Tuesday, September 30, 2008

George B. McClelland the Civil War History: In the Shadow of Grant and Sherman

by Thomas J. Rowland

From the publisher:
Perhaps no other Union commander’s reputation has been the subject of as much controversy as George B. McClellan’s.

Thomas J. Rowland presents a framework in which early Civil War command can be viewed without direct comparison to that of the final two years. Such comparisons, in his opinion, are both unfair and contextually inaccurate. Only by understanding how very different was the context and nature of the war facing McClellan, as opposed to Grant and Sherman, can one discard the traditional "good general-bad general" approach to command performance. In such a light, McClellan’s career, both his shortcomings and accomplishments, can be viewed with clearer perspective.

As the subtitle suggests (In the Shadow of Grant and Sherman), the wartime records of Grant and Sherman and the handling of those records by McClellan critics, provide counterpoints for restoring perspective. Such simplicity makes this historiography easy for all. It is good reading that can be enjoyed by both the general public and Civil War specialists. - Trenton Times

Thomas J. Rowland is an instructor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. His articles have appeared in Civil War History, Catholic Historical Review, Eire-Ireland, and Journal of American Ethnic History.

From CWBN:
This book is a milestone in ACW historiography, marking a shift in the tide that is now cresting ten years later.

It is the first book-length study of McClellan's critics. From my Amazon review of 1999:
Its importance is magnified both by its challenge to consensus "truths" about McClellan and by the importance of McClellan himself to the early Union war effort. Well written, eminently reasonable, thoroughly informed of all the McClellan controversies, this is a volume for anyone who wants to delve just a little deeper than pop history. Rowland makes historiography (ugly word) easy and even enjoyable. I can't recommend this work highly enough.
I rated it ACW book of the year then and it is very much on my mind still. If you've ever overdosed on historians' emotional tirades and polemics, Rowland provides the antidote.

This is the paperback release of a previously published hardcover.

Cobb's Legion Cavalry: A History and Roster of the Ninth Georgia Volunteers in the Civil War

by Harriet Bey Mesic

From the publisher:
"The best regiment of either army, North or South"-this was the description of Cobb's Legion offered by General Wade Hampton during the Civil War. This large and extremely experienced unit played a crucial role for the South throughout the war. This book offers a history of their actions in more than 100 battles and skirmishes over the course of the war. Additionally, biographies of the officers and the nearly 1500 men of the regiment are included, as well as records of those who died, deserted, or were prisoners of war.

Harriet Bey Mesic, whose great-grandfather was part of Cobb's Legion Cavalry, edited the L.E. Beacon Newsletter for two decades and has written a book about Fredericksburg, Virginia. She lives in Charleston, South Carolina.

Confederate Struggle for Command: General James Longstreet and the First Corps in the West

by Alexander Mendoza

From the publisher:
Was Lt. Gen. James Longstreet a lackluster, indecisive leader or a victim of political circumstances?

Though traditionally saddled with much of the blame for the Confederate loss at Gettysburg, Longstreet was actually a capable, resourceful, and brave commander, argues historian Alexander Mendoza. Confederate Struggle for Command offers a comprehensive analysis of Longstreet's leadership during his seven-month assignment in the Tennessee theater of operations. Mendoza concludes that the obstacles to effective command faced by

Longstreet had at least as much to do with longstanding grievances and politically motivated prejudices as they did with any personal or military shortcomings of Longstreet's.

Longstreet's First Corps parted company with Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in September 1863. Subsequently, the First Corps contributed decisively to the Confederate victory at Chickamauga. But when Longstreet then joined a group of disaffected generals in denouncing Braxton Bragg, the commanding general of the Army of Tennessee, the resulting imbroglio hampered the effectiveness of the entire First Corps.

Confederate Struggle for Command adds an important layer of nuanced understanding to the career and legacy of Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, and will be an enjoyable and informative source for Civil War buffs, military historians, and interested general readers.

Alexander Mendoza, assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Tyler, holds a Ph.D. from Texas Tech University.

Pictorial History Of The Confederacy

by John Chandler Griffin

From the publisher:
Rather than diminishing with time, the fascination with the Confederacy and its heroes seems to grow increasingly stronger. This volume features a wide selection of rarely seen photographs of Confederate heroes, such as Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, Jubal Early, Nathan Bedford Forest, A.P. Hill and Jeb Stuart, along with details of their military careers and personal lives that are little known to the average reader.

Arranged chronologically and geographically, this book features descriptions of more than forty battles of the War Between the States, along with battle maps, which illustrate where the Confederates and the Union antagonists were located during these various fights. The first section discusses and provides images from 1860 to 1861, during the secession to Fort Sumter. The author then discusses the major battles that occurred in 1861 in northern Virginia and in the South and West, providing several photographs that take on much of the story telling. The sections for the years 1862 to 1865 are arranged similarly and each section also includes background about the Southern battle flags from various groups such as The Texas Rangers (8th Texas Calvary) and the Confederate Navy. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Dr. John Chandler Griffin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus with the University of South Carolina, is the author of thirteen books and numerous magazine articles. Governor Jim Hodges recently named him to the Order of the Silver Crescent, the state’s highest award.

