Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When This Cruel War Is over: The Civil War Letters of Charles Harvey Brewster

by David W. Blight

From the publisher:
"I am scared most to death every battle we have, but I don't think you need be afraid of my sneaking away unhurt." Thus wrote Adjutant Charles Harvey Brewster of the 10th Massachusetts to his sister Mattie in 1864, in one of over 200 letters he would pen during his four years of service.

Born and raised in Northampton, Massachusetts, Brewster was a 27-year-old store clerk when he enlisted in Company C of the 10th Massachusetts Volunteers in April 1861. During the next three and a half years he fought in many of the major battles of the Virginia campaigns - Fair Oaks, the Seven Days, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, the "Bloody Angle" at Spotsylvania - rising through the ranks to become second lieutenant and later adjutant of his regiment.

His letters, most of which were written to his mother and two sisters, record not only the horrors he witnessed on the battlefield, but also his own inner struggle with his own values, convictions and sense of manhood.

In a thoughtful and illuminating introductory essay, David W. Blight explores the evolution of Brewster's understanding of the terrible conflict in which he was engaged. Blight shows how Brewster's attitudes toward race and slavery gradually changed, in part as a result of his contact with escaped slaves and his experience recruiting black troops. He also examines the shift in Brewster's conception of courage, as the realities of war collided with the romantic ideals he had previously embraced.

This literate collection of 137 letters chronicles the experiences of an ordinary Union soldier caught up in extraordinary events. At times naive and sentimental, at times mature and realistic, Brewster's correspondence not only provides insight into the meaning of the Civil War for the average Yankee, but also testifies to the persistent power of war to attract and repel the human imagination.

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Red River

by P.G. Nagle

From the publisher:
A Creole belle, mistress of a thousand slaves in the heart of Louisiana . . .
A Texan Confederate, grieving for lost friends and family as he battles the Yankee army . . .
A Union carpenter in the Navy who dreams of piloting a Federal gunboat . . .

Their lives entwine at Belle View Plantation, where the Red River flows into the Mississippi and the Civil War becomes a maelstrom.

P. G. Nagle, "author of some of the best fiction written about Texas history" (Edward T. Cotham, Jr., author of Battle on the Bay: The Civil War Struggle for Galveston), writes with power and poignancy of a bloody campaign little chronicled but of great strategic to both North and South. The Confederate victory at Galveston harbor at the dawning of 1863 is merely a prelude to a bitter contest for control of the Mississippi and Red Rivers, which together form the Confederacy's most vital lifeline of supply and trade.

For the South, the Mississippi and the Red River afford the only viable corridor for moving the cotton it must trade for munitions, supplies, and much-needed funds from European allies. The Union seeks to cut off such external support to the South and to hasten the end of a war that has already claimed tens of thousands of lives on both sides and that threatens to further debilitate a divided nation.

The Federal Navy sends a fleet of gunboats up the Red River in a daring attempt to seize control of the waterway, while on land Sibley's Brigade of Texans joins Confederate General Richard Taylor's defense of Louisiana's rich plantation country. Nagle tells the story of the struggle for dominance among the bayous and rivers of the Mississippi basin in an authoritative narrative both unflinching and compassionate, adding yet another memorable chapter to the chronicle of the Civil War fought in the Far West.

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

American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics

by Sean McLachlan (Author), Gerry Embleton (Illustrator)

From the publisher:
While the giant armies of the Union and the Confederacy were fighting over cities and strategic strongholds, a large number of warriors from both sides were fighting, smaller, more personal battles. Beginning with the violent struggle known as "Bleeding Kansas," armed bands of irregular fighters began to wage war in every corner of the United States. Many of the names of their commanders have become legendary, including William Quantrill, "Bloody Bill" Anderson, and John S. Mosby, "The Grey Ghost."

