October 2010 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

October 2010

James W. Durney


In memoriam Joseph Lee Harsh

Joseph L. Harsh died on September 13, 2010 in Fairfax, Virginia.  Funeral Services were Friday September 17, 2010 at Centreville United Methodist Church, Centreville, Virginia.

“Big McClellan man!” is how Dr. Charles Poland described Dr. Harsh during the summer of 1988.  While somewhat dismissive, this summation makes a statement about the man and his work.  Dr. Harsh was willing to form his own opinions based on careful research.  He was able to give good solid reasons why he thought as he did.

He wrote on the Maryland Campaign of 1862, creating a body of work that has stood the test of time.  His books are as fresh and useful today as when they were published.

Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862 this overview of the war to the summer of 62 presents well-grounded ideas that provoke real thought.

Taken at the Flood: Robert E. Lee and Confederate Strategy in the Maryland Campaign of 1862 is a very logical, systematic walk thru not as history but as the events take place. This approach puts the reader in the position of Lee or McClellan making decision with imperfect knowledge.

Sounding the Shallows: A Confederate Companion for the Maryland Campaign of 1862 is a collection of notes on units, weather reports and a level of detail that is astounding. My understanding is this is all the writing that did not find a place in his two excellent books and were to valuable to discard.


In my mailbox or on the shelves

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption by Shane Kastler to will cause some comments.  The author covers Forrest’s Christian conversion and renunciation of his racist views, which are largely overlooked.  This book is specifically devoted to the spiritual aspect of Forrest’s life an excellent mini-biography and a story of conversion concentrating on the years after the war.

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.

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.

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.

Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War by Douglas R. Egerton covers the election of 1860 recreating the cascade of unforeseen events that confounded political bosses, set North and South on the road to disunion, and put not Stephen Douglas, but his greatest rival, in the White House.

A German Hurrah!: Civil War Letters of Friedrich Bertsch and William Stängel, 9th Ohio Infantry by Joseph R. Reinhart was published in July.  This is the newest book of German letters the author has translated.  The others are: August Willich’s Gallant Dutchmen: Civil War Letters from the 32nd Indiana Infantry and Two Germans In The Civil War: The Diary Of John Daeuble And The Letters of Gottfried Rentschler.

In William Marvel’s The Great Task Remaining: The Third Year of Lincoln’s War the first line inside the dust jacket states “Revisionist history at its’ best”.  At lest you have been warned.

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 sales@savasbeatie.com with the coupon code.  Orders placed through PayPal with the coupon code MAPSCOLOR get a refund by from the company.

Stoneman’s Raid, 1865 by Chris J. Hartley is an excellent book looking at one of the largest cavalry raids of the war.  For two months, Stoneman’s cavalry rode across six Southern states, fighting fierce skirmishes and destroying supplies and facilities.  Well written, easy to read with an abundance of maps this is worth having.

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, look for the paperback edition.  In a few weeks, expect this book and Stealing the General to be published as e-books.


New Releases

October 2010

Railroads of the Civil War: An Illustrated History by Michael Leavy,  uses “compelling period photographs and drawings and a rich narrative to reevaluate and illuminate the role of railroads in the Civil War. In addition to identifying details about the various trains and ancillary equipment and buildings in the illustrations, the author explains how trains influenced the outcome of battles and the war in general.”

An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. by Kate Masur, looks at Washington during Reconstruction “as a unique battleground in the American struggle over equality.”

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner, is due the fourth.  The product description says, “In this landmark work of deep scholarship and insight, Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Lincoln and the end of slavery in America.”

At the Precipice Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis (Littlefield History of the Civil War Era) by Shearer Davis Bowman.  This book looks at the different ways Americans, North and South, black and white, understood their interests, rights, and honor during the late antebellum years.

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.

The New York Times The Complete Civil War 1861-1865 edited by Harold Holzer and Craig Symonds.  The editors override whatever doubts I have.  Listed as 480 pages from Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.  The book contains more than 600 of the most crucial and interesting articles typeset and designed for easy reading with commentary by Editors and Civil War scholars Harold Holzer and Craig Symonds.  More than 139,000 additional articles on the DVD-ROM— every article the Times published during the war.  A detailed chronology highlights articles and events of interest that can be found on the disk.

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

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.

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.

