Civil War Book Acquisitions: February 2012
Title: The Revolution of 1861: The American Civil War in the Age of Nationalist Conflict
Author: Fleche, Andre M.
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Price: $39.95 (Hardcover); $30.38 (Kindle)
TOCWOC’s Take: We as Americans tend to be very focused on the events here from 1861-1865 and look at the Civil War in a vacuum. I am very interested in reading this new book from the University of North Carolina Press which breaks free from this tired mold, identifying the American Civil War’s place in “the age of Nationalist conflict” and discussing world influences on the beginnings and waging of the war. This book is on the short list of books I’ll be reviewing in the coming weeks.
It was no coincidence that the Civil War occurred during an age of violent political upheaval in Europe and the Americas. Grounding the causes and philosophies of the Civil War in an international context, Andre M. Fleche examines how questions of national self-determination, race, class, and labor the world over influenced American interpretations of the strains on the Union and the growing differences between North and South. Setting familiar events in an international context, Fleche enlarges our understanding of nationalism in the nineteenth century, with startling implications for our understanding of the Civil War.
Confederates argued that European nationalist movements provided models for their efforts to establish a new nation-state, while Unionists stressed the role of the state in balancing order and liberty in a revolutionary age. Diplomats and politicians used such arguments to explain their causes to thinkers throughout the world. Fleche maintains that the fight over the future of republican government in America was also a battle over the meaning of revolution in the Atlantic world and, as such, can be fully understood only as a part of the world-historical context in which it was fought.
Title: John Dooley’s Civil War: An Irish American’s Journey in the First Virginia Infantry Regiment
Author: Dooley, John & Curran, Robert Emmett (ed)
Publisher: The University of Tennessee Press
Price: $59.00 (Hardcover)
TOCWOC’s Take: This entry in the Voices of the Civil War series covers the Civil War service, and postwar remembrance of that service, of Irishman John Dooley. Dooley served with the First Virginia in the Eastern Theater and was captured during the Gettysburg Campaign, eventually ending up a prisoner at Johnson’s Island. What’s interesting about Dooley is that not only do his “war notes” cover the entire war, but he also wrote quite a bit after the war on the South’s right to secede and about his thoughts on Reconstruction. Editor Robert E. Curran has collected all of Dooley’s known notes, dividing the book into pre-war, wartime, and post-war sections and expanding on the wartime-only journal published in 1945.
Among the finer soldier-diarists of the Civil War, John Edward Dooley first came to the attention of readers when an edition of his wartime journal, edited by Joseph Durkin, was published in 1945. That book, John Dooley, Confederate Soldier, became a widely used resource for historians, who frequently tapped Dooley’s vivid accounts of Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, where he was wounded during Pickett’s Charge and subsequently captured.
As it happens, the 1945 edition is actually a much-truncated version of Dooley’s original journal that fails to capture the full scope of his wartime experience—the oscillating rhythm of life on the campaign trail, in camp, in Union prisons, and on parole. Nor does it recognize how Dooley, the son of a successful Irish-born Richmond businessman, used his reminiscences as a testament to the Lost Cause. John Dooley’s Civil War gives us, for the first time, a comprehensive version of Dooley’s “war notes,” which editor Robert Emmett Curran has reassembled from seven different manuscripts and meticulously annotated. The notes were created as diaries that recorded Dooley’s service as an officer in the famed First Virginia Regiment along with his twenty months as a prisoner of war. After the war, they were expanded and recast years later as Dooley, then studying for the Catholic priesthood, reflected on the war and its aftermath. As Curran points out, Dooley’s reworking of his writings was shaped in large part by his ethnic heritage and the connections he drew between the aspirations of the Irish and those of the white South.
In addition to the war notes, the book includes a prewar essay that Dooley wrote in defense of secession and an extended poem he penned in 1870 on what he perceived as the evils of Reconstruction. The result is a remarkable picture not only of how one articulate southerner endured the hardships of war and imprisonment, but also of how he positioned his own experience within the tragic myth of valor, sacrifice, and crushed dreams of independence that former Confederates fashioned in the postwar era.
Title: Lee’s Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865
Author: Longacre, Edward G.
Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Price: $26.95 (Paperback)
TOCWOC’s Take: This is a paperback release of prolific Civil War author Ed Longacre’s take on the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry. The book, like many Longacre books, serves more as an introduction to the subject rather than a comprehensive account. The book is somewhat lacking in maps, but readers interested in the mounted men of the ANV will find this to be an adequate introduction to the subject.
Since the first histories of the Civil War appeared after Appomattox, the cavalry has received intermittent, uneven, and even romanticized coverage. Historian Edward G. Longacre has corrected this oversight. Lee’s Cavalrymen, not only details the organizational and operational history of the mounted arm of the Army of Northern Virginia but also examines the personal experiences of officers and men.
Longacre chronicles the salient characteristics of the regiments, brigades, and divisions, and explores the evolution of cavalry leadership, with emphasis on the personalities, interpersonal relationships, and operational styles of J. E. B. Stuart, Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and other influential commanders. He has consulted dozens of collections of letters, diaries, and memoirs by cavalrymen of all ranks, and his careful study of North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia newspapers unearthed rare cavalry-specific dispatches. Longacre also makes extensive use of an unpublished memoir of Gen. Wade Hampton, Stuart’s second-in-command.
A provocative analysis of the mounted army’s organization, leadership, and tactics, Lee’s Cavalrymen is a study that no Civil War enthusiast will want to miss.
Title: 16th Virginia Infantry
Author: Trask, Benjamin H.
Publisher: H.E. Howard, Inc.
Price: Pricey! Buy carefully…
TOCWOC’s Take: This is another in a long line of Virginia regimental histories in the H.E. Howard series. Like many of the other books in this series, this book can often be found on the secondary book market going for prices in excess of $100. Shop patiently and you should be able to find a copy for under $50 in good condition. I picked this book up to help with my Siege of Petersburg web site.
Publisher Site Info:
N/A Published in 1986