From CWBN:
This is the paperback release of a previously published hardcover.

People of the Underground Railroad: A Biographical Dictionary

by Tom Calarco

From the publisher:
The Underground Railroad was perhaps the best example in U.S. history of blacks and whites working together for the common good. People of the Underground Railroad is the largest in-depth collection of profiles of those individuals involved in the spiriting of black slaves to freedom in the northern states and Canada beginning around 1800 and lasting to the early Civil War years. One hundred entries introduce people who had a significant role in the rescuing, harboring, or conducting of the fugitives--from abolitionists, evangelical ministers, Quakers, philanthropists, lawyers, judges, physicians, journalists, educators, to novelists, feminists, and barbers--as well as notable runaways. The selections are geographically representational of the broad railroad network. There is renewed interest in the Underground Railroad, exemplified by the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati and energized scholarly inquiry. People of the Underground Railroad presents authoritative information gathered from the latest research and established sources, many of them from period publications. Designed for student research and general browsing, in-depth essay entries include further reading. Numerous sidebars complement the entries. A timeline, illustrations, and map help put the profiles into context.

TOM CALARCO is an independent scholar specializing in the Underground Railroad. He is the author of The Underground Railroad in the Adirondack Region (2004) among other works.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Men of Fire: Grant, Forrest, and the Campaign That Decided the Civil War

by Jack Hurst

From the publisher:
Deep in the winter of 1862, on the border between Kentucky and Tennessee, two extraordinary military leaders faced each other in an epic clash that would transform them both and change the course of American history forever.

Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant had no significant military successes to his credit at the outset of the campaign. He was barely clinging to his position within the Union Army—he had been officially charged with chronic drunkenness only days earlier, and his own troops despised him. His opponent was as untested as he was: an obscure lieutenant colonel named Nathan Bedford Forrest. The two men held one thing in common: an unrelenting desire for victory at any cost.

A riveting account of the making of two great military leaders, and two battles that transformed America forever, Men of Fire is destined to become a classic work of military history.

Jack Hurst is a former journalist who has written for newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Tennessean. He is the author of Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography. A descendant of both Union and Confederate military officers, he lives with his wife outside of Nashville, Tennessee.

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

Monday, September 15, 2008

Confederate Admiral: The Life and Wars of Franklin Buchanan

by Craig L. Symonds

From the publisher:
A leading historian of both the Civil War and American naval history takes a fresh look at Franklin Buchanan, the U.S. Naval Academy's first superintendent who went on to become the Confederate Navy's first admiral. Buchanan's resignation from the U.S. Navy in April 1861 as the nation teetered on the brink of Civil War is one of the many dramatic episodes in this revealing biography. Convinced that his native state of Maryland was about to secede from the Union, Buchanan gave up his commission; when Maryland did not secede, he desperately tried to get it back. Unsuccessful, he eventually went South, where as the Confederacy's only full admiral he helped mold its naval strategy and took command of both the Virginia (Merrimack) in the battle of Hampton Roads in 1861 and the Tennessee in the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864.

While Buchanan's Civil War experiences helped define the drama of the period, his fifty-year naval career illuminates the sweeping changes in the U.S. Navy of the antebellum years. This stimulating and authoritative biography chronicles Buchanan's life as a midshipman on the square-rigged sailing frigate Java and as a commander at the helm of the coal-burning side-wheel steamer Susquehanna. It examines his pivotal role in the establishment of the Naval Academy and his experiences both as the first American to set foot in Japan and the first to conn a U.S. Navy warship up the Yangtze River. More than a record of events in Buchanan's career, this biography helps readers understand Buchanan's character and appreciate the broader issues of politics, slavery, loyalty, and professionalism in the era of America's greatest national trauma.

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

Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.

by Kathryn Allamong Jacob (author) and Edwin H. Remsberg (photographer)

From the publisher:
Although the monuments of Washington, D.C., honor more than two centuries of history and heroes, five years of that history produced more of the city's public commemorative sculpture than all the others combined. The heroes of the Civil War command Washington's choicest vantage points and most visible parks, lending their names to the city's most familiar circles and squares -- Scott, Farragut, Logan, Sheridan, Dupont, and others.

