June 2011 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

June 2011

James W. Durney


My “to read” list

Sing Not War by James Marten looks at the experience of being a veteran of the Civil War.  This is an excellent book on an often-ignored subject.

The Won Cause by Barbara A. Gannon looks at Black and White comradeship in the GAR and challenges the conventional view.

Campaign for Wilson’s Creek by Jeffrey L. Patrick is part of the Civil War Campaigns and Commanders series.  I am very impressed with this book and am looking forward to reading it.

Border War: Fighting over Slavery before the Civil War by Stanley Harrod looks at “the troubles” that existed where Slave and Free States touched.

Hearts Touched by Fire: The Best of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War is an adaption of the popular the Century magazine series published from 1884 to 1887.

I have added some books to my reference library.  These could be sit and read cover to cover but their main value is reference material.

Life in Civil War America by Michael O. Varhola is just what the title says.  What would you do, use, expect during this time.

The Lincoln Assassination Encyclopedia by Edward Steers Jr. is an amazing book.  If the author has missed anything, I have no idea what it is or why I would need to read about it.

Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia by Joseph T. Glatthaar is a statistical portrait of the AoNV.  This could be a required book for anyone trying to understand this army.


New Releases

Defeating Lee: A History of the Second Corps, Army of the Potomac by Lawrence A. Kreiser Jr. follows the unit’s creation and rise to prominence, the battles that earned it a reputation for hard fighting, and the legacy its veterans sought to maintain in the years after the Civil War.

The Won Cause: Black and White Comradeship in the Grand Army of the Republic by Barbara Gannon.  This book challenges the conventional view that white Union veterans did not defend the freedoms and interests of African American veterans after the war.

Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America by James Marten looks at “army veterans reentered–or struggled to reenter–the lives and communities they had left behind.”  We have very little of this type of information about “good wars” and this should be a valuable addition to what we have.

The Enemy Within: Fears of Corruption in the Civil War North by Michael Thomas Smith looks a corruption and the fear of corruption during the war.  More than a few people did things that looked or were dishonest.

The Dogs of War: 1861 by Emory M. Thomas covers the delusions that dominated each side’s thinking as America went to war.

Quantrill at Lawrence: The Untold Story by Paul Petersen looks at this incident and the man responsible.  See the reviews on Amazon for two VERY different views.

A new author joins our ranks this month, Anthony Gaughan’s The Last Battle of the Civil War: United States Versus Lee, 1861-1883 looks at the battle over the estate that became Arlington National Cemetery.

June 2011

Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee by Joseph Glatthaar is a “companion to his narrative history, General Lee’s Army

At over 1,000 pages, Amanda Foreman’s A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War.  The Economist says this import from the UK is one of the best books of 2010. This will be on Kindle and as an audio book the same day.

The Civil War in the East: Struggle, Stalemate, and Victory by Brooks D. Simpson is a “more integrated interpretation of military operations that shows how politics, public perception, geography, and logistics shaped the course of military operations in the East.”  This is a very tall order for 200 pages.

Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America by David S. Reynolds is not technically a “Civil War” study but none of will dispute the impact this book had.

July 2011

Second Manassas: Longstreet’s Attack and the Struggle for Chinn Ridge by Scott C. Patchan.  John Hennessey writes the introduction for this history of Longstreet’s decisive attack.

Thunder Across the Swamps: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February-May 1863, the second book in the Louisiana Quadrille series.  The first book in the series won the Laney Prize.  This excellent series is highly recommended.  Publication date is the 28th.

Eric Wittenberg’s Protecting the Flanks: The Battles for Brinkerhoff’s Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 is a new edition with a new map, additional illustrations, two new appendices, and other material.  In 1998, this book won the Bachelder-Coddington Award for the year’s best new work interpreting the Battle of Gettysburg.

Decision in the Heartland: The Civil War in the West by Steven E. Woodworth covering all the major western campaigns with their contribution to the Union’s victory will be available as a paperback.

The New Gettysburg Campaign Handbook by J. David Petruzzi and Steven Stanley is part of the Savas Beatie Handbook series is a compilation of Gettysburg Campaign statistics, tables, discussions, controversies.  There are Orders of Battle for every skirmish and battle during the campaign from June 6 through July 14.

A Little Short of Boats: The Civil War Battles of Ball’s Bluff and Edwards Ferry, October 21 – 22, 1861 published by Savas Beatie is a fully revised and expanded sesquicentennial edition of James Morgan’s excellent book.

The Greatest Brigade: How the Irish Brigade Cleared the Way to Victory in the American Civil War by Thomas J. Craughwell has a press release that sounds like Thomas Francis Meagher wrote it.

August 2011

Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for Command: Civil-Military Relations During the American Civil War by Charles Hubbard.

SECOND DAY AT GETTYSBURG, THE: The Attack and Defense of the Union Center on Cemetery Ridge, July 2, 1863 by David Shultz & David Wieck expands on their excellent The Battle Between the Farm Lanes. Completely revised and expanded study includes new photographs, original maps, and a self-guided tour of the fighting.

