Monday, June 30, 2008

August Valentine Kautz, USA: Biography of a Civil War General

by Lawrence G. Kautz

From the publisher:
Born in Germany in 1828, future Union general August Valentine Kautz came to America as an infant. He was privileged to obtain schooling and, after service in the war with Mexico, attended West Point.

Relying heavily on detailed journals kept by Kautz for 43 years, this biography covers his early experiences and his time in the turbulent Pacific Northwest, where he was involved in Indian affairs and the Rogue River War. As with so many American military men of the time, however, the defining event in his career was the Civil War.

Originally assigned to the Western Theater, where he played a role in the capture of Morgan’s Raiders, Kautz’s service included participation in the First Battle of Deep Bottom, the Wilson-Kautz Raid, and the Petersburg assault aimed at capturing Richmond. Kautz has often been misrepresented in historical mentions and this biography seeks to set the record straight. Period photographs and a number of maps are included.

Retired physician Lawrence G. Kautz lives in West Jefferson, North Carolina.

THE TIMBERCLADS IN THE CIVIL WAR: The Lexington, Conestoga and Tyler on the Western Waters

by Myron J. Smith Jr.

From the publisher:
This is the first detailed history of Union warships in the western rivers of the Civil War. The author recounts the exploits of the Lexington, the Conestoga and the Tyler, three steamboats converted to warships that formed the core of the Western Flotilla, from 1861 to 1865. The book focuses on the activities of these three ships while providing context for the greater war, including accounts of these ships’ commanding officers, the development of ironclads and the greater role of the Western Flotilla.

Myron J. Smith, Jr., is the library director and a professor at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee. He is the author of Le Roy Fitch, (2007) and The Baseball Bibliography, 2d ed., (2006).

Identification Discs Of Union Soldiers In The Civil War: A Complete Classification Guide

by Larry B. Maier and Joseph W. Stahl

From the publisher:
As an iconic symbol of the American GI, the dog tag has gained considerable cultural recognition. This book returns to the origins of the dog tag with an in-depth look at all 49 styles of Civil-War era Union identification discs, including detailed photographs and histories for individual discs as well as a general history of the origin and production of identification discs. This work also provides a general guide to the authentication of identification discs for use by collectors.

Attorney and civil war lecturer Larry B. Maier lives in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Joseph W. Stahl is a research staff member of the Institute for Defense Analyses. His articles have appeared in the Gettysburg Magazine, Civil War Historian and other publications. He lives in Fairfax, Virginia.

Lee's Bold Plan For Point Lookout: The Rescue of Confederate Prisoners That Never Happened

by Jack E. Schairer

From the publisher
In July 1864, while hemmed in by Grant at Richmond, General Robert E. Lee conceived a bold plan designed not only to relieve Lynchburg and protect the Confederate supply line but also to ultimately make a bold move on Washington itself. A major facet of this plan, with the addition of General Jubal Early's forces, became the rescue of the almost 15,000 Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout, a large Union prison camp at the confluence of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.

This volume takes an in-depth look at Lee's audacious plan, from the circumstances surrounding its inception, simultaneous cavalry and amphibious attacks on Point Lookout, and its somewhat ironic finale. With international recognition hanging in the balance for the Confederacy, the failure of Lee's plan saved the Union and ultimately changed the course of the war. This work focuses on the many factors that contributed to this eventual failure, including Early's somewhat inexplicable hesitancy, a significant loss of time for Confederate troops en route, and aggressive defensive action by Union General Lew Wallace. It also discusses the various circumstances such as Washington's stripped defenses, the potential release of imprisoned Southern troops and a breakdown of Union military intelligence that made Lee's gamble a brilliant, well-founded strategy.

Campaign for Wilson's Creek: The Fight for Missouri Begins

by Jeffrey L. Patrick

From the publisher
In early 1861, most Missourians hoped they could remain neutral in the upcoming conflict between North and South. In fact, a popularly elected state convention voted in March of that year that "no adequate cause" existed to compel Missouri to leave the Union. Instead, Missourians saw themselves as ideologically centered between the radical notions of abolition and secession.

By that summer, however, the situation had deteriorated dramatically. Due to the actions of politicians and soldiers such as Missouri Gov. Claiborne Jackson and Union Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, Missourians found themselves forced to take sides.

Campaign for Wilson's Creek is a fascinating story of high-stakes military gambles, aggressive leadership and lost opportunities. It is also a tale of unique military units, untried but determined commanders, colorful volunteers and professional soldiers. The first major campaign of the Civil War west of the Mississippi River guaranteed that Missourians would be engaged in a long, cruel civil war within the larger, national struggle.
Civil War News

Jeffrey L. Patrick is the National Park Service librarian at Wilson's Creek National Battlefield. He is the author of numerous articles on various aspects of American military history, and is the editor/coeditor of two Civil War diaries. He lives in Republic, Missouri.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


by Jennifer L. Weber

From the publisher:
The Northern home-front during the Civil War was far from tranquil. Fierce political debates set communities on edge, spurred secret plots against the Union, and triggered widespread violence. At the heart of all this turmoil stood the anti-war Democrats, nicknamed "Copperheads."

