Friday, December 11, 2009

The Mexican War Diary and Correspondence of George B. McClellan

by Thomas W. Cutrer

From the publisher:
In his standard reference work on the Civil War, Generals in Blue, Ezra Warner declared George B. McClellan (1826-1885) "one of the most controversial figures in American military history." In this revealing book, Thomas W. Cutrer provides the definitive edition of McClellan's detailed diary and letters from his service in the Mexican War (1846-1848), during which he began the rise that culminated in his being named general in chief of the Union forces and commander of the Army of the Potomac early in the Civil War.

McClellan graduated second in his class from West Point in 1846 and served as a second lieutenant in Company A of the prestigious Corps of Engineers, the only formation of combat engineers in the United States Army. The company participated in Major General Winfield Scott's invasion of Mexico, playing a prominent role in the siege of Vera Cruz and the battles of Cerro Gordo, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, and Chapultepec and in the capture of Mexico City. Although only twenty-one years old at the war's end, McClellan earned brevet promotions to first lieutenant and then captain for his efforts.

McClellan's colorful diary and frequent letters to his socially and politically prominent Philadelphia family provide a wealth of military details of the campaign, insights into the character of his fellow engineers--including Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard--and accounts of the friction that arose between the professional soldiers and the officers and men of the volunteer regiments that made up Scott's command. A courageous, indefatigable, and superbly intelligent young man, McClellan formed close personal loyalties in those years. His diaries also reveal a man contemptuous of those he perceived as less talented than he, quick to see conspiracies where none existed, and eager to place upon others the blame for his own shortcomings and to take credit for actions performed by others.

On the banks of the Rio Grande during his first weeks with the army, McClellan wrote in his diary: "I came down here with high hopes, with pleasing anticipations of distinction, of being in hard fought battles and acquiring a name and reputation as a stepping stone to a still greater eminence in some future and greater war." Carefully edited by Thomas W. Cutrer, these diary entries and letters do indeed trace McClellan's rapid development as a soldier and leader and put on full display the talent, ambition, and arrogance that characterized his career as general and politician.

Thomas W. Cutrer is professor of history and American studies at Arizona State University West in Phoenix. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of seven other books, including Brothers in Gray: The Civil War Letters of the Pierson Family, which he coedited with T. Michael Parrish.

The release date of this book is not known, although it falls within this month.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Becoming American Under Fire: Irish Americans, African Americans, and the Politics of Citizenship During the Civil War Era

by Christian G. Samito

From the publisher:
In Becoming American under Fire, Christian G. Samito provides a rich account of how African American and Irish American soldiers influenced the modern vision of national citizenship that developed during the Civil War era. By bearing arms for the Union, African Americans and Irish Americans exhibited their loyalty to the United States and their capacity to act as citizens; they strengthened their American identity in the process. Members of both groups also helped to redefine the legal meaning and political practices of American citizenship.

For African American soldiers, proving manhood in combat was only one aspect to their quest for acceptance as citizens. As Samito reveals, by participating in courts-martial and protesting against unequal treatment, African Americans gained access to legal and political processes from which they had previously been excluded. The experience of African Americans in the military helped shape a postwar political movement that successfully called for rights and protections regardless of race. For Irish Americans, soldiering in the Civil War was part of a larger affirmation of republican government and it forged a bond between their American citizenship and their Irish nationalism. The wartime experiences of Irish Americans helped bring about recognition of their full citizenship through naturalization and also caused the United States to pressure Britain to abandon its centuries-old policy of refusing to recognize the naturalization of British subjects abroad.

As Samito makes clear, the experiences of African Americans and Irish Americans differed substantially-and at times both groups even found themselves violently opposed-but they had in common that they aspired to full citizenship and inclusion in the American polity. Both communities were key participants in the fight to expand the definition of citizenship that became enshrined in constitutional amendments and legislation that changed the nation.

The release date of this book is not known, although it falls within this month.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Battle of Okolona: Defending the Mississippi Prairie

by Brandon H. Beck

From the publisher:
In February 1864, General William Sooy Smith led a force of over seven thousand cavalry on a raid into the Mississippi Prairie, bringing fire and destruction to one of the very few breadbaskets remaining in the Confederacy. Smith's raid was part of General William T. Sherman's campaign to march across Mississippi from Vicksburg to destroy the railroad junction at Meridian. Both Smith and Sherman intended to burn everything in their path that could aid in the Southern war effort. It was a harbinger of things to come in Georgia, South Carolina and the Shenandoah Valley.

