September 2011 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

September 2011

James W. Durney


My “to read” list

The Doom of Reconstruction by Andrew Slapp looks at the liberal wing of the Republican Party after the war.

The Notorious “Bull” Nelson Murdered Civil War General by Donald A. Clark is a book I have wanted for some time and is part of the CWI Writing Contest prize.

A Small but Spartan Band by Zack C. Waters & James C. Edmonds looks at the Florida Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia.

Union Combined Operations of the Civil War is another welcome addition to my list from the CWI writing contest.

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.


A Second Look

The Fiery Trail: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner deserves a second look.  The author looks at Lincoln’s journey through anti-slavery politics and thinking.  An excellent writer, this is a very enjoyable book.  On Amazon 16 of the 18 reviewers, give the book five stars.

This is a much-honored book, winning the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for History, the Columbia University 2011 Bancroft Prize and the Lincoln prize sponsored by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.


New Releases

Publication dates for July, August and September underwent MAJOR CHANGES, check to see what happened to your “watch” list.

In the stores now

Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for Command: Civil-Military Relations During the American Civil War by Charles Hubbard is due on August 31st.

A paperback edition of Retreat from Gettysburg Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign by Kent Masterson Brown is due.  This book won the James I. Robertson Jr. Literary Prize, the Bachelder-Coddington Literary Award & a Distinguished Writing Award, Army Historical Foundation.

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

George Crook: From the Redwoods to Appomattox by Paul Magid is primarily an account of Crook’s dramatic and sometimes controversial role in the Civil War.  He was involved on three fronts, in West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia seeing action at Antietam, the Shenandoah Valley, at Chattanooga and the Appomattox campaign.  The book covers his childhood and the pre-war years too.

Stonewall Jackson: A Biography by Ethan S. Rafuse begins with Jackson’s hardscrabble upbringing in the mountains of western Virginia. It follows him through the experiences that brought him to 1861, when he won the nickname “Stonewall” on the battlefield of the first great battle of the Civil War, and then traces his military career and role in the Confederate victories of 1861–1863.

Army at Home: Women and the Civil War on the Northern Home Front by Judith Giesberg examines the lives of working-class women in the North, for whom home front was a battlefield of its own.

September 2011

Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory by Brian Jordan presents a fresh look at this overlooked battle.

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”.

The Maps of Antietam: An Atlas of the Antietam (Sharpsburg) Campaign, including the Battle of South Mountain, September 2 – 20, 1862 by Bradley Gottfried is the newest full color entry into the fine Savas Beatie Military Atlas Series.

The Second Day at Gettysburg: 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.

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 was July 31st.

Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard is scheduled for the 27th.  I expect the papers will be full of information on this book.

Lincoln and the Border States: Preserving the Union by William C. Harris is the first history of Lincoln’s border-state policies in more than 80 years.

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 Eric Wittenberg’s, GETTYSBURG’S FORGOTTEN CAVALRY ACTIONS: Farnsworth’s Charge, South Cavalry Field, and the Battle of Fairfield, July 3, 1863 won the Bachelder-Coddington Award for the year’s best new work interpreting the Battle of Gettysburg.  The new edition has about 14,000 words of new material, additional illustrations and a new map.

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 buyers beware, the press release promises the moon in 384 pages.

In full color is 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.

Price’s Lost Campaign: The 1864 Invasion of Missouri by Mark A. Lause covers an area that we have almost nothing on.

Pinkerton’s War: The Civil War’s Greatest Spy and the Birth of the U.S. Secret Service by Jay Bonansinga the title makes this a hard item to sell.

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 this is a very nice boxed set from the illustrations.

The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion edited by Lawrence M. Kaplan written by John C. Tidball, a distinguished artilleryman of the era, first appeared in the Journal of the Military Service Institution from 1891 to 1893.  The initial reviews on this book are very good and it is a selection for History and Military book club.

November 2011

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

Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865 by Barton A. Myers looks at this execution in the larger context of the war.

Victors in Blue: How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War by Albert Castel & Brooks D. Simpson should be an interesting read.

Sustaining Southern Identity: Douglas Southall Freeman and Memory in the Modern South by Keith D. Dickson may not be a Civil War history but it is a history of how history is made.

A book by Mark Neely dealing with how law shaped the struggle for national survival is Lincoln and the Triumph of the Nation: Constitutional Conflict in the American Civil War.

Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965 by Robert J. Cook looks at the people & events of 50 years ago.

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”.

December 2011

The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Western Confederacy by Bradley R. Clampitt looks at the region that witnessed the most consistent Union success and Confederate failure.

Righteous Violence: Revolution, Slavery, and the American Renaissance by Larry J. Reynolds examines the struggles with the violence of slavery and revolution that engaged the imaginations of seven nineteenth-century American writers—Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville.

January 2012

The Northern Home Front during the Civil War edited by Randall M. Miller & Paul A. Cimbala is a look at a nation under the strain of war.

Decided on the Battlefield: Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and the Election of 1864 by David Alan Johnson is another look at the events and election of 1864.

February 2012

Brigades of Gettysburg: The Union and Confederate Brigades at the Battle of Gettysburg by Bradley M. Gottfried is being released in Paperback.

Giant in the Shadows: The Life of Robert T. Lincoln by James Emerson is a chance to look at this complex man.

March 2012

Shiloh, 1862: The First Great and Terrible Battle of the Civil War by Winston Groom should be a good read.

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.

Ethan Rafuse has an essay in the Campaign Chattanooga edited by Steven Woodworth, the next book in the excellent Civil War Campaigns in the Heartland series.

Ethan Rafuse and Charles R. Bowery Jr. are working on a War College guide for Richmond-Petersburg expected in 2012.

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 full color book is in a similar format to The Complete Gettysburg GuideThe book will feature Harpers Ferry, South Mountain, Antietam, and Shepherdstown plus many points in between.

Eric Wittenberg is working on a project is for The History Press entitled The Battle of Yellow Tavern: Jeb Stuart’s Last BattleThis 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 has an option to publish Scott L. Mingus, Sr.’s next book titled Gettysburg’s Controversial Old Confederate General: Gov. William “Extra Billy” Smith of Virginia.

Joseph Reinhart sent the manuscript for Yankee Dutchmen under Fire: Civil War Letters from the 82nd Illinois Infantry to the publisher.  The book is undergoing peer review.

Nancy Dane reports book four in The Tattered Glory series went to four faithful friends for a pre-edit before going to the publisher. The title is An Enduring Union.  A condensed newspaper version of Where the Road Begins will be going into schools across the state as part of the Newspapers in Education program.



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 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,


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.


Not books but ……

We can expect a flood of 150 years items on the market during the Sesquicentennial.  I happen to like pocketknives and one of the nicest is the Civil War Presidents knife from W.R. Case Cutlery Company.  This is an America made knife, using only the best materials, not imported from China by an office located here.  This two-blade Trapper model has an embellished blade with a gray and blue bone handle.  My wife warned me NOT to buy this if I wish to maintain my happy home.

The very serious collector should look at the 150th Anniversary Civil War Generals Mint Set of nine knives with a production limit of 250 sets.  The rest of us can only do an “OMG” and hope to wing lotto.



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