Civil War Book Acquisitions: January 2012
Title: Virginia at War, 1865
Author: Davis, William C. (ed) & Robertson, James I., Jr. (ed)
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Price: $40.00 (Hardcover); $31.50 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: As expected, this last book in the Virginia at War series spends a lot less time on the battlefield and a lot more time exploring the war’s effects on soldiers, civilians, and the South as a whole. There are some intriguing essays in this volume and I’m sure anyone interested in the Eastern Theater will find more than enough here to justify a purchase.
Virginia at War, 1865 closely examines the end of the Civil War in the Old Dominion, delivering a striking depiction of a state ravaged by violence and destruction. In the final volume of the Virginia at War series, editors William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr. have once again assembled an impressive collection of essays covering topics that include land operations, women and families, wartime economy, music and entertainment, the demobilization of Lee’s army, and the war’s aftermath. The volume ends with the final installment of Judith Brockenbrough McGuire’s popular and important Diary of a Southern Refugee during the War. Like the previous four volumes in the series, Virginia at War, 1865 provides valuable insights into the devastating effects of the war on citizens across the state.
Title: No Freedom Shrieker: The Civil War Letters of Union Soldier Charles Freeman Biddlecom
Author: Aldridge, Katherine M. (ed) & Biddlecom, Charles
Publisher: Paramount Market Publishing
Price: $24.95 (Paperback); $9.99 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: Read the publisher information below and it will become obvious why I accepted this book for review. Charles Biddlecom was heavily involved in the Siege of Petersburg, and in glancing through the book he doesn’t have any huge gaps in his letters. For this reason, you have the rare occurrence of a soldier who lived through the killing fields of the Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg whose letters or diary gives readers a look at the action as a whole. Biddlecom’s letters are exactly the type of first person account I’m looking for regarding the battles around Petersburg. I’m new to this publisher but I want to make sure to give this book a full review so it gets some of the publicity it deserves. It will be interesting to see how or even if Biddlecom’s views of the war change in the crucible of combat. Also notice the extremely reasonably priced Kindle version which is available for under $10.
Among the piles of obsolete farm and household implements, haystacks, dust, and debris abandoned in her historic barn, Katie Aldridge discovered a box containing the Civil War letters of Charles Freeman Biddlecom. Painstakingly transcribing and lightly editing more than 100 letters written by the soldier to his wife during his service, Ms. Aldridge resurrected the voice of the Civil War combat soldier. The tone and character of “Charlie’s” detailed accounts of the war compelled Ms. Aldridge to find out more.
From letters written throughout Grant’s Overland Campaign and the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, the reader gains an insider’s view of the war: fear, hunger, sickness, longing, and concern for those left behind as well as detailed insights about the political climate. Writing from the perspective shaped in an Upstate New York community closely linked to the abolitionist cause, woman’s suffrage, and the Quaker philosophy, the reader will learn how Charlie’s background shaped his actions and view of the war.
Title: “Fear Was Not in Him”: The Civil War Letters of Major General Francis C. Barlow, U.S.A.
Author: Samito, Christian G. (ed) & Barlow, Francis C.
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Price: $22.00 (Paperback);
TOCWOC’s Take: Francis C. Barlow commanded the First Division, Second Corps, Army of the Potomac early in the Siege of Petersburg before taking a long leave of absence from July 1864 to April 1865. Resuming division command (in a different division), Barlow played a role at the Battle of Sayler’s Creek on April 6, 1865 during the Appomattox Campaign. I picked up this paperback version of his Civil War letters in the hopes of learning more about his experiences in the short amount of time he was at Petersburg.
Publisher Site Info:
N/A. This book was published in 2006.
Title: The Massachusetts Andrew Sharpshooters: A Civil War History and Roster
Author: Ellis, Alden C., Jr.
Publisher: McFarland & Company
Price: $40.00 (Paperback); $9.99 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: McFarland produces a lot of unit histories of widely varying quality. A quick glance through this one seems to indicate a lot of research went into it, including full rosters of these two companies of sharpshooters. Typically these sharpshooters were attached to Massachusetts regiments early in the Siege of Petersburg before mustering out in the fall of 1864. Note the very reasonably priced Kindle edition which ultimately makes more sense unless you have an affinity for these units.
Named for Massachusetts governor John Albion Andrew–who prevented these two companies from joining the nationalized Berdan’s sharp-shooters so that their families could continue to receive state aid–the Andrew Sharpshooters often transferred from unit to unit as the need for their unique, long-range shooting skills changed.
This first chronicle of the Massachusetts Andrew Sharpshooters details their day-to-day activities and their courageous service at Seven Pines, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and numerous other Civil War battles. Thorough historical and genealogical information on every man who served in the unit completes this study of these significant but overlooked foot soldiers.
Title: “Bully for the Band!”: The Civil War Letters and Diary of Four Brothers in the 10th Vermont Infantry Band: Charles George, Herbert George, Jere George and Osman George
Author: Davis, James G. (ed)
Publisher: McFarland & Company
Price: $49.95 (Paperback); $39.96 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: This unsolicited review copy looks interesting at first glance. Four brothers were all in the 10th Vermont’s band and at least a few of them survived to the Petersburg campaign. The high price is going to prevent most people from picking this one up unless you are interested in the musical aspects of the war or the 10th Vermont.
About the Book
From the commanding call of the bugle at reveille to combat instructions (such as “fix bayonets”) to reassuring songs around the campfire at night, music was an integral part of the Civil War soldier’s experience. This volume presents the Civil War writings of Charles, Herbert, Jeremiah and Osman George, four brothers from the town of Newbury, Vermont, who played in the 10th Vermont Infantry regimental band. Their letters and a diary describe the life of an enlisted musician, including forming a band, rehearsals and repertory, performances for officers, troops, and civilians–and battlefield stretcher-bearer duties. Despite the hardships they suffered, including the loss of one brother, their writings (supported by detailed scene-setting narratives by editor Davis) reveal the Georges’ fraternal bond that sustained them emotionally and ensured they would continue to serve their comrades in battle.
About the Author
James A. Davis is a professor of musicology and chair of the Music History Area at the State University of New York, Fredonia. His articles have appeared in American Music, The Journal of Military History, North & South, and the Journal of Band Research.