To their own people they were heroes; to others they were the first of a new generation of wild west outlaw. Their tactics including robbing banks and trains, kidnapping soldiers and civilians, rustling cattle, and cutting telegraph lines. In fact, it is during the violence of the war that many of America's future outlaw legends would be born, most notably Cole Younger and Frank and Jesse James. In this book, new Osprey author Sean McLachlan explores the varied and often daring tactics employed by these famous warriors.

Sean McLachlan is an experienced Canadian author who used to study and work in the USA and is a member of a number of US historical societies. His writing is detailed with rare documentary and picture archive materials. The author lives in Madrid, Spain.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Henry Wilson and the Era of Reconstruction

by John L. Myers

From the publisher:
Already a leader of the Republican party when the Civil War began, Henry Wilson had distinguished himself as the most important Congressional figure on military and antislavery and pro-black legislation during the war.

During the Era of Reconstruction, Wilson fought to protect the rights of the newly-freed slaves, but he was opposed to the severe punishment of Confederate leaders and initially tried to be conciliatory toward President Johnson's lenient policies. Soon Wilson joined others in promoting Congress's own Reconstruction program, including the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Military Reconstruction Acts, and the impeachment of the President.

He became the Republican Party's most frequently-used campaign speaker. Long recognized as a spokesman for labor, he was also the foremost national politician promoting the cause of prohibition. He wrote the most authoritative three-volume work on the causes of the Civil War from the northern viewpoint. He was also a frequent contributor to the era's most influential religious periodical. In 1872, Wilson was rewarded for his political activities when he was nominated and elected as the country's vice-president.

John L. Myers is emeritus professor of history, State University of New York, Plattsburgh. He has previously published Henry Wilson and the Coming of the Civil War (University Press of America, 2005) and Senator Henry Wilson and the Civil War (University Press of America, 2008). He has written a large number of articles dealing with the antislavery agents of the 1830s. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Southern Mind Under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865

by Judkin Browning

From the publisher:
James Rumley was nearly fifty years old when the Civil War reached the remote outer banks community of Beaufort, North Carolina. Comfortably employed as clerk of the Superior Court of Carteret County, he could only watch as a Union fleet commanded by General Ambrose Burnside snaked its way up the Neuse River in March 1862 and took control of the area.

In response to laws enacted by occupying forces, Rumley took the Oath of Allegiance, stood aside as his beloved courthouse was used for pro-Union rallies, and watched helplessly as friends and neighbors had their property seized and taken away. In public, Rumley appeared calm and cooperative, but behind closed doors he poured all his horror, disgust, and outrage into his diary.

Safely hidden from the view of military authority, he explained in rational terms how his pledge of allegiance to the invading forces was not morally binding and expressed his endless worry over seeing former slaves emancipated and empowered. This constantly surprising diary provides a rare window onto the mind of a Confederate sympathizer under the rule of what he considered to be an alien, unlawful, and "pestilent" power.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gettysburg: A Guided Tour through History

by Randi Minetor

From the publisher:
Walk through the battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam with those who lived and fought there. Move through time with the characters and events that shaped Washington,D.C., as we know it today. Visit the National Cemetery in Arlington following a timeline of American wars to learn more about the people who are buried there. This book brings readers face-to-face with the people and events that have shaped history and who have left their mark on some of the most popular and interesting landmarks and locations. Each of these full-size historical guides comes with two oversized Pop Out maps - one, an archival map, and the other, showing the samelocation today. A timeline runs with the text, adding context and texture to the history described.

The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction

by LeAnna Keith

From the publisher:
On Easter Sunday, 1873, in the tiny hamlet of Colfax, Louisiana, more than 150 members of an all-black Republican militia, defending the town's courthouse, were slain by an armed force of rampaging white supremacists. The most deadly incident of racial violence of the Reconstruction era, the Colfax Massacre unleashed a reign of terror that all but extinguished the campaign for racial equality.