Now, Jennifer L. Weber offers the first full-length portrait of this powerful faction to appear in almost half a century. Weber reveals how the Copperheads came perilously close to defeating Lincoln and ending the war in the South's favor. Indeed, by the summer of 1864, they had grown so strong that Lincoln himself thought his defeat was "exceedingly likely." Passionate defenders of civil liberties and states' rights--and often virulent racists--the Copperheads deplored Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, his liberal interpretation of the Constitution, and, most vehemently, his moves toward emancipation. Weber reveals how the battle over these issues grew so heated that Northerners feared their neighbors would destroy their livestock, burn their homes, even kill them. And she illuminates the role of Union soldiers, who, furious at Copperhead attacks on the war effort, moved firmly
behind Lincoln. The soldiers' support for the embattled president kept him alive politically in his darkest times, and their victories on the battlefield secured his re-election.

Packed with sharp observation and fresh interpretations, Copperheads is a gripping account of the fierce dissent that Lincoln called "the fire in the rear."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grant's Lieutenants: From Chattanooga to Appomattox

by Steven E. Woodworth

From the publisher:
A companion to Grant's Lieutenants: From Cairo to Vicksburg, this new volume assesses Union generalship during the final two years of the Civil War. Steven Woodworth, one of the war's premier historians, is joined by a team of distinguished scholars--Mark Grimsley, John Marszalek, and Earl Hess, among others--who critique Ulysses S. Grant's commanders in terms of both their working relationship with their general-in-chief and their actual performances.

The book covers well-known Union field generals like William T. Sherman, George Thomas, George Meade, and Philip Sheridan, as well as the less-prominent Franz Sigel, Horatio Wright, Edward Ord, and Benjamin Butler. In addition, it includes an iconoclastic look at Grant's former superior and wartime chief of staff Henry W. Halleck, focusing on his wise counsel concerning Washington politics, the qualities of various subordinates, and the strategic environment. Each of these probing essays emphasizes the character and accomplishments of a particular general and shows how his relationship with Grant either helped or hindered the Union cause.

The contributors highlight the ways Grant's lieutenants contributed to or challenged their commander's own success and development as a general. In addition to revisiting Grant's key collaboration with Sherman, the essays illuminate the hostile relationship between Grant and Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland; Grant's almost daily contact with "Old Snapping Turtle" Meade, whose expertise relieved Grant of the close tactical direction of the Army of the Potomac; and the development of a highly successful command partnership between Grant and Sheridan, his new commander of the Army of the Shenandoah. Readers will also learn how Grant handled the relative incompetence of his less sterling leaders--perhaps failing to give Butler adequate direction and overlooking Ord's suspect political views in light of their long relationship.

Like its companion volume, Grant's Lieutenants: From Chattanooga to Appomattox is an essential touchstone for Civil War scholars and aficionados. It offers new and profound insights into the command relationships that fundamentally shaped both the conduct of the war and its final outcome.

This book is part of the Modern War Studies series.

"These stimulating and insightful essays remind us of the collaborative nature of military command and help us appreciate how Grant persevered and ultimately prevailed in directing the Union armies to victory." -- Brooks D. Simpson, author of Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph over Adversity, 1822-1865

"A companion to Woodworth's earlier collection of essays on top Union commanders that matches the high quality of the original. . . . Offers incisive analysis of the men Grant entrusted with execution of his strategic plans. Scholars and general readers will find much to ponder in this fine book." -- Gary W. Gallagher, author of The Confederate War

"A fascinating and thought-provoking book." -- Stephen D. Engle, author of Struggle for the Heartland: The Campaigns from Fort Henry to Corinth

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed American History

by Marc Leepson

From the publisher:
The Battle of Monocacy, which took place on the blisteringly hot day of July 9, 1864 is one of the Civil War’s most significant yet little-known battles. What played out that day in the corn and wheat fields four miles south of Frederick, Maryland., was a full-field engagement between some 12,000 battle-hardened Confederate troops led by the controversial Jubal Anderson Early, and some 5,800 Union troops, many of them untested in battle, under the mercurial Lew Wallace, the future author of Ben-Hur. When the fighting ended, some 1,300 Union troops were dead, wounded or missing or had been taken prisoner, and Early---who suffered some 800 casualties---had routed Wallace in the northernmost Confederate victory of the war.

Two days later, on another brutally hot afternoon, Monday, July 11, 1864, the foul-mouthed, hard-drinking Early sat astride his horse outside the gates of Fort Stevens in the upper northwestern fringe of Washington, D.C. He was about to make one of the war’s most fateful, portentous decisions: whether or not to order his men to invade the nation’s capital.

Early had been on the march since June 13, when Robert E. Lee ordered him to take an entire corps of men from their Richmond-area encampment and wreak havoc on Yankee troops in the Shenandoah Valley, then to move north and invade Maryland. If Early found the conditions right, Lee said, he was to take the war for the first time into President Lincoln’s front yard. Also on Lee’s agenda: forcing the Yankees to release a good number of troops from the stranglehold that Gen. U.S. Grant had built around Richmond.

