Monday, April 30, 2007

The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War

by Clarissa W. Confer

From the publisher:
No one questions the horrific impact of the Civil War on America, but few realize its effect on American Indians. Residents of Indian Territory found the war especially devastating. Their homeland was beset not only by regular army operations but also by guerillas and bushwhackers. Complicating the situation even further, Cherokee men fought for the Union as well as the Confederacy and created their own “brothers’ war.”

This book offers a broad overview of the war as it affected the Cherokees—a social history of a people plunged into crisis. The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War shows how the Cherokee people, who had only just begun to recover from the ordeal of removal, faced an equally devastating upheaval in the Civil War. Clarissa W. Confer illustrates how the Cherokee Nation, with its sovereign status and distinct culture, had a wartime experience unlike that of any other group of people—and suffered perhaps the greatest losses of land, population, and sovereignty.

Confer examines decision-making and leadership within the tribe, campaigns and soldiering among participants on both sides, and elements of civilian life and reconstruction. She reveals how a centuries-old culture informed the Cherokees’ choices, with influences as varied as matrilineal descent, clan affiliations, economic distribution, and decentralized government combining to distinguish the Native reaction to the war.

The Cherokee Nation in the Civil War recalls a people enduring years of hardship while also struggling for their future as the white man’s war encroached on the physical and political integrity of their nation.

Clarissa W. Confer is Assistant Professor of History at California University of Pennsylvania.

Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia

by by C. L. Bragg, Gordon A. Blaker, Charles D. Ross, Sephanie A. T. Jacobe, and Theodore P. Savas

From the publisher:
Lavishly illustrated with seventy-four color plates and fifty black-and-white photographs and drawings, Never for Want of Powder tells the story of a world-class munitions factory constructed by the Confederacy in 1861, the only large-scale permanent building project undertaken by a government often characterized as lacking modern industrial values. In this comprehensive examination of the powder works, five scholars--a historian, physicist, curator, architectural historian, and biographer--bring their combined expertise to the task of chronicling gunpowder production during the Civil War. In doing so, they make a major contribution to understanding the history of wartime technology and Confederate ingenuity.

Early in the war President Jefferson Davis realized the Confederacy's need to supply its own gunpowder. Accordingly Davis selected Col. George Washington Rains to build a gunpowder factory. An engineer and West Point graduate, Rains relied primarily on a written pamphlet rather than on practical experience in building the powder mill, yet he succeeded in designing a model of efficiency and safety. He sited the facilities at Augusta, Georgia, because of the city's central location, canal transportation, access to water power, railroad facilities, and relative security from attack.

As much a story of people as of machinery, Never for Want of Powder recounts the ingenuity of the individuals involved with the project. A cadre of talented subordinates--including Frederick Wright, C. Shaler Smith, William Pendleton, and Isadore P. Girardey--assisted Rains to a degree not previously appreciated by historians. This volume also documents the coordinated outflow of gunpowder and ammunition, and Rains's difficulty in preparing for the defense of Augusta.

Today a lone chimney along the Savannah River stands as the only reminder of the munitions facility that once occupied that site. With its detailed reproductions of architectural and mechanical schematics and its expansive vista on the Confederacy, Never for Want of Powder restores the Augusta Powder Works to its rightful place in American lore.

"The Confederacy built an impressive manufacturing economy geared to waging war--including a massive powder works at Augusta, Georgia, that produced high-quality powder under the able direction of George Washington Rains. This beautifully illustrated volume provides by far the best examination to date of the Augusta works. Never for Want of Powder merits the attention of anyone interested in the intersection between war-making and industrial production during our nation's first great modern conflict." - Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War

"This is an exhaustive, well-written and much needed account of the Confederate Powder Works. The quintet of expert authors have made an impressive contribution to our understanding of how a remarkable group of men created the largest powder works in North America, kept it functioning, and produced millions of rounds of ammunition. Arguably, it was the powder works that allowed the Confederacy to survive militarily for four years." - Mary A. DeCredico, author of Patriotism for Profit: Georgia's Urban Entrepreneurs and the Confederate War Effort

From CWBN:
This is an impressive collection of articles with oversized pages, scores of color plates, an immense store of never-before-published photographs with beautiful binding and production, plus a bibliography and end notes that will invite further research on the subject. One aspect of the military industry of the South has now received the full treatment it deserves. Expect some stock generalizations on the subject to fall.