LeeAnna Keith's The Colfax Massacre is the first full-length book to tell the history of this decisive event. Drawing on a huge body of documents, including eyewitness accounts of the massacre, as well as newly discovered evidence from the site itself, Keith explores the racial tensions that led to the fateful encounter, during which surrendering blacks were mercilessly slaughtered, and the reverberations this message of terror sent throughout the South. Keith also recounts the heroic attempts by U.S. Attorney J.R. Beckwith to bring the killers to justice and the many legal issues raised by the massacre. In 1875, disregarding the poignant testimony of 300 witnesses, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in U.S. v. Cruikshank to overturn a lower court conviction of eight conspirators. This decision virtually nullified the Ku Klux Klan Enforcement Acts of 1870 and 1871--which had made federal offenses of a variety of acts to intimidate voters and officeholders--and cleared the way for the Jim Crow era.

If there was a single historical moment that effectively killed Reconstruction and erased the gains blacks had made since the civil war, it was the day of the Colfax Massacre. LeeAnna Keith gives readers both a gripping narrative account of that portentous day and a nuanced historical analysis of its far-reaching repercussions.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Why John Wilkes Booth Shot Abraham Lincoln

by William L. Richter

From the publisher:
From Richard Lawrence to John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley, Jr., Americans have preferred their presidential assassins, whether failed or successful, to be more or less crazy. Seemingly, this absolves us of having to wonder where the American experiment might have gone wrong.

John Wilkes Booth has been no exception to this rule. But was he?

In a new, provocative study comprising three essays, historian William L. Richter delves into the psyche of Booth and finds him far from insane. Beginning with a modern, less adulating interpretation of President Abraham Lincoln, Richter is the first scholar to examine Booth's few known, often unfinished speeches and essays to draw a realistic mind-picture of the man who intensely believed in common American political theories of his day, and acted violently to carry them out during the time of America's greatest war.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Reconstruction Presidents

by Brooks D. Simpson

From the publisher:
During and after the Civil War, four presidents faced the challenge of reuniting the nation and of providing justice for black Americans—and of achieving a balance between those goals. This first book to collectively examine the Reconstruction policies of Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Rutherford B. Hayes reveals how they confronted and responded to the complex issues presented during that contested era in American politics.

Brooks Simpson examines the policies of each administration in depth and evaluates them in terms of their political, social, and institutional contexts. Simpson explains what was politically possible at a time when federal authority and presidential power were more limited than they are now. He compares these four leaders' handling of similar challenges—such as the retention of political support and the need to build a Southern base for their policies—in different ways and under different circumstances, and he discusses both their use of executive power and the impact of their personal beliefs on their actions.

Although historians have disagreed on the extent to which these presidents were committed to helping blacks, Simpson's sharply drawn assessments of presidential performance shows that previous scholars have overemphasized how the personal racial views of each man shaped his approach to Reconstruction. Simpson counters much of the conventional wisdom about these leaders by persuasively demonstrating that considerable constraints to presidential power severely limited their efforts to achieve their ends.

The Reconstruction Presidents marks a return to understanding Reconstruction based on national politics and offers an approach to presidential policy making that emphasizes the environment in which a president governs and the nature of the challenges facing him. By showing that what these four leaders might have accomplished was limited by circumstances not easily altered, it allows us to assess them in the context of their times and better understand an era too often measured by inappropriate standards.

From the critics:
The historian Eric Foner has presented the Reconstruction as a failed opportunity to achieve emancipation and equality for black Americans. Here, Simpson persuasively argues that, given their circumstances, the four Reconstruction presidents generally did as well as they could. - Kirkus

A fine comparative study; recommended for all presidential collections - Library Journal

Blue & Gray Ballads

by Richard Raymond III

From the publisher:
For the first time, the entire story of the Civil War is told in poetry. Over a 40 year span of time, Richard Raymond has created a traditional rhyme and meter particularly appropriate to the telling of the Civil War story. It is a celebration of valor. Blue and Gray Ballads is a tribute to the sacrifice of the soldiers North and South, and to the steadfast women and children who gave those soldiers a reason to persevere.

