Friday, July 31, 2009

Bill Arp's Peace Papers: Columns on War and Reconstruction, 1861-1873

by Charles Henry Smith, Bill Arp, David B. Parker

From the publisher:
First published in 1873, Bill Arp's Peace Papers, by Charles Henry Smith (1826-1903), is a collection of writings from the Civil War and Reconstruction by the Confederacy's most famous humorist. Smith, a lawyer in Rome, Georgia, took the pen name "Bill Arp" in April 1861, following the firing on Fort Sumter, when he wrote a satiric response to Abraham Lincoln's proclamation ordering the Southern rebels to disperse within twenty days. In his letter addressed to "Mister Linkhorn" and written in the semiliterate back-woods dialect adopted by numerous mid-nineteenth-century humorists, Smith advised the president, "I tried my darndest yesterday to disperse and retire . . . but it was no go."

The "Linkhorn" letter, reprinted in many Southern newspapers, was wildly popular across the South, and Smith followed it with dozens of other similarly comic pieces over the next few years, all signed by "Bill Arp." During the war he mocked Lincoln and praised the bravery and sacrifice of the Confederates, but he also turned a disapproving eye on those Southerners-from draft dodgers to Georgia governor Joe Brown-whose actions he viewed as detrimental to the war effort. Following the war he turned his attention to criticizing Reconstruction efforts to reshape Southern race relations. Later Smith collected the best of these pieces in Bill Arp's Peace Papers, a valuable example of the Southern conservative perspective on the Civil War and Reconstruction era.

This Southern Classics edition makes Smith's witticisms as Arp available once more, augmented with a new introduction by Georgia historian David B. Parker, which places the writings and their author in historical and literary context.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Chancellorsville Campaign (VA): The Nation's High Water Mark

by James K. Bryant II

From the publisher:
The Chancellorsville Campaign was the true high water mark for both the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac. The campaign would be the Confederates' greatest battle, though it came at the cost of losing General Stonewall Jackson at the height of his military success and public popularity.

Although the Confederacy prevailed at Chancellorsville, 'Fighting Joe' Hooker used the defeat to institute a multitude of reforms in the Army of the Potomac, which paved the way for the hard-fought victory at Gettysburg and heavily influenced the Union winning the war.

Shenandoah University professor James Bryant weaves together a concise yet comprehensive account of the engagement, one brought to life by excerpts from the letters of Lee, Jackson and Hooker, as well as many other soldiers.

The Union Is Dissolved! (SC): Charleston and Fort Sumter in the Civil War

by Douglas W. Bostick

From the publisher:
Join Charleston historian Doug Bostick as he traces the political turmoil of 1860 and early 1861, when the firebrands of secession in Charleston were pushing the South to act together in a decisive way. The Union Is Dissolved! chronicles the face-off between professor and student - Robert Anderson and Pierre G.T. Beauregard - and the firing on Fort Sumter, signaling the beginning of the American Civil War. Featuring many historical images and first-person accounts found in period newspapers and family papers, this fascinating volume offers a concise introduction to our nation's greatest struggle.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Our Boys Did Nobly

by John Hoptak

From the publisher:
In Our Boys Did Nobly, Civil War historian and Antietam Park Ranger John David Hoptak tells the story of the 48th, 50th, and 96th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments during the consequential Maryland Campaign of September 1862, with special focus on the crucial and bloody battles of South Mountain and Antietam.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Gettysburg: Memory, Market, and an American Shrine

by Jim Weeks

From the publisher:
The site of North America's greatest battle is a national icon, a byword for the Civil War, and an American cliché. Described as "the most American place in America," Gettysburg is defended against commercial desecration like no other historic site. Yet even as schoolchildren learn to revere the place where Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, Gettysburg's image generates millions of dollars every year from touring, souvenirs, reenactments, films, games, collecting, and the Internet.

Examining Gettysburg's place in American culture, this book finds that the selling of Gettysburg is older than the shrine itself. Gettysburg entered the market not with recent interest in the Civil War nor even with twentieth-century tourism but immediately after the battle. Founded by a modern industrial society with the capacity to deliver uniform images to millions, Gettysburg, from the very beginning, reflected the nation's marketing trends as much as its patriotism. Gettysburg's pilgrims--be they veterans, families on vacation, or Civil War reenactors--have always been modern consumers escaping from the world of work and responsibility even as they commemorate. And it is precisely this commodification of sacred ground, this tension between commerce and commemoration, that animates Gettysburg's popularity.