September 2011

American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era by David W. Blight looks at how America remembered the Civil War during the centennial and looks at the “ever-changing nature of Civil War memory”.

In the Lion’s Mouth: Hood’s Tragic Retreat from Nashville, 1864 by Derek Smith covers the 12-day, 100-mile retreat after their defeat at the Battle of Nashville.

Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.

October 2011

The PETERSBURG CAMPAIGN: The Eastern Front Battles, June – August 1864, Volume 1 by Edwin Bearss and Bryce Suderow is a “must have” book.  We have been talking about this book for some time.  We now have Dust Jacket art and a release month.

Shadows of Antietam by Robert Kalasky is a comprehensive study of the 74 known glass plates recorded by Gardner and Gibson at Antietam.

The Body of John Merryman: Abraham Lincoln and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus by Brain McGinty is the first book-length examination of this much-misunderstood chapter in American history.

Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War by Tony Horwitz is a buyer beware, the press release promises the moon in 384 pages.

Mary Chesnut’s Illustrated Diary Mulberry Edition Boxed Set: Volume 1: Mary Chesnut’s Diary from Dixie and Volume 2: Mary Chesnut’s Civil War Photographic Album looks to be THE edition to have.

The GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN IN NUMBERS AND LOSSES: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties, and Maps, June 9 – July 14, 1863 by J. David Petruzzi & Steven Stanley from Savas Beatie Orders of Battle.  Is a narrative of the action, order of battle and casualties for every action by unit.  The Order of Battle for Gettysburg itself (July 1, 2 and 3) will be broken down by days and geographically by actions on particular parts of the field.

The Last Battle of Winchester: Phil Sheridan, Jubal Early, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, August 7 – September 19, 1864 by Scott Patchan is the newest book from an author that is an expert in this area.

A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community by Nicole Etcheson is a detailed study of Putnam County, Indiana, from the Compromise of 1850 to the end of Reconstruction.

November 2011

Virginia at War, 1865 edited by William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. is the finial book is this series.

A book Mark Neely dealing with how the U.S. Constitution and the Confederate Constitution, shaped the struggle for national survival is Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War.

William Marvel completes his multiple volume history of the war in November with Tarnished Victory: Finishing Lincoln’s War. This series is billed as “Revisionist history at its best”.

Unavailable Dates

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 has no publication date.

Steve Stanley and J. David Petruzzi are hard at work on The Complete Antietam Campaign Guide.  Antietam Chief Historian Ted Alexander is penning the Forward.  The book will be similar in format to their The Complete Gettysburg Guide. This book will feature Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, and Shepherdstown plus many points in between.

Look for a Stonewall Jackson biography by Ethan Rafuse as part of the Greenwood Press biographies series.  Later this year, he is contributing an essay to Woodworth’s Chattanooga Campaign study.  In 2012, look for an Army War College guide for Richmond-Petersburg co-authored with Charles R. Bowery Jr.

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 is mortally wounded.   In addition, he is writing a study of the Battle of White Sulphur Springs, August 26-27, 1863, for publication by The History Press.  In addition, we can look forward to a book on the August 1863 Law Book Raid, which led to the August 26-27, 1863 Battle of White Sulphur Springs.

James M. Schmidt is doing a book for The History Press, tentatively titled Galveston and the Civil War: An Island People in the Maelstrom scheduled for mid- to late 2012.

A complete history of the Iron Brigade from Lance J. Herdegen is in the works.    His Those Damned Black Hats!, the Iron Brigade during the Gettysburg Campaign won The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational Battle History.

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.

Campaign Chattanooga edited by Steven Woodworth is the next book in the excellent Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland series


Civil War Sesquicentennial Publications

In an effort to support sesquicentennial publishing this will be part of this column through 2015.  If you know of a book, please contact me so it can be included.

New Jersey

New Jersey Goes to War part of the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial is in its’ second printing.    It is so popular that New Jersey’s Odyssey using the same format is available. This book is “An Anthology of Civil War Tales from 1850 to 1961”; Joseph G. Bilby edits both books.

Discover Your Community’s Civil War Heritage, by Steven D. Glazer, is a comprehensive and up-to-date manual for those wishing to research the stories of their own community’s Civil War veterans.

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.

York County, Pennsylvania

Civil War Voices from York County, Pennsylvania: Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign by Scott L. Mingus Sr. and James McClure contains the rich oral tradition coupled with letters, diaries, photographs and newspaper accounts to tell the stories of York in those bleak days 150 years ago. They give a vibrant voice to those living, serving and dying in this most tumultuous period in America’s history.

Adams County-based Colecraft Industries published the book.

The authors coordinated the project with the Pennsylvania Civil War 150, the York County Heritage Trust and the York Daily Record/Sunday News.

Contact: Scott Mingus, scottmingus@yahoo.com.


Lists the book America on the Eve of the Civil War edited by Edward L. Ayers and Carolyn R. Martin, as 160-page book with four black & white photos.



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