A full appreciation appears here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Struggle for the Round Tops: Law's Alabama Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863

by Morris M. Penny, J. Gary Laine

From the publisher:
In Struggle for the Round Tops, Morris M. Penny and J. Gary Laine have produced a compelling story of Law's Alabama Brigade's attempt to wrest the Round Tops from Federal hands.

In July 1863, Evander McIver Law, age 26, was one of Robert E. Lee's most promising generals. His brigade of Alabamians shared the Army of Northern Virginia's sense of invincibility. After a grueling 25-mile march to the battlefield, Law's men made a valiant three-hour effort to gain control of the high ground on the Federal right. Struggle for the Round Tops describes the vicious fighting around Devil's Den, in the Devil's Kitchen, and the heartbreaking repulse from Little Round Top.

Law's Alabamians participated in the defense of the Confederate right on July 3 and delighted in unhorsing a number of Federal troopers in Farnsworth's charge. Two days after it arrived, the brigade retired from the field with the realization that the Federals had matched their own fighting ability. Law himself departed with the seeds of discord planted that would ultimately culminate in a devastating feud between himself and Longstreet.

Much has been written about the conduct of the Confederate commanders on July 2. Some historians have suggested that Law deliberately disobeyed an order to launch his assault up the Emmitsburg Road. The authors examine the implications of Lee's orders and offer new insight into Hood'snd Law's perspective of the situation and the leeway Hood assumed as a division commander.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another Day in Lincoln's Army: The Civil War Journals of Sgt. John T. Booth

by Marie Mollohan

From the publisher:
In the introduction of his diary, Sgt. John T. Booth of Company G, 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, writes that the experience of a single soldier can never be considered a history of the conflict in which the soldier serves, but merely a reflection of his personal experience. Another Day in Lincoln's Army: The Civil War Journals of Sgt. John T. Booth brilliantly illustrates this concept, capturing the ordinary day-to-day life of the Civil War soldier.

From Western Virginia and Antietam Creek in Maryland to Chickamauga in the Tennessee mountains, this is the compelling story of Booth and the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) in the American Civil War. One of only a few regiments privileged to have served in both the eastern and western theatres of the conflict, the 36th OVI fought in some of the bloodiest battles of the war. Booth eloquently journals the striking contrast between the often mundane activities of camp life and the horrifying sequences of battle.

Edited and compiled by Marie Mollohan, Another Day in Lincoln's Army also includes photographs of soldiers who served alongside Booth, letters and diary entries from other soldiers in the 36th OVI, and a mixture of feature stories from period newspapers, vividly bringing this extraordinary time in America's history to life.

About the Author
The eloquence and enthusiasm of Sgt. John T. Booth’s diary inspired Marie Mollohan to take on the task of preparing a history of the 36th Ohio Volunteer Regiment by putting together personal journals and letters from members of the regiment.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Stealing Lincoln's Body

by Thomas J. Craughwell

From the publisher:
On the night of the presidential election in 1876, a gang of counterfeiters out of Chicago attempted to steal the entombed embalmed body of Abraham Lincoln and hold it for ransom. The custodian of the tomb was so shaken by the incident that he willingly dedicated the rest of his life to protecting the president's corpse.

In a lively and dramatic narrative, Thomas J. Craughwell returns to this bizarre, and largely forgotten, event with the first book to place the grave robbery in historical context. He takes us through the planning and execution of the crime and the outcome of the investigation. He describes the reactions of Mary Todd Lincoln and Robert Todd Lincoln to the theft--and the peculiar silence of a nation. He follows the unlikely tale of what happened to Lincoln's remains after the attempted robbery, and details the plan devised by the Lincoln Guard of Honor to prevent a similar abominable recurrence.

Along the way, Craughwell offers entertaining sidelights on the rise of counterfeiting in America and the establishment of the Secret Service to combat it; the prevalence of grave robberies; the art of nineteenth-century embalming; and the emergence among Irish immigrants of an ambitious middle class--and a criminal underclass.

This rousing story of hapless con men, intrepid federal agents, and ordinary Springfield citizens who honored their native son by keeping a valuable, burdensome secret for decades offers a riveting glimpse into late-nineteenth-century America, and underscores that truth really is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Thomas J. Craughwell is the author of several books on Catholic history and American popular culture, including Saints Behaving Badly, The Wisdom of the Popes, and Urban Legends.