Gettysburg continues to be a current rather than a past event, a site that reveals more about ourselves as Americans than the battle it remembers. Gettysburg is, as it has been since its famous battle, both a cash cow and a revered symbol of our most deeply held values.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Abraham Lincoln: Selections from the White House Collection

by White House Historical Association Staff

From the publisher:
This book presents a special collection of images selected from White House archives, to help mark the bicentennial of Lincolns birth (in 2009).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864

by Richard Slotkin

From the publisher:
In this richly researched and dramatic work of military history, eminent historian Richard Slotkin recounts one of the Civil War’s most pivotal events: the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. At first glance, the Union’s plan seemed brilliant: A regiment of miners would burrow beneath a Confederate fort, pack the tunnel with explosives, and blow a hole in the enemy lines. Then a specially trained division of African American infantry would spearhead a powerful assault to exploit the breach created by the explosion. Thus, in one decisive action, the Union would marshal its mastery of technology and resources, as well as demonstrate the superior morale generated by the Army of the Potomac’s embrace of emancipation. At stake was the chance to drive General Robert E. Lee’s Army of North Virginia away from the defense of the Confederate capital of Richmond–and end the war.

The result was something far different. The attack was hamstrung by incompetent leadership and political infighting in the Union command. The massive explosion ripped open an immense crater, which became a death trap for troops that tried to pass through it. Thousands of soldiers on both sides lost their lives in savage trench warfare that prefigured the brutal combat of World War I. But the fighting here was intensified by racial hatred, with cries on both sides of “No quarter!” In a final horror, the battle ended with the massacre of wounded or surrendering Black troops by the Rebels–and by some of their White comrades in arms. The great attack ended in bloody failure, and the war would be prolonged for another year.

With gripping and unforgettable depictions of battle and detailed character portraits of soldiers and statesmen, No Quarter compellingly re-creates in human scale an event epic in scope and mind-boggling in its cost of life. In using the Battle of the Crater as a lens through which to focus the political and social ramifications of the Civil War–particularly the racial tensions on both sides of the struggle–Richard Slotkin brings to readers a fresh perspective on perhaps the most consequential period in American history.

Richard Slotkin is widely regarded as one of the preeminent cultural critics of our times. A two-time finalist for the National Book Award, he is the author of Lost Battalions, a New York Times Notable Book, and an award-winning trilogy on the myth of the frontier in America–Regeneration Through Violence, The Fatal Environment, and Gunfighter Nation–as well as three historical novels: The Crater: A Novel, The Return of Henry Starr, and Abe: A Novel of the Young Lincoln. He is the Olin Professor of English and American Studies at Wesleyan University and lives in Middletown, Connecticut.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lincoln: An Illustrated Life and Legacy

by Tom Schwartz

From the publisher:
This remarkable book traces Lincoln’s life, from his humble beginnings to his first tentative steps into politics and his ground-breaking Emancipation Proclamation, and shows how his leadership allowed the Union to win the Civil War. Set against a backdrop of one of the most important eras in American history, Lincoln also reveals the private side of the president—his beliefs, his relationship with his wife, and his grief over the deaths of their children. It culminates with an examination of one of the greatest crimes in history: the first presidential assassination in American history.

Including 15 items of removable facsimile memorabilia, this book will enable you to understand this American hero as never before. The authentic documents include:

- Lincoln’s original hand-written copy of the Gettysburg Address
- A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Lincoln
- A broadside announcing “The Union is Dissolved”
- The playbill from the play Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated
- A wanted poster for Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth

Thomas F. Schwartz is the Illinois State Historian, based at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and Secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lincoln's Political Generals

by David Work

From the publisher:
At the beginning of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln sought to bind important political leaders to the Union by appointing them as generals. The task was formidable: he had to find enough qualified officers to command a military that would fight along a front that stretched halfway across the continent. West Point hadn't graduated enough officers, and many of its best chose to fight for the Confederacy. Lincoln needed loyal men accustomed to organization, administration, and command. He also needed soldiers, and political generals brought with them their constituents and patronage power.

As the war proceeded, the value of the political generals became a matter of serious dispute. Could politicians make the shift from a political campaign to a military one? Could they be trusted to fight? Could they avoid destructive jealousies and the temptations of corruption? And with several of the generals being Irish or German immigrants, what effect would ethnic prejudices have on their success or failure?