In Testament to Union, Kathryn Allamong Jacob tells the stories behind the many District of Columbia statues that honor participants in the Civil War, predominantly Union, and testify to their sacrifice and valor. In her introduction, Jacob puts these monuments in historical context, describing the often bitter battles over control of historical memory, the postwar monument business (a lone soldier-in-granite model could cost a community as little as $1,000), and the rise of the "city beautiful" movement that transformed Washington. She then offers individual descriptions of forty-one sculptures, providing a lively and informative guide to some of Washington's most beautiful and moving works of art.

Organized geographically for easy use on walking or driving tours, the entries begin by listing the subject or title of the memorial along with its sculptor, medium, date, and location. Jacob describes its various elements and symbols, and she notes who commissioned the sculpture, who paid for it (or failed to pay in several cases), and who approved its design and placement. She also includes anecdotes and controversies that bring the monuments and their colorful history more fully to life. Admiral David Farragut's statue, for example, is cast from the propeller of his ship the U.S.S. Hartford, from whose rigging he shouted, "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" during the battle of Mobile Bay. At the dedication of Lincoln Park's Emancipation Monument in 1876, the largest assembly of African-American to date, speaker Frederick Douglass shocked white listeners with thinly veiled criticism of the martyred Lincoln.

Edwin Remsberg's photographs of the monuments capture striking images of war and sacrifice -- the straining horses and terrified men of the cavalry grouping at the Grant Monument; the vivid tomb effigy of young John Meigs, depicting him as he was found dead in a field; the Pension Building frieze with its hundreds of finely detailed terra cotta soldiers and sailors marching and rowing across the face of the building. Along with swashbuckling generals atop pedestals bristling with cannon, unexpected subjects appear. A statue of John Ericsson, the Swedish-American who designed the Monitor and perfected the screw propeller for the Union Navy, is hidden in a circle of shrubbery beside the Potomac. A bas-relief of twelve nuns dedicated to the memory of various religious orders who nursed the wounded during the Civil War sits beside noisy Rhode Island Avenue. In addition to the enormous white temple to Lincoln on the Mall, four smaller statues of that president can be found in the city where he was assassinated.

Washington's Civil War sculptures bear silent witness to the struggle to preserve the Union. They are the fruit of conscious efforts to shape the nation's memory of that struggle. For tourists and long-time residents, and for anyone interested in the Civil War or public art, Testament to Union is a wonderful guide to these tangible connections to the nation's past and an era when public monuments packed powerful messages.

Kathryn Allamong Jacob is deputy director of the American Jewish Historical Society in Waltham, Massachusetts. She is the author of Capital Elites: Society in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War. Edwin Harlan Remsberg is a photographer who lives in Jarrettsville, Maryland. His photographs appear in Maryland's Vanishing Lives, also available from Johns Hopkins.

This gorgeous mix of lyric observation, art history, historiography, and Civil War miscellany. Cannot recommend it too highly.

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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How Confederate Women Created New Self-Identities as the Civil War Progressed: A Study of Their Diaries

by Dana W. McMichael

From the publisher:
This study explores the connection between periodic life writing and the formation of ethnic identity, and argues that the practice of keeping a diary enabled Confederate women to actively maintain and build power structures which privileged “white” Southerners.

“By providing careful analysis, thoughtful interpretation, and full context for these diaries, this book pushes forward scholars’ understanding of the diary form and creates a model of how we may understand the rich troves of artifact and text to be unearthed and considered as American self-writing.” – R. Scott LaMascus, Professor of English, Oklahoma Christian University

“[McMichael] provides fascinating insights into the making of the Other in the Civil War South as Southern women defined themselves against Yankee soldiers, African-American slaves, and non-literate whites. [This] book is a welcome addition to the fields of diary studies, ethnic studies, and Civil War history.” – Dr. Brent Gibson, Associate Professor of English, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

Dr. Dana McMichael is an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Abilene Christian University. She completed her Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Civil War Paintings

by Mort Kunstler

From the publisher:
For nearly twenty years, Mort Künstler has interpreted the Civil War through his paintings. As part of his research, he has turned to leading historians and scholars for information that he has then translated on canvas to create an indelible image of the war, in many ways the defining ordeal in American history.

The four volumes that make up The Civil War Paintings of Mort Künstler contains more than 650 images. Some of these images are of original sketches, others are of the works in progress, others are completed paintings, yet others are details in the paintings that are of particular interest.