Henry Adams and the Southern Question

by Michael O'Brien

From the publisher:
A lively introduction to a New England observer of southern thought and custom

“Strictly, the Southerner had no mind; he had temperament. He was not a scholar; he had no intellectual training; he could not analyze an idea, and he could not even conceive of admitting to.” This judgment, rendered in The Education of Henry Adams, may be the most quoted of Adams’s writings on the South. However, it is far from the only one of his beliefs that helped to shape a national outlook on the region from the late antebellum period to the present.

Thinking about the South, says Michael O’Brien, was “part of being an Adams.” In this book O’Brien shows how Adams (grandson of President John Quincy Adams and great-grandson of President John Adams) looked at the region during various phases of his life. O’Brien explores the cultural and familial impulses behind those views and locates them in American intellectual history. He begins with the young Henry Adams, who served as his father’s secretary in the House of Representatives during the secession crises of 1860–1861 and in the American embassy in London during and after the Civil War, until 1868.

O’Brien then covers a number of topics relevant to Adams’s outlook on the South, including his residency in that deceptively “southern” city, Washington, D.C.; his journalism on the Reconstruction-era South; his biographical or historical works on the Virginians John Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison; and his two novels, especially Democracy. Finally, O’Brien ponders the vein of southern self-criticism—exemplified by Wilbur J. Cash’s Mind of the South—that embraces the notorious slur so often quoted from The Education of Henry Adams.

Michael O'Brien is Reader in American Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Jesus College. He is founder of the Southern Intellectual History Circle and was the longtime series editor of the Publications of the Southern Texts Society. O'Brien is the author or editor of several books on southern intellectual history, including the Bancroft Prize-winner Conjectures of Order.

Lincoln’s Rise to the Presidency

by William C. Harris

From the publisher:
Adopting a new approach to an American icon, an award-winning scholar reexamines the life of Abraham Lincoln to demonstrate how his remarkable political acumen and leadership skills evolved during the intense partisan conflict in pre-Civil War Illinois. By describing Lincoln’s rise from obscurity to the presidency, William Harris shows that Lincoln’s road to political success was far from easy—and that his reaction to events wasn’t always wise or his racial attitudes free of prejudice.

Although most scholars have labeled Lincoln a moderate, Harris reveals that he was by his own admission a conservative who revered the Founders and advocated “adherence to the old and tried.” By emphasizing the conservative bent that guided Lincoln’s political evolution—his background as a Henry Clay Whig, his rural ties, his cautious nature, and the racial and political realities of central Illinois—Harris provides fresh insight into Lincoln’s political ideas and activities and portrays him as morally opposed to slavery but fundamentally conservative in his political strategy against it.

Interweaving aspects of Lincoln’s life and character that were an integral part of his rise to prominence, Harris provides in-depth coverage of Lincoln’s controversial term in Congress, his re-emergence as the leader of the antislavery coalition in Illinois, and his Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas. He particularly describes how Lincoln organized the antislavery coalition into the Republican Party while retaining the support of its diverse elements, and sheds new light on Lincoln’s ongoing efforts to bring Know Nothing nativists into the coalition without alienating ethnic groups. He also provides new information and analysis regarding Lincoln’s nomination and election to the presidency, the selection of his cabinet, and his important role as president-elect during the secession crisis of 1860–1861.

Challenging prevailing views, Harris portrays Lincoln as increasingly driven not so much by his own ambitions as by his antislavery sentiments and his fear for the republic in the hands of Douglas Democrats, and he shows how the unique political skills Lincoln developed in Illinois shaped his wartime leadership abilities. By doing so, he opens a window on his political ideas and influences and offers a fresh understanding of this complex figure.

“Illuminates Lincoln’s remarkable rise from obscurity to the presidency and shows in fresh detail how he acquired, and exercised, the political skills and the wisdom that made him a great leader when he got there.” — William Lee Miller, author of Lincoln’s Virtues: An Ethical Biography

“An insightful account that convincingly portrays Lincoln as a tactically shrewd, strategically principled, and eloquently forceful leader and reconciler of the heterogeneous antislavery elements in both Illinois and the North at large. . . . A worthy companion to Harris’s prize-winning studies of Lincoln’s presidency.” — Michael Burlingame, author of The Inner World of Abraham Lincoln

“A fine, well-written study that provides sophisticated and balanced insights.” — Phillip Shaw Paludan, author of The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

WILLIAM C. HARRIS professor emeritus of history at North Carolina State University and recipient of the Lincoln Diploma of Honor, is author of nine other books, including Day of the Carpetbagger: Republican Reconstruction in Mississippi, With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union, and most recently Lincoln’s Last Months.