The Chatfield Story: Civil War Letters and Diaries of Private Edward L. Chatfield of the 113th Illinois Volunteers

by Terry M. McCarty, Margaret Ann Chatfield McCarty

From the publisher:
Fully annotated and meticulously researched, The Chatfield Story: The Civil War Letters and Diaries of Private Edward L. Chatfield of the 113th Illinois Volunteers is a stunning personal biography that illustrates a harrowing part of American history. Resonant, wise, and suspenseful, this elegantly wrought memoir is a story of courage, pluck, and survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. Chatfield’s life as a Union private unfolds with each successive missive, an incredible account from within the Western Theater of the Civil War: Cairo, Memphis, Oxford, Holly Springs, Chickasaw Bayou, Arkansas Post, DeSoto Point, Grand Gulf, Clinton, Vicksburg, Corinth, and Brice’s Cross Roads—where disaster awaited him. Fascinating in its approach and its depth, this spellbinding story of a young man whose name and family became famous in Colorado is a marvelous tale of accomplishment—a decidedly American story that truly begs to be heard.

Terry M. McCarty and Margaret Ann Chatfield McCarty have a shared passion for history which prompted them to transcribe and research the Civil War letters and diaries written by Edward L. Chatfield, Margaret's great-granduncle. During their research, they visited many of the regions described in Chatfield's travels and pored over reams of original information contained in local civic registries and libraries. Both originally from California, they now live in Georgetown, Texas. This is their first book.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Defending South Carolina's Coast: The Civil War from Georgetown to Little River

by Rick Simmons

From the publisher:
In Defending South Carolina's Coast: The Civil War from Georgetown to Little River, area native Rick Simmons relates the often overlooked stories of the upper South Carolina coast during the Civil War.

As a base of operations for more than three thousand troops early in the war and the site of more than a dozen forts, almost every inch of the coast was affected by and hotly contested during the Civil War. From the skirmishes at Fort Randall in Little River and the repeated Union naval bombardments of Murrells Inlet to the unrealized potential of the massive fortifications at Battery White and the sinking of the USS Harvest Moon in Winyah Bay, the region's colorful Civil War history is unfolded here at last.

Escape from Andersonville: A Novel of the Civil War

by Gene Hackman and Daniel Lenihan

From the publisher:
An explosivenovel of the Civil War about one man's escape from a notorious Confederate prison camp - and his dramatic return to save his men.

July 1864. Union officer Nathan Parker has been imprisoned at nightmarish Andersonville prison camp in Georgia along with his soldiers. As others die around them, Nathan and his men hatch a daring plan to allow him to escape through a tunnel and make his way to Vicksburg, where he intends to alert his superiors to the imprisonment and push for military action. His efforts are blocked by higher-ups in the military, so Parker takes matters into his own hands. Together with a shady, dangerous ex-soldier and smuggler named Marcel Lafarge and a fascinating collection of cutthroats, soldiers, and castoffs, a desperate Parker organizes aprivate rescue mission to free his men before it's too late. Exciting, thoroughly researched, and dramatic, Escape from Andersonville is a Civil War novel filled with action, memorable characters, and vividly realized descriptions of the war's final year.

Walt Whitman and the Civil War: America's Poet during the Lost Years of 1860-1862

by Ted Genoways

From the publisher:
Shortly after the third edition of Leaves of Grass was published, in 1860, Walt Whitman seemed to drop off the literary map, not to emerge again until his brother George was wounded at Fredericksburg two and a half years later.

Past critics have tended to read this silence as evidence of Whitman's indifference to the Civil War during its critical early months. In this penetrating, original, and beautifully written book, Ted Genoways reconstructs those forgotten years--locating Whitman directly through unpublished letters and never-before-seen manuscripts, as well as mapping his associations through rare period newspapers and magazines in which he published. Genoways's account fills a major gap in Whitman's biography and debunks the myth that Whitman was unaffected by the country's march to war. Instead, Walt Whitman and the Civil War reveals the poet's active participation in the early Civil War period and elucidates his shock at the horrors of war months before his legendary journey to Fredericksburg, correcting in part the poet's famous assertion that the "real war will never get in the books."