But neither reckoned with General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Forrest's small Confederate cavalry force defeated Smith in a running battle that stretched from West Point to Okolona and beyond. Forrest's victory prevented Smith from joining Sherman and saved the Prairie from total destruction.

Join Civil War historian Brandon Beck as he narrates this exciting story, with all the realities and color of cavalry warfare in the Deep South. Also included is a brief guided tour of the extant sites, preserved for future generations by the Friends of the Battle of Okolona, Inc.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference

by Margaret E. Wagner, Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman

From the publisher:
The authoritative, illustrated single-volume reference work on the Civil War, arranged thematically and sponsored by the country's national library.

"This work's highly credentialed editors and contributors were able to draw on the vast and rich Civil War resources of the Library of Congress" - Library Journal

"Anyone wanting to find information on books, people, monuments, battlefields, organizations, or reenactments will find a starting point here." - Booklist

This is a reprint edition.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Columbus, Georgia, 1865: The Last True Battle of the Civil War

Charles A. Misulia

From the publisher:
In this work, Charles A. Misulia, a lifelong student of the Civil War and expert on the Battle of Columbus, provides a comprehensive study of the Easter Sunday, April 16, 1865, conflict. The struggle occurred in the dark of night, extended over a mile and half through a series of forts and earthworks, and was finally decided in an encounter on a bridge a thousand feet in length.

Misulia presents the first complete account of this battle, examining and recounting in depth not only the composition and actions of the contending forces, which numbered some three thousand men on each side, but meticulously detailing the effect of the engagement on the city of Columbus and its environs. As such, this book fills in an important detail in the grand account of our cataclysmic national struggle and also adds a significant chapter to the history of an important regional city.

In addition, Misulia bravely takes on the long-vexing question of which encounter should be seen as the last 'battle' of the Civil War and argues persuasively that Columbus, Georgia, qualifies for this distinction on a number of counts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"For We Shall Meet Again..." Letters and Diaries of the Civil War

From the publisher:
This is a collection of correspondence and diary entries of the Civil War, written by soldiers, sweethearts, wives, brothers, and friends who may never have seen each other after they were written.

It is impossible to find a more reliable source of information on any historical period other than first-hand accounts. Countless hours can be spent hunched over tomes of data, strategic maps, theories, as well as lectures and essays on America's bloodiest conflict written by top contemporary historians, but in the end perhaps more can be learned from one letter written home from a 19 year old volunteer to his mother.

This diverse collection of letters and diary entries ranges from the upper echelon of field command and high society to the average undereducated field hand. We read the Confederate's famous own General T. J. "Stonewall" Jackson's letters to his friend Francis McFarland, as well as Private Newton Scott writing to his parents in Iowa. We get insights into everyday army life and camp conditions from the banal to the horrific. Most importantly we get pure emotion bled straight into the letters, often from soldiers directly after combat, recounting in great detail that which no human being should have to endure.

Diary entries which span the course of the war can show quite a change in heart and mind as the years drag by and hopes of a quick end to the war diminish month by month. Those surviving pieces of history we are lucky to still have, which are now housed in museums and private historical collections many times handed down through families. They give us a glimpse of the past, and an idea of the greater whole of an era stricken with grief and national tragedy. They take us as close as we can get to the reality of one of America's most fierce and tragic periods.

The Battle of Port Royal

by Michael D. Coker

From the publisher:
November 1861. The South was winning the Civil War. Fort Sumter had fallen to the Confederates. The Federal army was routed at Manassas. The blockade of Southern ports was a farce; commerce and weapons flowed almost as freely as before the war. There were stirrings of interest from foreign powers in recognizing the Confederacy and brokering a forced peace accord. The Federals needed to turn the tide. The largest fleet ever assembled by the United States set its sights on the South Carolina coast for this much-needed victory.