In this book, David Work examines Lincoln's policy of appointing political generals to build a national coalition to fight and win the Civil War. Work follows the careers of sixteen generals through the war to assess their contributions and to ascertain how Lincoln assessed them as commander-in-chief. Eight of the generals began the war as Republicans and eight as Democrats. Some commanded armies, some regiments. Among them were some of the most famous generals of the Union--such as Francis P. Blair Jr., John A. Dix, John A. Logan, James S. Wadsworth--and others whose importance has been obscured by more dramatic personalities.

Work finds that Lincoln's policy was ultimately successful, as these generals provided effective political support and made important contributions in military administration and on the battlefield. Although several of them proved to be poor commanders, others were effective in exercising influence on military administration and recruitment, slavery policy, and national politics.

Scars to Prove It: The Civil War Soldier and American Fiction

by Craig A. Warren

From the publisher:
This examination of the interaction between fictional representations of the Civil War and the memoirs and autobiographies of Civil War soldiers argues that veterans' accounts taught later generations to represent the conflict in terms of individual experiences, revealing how national identity developed according to written records of the past.

Author Craig A. Warren explores seven popular novels about the Civil War - "The Red Badge of Courage", "Gone with the Wind", "None Shall Look Back", "The Judas Field", "The Unvanquished", "The Killer Angels", and "Absalom, Absalom!"

His study reveals that the war owes much of its cultural power to a large but overlooked genre of writing: postwar memoirs, regimental histories, and other narratives authored by Union and Confederate veterans. Warren contends that literary scholars and historians took seriously the influence that veterans' narratives had on the shape and character of Civil War fiction. Scars to Prove It fills a gap in the study of Civil War literature and will appeal to those interested in the literature, military writing, and literary studies related to the Civil War.

The Divided Family in Civil War America

by Amy Murrell Taylor

From the publisher:
Taylor looks behind the Civil War metaphor of "brother against brother" to the real experiences of families, particularly in border states, whose households were split by divided loyalties. She studies letters and diaries to understand how families coped with division between husbands and wives, fathers and sons, and she traces the adoption of the image of the "house divided" in newspapers, government documents, and popular fiction to describe the divided nation.

Amy Murrell Taylor is assistant professor of history at the State University of New York at Albany.

Fannie Beers' Civil War

by Fannie A. Beers

From the publisher:
Young Fannie Beers, a Connecticut girl, married southerner A. P. Beers when he was a student at Yale. Naturally, she accompanied him to his home and there she formed an abiding affection for the land and its people.

When the Civil War broke out her husband enlisted in the Confederate Army becoming a sergeant in Fenner's Louisiana Light Artillery. Fannie, with one small child and pregnant with a second, moved back to the security of her Northern family. Her support for the Southern cause and her refusal to renounce it soon made her position in the north untenable, so she returned to her husband's side. She thereafter worked with great commitment as a nurse with Confederate forces in Virginia, Georgia and Alabama, finally becoming a matron at a field hospital. So high was the regard in which she was held that she earned the appellation, 'The Florence Nightingale of the South'. This is a remarkable story in Fannie's own words and was originally published under the title of Memories.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Civil War: People and Perspectives

by Lisa Tendrich Frank (Editor)

From the publisher:
Civil War: People and Perspectives looks at one of the most convulsive events in American history through the eyes of ordinary citizens, examining issues related to the home front and war front across the full spectrum of racial, class, and gender boundaries.

Moving away from the traditional focus on famous political and military figures, this insightful volume recounts the experiences of soldiers, women and children, slaves and freed persons, Native Americans, immigrants, and other social groups during a time of extraordinary national upheaval. It is a revealing look at how the lives of everyday people - Northern and Southern, black and white, rich and poor, male and female, enslaved and free - shaped and were shaped by the American Civil War.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Civil War Adventures Of Edmond D. Potter and His Three Companions

by Helen Mead Blakeslee

From the publisher:
This book is a compilation of the letters around the Civil War by Edmond D Potter and his wife Emiline S Bernard Potter. My grandfather was one of the men who responded to President Lincoln's call to defend the Union. American loyalty leaped into instant action. Little did the country know that this war would be a tragedy in American history, yet it was a war that had to be fought.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Indian War Of 1864