Friday, September 11, 2009

On the Trail of Grant and Lee

by Frederick Trevor Hill

From the publisher:
The author of this book, Frederick Trevor Hill (1866-1930), was an American lawyer who practiced law in New York City from 1890. He wrote several novels and three books on Lincoln. His works include: The Minority (1902), The Web (1903), The Accomplice (1905), Lincoln the Lawyer (1906), Decisive Battles of the Law (1907), The Story of a Street (1908), Lincoln's Legacy of Inspiration (1909), On the Trail of Grant and Lee (1911), The Thirteenth Juror (1913), Washington: The Man of Action (1914), Tales Out of Court (1920), High School Farces (1920) and Lincoln: Emancipator of the Nation (1928).

The Abolitionists and the South, 1831-1861

by Stanley Harrold

From the publisher:
Within the American antislavery movement, abolitionists were distinct from others in the movement in advocating, on the basis of moral principle, the immediate emancipation of slaves and equal rights for black people.

Instead of focusing on the "immediatists" as products of northern culture, as many previous historians have done, Stanley Harrold examines their involvement with antislavery action in the South--particularly in the region that bordered the free states. How, he asks, did antislavery action in the South help shape abolitionist beliefs and policies in the period leading up to the Civil War?

Harrold explores the interaction of northern abolitionist, southern white emancipators, and southern black liberators in fostering a continuing antislavery focus on the South, and integrates southern antislavery action into an understanding of abolitionist reform culture. He discusses the impact of abolitionist missionaries, who preached an antislavery gospel to the enslaved as well as to the free. Harrold also offers an assessment of the impact of such activities on the coming of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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

Love and War, A Southern Soldier's Struggle Between Love and Duty (Paperback)

by Robert Crewdson

From the publisher:
You will never understand the Civil War until your understand its emotion. Love and War dramatically presents the real inner conflicts between love and duty. This wonderful collection of poignant letters provides a fascinating glimpse into the heart and mind of a private soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia. Madly in love with a much younger woman, he married her early in the war, and went AWOL three times in order to be with her. He survived Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, but died at the Battle of Chester Station in May 1864. Cover commentary by leading historians: James McPherson, James "Bud" Robertson, Jr. and Holt Merchant.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Civil War Wives: The Lives and Times of Angelina Grimke Weld, Varina Howell Davis, and Julia Dent Grant

by Carol Berkin

From the publisher:
Here are the life stories of three women who connect us to our national past and provide windows onto a social and political landscape that is strangely familiar yet shockingly foreign.

Berkin focuses on three “accidental heroes” who left behind sufficient records to allow their voices to be heard clearly and to allow us to see the world as they did. Though they held no political power themselves, all three had access to power and unique perspectives on events of their time.

Angelina Grimk√© Weld, after a painful internal dialogue, renounced the values of her Southern family’s way of life and embraced the antislavery movement, but found her voice silenced by marriage to fellow reformer Theodore Weld. Varina Howell Davis had an independent mind and spirit but incurred the disapproval of her husband, Jefferson Davis, when she would not behave as an obedient wife. Though ill-prepared and ill-suited for her role as First Lady of the Confederacy, she became an expert political lobbyist for her husband’s release from prison. Julia Dent Grant, the wife of Ulysses S. Grant, was a model of genteel domesticity who seemed content with the restrictions of marriage and motherhood, even though they led to alternating periods of fame and disgrace, wealth and poverty. Only late in life did she glimpse the price of dependency.

Throughout, Berkin captures the tensions and animosities of the antebellum era and the disruptions, anxieties, and dislocations generated by the war and its aftermath.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Delia Webster And The Underground Railroad

by Randolph Paul Runyon

From the publisher:
In this captivating tale, Randolph Paul Runyon follows the trail of the first woman imprisoned for assisting runaway slaves and explores the mystery surrounding her life and work.