On November 7, 1861, this mighty weapon of war engaged two undermanned and outgunned forts in Hilton Head in a clash called the Battle of Port Royal. Join historian Michael Coker as he tells the story of this largely forgotten battle, a pivotal turning point in the war that defined our nation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Confederacy's Secret Weapon: The Civil War Illustrations of Frank Vizetelly

by Douglas W. Bostick

From the publisher:
Sent to the United States as a war correspondent for the Illustrated London News, Frank Vizetelly quickly found himself in hot water with the Federal secretary of war when his depictions of Bull Run hit the papers. He was forbidden access to the Union army, so he took up with the Confederates instead, covering the Civil War from Charleston to the Mississippi and north to Virginia, becoming a favorite among the soldiers and even, at times, acting as a spy.

His articles and sketches shaped the views of the English regarding the war, creating support for the Southern cause throughout Great Britain. Join Civil War historian Douglas W. Bostick as he relates the many engagements and battles covered by Vizetelly, including Charleston, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, the March on Richmond and the early Mississippi campaigns, all accompanied by the artist's engravings and reported in his own lively words. Vizetelly's remarkable story has never been properly told until now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

James Bourland: Hangman or Hero?

by Evault Boswell

From the publisher:
Branded by historians as the "Hangman of Texas" because of his participation in the event known as the "Great Gainesville Hanging", James Bourland may have prevented northeast Texas from becoming a separate state, faithful to the Union. As Provost Marshall he uncovered a plot to overthrow the Confederate government by the "Peace Party" who planned to capture the arsenals at Sherman and Gainesville, Texas and with the aid of the Federal Army in Arkansas, invade Texas.

Forty men were hanged on the big elm in Gainesville and the rebellion was over. But Bourland also served his adopted state by fighting Indians who made raids on the citizens of northeast Texas. He also dealt with the "Brush Brigade" which consisted of men in Texas who were unhappy with the Confederate conscription act and hid out in the tangled thickets of northeast Texas to avoid fighting for either side.

He was accused of being harsh on his own men and allowing captured prisoners to be killed, but in the end, he was exonerated and given a Presidential pardon. He was called a good friend or a great hater. But was he a hangman or a hero?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

History of the 19th Army Corps of the Union Army During the American Civil War

Richard B. Irwin

From the publisher:
The Nineteenth Army Corps of the Union Army was comprised of the Federal troops allocated to the Department of the Gulf. It commenced active operations in 1863 first engaging the enemy at Fort Bisland and Irish Bend in Louisiana followed by the investment of Port Hudson. Thereafter it took part in Bank's Red River Expedition where it engaged at the Battles of Sabine Cross Roads and Pleasant Hill. In 1864 the 1st and 2nd Divisions transferred to Virginia and thence to Maryland. The 19th also fought with distinction at Opequon, Fisher's Hill and Cedar Creek. Before the war was won it was engaged in further actions at Fort Blakely, Spanish Fort and Mobile. This is an essential unit history of an army corps during the American Civil War and provides much vital information for the student of the period.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington

by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II

From the publisher:
At the start of the Civil War, federal troops constructed a ring of defensive fortifications around Washington, D.C. The forts saw limited military action, but many historians credit their deterring presence with saving the U.S. capital from a Confederate takeover. If the city wasn't impregnable, it was pretty close. This helpful book provides a full description of these forts--many of which have since been destroyed by farmers and suburban development. Several remain, however, such as Ft. Foote, Ft. Stevens, Ft. Ward, and Ft. Marcy (which became semi-famous in 1993 as the place where former White House deputy counsel Vincent Foster shot himself). Civil War buffs won't want to miss visiting these lesser-known but significant sites--and they won't want to miss this book, either.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tennessee's Civil War Battlefields: A Guide to Their History and Preservation

by Randy Bishop

From the publisher:
The battles depicted in this comprehensive book had in impact on the outcome of the Civil War. Through firsthand documents, maps, and more than 150 photographs, the historical significance of each site is emphasized. Details on the level of preservation of each battlefield, including Shiloh and Chattanooga, are included.

Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth

by Finis L. Bates

In this 1907 book, lawyer Finis L. Bates reveals that his client John St. Helen disclosed to Bates his true identity - claiming to be Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. History tells us that 26-year-old Booth was killed by Federal authorities at the Garrett Farm in Virginia shortly after the 1865 crime. Based on conversations with St. Helen and evidence he himself gathered, Bates contends that Booth escaped, took on new identities, and died by his own hand (under the alias David E. George) in 1903 at the age of 64. This is a fascinating read filled with compelling details.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Silent Runs the Creek: Two Bare-faced boys March to Sharpsburg at Antietam Creek to Face the Bloodiest Day's Battle in the Civil War (novel)

by Frank Garey and John Pajot

From the publisher:
In this novel, two young Confederate soldiers become friends as they march and fight their way through deadly battles to face that fateful day at Sharpsburg on Antietam Creek. Lang, a well-to-do physician's son, and Zeb, a poor mountain boy, despite different backgrounds, must depend on each other to try to survive and in the process become steadfast friends. Survival becomes their objective in this horrible and protracted Civil War. As ordinary foot-soldiers, Lang, Age 19 and Zeb, only 16, reveal their innermost thoughts and emotions as they trudge along dusty roads, muddy fields and battlefields strewn with the mortally wounded. Their emotions, no doubt, are the same as those three million other participants caught up in this bloody Civil War.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fields of Blood: The Prairie Grove Campaign

by William L. Shea

From the publisher:
On Sunday, December 7, 1862, two armies collided at an obscure Arkansas hamlet named Prairie Grove in a desperate battle that effectively ended Confederate offensive operations west of the Mississippi River. In Fields of Blood, historian William L. Shea offers a gripping narrative of the events surrounding Prairie Grove, one of the great unsung battles of the Civil War.

Shea provides a colorful account of a grueling campaign that lasted five months and covered hundreds of miles of rugged Ozark terrain. In a fascinating analysis of the personal, geographical, and strategic elements that led to the fateful clash in northwest Arkansas, he describes a campaign notable for rapid marching, bold movements, hard fighting, and the most remarkable raid of the Civil War. After months of intricate maneuvering punctuated by five battles in three states, armies led by Thomas C. Hindman and James G. Blunt met one last time at Prairie Grove. The costly daylong struggle was a tactical draw but a key strategic victory for the Union, as the Confederates never again seriously attempted to recover Missouri or threaten Kansas.

Historians have long ignored the complex campaign that ended in such spectacular fashion at Prairie Grove, but it is at last brought to life in these pages.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Record of service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865

From the publisher:
This volume is produced from digital images created through the University of Michigan University Library's large-scale digitization efforts. The Library seeks to preserve the intellectual content of items in a manner that facilitates and promotes a variety of uses.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

General Sherman's Christmas: Savannah, 1864

by Stanley Weintraub

From the publisher:
General Sherman's Christmas opens on Thanksgiving Day 1864. Sherman was relentlessly pushing his troops nearly three hundred miles across Georgia in his "March to the Sea," to reach Savannah just days before Christmas. His methodical encroachment of the city from all sides eventually convinced Confederate general W. J. Hardee, who had refused a demand for surrender of his troops, to slip away in darkness across an improvised causeway and escape to South Carolina. In freezing rain and through terrifying fog, equipment-burdened soldiers crossed a hastily built pontoon bridge spanning the mile-wide Savannah River.

Three days before Christmas, the mayor, Richard Arnold, surrendered the city, now populated mostly by women, children, and the slaves who had not fled. General Sherman then telegraphed to Abraham Lincoln, "I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also about 25.000 bales of cotton."

The fight for Savannah took place as its inhabitants were anxiously preparing for Christmas. Weintraub explores how Christmas was traditionally feted in the South and what remained of the holiday to celebrate during the waning last full year of the war. Illustrated with striking period prints, General Sherman's Christmas captures the voices of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict, as they neared the end of a long war.

The release date of this book is not known, although it falls within this month.

Missouri's War: The Civil War in Documents

by Silvana R. Siddali

From the publisher:

Civil War Missouri stood at the crossroads of America. As the most Southern-leaning state in the Middle West, Missouri faced a unique dilemma. The state formed the gateway between east and west, as well as one of the borders between the two contending armies. Moreover, because Missouri was the only slave state in the Great Interior, the conflicts that were tearing the nation apart were also starkly evident within the state.

Deep divisions between Southern and Union supporters, as well as guerrilla violence on the western border, created a terrible situation for civilians who lived through the attacks of bushwhackers and Jayhawkers.

The documents collected in Missouri's War reveal what factors motivated Missourians to remain loyal to the Union or to fight for the Confederacy, how they coped with their internal divisions and conflicts, and how they experienced the end of slavery in the state. Private letters, diary entries, song lyrics, official Union and Confederate army reports, newspaper editorials, and sermons illuminate the war within and across Missouri's borders.