by Eugene Ware

From the publisher:
The author of this book was a young officer in the Union Army - a cavalryman of the 7th Iowa Cavalry - when in 1863, after the Battle of Gettysburg, he was ordered to the Western frontier to assist in dealing with potential uprisings by the Indian tribes in Omaha. Fortunately for posterity he decided to keep a daily journal and this together with reference to the lengthy correspondence he sent to his family concerning his activities has enabled the author to leave us a substantial, highly detailed and well written account of army life on the frontier and Indian warfare from the perspective of the horse soldier. This is an interesting and engaging book about a 'war within a war' against a formidable, elusive, fierce and resolute enemy. The scenes in which Indian forces literally surround the writer's beleaguered garrison are especially riveting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Emancipation's Diaspora: Race and Reconstruction in the Upper Midwest

by Leslie A. Schwalm

From the publisher:
Most studies of emancipation's consequences have focused on the South. Moving the discussion to the North, Leslie Schwalm enriches our understanding of the national impact of the transition from slavery to freedom. Emancipation's Diaspora follows the lives and experiences of thousands of men and women who liberated themselves from slavery, made their way to overwhelmingly white communities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, and worked to live in dignity as free women and men and as citizens.

Schwalm explores the hotly contested politics of black enfranchisement as well as collisions over segregation, civil rights, and the more informal politics of race—including how slavery and emancipation would be remembered and commemorated. She examines how gender shaped the politics of race, and how gender relations were contested and negotiated within the black community. Based on extensive archival research, Emancipation's Diaspora shows how in churches and schools, in voting booths and Masonic temples, in bustling cities and rural crossroads, black and white Midwesterners—women and men—shaped the local and national consequences of emancipation.

Leslie A. Schwalm is associate professor of history, women's studies, and African American studies at the University of Iowa. She is author ofA Hard Fight for We: Women's Transition from Slavery to Freedom in South Carolina.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

President Lincoln's Secret (Novel)

by Steven Wilson

From the publisher:
It is 1863, the year of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, when a nation savagely tears at its soul. At the center of the carnage stands the calm, enigmatic figure of President Abraham Lincoln. In this extraordinary thriller, Lincoln sends his most trusted agent to turn the course of the War...

Twelve miles from Wilmington, Delaware, a heavily guarded ammunition dump has exploded—and lit up the night sky for miles around. On a newly christened ironclad in the Potomac, Lincoln meets with Colonel Fitz Dunaway and his beautiful, brilliant wife Asia. Fitz has already been wounded in service to the President. Now, the Union is imperiled as never before . . . and the President needs Fitz's skills more than ever. In the clandestine world where more than espionage is kept secret, a killer makes his first move on Lincoln's man. It is then that Fitz and Asia confront a cabal of traitors and spies, sufferers and sinners who are all guarding the most terrifying threat of all...

"A story as vivid and engrossing as the Civil War itself."—Troy Soos

"You'll taste the grit and feel the excitement of a pivotal time in American history."—John Lutz
"If Robert Ludlum had written a Civil War novel, it would read like President Lincoln's Spy." —Clint Johnson

American Public Philosophy and the Mystery of Lincolnism

by Eric C. Sands

From the publisher:
In this new consideration of Lincoln's “public philosophy”—the nation's understanding of itself—Sands seeks to determine why the spirit that successfully led the Union through the Civil War was unable to sustain itself during Reconstruction. He defines Lincolnism as a rededication to the principle of natural rights, a narrative of Divine Providence, a sentiment of brotherhood, and an augmentation of founding principles. He then explains how Lincoln's assassination, Johnson's succession, and developments in philosophy and science worked to undermine this philosophy after the war.

Eric C. Sands is Assistant Professor of Government at Berry College and lives in Rome, Georgia.

In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat

by Earl J. Hess

From the publisher:
The Petersburg campaign began June 15, 1864, with Union attempts to break an improvised line of Confederate field fortifications. By the time the campaign ended on April 2, 1865, two opposing lines of sophisticated and complex earthworks stretched for thirty-five miles, covering not only Petersburg but also the southeastern approaches to Richmond. This book, the third volume in Earl Hess's trilogy on the war in the eastern theater, recounts the strategic and tactical operations in Virginia during the last ten months of the Civil War, when field fortifications dominated military planning and the landscape of battle.