In September 1844, Delia Webster took a break from her teaching responsibilities at Lexington Female Academy and accompanied Calvin Fairbank, a Methodist preacher from Oberlin College, on a Saturdary drive in the country. At the end of their trip, their passengers—Lewis Hayden and his family—remained in southern Ohio, ticketed for the Underground Railroad. Webster and Fairbank returned to a near riot and jail cells. Webster earned a sentence to the state penitentiary in Frankfort, where the warden, Newton Craig, married and a father, became enamored of her and was tempted into a compromising relationship he would come to regret. Hayden reached freedom in Boston, where he became a prominent businessman, the ringleader in the courthouse rescue of a fugitive slave, and the last link in the chain of events that led to the Harpers Ferry Raid. Webster, the focal point at which these lives intersect, remains an enigma. Was she, as one contemporary noted, ""A young lady of irreproachable character""? Or, as another observed, ""a very bold and defiant kind of woman, without a spark of feminine modesty, and, withal, very shrewd and cunning""? Runyon has doggedly pursued every historical lead to bring color and shape to the tale of these fascinating characters.

The Anti-Slavery Crusade

by Jesse Macy

From the publisher:
The author of this book, Jesse Macy (1842-1919), was an American political scientist and historian of the late 19th and early 20th century, specializing in the history of American political parties, party systems, and the Civil War. He spent most of his professional career at his alma mater, Grinnell College. At age 17, he entered Iowa College. During the Civil War, he served in the Union army and he did not graduate until after the war, earning an A. B. in 1870. In 1884, he completed his Ph. D. at Johns Hopkins University.

For the next forty-two years, Macy taught history and political science at the college. He was also a leading author of political science textbooks. Professor Macy's 1896 manual on American civil government, Our Government: How it Grew, What it Does, and How it Does it, was an influential primer for university students and his 1897 The English Constitution: A Commentary on its Nature and Growth was acclaimed for providing the necessary foundation in English law to correctly understand American law.

Disaster in Damp Sand

by Curt Anders

From the publisher:
Union General Nathaniel Banks' Red River Campaign of 1864, the Disaster in Damp Sand, was the Confederacy's last decisive victory in the Civil War.

Texan Curt Anders graduated from the U. S. Military Academy in 1949 and commanded an infantry rifle company in combat during the Korean War. While a member of West Point's English department faculty he earned an MA at Columbia University. He lives in the Hudson Highlands of upstate New York.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Punitive War: Confederate Guerrillas and Union Reprisals

by Clay Mountcastle

From the publisher:
Through widespread and relentless surprise attacks and ambushes, Confederate guerrillas drove Union soldiers and their leaders to desperation. Confederate cavalrymen engaged in hit-and-run tactics; autonomous partisan rangers preyed on Federal railroads, telegraph lines, and supply wagons; and civilian bushwhackers waylaid Union pickets. Together, all of these actions persuaded the Union to wage an increasingly punitive war.

Clay Mountcastle presents a new look at the complex nature of guerrilla warfare in the Civil War and the Union Army's calculated response to it. He examines guerrilla attacks and Federal responses in a number of operational theaters to show how the problem grew throughout the South and ultimately convinced the Union to adopt retaliatory measures that challenged the sensibilities of even the most hardened soldiers.

In revealing the impact that Confederate guerrilla activity had on the Union's prosecution of the war, Mountcastle reveals how the character of the war was shaped every bit as much by the troops on the ground as by their Union leaders. He draws on primary sources that vividly convey their reaction to the guerrilla problem and their justification for punitive action—with guerrillas described by one angry soldier as "thieves and murderers by occupation, rebels by pretense, soldiers only in name, and cowards by nature." Showing how much of the impetus for retaliation originated from the bottom up, starting in the western theater in 1861, he describes how it became the most influential factor in convincing Union generals, especially Grant and Sherman, that the war needed to be extended to include civilians and their property. The result was alevel of destructiveness that has been downplayed by other scholars—despite the evidence of executions and incidents of entire towns being burned to the ground.