Missouri's War also highlights the experience of free and enslaved African Americans before the war, as enlisted Union soldiers, and in their effort to gain rights after the end of the war. Although the collection focuses primarily on the war years, several documents highlight both the national sectional conflict that led to the outbreak of violence and the effort to reunite the conflicting forces in Missouri after the war.

Silvana R. Siddali is an assistant professor of history at Saint Louis University. She is the author of From Property to Person: Slavery the Confiscation Acts.

Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861

by Earl M. Maltz

From the publisher:
During America's turbulent antebellum era, the Supreme Court decided important cases--most famously Dred Scott--that spoke to sectional concerns and shaped the nation's response to the slavery question. Much scholarship has been devoted to individual cases and to the Taney Court, but this is the first comprehensive examination of the major slavery cases that came before the Court between 1825 and 1861.

Earl Maltz presents a detailed analysis of all eight cases and explains how each fit into the slavery politics of its time, beginning with The Antelope, heard by the John Marshall Court, and continuing with the seven other cases taken before the Roger Taney Court: The Amistad, Groves v. Slaughter, Prigg v. Pennsylvania, Strader v. Graham, Dred Scott v. Sandford, Ableman v. Booth, and Kentucky v. Denison.

Case by case, Maltz identifies the political and legal forces that shaped each of the judicial outcomes while clarifying the evolution of the Court's slavery-related jurisprudence. He reveals the beliefs of each justice about the morality of slavery and the judicial role in constitutional cases to show how their actions were determined by a complex interaction of political and doctrinal considerations. Thus he offers a more nuanced understanding of the antebellum federal judiciary, showing how the decision in Prigg hinged on views about federalism as well as attitudes toward human freedom, while the question of which slaves were freed in The Antelope depended more on complex fact-finding than on a condemnation of the slave trade. Maltz also challenges the view that the Taney Court simply mirrored Southern interests and argues that, despite Dred Scott, the overall record of the Court was not particularly proslavery.

Although the progression of the Court's decisions reflects a change in the tenor of the conflict over slavery, the aftermath of those decisions illustrates the limits of the Court's ability to change the dynamic that governed political struggles over such divisive issues. As the first accessible account of all of these cases, Slavery and the Supreme Court, 1825-1861 underscores the Court's limited capability to resolve the intractable political conflicts that sharply divided our nation during this period.

Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War

by Jacqueline Jones

From the publisher:
In this masterful portrait of life in Savannah before, during, and after the Civil War, prize-winning historian Jacqueline Jones transports readers to the balmy, raucous streets of that fabled Southern port city. Here is a subtle and rich social history that weaves together stories of the everyday lives of blacks and whites, rich and poor, men and women from all walks of life confronting the transformations that would alter their city forever. Deeply researched and vividly written, Saving Savannah is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the Civil War years.

The author of seven previous books, Jacqueline Jones teaches American history at the University of Texas–Austin. Among her numerous awards are the Taft Prize, the Brown Memorial Prize, the Spruill Prize, the Bancroft Prize (for Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow), and, in l999, a MacArthur Fellowship. Saving Savannah won the Georgia Historical Society’s 2009 Malcolm Bell, Jr. and Muriel Barrow Bell Award.

Devil's Dream: A Novel About Nathan Bedford Forrest

by Madison Smartt Bell

From the publisher:
From the author of All Souls’ Rising which The Washington Post called “A serious historical novel that reads like a dream,” comes a powerful new novel about Nathan Bedford Forrest, the most reviled, celebrated, and legendary, of Civil War generals.

With the same eloquence, dramatic energy, and grasp of history that marked his previous works, Madison Smartt Bell gives us a wholly new vantage point from which to view this complicated American figure. Considered a rogue by the upper ranks of the Confederate Army, who did not properly use his talents, Forrest was often relegated to small-scale operations.

In Devil's Dream, Bell brings to life an energetic, plainspoken man who does not tolerate weakness in himself or in those around him. We see Forrest on and off the battlefield, in less familiar but no less revealing moments of his life: courting the woman who would become his wife; battling a compulsion to gamble; overcoming his abhorrence of the army bureaucracy to rise to its highest ranks. We see him treating his slaves humanely even as he fights to ensure their continued enslavement, and in battle we see his knack for keeping his enemy unsettled, his instinct for the unexpected, and his relentless stamina.