The four-volume set contains the following titles:

Volume 1: Fort Sumter to Antietam
ISBN13: 9781581825566
ISBN10: 1581825560
$18.95, Hardcover

Volume 2: Fredericksburg to Gettysburg
ISBN13: 9781581825572
ISBN10: 1581825572
$18.95, Hardcover

Volume 3: The Gettysburg Campaign
ISBN13: 9781581825589
ISBN10: 1581825587
$18.95, Hardcover

Volume 4: Gettysburg to Appomattox
ISBN13: 9781581825596
ISBN10: 1581825595
$18.95, Hardcover

MORT KUNSTLER is the reigning dean of American historical artists. No other artist has illustrated so many events in America with such authenticity and drama, from cave-dwelling Native Americans to the space program. He has had numerous one-man exhibitions at galleries such as the Hammer Galleries in New York City. He also was the subject of a one-hour special on A&E Network's Time Machine. His previous books include Images of the Civil War, Gettysburg, Jackson and Lee, and The Civil War Art of MORT KüNSTLER. He lives in Oyster Bay, New York.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The Lincoln Studies Center Edition

by Rodney O. Davis and Douglas L. Wilson (editors)

From the publisher:
While the debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas are undoubtedly the most celebrated in American history, they may also be the most consequential as well. For the issues so fiercely debated in 1858 were about various interrelated aspects of one momentous, nation-threatening issue: slavery. The contest between Lincoln and Douglas became a testing ground for the viability of conflicting ideals in a nation deeply divided. One of the most colorful and engaging episodes in American history, this series of debates is of enduring interest as an illuminating instance of the ever-recurring dilemma of self-government: what happens when the guiding principle of democracy, "popular sovereignty," confronts a principled stand against a "moral, social, and political evil"? The tragic answer in this case came three years later: civil war.

Important as they are, the Lincoln-Douglas debates have long since ceased to be self-explanatory. This edition is the first to provide a text founded on all known records, rather than following one or another of the partisan and sometimes widely-varying newspaper accounts. Meticulously edited and annotated, it provides numerous aids to help the modern reader understand the debates, including extensive introductory material, commentary, and a glossary. The fullest and most dependable edition of the Lincoln-Douglas debates ever prepared, this edition brings readers as close as possible to the original words of these two remarkable men.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Great Comeback: How Abraham Lincoln Beat the Odds to Win the 1860 Republican Nomination

by Gary Ecelbarger

From the publisher:
In the fall of 1858, Abraham Lincoln looked to be anything but destined for greatness. Just shy of his fiftieth birthday, Lincoln was wallowing in the depths of despair following his loss to Stephen Douglas in the 1858 senatorial campaign and was taking stock in his life. The author takes us on a journey with Abraham Lincoln from the last weeks of 1858 until the end of May in 1860, on the road to his unlikely Republication presidential nomination.

In tracing Lincoln's steps from city to city, from one public appearance to the next along the campaign trail, we see the future president shape and polish his public persona. Although he had accounted himself well in the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, the man from Springfield, Illinois, he was nevertheless seen as the darkest of dark horses for the highest office in the land. Upon hearing Lincoln speak, one contemporary said, “I will not say he reminded me of Satan, but he certainly was the ungodliest figure I had ever seen." The reader sees how this "ungodliest" of figures shrewdly spun his platform to crowds far and wide and, in doing so, became a public celebrity on par with any throughout the land.

This is a story teeming with drama and intrigue about an event that no one could fathom occurring today...yet it absolutely happened in with America seven score and eight years ago, when Lincoln, the man, took his first steps on the way toward becoming Abraham Lincoln, the legendary leader and most respected president of American history.

"Anyone who has thought there was nothing more to be said about Lincoln will have to think again after reading Gary Ecelbarger's excellent new book, The Great Comeback. With impressive research and engaging prose Ecelbarger shows a fact of Lincoln's rise to the presidency that has never before been exploed and in the process weaves a tale that is as interesting as it is inspiring.”—Steven E. Woodworth, author of Nothing but Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861-1865

Monday, September 1, 2008

Two Brothers - One North, One South (novel)

by David H. Jones

From the publisher:
Walt Whitman feared that the real war would never get in the books: the true stories that depicted the courage and humanity of soldiers who fought, bled, and died in the American Civil War.

Exceptionally researched and keenly accurate to actual events, along with the personages that forged them, David H. Jones's novel spans four years in the midst of America s costliest and most commemorated war. The journey is navigated by the poet, Walt Whitman, whose documented compassion for the wounded and dying soldiers of the war takes him to Armory Square Hospital in Washington, D.C., and finds him at the bedside of William Prentiss, a Rebel soldier, just after fighting has ended. As fate has it, William's brother, Clifton, a Union officer, is being treated in another ward of the same hospital, and Whitman becomes the sole link not just between the two, but with the rest of their family as well. The reader is taken seamlessly from Medfield Academy in Baltimore, where the Prentiss family makes its home, to the many battlefields where North and South collide, and even through the drawing rooms of wartime Richmond, where Hetty, Jenny, and Constance Cary are the reigning belles.

The author, David H. Jones, born and raised in West Virginia, has been a lifelong student of the Civil War. His research took him into the swamps of Dinwiddie County, Virginia, to rediscover the lost location where a pivotal event in the book took place. A graduate of Kentucky Military Institute and Babson College, former Navy officer, and entrepreneur, he currently lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.