the shelves

With no July issue, this section is larger.  Vacation was great but we are back to normal now.

The Grand Design: Strategy and the U.S. Civil War by Donald Stoker examines how Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis identified their political goals and worked with their generals to craft the military means to achieve them–or how they often failed to do so.  This is not a book for the causal history reader.  For those who wish to drill down, this is an excellent book and worth reading.

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 1: South Mountain edited by Thomas G. Clemens is the first part of the Ezra Carman manuscript.  This is a joy to read, the original manuscript edited by an acknowledged expert.  The book is 576 pages, with 19 original maps, a photo gallery, and traditional footnotes covering the action leading up to Antietam.  Volume 2, covering the battle is expected summer of 2011.

William Marvel’s The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War according to the press release is “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.”

Part of the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial is New Jersey Goes to War edited by Joseph G. Bilby containing 150 biographies of New Jersey citizens that lived during the war.  This book can be read either as a series of short bios or as a book.  Either way, it is informative and enjoyable.  Only available from 100% of the purchase price goes to support the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial.  All those involved contributed their time and contributions paid for printing.

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 less fortunate comrades. Until it closed in 1934, the Home was a respectable if not always idyllic place for disabled and impoverished Confederate Veterans to spend their last days in comfort and free from want.

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

The full-color hardcover edition of The Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried is a huge improvement over the original edition.  This reprint brings the book on par with the rest of 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.  Orders placed through PayPal with the coupon code MAPSCOLOR will be issued a refund by the company.

Volume I of 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 covers the main battlefield.  See Augusts’ New Releases for volume II.


New Releases

June 2010

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.

July 2010

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.

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.

Yes, it is alternate history and the first one was great fun.  A Rainbow of Blood: The Union in Peril An Alternate History by Peter G. Tsouras, continues the story started in Britannia’s Fist: From Civil War to World War: —An Alternate History. The publisher moved the publication date from April to May to June and now July.

August 2010

A Long Way to Go Book Three of the Tattered Glory Series by Nancy Dane should be in the stores.  This book is a sequel to Where the Road Begins book one in the series.  While fiction, they are a very realistic portrayal of life in the Trans-Mississippi during the war.

Volume II of 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 covers the Cavalry fields, Hunterstown and Fairfield.  This is not a reading of the book; the supplements cover some places, locales, and actions not in the printed Guide.

Released as a paperback is two excellent books: Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 by Elizabeth R. Varon and Russell McClintock’s Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession.

September 2010

Failure in the Saddle: Nathan Bedford Forrest, Joe Wheeler, and the Confederate Cavalry in the Chickamauga Campaign by Dave Powell.  Draws upon a massive array of primary accounts, many previously unpublished, to offer a detailed examination of the Southern cavalry’s role in this fascinating campaign. The result is a richly detailed and elegantly written study full of insightful tactical commentary, new perspectives on the strategic role of the Rebel horsemen, and fresh insights on every engagement, large and small, waged during the bloody North Georgia campaign.

Stoneman’s Raid, 1865 by Chris J. Hartley is due.  The product description states: “In the spring of 1865, Federal major general George Stoneman launched a cavalry raid deep into the heart of the Confederacy. Over the next two months, Stoneman’s cavalry rode across six Southern states, fighting fierce skirmishes and destroying supplies and facilities. When the raid finally ended, Stoneman’s troopers had brought the Civil War home to dozens of communities that had not seen it up close before. In the process, the cavalrymen pulled off one of the longest cavalry raids in U.S. military history.”

The New York Times The Complete Civil War 1861-1865 edited by Harold Holzer and Craig Symonds.  Whatever doubts I have about this is over ridden by the editors.  The book is listed as 480 pages from Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.

The Rashness of that Hour: Politics, Gettysburg, and the Downfall of Confederate Brigadier General Alfred Iverson by Robert Wynstra.  During the early afternoon of July 1, 1863, much of Iverson’s brigade is killed, wounded, or captured on Oak Ridge.  Iverson loses his command less than a week after the battle.  This book looks at this blunder, the feuds and politics involved in this incident and the aftermath.

Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg by Earl J. Hess is a moment-by-moment examination of the Battle of the Crater and its immediate aftermath, this is the clearest picture yet of how a Federal mine was built underneath the Confederate lines at Petersburg, how the assault against those lines was planned and executed, and why it ultimately failed.