As Devil's Dream moves back and forth in time, providing prismatic glimpses of Forrest, a vivid portrait comes into focus: a rough, fierce man with a life fill of contradictions.

"Brave, accomplished and utterly compelling, seamed with passages of haunting, lyrical beauty." –Kirkus

MADISON SMARTT BELL is the author of fourteen previous works of fiction, including Soldier’s Joy and Anything Goes. He was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew up collecting bullets on the same fields where many of Forrest's battles were fought. He now lives in Baltimore.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Army Life: From a Soldier’s Journal

by A.O. Marshall

From the publisher:
In 1884, when Albert O. Marshall published Army Life, a memoir of his service as a private in the Thirty-Third Illinois Regiment, twenty years had passed since his 1864 discharge. Marshall left the journal untouched at publication, and today it is a journal that is rare in what it is not. This memoir is not a complete story of the Thirty-Third (known as the “Normal Regiment” because many of its soldiers were from Illinois State Normal University), nor is it a complete roster of regiment members, nor a list of killed and wounded.

Army Life is not, even, a purely military account written from an officer’s point of view. It is the story of a twenty-year-old private whose engaging writing belies his age but also allows his youth to shine through. Marshall tells of the battles he fought and the games he played, of his friends, fellow soldiers, and officers, and of the regiment’s activities in Missouri and Arkansas, at Vicksburg, and in Louisiana and on the Texas Gulf Coast. Enhanced with careful editing and thorough annotations, this journal Marshall carried faithfully to every mustering out is a rich and important Civil War memoir.

Albert O. Marshall was born in 1840 on a farm in Illinois. He served in the Thirty-Third Illinois Regiment for three years, after which he became a lawyer and was elected to a four-year term in the state senate and later to the county court as a circuit court judge.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For Honor, Glory, and Union: The Mexican and Civil War Letters of Brig. Gen. William Haines Lytle

by William Haines Lytle

From the publisher:
A pro-states' rights Democrat with strong family ties to Kentucky, William Lytle volunteered for service in the Mexican War in 1847. This collection of his letters details the ferocity of action on the Western front and offers a glimpse of the interaction between Union officers and civilians.

"A remarkable, engaging work of superb scholarship, and an invaluable contribution to the growing body of Civil War literature.-- The Midwest Book Review" -- The Midwest Book Review

"Carter's edition of the letters of General William Lytle helps us understand why many partisan Democrats who despised abolitionists and Republicans, supported states' rights, and respected southerners and the South, decided to fight and, in Lytle's case, die for what they believed to be their nation.-- Van Hall" -- Van Hall

"This is one book that should be on the shelf of every Civil War buff or scholar as a prime example of the so many promising young lives lost in the war.-- West Virginia History" -- West Virginia History

This is the first paperback edition of a previously published hardback.

History of the Civil War 1861-1865

by James F. Rhodes

From the publisher:
This landmark study of the most traumatic era in American history won a Pulitzer Prize in 1918 for its concise, clear-minded survey of the Civil War from political and economic perspectives. From "the great factor in the destruction of slavery"-the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860-to the "twenty thousand men in Wall Street" who sang to celebrate the war's end four years later, Rhodes, a self-taught historian, lends a distinctive voice to his retelling of the war. All students of the upheaval and disorder of the period will appreciate this enduring and unusual perspective on it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The 111th New York Volunteer Infantry: A Civil War History

by Martin W. Husk

From the publisher:
This regimental history follows the 111th New York Volunteer Infantry's service from muster through victory, with many first-hand accounts and primary sources. It provides details on the towns from which the regiment was organized and examines the men who served in its ranks. Battles in which the regiment fought, including Harper's Ferry, Gettysburg and Petersburg, are covered in detail, with close unit-level coverage as well as information on the overall strategy and the regiment's place in the greater conflict. An appendix covers in-depth the October 1864 capture of 83 111th soldiers by the Confederacy, following their imprisonment, ill-treatment, and eventual death or release.

Martin W. Husk is a project manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He lives in Cary, North Carolina.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Battles Without Bullets: Civil War Re-enactment and American Culture

by Randal Allred

From the publisher:
Near the end of his life, Confederate soldier Berry Benson wrote a passage that many Civil War reenactors now consider the clearest evocation of what they do: "Who knows but again the old flags, ragged and torn, snapping in the wind, may face each other and flutter, pursuing and pursued, while the cries of victory fill a summer day? And after the battle, then the slain and wounded will arise and all will meet together under the two flags, all sound and well, and there will be talking and laughter and cheers, and all will say: Did it now seem real? Was it not as in the old days?"

