November 2010 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

November 2010

James W. Durney


The seasons for giving

In my house, “What do you want for Christmas?” is becoming a standard question.  One of the nice things about children is they volunteer the answer without being asked.  While the name of the holiday may change this question is a common one.  Here are some suggestions that you might use to answer the question or to supply an answer for someone else.

For someone who is religious or interested in religion during the war one of these might be a good choice.

Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Redemption by Shane Kastler covers Forrest’s Christian conversion and renunciation of his racist views.  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.

While God Is Marching on: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers by Steven E. Woodworth assesses the breadth and depth of religious faith among Civil War soldiers.  While concentrating on Christianity the book provides both a religious history and look at an under reported aspect of the war.

The South’s struggle for an identity:

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.

Events leading to war:

Disunion!: The Coming of the American Civil War, 1789-1859 by Elizabeth R. Varon looks at the word and the idea as it was applied during this time.  This book can/will surprise and shock readers.

Clash of Extremes: The Economic Origins of the Civil War by Marc Egnal makes the assertion that sectional economic interests rather than the slavery controversy provoked the Civil War.  Amazon has this book at stocking stuffer prices.

At the Precipice: Americans North and South during the Secession Crisis by Shearer Davis Bowman is an intellectually challenging and thought provoking book. This is not an easy read but worth the effort.


The Last Lincolns: The Rise & Fall of a Great American Family by Charles Lachman looks not at Lincoln but at his family and what happened to them.  The book covers about 100 years showing that greatness is not a gene.

The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner is a “must read” look at Lincoln’s and America’s feelings on race.  This book has not gotten the press it should have.  It is very well written and informative.


New Releases

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. On afternoon of July 1, 1863, much of Alfred Iverson’s brigade is killed, wounded, or captured in a single action.    This book looks at politics and how it advanced and protected during the Civil War.

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.  Is on my “To Read” stack.  This is an excellent companion to My Old Confederate Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans by Rusty Williams.

Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory by James M. Schmidt.  Notre Dame gave freely of its faculty and students as soldiers, sent its Holy Cross priests to the camps and battlefields as chaplains and dispatched its sisters to the hospitals as nurses. Though far from the battlefields, the war was ever-present on campus, as Notre Dame witnessed fisticuffs among the student body, provided a home to the children of a famous general, responded to political harassment and tried to keep at least some of its community from the fray. At war’s end, a proud Notre Dame welcomed back several bona fide war heroes and became home to a unique veterans’ organization.

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.

March 2011

Scott Mingus Sr. reports submitting the final version of the maps from cartographer Steve Stanley to Savas Beatie for the 2nd edition of Flames Beyond Gettysburg.  This edition contains more than 50 new anecdotes from newly discovered primary source material.

April 2011

A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia from the Seven Days to Gettysburg by Jeffery Wert from Simon & Schuster is scheduled for the 19th.

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

At 1,280 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 published from 1884 to 1887 in the Century magazine by James M. McPherson, James L. Robertson Jr., Stephen W. Sears, Craig L. Symonds and Harold Holzer.

Publication in 2011

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.

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 have an option to publish Scott L. Mingus, Sr.’s 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

New Jersey Goes to War edited by Joseph G. Bilby 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 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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