November 2011 Civil War Book Notes

Those that can’t write, Review!

November 2011

James W. Durney


My “to read” list

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 in the Civil War is another welcome addition to my list from the CWI writing contest.

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


A Second Look

Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861-January 1863 by Donald S. Frazier is the first book in the Louisiana Quadrille series.  The second book Thunder Across the Swamps: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February-May 1863 should be on the shelves as you read this.  This series is a very detailed look at the war in this area.  This is a vicious personal war of small battles, bushwhackers and trying to secure an area.  Fire in the Cane Field won the Laney Prize in 2010 for being “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.”  Books three and four are titled Blood on the Bayou: The Campaigns of Tom Green’s Texans, June 1863–February 1864; and Death at the Landing: The Contest for the Red River and the Collapse of Confederate Louisiana, March 1864–June 1865.


New Releases

In the Stores

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.

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.

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 is available.

Harvest of Barren Regrets: The Army Career of Frederick William Benteen, 1834-1898 by Charles K. Mills with an introduction by James Donovan. Best remembered for the Battle of Little Big Horn, Benteen enlisted during the Civil War.  This book looks at both the Civil War and the Indian Wars.  This is a reprint of the highly regarded 1985 book.

Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865 by Barton A. Myers. Civil War scholars considered Bright and the Union incursion as only a historical footnote.  This uses these events as a window into the wider experience of local guerrilla conflict in North Carolina’s Great Dismal Swamp region and as a representation of a larger pattern of retaliatory executions and murders meant to coerce appropriate political loyalty and military conduct on the Confederate home front. Race, political loyalties, power, and guerrilla violence created a world where irregular military activity could thrive.

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.

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.

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”.

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

The Fate of War: Fredericksburg, 1862 by Duane Schultz is the latest book from this good author.

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

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.

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 adds about 14,000 words on new material, comes with additional illustrations and a new map.  The History Book Club & the Military Book Club will issue a special hardcover edition of the book for their members.  Eric Wittenberg’s Blog reports this has “slowed up the printing process”.

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

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.

November 2011

The Petersburg Campaign: The Eastern Front Battles, June – August 1864, Volume 1 by Edwin Bearss and Bryce Suderow is a “must have” book.  This is 488 pages with original maps by Civil War cartographer Steven Stanley.

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.

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

The Battle of White Sulphur Springs by Eric Wittenberg covers the August 26-27, 1863 fight between Averell and George S. Patton near The Greenbrier resort.  This book is part of The History Press’ Sesquicentennial series. Steven Stanley did the maps for the only detailed tactical narrative of this battle. While listed for October, Amazon shows no release date.

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 is not be a Civil War history but a history of how history is written.

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.

CSS Alabama vs. USS Kearsarge: Cherbourg 1864 by Mark Lardas Illustrated by Peter Dennis & Peter Bull is part of a Duel series and might be fun.

William Marvel completes his multiple volume history of the war in November with Tarnished Victory: Finishing Lincoln’s War.   This is a series 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.

The Second Day at Gettysburg: The Attack and Defense of the Union Center on Cemetery Ridge, July 2, 1863 by David Shultz & David Wieck.  This book expands on their excellent The Battle Between the Farm Lanes. This is a completely revised and expanded study including new photographs, original maps, and a self-guided tour.

January 2012

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 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.

Freedom’s Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War by Guy Gugliotta tells about the clash of personalities behind building the Capitol its’ extraordinary design and engineering.  The building runs from 1850 to 1863, taking place during one of the most contentious times in our history.

A History of the Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion, 1861-1865 by George Washington Williams is a paperback of the 1887 book.

The Civil War: The Second Year Told By Those Who Lived It edited by Stephen Sears is part of a four-volume series.

March 2012

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

When General Grant Expelled the Jews by Jonathan D. Sarna.  This action caused Grant problems for the rest of his public life.  A complete account is overdue and badly needed.

Rules of Rebellion: Guerrilla Warfare during the Civil War by Daniel E. Sutherland is only a title, author and date at this time.

April 2012

Jeffry Wert’s A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863 is going to be released as a Paperback.

May 2012

Richard Taylor and the Red River Campaign of 1864 by Samuel Mitcham Jr. looks at this campaign from the Confederate point of view.

Joshua Chamberlain: The Life in Letters of a Great Leader of the American Civil War by Thomas Desjardin brings to public light 300 never-before-seen letters.

Kentucky’s Civil War Battlefields: A Guide to Their History and Preservation by Randy Bishop looks at thirteen major conflicts and details the level of preservation for each site.

Americans Remember Their Civil War by Lesley J. Gordon looks at remembrances from the immediate postwar era to the early 21st century.   The conflicting tensions as people sought to commemorate “their” war. The epilogue examines current memories of the war, debates and controversies.   

June 2012

The Northern Home Front during the Civil War edited by Randall M. Miller and Paul A. Cimbala promises a great deal in 250 pages.

Remembering The Battle of the Crater: War as Murder by Kevin M. Levin, no information beyond the title and publication date.

Mightier than the Sword: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Battle for America by David S. Reynolds is being released as a Paperback.

July 2012

Montreal and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln: John Wilkes Booth’s Unexplained Visit to Montreal in October by Phil Sherman Taylor looks at the possible connection between the city and the assassination.

Edifice of Freedom: The Civil War Amendments in Historical Perspective by James S. Hunphreys looks at the 13th, 14th & 15th Amendments in detail.  The book looks at both the historical and contemporary significance of the Civil War Amendments.

The Long Road To Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution by Richard Slotkin has no information other than the title and publication date.

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.

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.

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 doing the Forward.  This is a full color book styled on 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.

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 is being edited before going to the publisher. The title is An Enduring Union.

Francis Hamit, author of The Shenandoah Spy, reports The Queen of Washington is going to the printer.  This is the next novel in his series on women spying for the Confederacy.

Tom Desjardin has written a biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain that is due out in 2013.


Book News

The Jane G. Clayton Award honors individuals who, over a substantial number of years, have made exceptional contributions to the awareness, understanding or preservation of Monmouth County history. The award named after former Monmouth County Clerk Jane G. Clayton, who was responsible for the creation of the Monmouth County Archives.  This year’s winner is Joseph G. Bilby, the editor of several books about New Jersey in the Civil War.

If you follow publisher Savas Beatie, you know they been talking about QR codes a lot recently.  Not exactly sure what a QR code is?  It might be worth finding out.  Savas Beatie’s traditional book ad in the November issue of the Civil War News will be feature a QR code with a special free book offer.

Additionally, at Savas Beatie will let you pick the worst Civil War book published.


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.



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