Here, through anecdotes, interviews with participants, and a keen analysis of his subject, Allred offers insight to this uniquely American phenomenon. Allred first puts the practices of "living history" (including "living museums" and medieval pageants) into their cultural and political contexts, and then moves on to discuss the history of reenacting itself. Further chapters consider reenacting as a hobby and as a cultural community. Allred addresses various questions about reenactment: Why the Civil War? Why this particular way of honoring it? Is this a form of historical catharsis? What are the stories being "told" on these battlefields? The resulting study is both penetrating and entertaining.

RANDAL ALLRED is Associate Professor of Literature and Humanities at Brigham Young University, Hawaii. He is the author of the chapter of "Living History and Battlefield Reenactments" for The Greenwood Guide to American Popular Culture.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Orlando M. Poe: Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer

by Paul Taylor

From the publisher:
This is the first biography of Sherman's chief engineer and the man whose post-Civil War engineering work changed Great Lakes navigation forever.

Orlando M. Poe chronicles the life of one of the most influential yet underrated and overlooked soldiers during the Civil War.

After joining the Union Army in 1861, Poe commanded the 2nd Michigan Infantry in the Peninsula Campaign and led brigades at Second Bull Run and Fredericksburg. He was then sent west and became one of the Union heroes in the defense of Knoxville.

Poe served under several of the war's greatest generals, including George McClellan and William T. Sherman, who appointed him chief engineer to oversee the burning of Atlanta and Sherman's March to the Sea. Though technically only a captain in the regular army at the war's end, Poe was one of Sherman's most valued subordinates, and he was ultimately appointed brevet brigadier general for his bravery and service.

After the war, Poe supervised the design and construction of numerous Great Lakes lighthouses, all of which are still in service. He rejoined Sherman's staff in 1873 as engineer aide-de-camp and continued his role as trusted adviser until the general's retirement in 1884. Poe then returned to his adopted home in Detroit where he began planning his ultimate post-Civil War engineering achievement: the design and construction of what would become the largest shipping lock in the world at Sault St. Marie, Michigan.

Mining an extensive collection of Poe's unpublished personal papers that span his entire civil and military career, and illustrating the narrative with many previously unpublished photographs, Paul Taylor brings to life for the first time the story of one of the nineteenth century's most overlooked war heroes.

Paul Taylor is an insurance professional and author of four previous books on the Civil War: "Give My Love to All Our Folks": Civil War and Post-War Letters of Clinton DeWitt Staring and Charles E. Staring, Glory Was Not Their Companion: The Twenty-Sixth New York Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning: The Battle of Ox Hill (Chantilly) September 1, 1862, and Discovering the Civil War in Florida: A Reader and Guide.

Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederancy, 1863-1865

by Ethan Rafuse

From the publisher:
In this reexamination of the last two years of Robert E. Lee's storied military career, Ethan S. Rafuse offers an insightful account of Lee's ultimately unsuccessful struggle to defend the Confederacy against a relentless and determined foe.

Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy describes the great campaigns that shaped the course of this crucial period in American history, the challenges Lee faced in each battle, and the dramatic events that determined the war's outcome.

Burning Rails As We Pleased: The Civil War Letters of William Garrigues Bentley, 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

by William Garrigues Bentley

From the publisher:
William Garrigues Bentley chose to leave the safety of home and family at age 19 and fight for the Union. He enlisted in the 104th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company G, in 1862 and served for three long years before being honorably discharged. His firsthand account details his day-to-day life as a soldier, the long marches around Kentucky, skirmishes with the Rebs, joining with Sherman's army in the Atlanta campaign then chasing Hood into Tennessee and fighting in the bloody battle at Franklin, and on to rejoin Sherman in the winter of 1865 for the final months of the Carolina campaign.

This book - compiled from a collection of 142 of Bentley's newly discovered letters and other documents - not only is an important historical record but also offers an insight into the political thoughts and feelings of the time. The book includes a complete roster of the 104th Ohio.