After the War: The Lives and Reputations of Great Civil War Figures After the Shooting Stopped by David Hardin is a 256-page book with a promising title.  I consider this a “buyer beware”.

If you held off buying War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta by Russell S. Bonds, start looking for the paperback edition.

October 2010

Look for Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption by Shane Kastler to get comments.  The author covers Forrest’s “Christian conversion and renunciation of his racist views are largely overlooked. This book is specifically devoted to the spiritual aspect of Forrest’s life. By God’s grace, he changed his ways.”

The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta by Gary Ecelbarger has no description but the author makes me want to see this book.

Railroads of the Civil War: An Illustrated History by Michael Leavy, no description beyond the title.

Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrold looks at the slave states of Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri and the free states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  This book looks at the impact of slavery on this border.

Abraham Lincoln and the Structure of Reason by David A. Hirsch & Dan Van Haften.  Authors Hirsch and Van Haften argue that it was Lincoln’s in-depth study of geometry that gave our sixteenth president his verbal structure.

Extraordinary Circumstances: The Seven Days Battles by Brian K. Burton in paperback.  This is one of the best histories of The Seven Days Battles.

The award winning Lincoln and His Admirals by Craig Symonds in paperback.

November 2010

Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War by Steven E. Woodworth paints a vivid and panoramic portrait of 1840’s America at its most vibrant and expansive: the annexations of Texas, California, and the states of the Pacific Northwest; prospectors heading west in search of gold; the founding of the Church of Latter-Day Saints and the eventual migration of the Mormons; railroads and telegraph lines connecting populations as never before; William Henry Harrison waging the first modern populist campaign for president, focusing on entertaining voters rather than discussing issues.  Throughout these events, Woodworth traces the path of what had been the “local” issue of slavery as it grew into a central national issue that divided religions, political parties, and, ultimately, the nation itself.

The Notorious “Bull” Nelson: Murdered Civil War General by Donald A. Clark an examination of this irascible officer, his numerous accomplishments, and his grim fate.

December 2010

Creating a Confederate Kentucky The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State by Anne E. Marshall traces the development of a Confederate identity in Kentucky between 1865 and 1925 that belied the fact that Kentucky never left the Union and that more Kentuckians fought for the North than for the South.

Publication in 2011

Michael B. Ballard has written a number of books on the war in Mississippi.  His latest is The Civil War in Mississippi: Major Campaigns and Battles.

Unavailable Dates

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Eric Wittenberg announced a contract with The History Press for a history of Averell’s August 1863 Law Book Raid, which led to the August 26-27, 1863 Battle of White Sulphur Springs. Averell’s West Virginia and western Pennsylvania cavalry fought the infantry brigade of Col. George S. Patton in White Sulphur Springs, a couple of miles from The Greenbrier. This has never had any sort of a book-length study.  Terry Lowry, who has done some good work on the Civil War in West Virginia, has agreed to show Eric the battlefield, and lots of people will help him with this project.

In the Fall of 2011, look for Campaign Chattanooga edited by Steven Woodworth the next book in the excellent Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland series


Civil War Book Awards

The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award, for Reference, 2009

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, with cartography by Steven Stanley (Savas Beatie, 2009)

At its Thirteenth Annual Members’ Meeting, held on Sunday at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA, the Army Historical Foundation recognized five books and three articles as outstanding achievements in writing on U.S. Army history.

The Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award

by the Robert E. Lee Civil War Round Table of Central New Jersey

Sickles at Gettysburg: The Controversial Civil War General Who Committed Murder, Abandoned Little Round Top, and Declared Himself the Hero of Gettysburg by James A. Hessler (Savas Beatie, 2009)

The Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award is presented annually to the most original outstanding work on the Gettysburg Campaign. “[Sickles at Gettysburg] is now the standard working on Sickles,” award committee members stated. “Hessler takes a fresh approach to Sickles’ role in the battle of Gettysburg that enables readers to make their own determination on his controversial move forward.” Furthermore, committee members called the book, “an excellent portrait of a man who was larger than life.”

The 2010 Laney Prize

Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas January 1861 – January 1863

The Daniel M. & Marilyn W. Laney Prize is awarded each year to the author of the book that best advances the knowledge of the Civil War’s military or political events and the Americans who took part in those events.



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