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 Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta by Gary Ecelbarger is a description of the battle fought on July 22, 1864. The press release says, “This riveting narrative from Civil War historian and battlefield guide Gary Ecelbarger chronicles the day that struck a death knell for the Southern war effort.”

Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement by Phillip W. Magness & Sebastian N. Page is a detailed look at this “solution” to slavery.

Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrold looks at the years leading up to the war on the border between “Free” and “Slave”.  The author takes the position that this constant conflict pushed the South into secession.

Creating a Confederate Kentucky The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State by Anne Elizabeth Marshall looks at the development of a Confederate identity between 1865 and 1925.  Having read and enjoyed My Old Confederate Home A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans by Rusty Williams, I am looking forward for more information on “Confederate” Kentucky.

Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory by James M. Schmidt will be the first book to incorporate the Notre Dame Civil War story into a comprehensive and unified narrative.

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.

Ten Roads Publishing scheduled “Human Interest Stories of the Civil War” by Scott L. Mingus, Jr. and Dr. Thomas M. Mingus. A collection of war stories culled from some of the funniest, most ironic, or otherwise interesting true tales from the Civil War.

Released in paperback is The Long Pursuit: Abraham Lincoln’s Thirty-Year Struggle with Stephen Douglas for the Heart and Soul of America by Roy Morris Jr. and Lincoln for President: An Unlikely Candidate, An Audacious Strategy, and the Victory No One Saw Coming by Bruce Chadwick.

December 2010

Bloody Times: The Funeral of Abraham Lincoln and the Manhunt for Jefferson Davis by James L. Swanson is another book on this subject from the author of Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

January 2011

The Civil War: The First Year of The Conflict Told by Those Who Lived It edited by Brooks Simpson, Stephen Sears and Sheehan-Dean Aaron.

The Great Heart of the Republic: St. Louis and the Cultural Civil War by Adam Arenson looks at this city during the years surrounding the war.

Publication in 2011

In April, look for Jeffry Wert’s A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days to Gettysburg.

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862, Volume 2: Antietam edited by Thomas G. Clemens is the second part of the Ezra Carman manuscript, covering the battle is expected in the summer of 2011.

At 1,680 pages, Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War might require some heavy lifting.  The book is adapted from the series by James M. McPherson, James L. Robertson Jr., Stephen W. Sears, Craig L. Symonds and Harold Holzer.

Scott C. Patchan’s Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge is scheduled for the end of April.

John F. Blair Publisher will release updates of Clint Johnson’s Touring The Carolinas’ Civil War Sites (1996), and Touring Virginia’s and West Virginia’s Civil War Sites (1999) in the spring of 2011. These are point to point driving tours of sites including battlefields, historic houses, and the graves of generals or otherwise famous people.

Steve Stanley and J. David Petruzzi are hard at work on The Complete Antietam Campaign Guide expected release is summer 2011.  Antietam Chief Historian Ted Alexander is penning the Forward.  The book will be similar in format to their THE COMPLETE GETTYSBURG GUIDE: Walking and Driving Tours of the Battlefield, Town, Cemeteries, Field Hospital Sites, and other Topics of Historical Interest. This book will feature Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, and Shepherdstown plus many points in between.

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.   In addition, he is writing a study of the Battle of White Sulphur Springs, August 26-27, 1863, for publication by The History Press

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.

Savas Beatie is busy with 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.  They plan to release a second edition of Scott L. Mingus, Sr.’s Flames Beyond Gettysburg: The Confederate Expedition to the Susquehanna River with all new maps by Steve Stanley and more than 50 new anecdotes from newly discovered primary source material and have an option to publish his next book Gettysburg’s Controversial Old General: Governor William “Extra Billy” Smith of Virginia.

Eric Wittenberg and The History Press book on Averell’s August 1863 Law Book Raid, which led to the August 26-27, 1863 Battle of White Sulphur Springs is expected to be published in 2011.

Scott L. Mingus Sr. and James E. McClure are collaborating on Civil War Voices from York County, Pennsylvania: A Border County Remembers the Rebellion. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania selected this book as an official sesquicentennial Civil War publication. There is a heavy focus on the Gettysburg Campaign and Jubal Early’s occupation and J.E.B. Stuart’s march through the county.

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


New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial

I want to recommend this New Jersey Goes to War edited by Joseph G. Bilby again.  It is part of the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial and contains 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 www.njcivilwar150.org 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.



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