Barbara Bentley Smith is William Garrigues Bentley's great-granddaughter. She lives in North Carolina. Nina Bentley Baker is William Garrigues Bentley's great-granddaughter. She lives in North Carolina.

Confederate Sheet Music

by E. Lawrence Abel

From the publisher:
During the American Civil War, songs united and inspired people on both sides. The North had a well-established music publishing industry when the war broke out, but the South had no such industry.

The importance of music as an expression of the South's beliefs was obvious; as one music publisher said, 'The South must not only fight her own battles but sing her own songs and dance to music composed by her own children'.

Southern entrepreneurs quickly rose to the challenge. This reference book is distinguished by three major differences from previously published works. First, it lists sheet music that is no longer extant (and listed nowhere else). Second, it gives complete lyrics for all extant songs, a rich source for researchers. And third, a brief historical background has been provided for many of the songs.

Each entry provides as much of the following as possible (staying faithful to the typography of each title page): the title as published, names of all lyricists, composers and publishers; dates of publication; cities of publication; and, if applicable, the names of catalogs or magazines in which the song appeared. Music published in Southern cities under Federal occupation is excluded.

E. Lawrence Abel teaches at Wayne State University, where he has received the honor of "Distinguished Professor." He is also the author of more than forty other books and his articles have been published in various popular and scholarly magazines and journals.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Chickamauga Memorial: The Establishment of America's First Civil War National Military Park

by Timothy B Smith

From the publisher:
A Chickamauga Memorial tells the full and fascinating story of how the country’s first federally preserved national military park came into being and how it paved the way for all that came afterwards, including preservation efforts today.

As Timothy B. Smith explains, most battlefield preservation and commemoration efforts before 1890 were done on a private and state level, with veterans’ groups and states marking unit positions on battlefields, most notably at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. In 1890, however, the federal government became involved on a large scale, ushering in a wave of battlefield preservation that would continue through the decades that followed.

The brainchild of Henry Van Ness Boynton, a Union officer and veteran of the battle, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park served multiple purposes as a commemorative memorial to the soldiers who had fought there as well as a military reservation for maneuver and study. As the former, Chickamauga played a prominent role in the reconciliation of the North and South, bringing together veterans from both sides. As the latter, the park played host to numerous military units during the Spanish American War as well as World Wars I and II. Perhaps the most important aspect, Smith contends, was the creation of historical memory in both. This process involved not only the historiography of the battles, but also how the battlefields themselves would be remembered, interpreted, and celebrated.

Timothy B. Smith teaches history at the University of Tennessee at Martin. He is the author of This Great Battlefield of Shiloh, The Untold Story of Shiloh, and The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation.

Lincoln under Enemy Fire: The Complete Account of His Experiences during Early's Attack on Washington

by John Henry Cramer

From the publisher:
Originally published in 1948 but long unavailable, this intriguing book chronicles the strange events of midsummer 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln might well have succumbed to a Confederate bullet were it not for the fortuitously spoken words of a Union officer standing nearby.

The central story is fairly well known: In July, the Confederate Army contemplated an attack on Washington, D.C. The Union showed sufficient strength to discourage a full-blown Southern assault, but on July 11, skirmishes broke out near Fort Stevens, just a few miles from Washington. High government officials and the social elite from the area came to the fort to observe the battle. Among them was President Lincoln, along with his wife and at least two cabinet-level officers. During his visit, the president joined a few others on a walkway that ran along the top of one of Fort Stevens’s high defensive walls. Confederate sharpshooters opened fire on the group, and Lincoln was told to retreat to a safer location—in rather rude and emphatic terms, according to some accounts. Author John Henry Cramer frames Lincoln under Enemy Fire around two questions: Who told the president to get off the parapet, and what was said to persuade him to do so?

With this new edition, Cramer’s findings become available once again, complete with a new introduction by noted Lincoln scholar Charles Hubbard. Lincoln Under Enemy Fire, at its heart, is a book about Abraham Lincoln, and validates some assumptions about Lincoln that have developed since Cramer wrote the book. Much of Cramer’s attention is directed toward the various accounts—including eyewitness discrepancies and written communication—and this meticulous work shows a brilliant mind at work getting to the bottom of a historical mystery of the first order.

John Henry Cramer was professor of history at Youngstown College (now Youngstown State University). He was also the author of Lincoln in Ohio. He died in 1948.