Once manned by tens of thousands of experienced troops, Washington’s ring of forts and fortifications that day were in the hands of a ragtag collection of walking wounded Union soldiers, the Veteran Reserve Corps, along with what were known as hundred days’ men--raw recruits who had joined the Union Army to serve as temporary, rear-echelon troops. It was with great shock, then, that the city received news of the impending rebel attack. With near panic filling the streets, Union leaders scrambled to coordinate a force of volunteers.

But Early did not pull the trigger. Because his men were exhausted from the fight at Monocacy and the ensuing march, Early paused before attacking the feebly manned Fort Stevens, giving Grant just enough time to bring thousands of veteran troops up from Richmond. The men arrived at the eleventh hour, just as Early was contemplating whether or not to move into Washington. No invasion was launched, but Early did engage Union forces outside Fort Stevens. During the fighting, President Lincoln paid a visit to the fort, becoming the only sitting president in American history to come under fire in a military engagement.

Historian Marc Leepson shows that had Early arrived in Washington one day earlier, the ensuing havoc easily could have brought about a different conclusion to the war. Leepson uses a vast amount of primary material, including memoirs, official records, newspaper accounts, diary entries and eyewitness reports in a reader-friendly and engaging description of the events surrounding what became known as “the Battle That Saved Washington.”

Journalist and historian Marc Leepson has written for many newspapers and magazines, including Smithsonian, Preservation, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and Military History. He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Americana and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. A former staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, he has been interviewed on The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, All Things Considered, and Morning Edition. He is the author of six books, including Saving Monticello and Flag: An American Biography, and teaches U.S. history at Lord Fairfax Community College in Warrenton, Virginia.

From CWBN:
This is the first softcover edition of a previously released hardback.

The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves

by Andrew Ward

From the publisher:
The first narrative history of the Civil War as told by the very people it freed.

Groundbreaking, compelling, and poignant, The Slaves' War delivers an unprecedented vision of the nation's bloodiest conflict. An acclaimed historian of nineteenth-century and African-American history, Andrew Ward gives us the first narrative of the Civil War told from the perspective of those whose destiny it decided.Woven together from hundreds of interviews, diaries, letters, and memoirs, here is the Civil War as seen not only from battlefields, capitals, and camps, but also from slave quarters, kitchens, roadsides, swamps, and fields. Speaking in a quintessentially American language of biblical power and intensity, body servants, army cooks and launderers, runaways, teamsters, and gravediggers bring the war to richly detailed life. From slaves' theories about the causes of the Civil War to their frank assessments of such major figures as Lincoln, Davis, Lee, and Grant; from their searing memories of the carnage of battle to their often startling attitudes toward masters and liberators alike; and from their initial jubilation at the Yankee invasion of the slave South to the crushing disappointment of freedom's promise unfulfilled, The Slaves' War is a transformative and engrossing vision of America's Second Revolution.

"This is a riveting book about the most important event in our history . . . readable and compelling." --Ken Burns

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Southern Moderate in Radical Times: Henry Washington Hilliard, 1808-1892

by David I. Durham

From the publisher:
In A Southern Moderate in Radical Times, David I. Durham offers a comprehensive and critical appraisal of one of the South's famous dissenters. Against the backdrop of one of the most turbulent periods in American history, he explores the ideological and political journey of Henry Washington Hilliard (1808-1892), a southern politician whose opposition to secession placed him at odds with many of his peers in the South's elite class. Durham weaves threads of American legal, social, and diplomatic history to tell the story of this fascinating man who, living during a time of unrestrained destruction as well as seemingly endless possibilities, consistently focused on the positive elements in society even as forces beyond his control shaped his destiny.

A three-term congressman from Alabama, as well as a professor, attorney, diplomat, minister, soldier, and author, Hilliard had a career that spanned more than six decades and involved work on three continents. He modeled himself on the ideal of the erudite statesman and celebrated orator, and strove to maintain that persona throughout his life. As a member of Congress, he strongly opposed secession from the Union. No radical abolitionist, Hilliard supported the constitutional legality of slavery, but working in the tradition of the great moderates, he affirmed the status quo and warned of the dangers of change. For a period of time he and like-minded colleagues were able to successfully overcome the more radical voices and block disunion, but their success was short-lived and eventually overwhelmed by the growing appeal of sectional extremism. As Durham shows, Hilliard's personal suffering, tempered by his consistent faith in Divine Providence, eventually allowed him to return to his ideological roots and find a lasting sense of accomplishment late in life by becoming the unlikely spokesman for the Brazilian antislavery cause.

From Hilliard's literary addresses at South Carolina College and the University of Alabama to his letters and speeches during his tenure in Brazil, Durham reveals an intellectual struggling to understand his world and to reconcile the sphere of the intellectual with that of the church and political interests. A Southern Moderate in Radical Times opens a window into Hilliard's world, and reveals the tragedy of a visionary who understood the dangers lurking in the conflicts he could not control.

David I. Durham is curator of archival collections at the University of Alabama School of Law and teaches in the history department at the University of Alabama.

From CWBN:
The exact day of release for this June title is unknown.