Hess extracts evidence from maps and earthworks systems, historic photographs of the entrenchments, extensive research in published and archival accounts by men engaged in the campaign, official engineering reports, modern sound imaging to detect mine galleries, and firsthand examination of the remnants of fortifications on the Petersburg battlefield today. The book covers all aspects of the campaign, especially military engineering, including mining and countermining, the fashioning of wire entanglements, the laying of torpedo fields, and the construction of underground shelters to protect the men who manned the works. It also humanizes the experience of the soldiers working in the fortifications, revealing their attitudes toward attacking and defending earthworks and the human cost of trench warfare in the waning days of the war.

Earl J. Hess is associate professor and chair in the Department of History at Lincoln Memorial University. Previous books in his series on field fortifications are Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864and Trench Warfare under Grant and Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign.

Highly recommended. The fortifications information is unique and well worth the price of the book, however, the overall emphasis here is on the campaign rather than the siegecraft.

Fire in the Cane Field: The Federal Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861-January 1863

by Donald S. Frazier

From the publisher:
Helen Dupuy, a French-speaking teenager living at the Sleepy Hollow Plantation on Bayou Lafourche, Louisiana, noted with horror the coming invaders. “ The first Yankee gunboats passed Donaldsville May 4 at 11 A.M.,” she wrote in her diary. Her home lay just a few miles from the Mississippi River, and word quickly arrived that Union sailors were confiscating sugar, cotton, and other contraband of war. The realities of her new situation soon became apparent—and ominous: “Then began the most awful pillaging.”

Award-winning author Donald S. Frazier returns to the field of Civil War history with keen turn of phrase and enthralling story-telling with the release of Fire in the Cane Field: The Invasion of Louisiana and Texas, January 1861–January 1863. Beginning with the spasms of secession in the Pelican State, Frazier weaves a stirring tale of bravado, reaction, and war as he describes the consequences of disunion for the hapless citizens of Louisiana. The army and navy campaigns he portrays weave a tale of the Federal Government’s determination to suppress the newborn Confederacy—and nearly succeeding—by putting ever-increasing pressure on its adherents from New Orleans to Galveston. The surprising triumph of Texas troops on their home soil in early 1863 proved to be a decisive reverse to Union ambitions and doomed the region to even bloodier destruction to come.

This bracing new work, ten years in the making, will usher in a chronological string of four books on the Civil War in Louisiana and Texas, as Frazier presents fresh sources on new topics in a series of captivating narratives.

Titles to follow in his innovative Louisiana quadrille include Thunder Across the Swamp: The Fight for the Lower Mississippi, February–May 1863; Blood on the Bayou: The Campaigns of Tom Green’s Texans, June 1863–February 1864; and Death at the Landing: The Contest for the Red River and the Collapse of Confederate Louisiana, March 1864–June 1865.

DONALD S. FRAZIER is professor of history at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, and author of Blood and Treasure: Confederate Empire in the Southwest, published by Texas A&M University Press. His other works include Cottonclads: The Battle of Galveston and the Defense of the Texas Coast, an edited work; The U.S. and Mexico at War: Nineteenth Century Expansionism and Conflict, and Frontier Texas: History of a Borderland 1780-1880 and The Texas You Expect: The Story of the Buffalo Gap Historic Village, works he co-authored.

To Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Letters of Levi Bird Duff, 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers

by Levi Bird Duff

From the publisher:
The letters of Levi Bird Duff present a perceptive picture of life in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to 1864. They are unusual for their literacy, descriptions and continuity, the strength of opinions expressed, and their source: a private who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, thus a witness of the army at several levels. Leadership, organizational, weather, and morale problems that plagued Union troops are made clear. Written only for the eyes of Duff's love, the messages reflect the tension experienced by many soldiers between the conflicting calls of duty and affection.

William Henry Seward and the Secession Crisis: The Effort to Prevent Civil War

by Lawrence M. Denton

From the publisher:
Though Abraham Lincoln took center stage in a divided country, a political rival-turned-ally had a major influence on national affairs during Lincoln's presidency. William Henry Seward, U.S. senator and former governor, lost the Republican Party nomination for president in 1860, but aided Lincoln's election by touring the country on behalf of the Republican ticket. As some Southern states prepared to withdraw from the Union, Secretary of State Seward sought to reunite the country. This biography explores Seward's political power and the theory that, as president, he might have prevented the Civil War.

Lawrence M. Denton of Oxford, Maryland, is an author and lecturer on the secession crisis in Maryland. A former academic administrator at Johns Hopkins University and a presidential appointee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, he also worked for The Weather Channel and helped produce the television series Forecast Earth.