By 1864, punitive action had evolved into such a powerful and decisive force that it produced what has been called "a warfare of frightfulness." And although guerrilla activity deviled the Union until the end, the Union's response ultimately proved a significant factor in persuading leaders like General Lee to call a halt to such actions and, ultimately, to surrender. Mountcastle's book offers the most revealing look yet at this incompletely understood dimension of the Civil War and also raises provocative questions about the relationship between guerrilla and conventional warfare in any conflict.

Clay Mountcastle, a major in the U.S. Army, has taught military history at West Point and is currently Battalion Executive Officer with Air Defense Artillery, stationed in Korea.

War Like the Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta

by Russell S. Bonds

From the publisher:
This is a superbly written account of the battle for and burning of Atlanta during the American Civil War - the event made famous in the film "Gone with the Wind". In War Like the Thunderbolt, Russell Bonds presents the epic story of what one observer call 'The greatest event of the Civil War' - the struggle for the city of Atlanta. It was the conflict that secured the re-election of Abraham Lincoln, sealed the fate of the Confederacy, and set a precedent for military campaigns across the world. Based on new research into diaries, previously unpublished letters, newspapers, and other archival sources, this superb volume takes readers across the smoky battlefield and into the lives of fascinating characters, both the famous and the forgotten, including the diminutive young Benjamin Harrison, later to become 23rd President of the USA, and Carrie Berry, a gifted diarist who belied her ten years of age. Like its fictional counterpart, "Gone with the Wind", this volume presents a superbly written account and meticulous account of this momentous event in American history.

"Through the power of Margaret Mitchell's words and the film they inspired, the struggle for Atlanta became all that most folks needed to know about our nation's four-year bloodbath. Russell S. Bonds has courageously focused his sights on retelling the story in War Like The Thunderbolt: The Battle and Burning of Atlanta. Through the depth of his research and his skills as both historian and storyteller, Bonds has given us what might have seemed impossible--a fresh, new, and impressive look back at Atlanta." --Robert Hicks, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Widow of the South

"This gripping story of the battles for Atlanta in 1864 provides new insights on a campaign that ensured Lincoln's reelection and the ultimate destruction of the Confederacy. Russell S. Bonds has an impressive ability to combine combat narrative with shrewd analyses of commanders' performances." --James M. McPherson, author of Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief

A beautifully written narrative history. It is exactly what the Civil War nonfiction buyer is looking for. Bonds is careful in his research, artistic in his assembly of testimony, deliberate in his analysis, cautious in judgement, gentle with reputations, measured in his tempo, and interesting throughout.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy

by Barbara Brooks Tomblin

From the publisher:
One of the lesser known stories of the Civil War is the role played by escaped slaves in the Union blockade along the Atlantic coast. From the beginning of the war, many African American refugees sought avenues of escape to the North. Due to their sheer numbers, those who reached Union forces presented a problem for the military. The problem was partially resolved by the First Confiscation Act of 1861, which permitted the seizure of property used in support of the South’s war effort, including slaves. Eventually regarded as contraband of war, the runaways became known as contrabands.

In Bluejackets and Contrabands, Barbara Brooks Tomblin examines the relationship between the Union Navy and the contrabands. The navy established colonies for the former slaves and, in return, some contrabands served as crewmen on navy ships and gunboats and as river pilots, spies, and guides. Tomblin presents a rare picture of the contrabands and casts light on the vital contributions of African Americans to the Union Navy and the Union cause.

Barbara Brooks Tomblin is the author of With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945.

Confederate Finance

by Richard Cecil Todd

From the publisher:
Confederate Finance, first published in 1954, looks at the measures taken by the Confederacy to stabilize its currency and offer a basis for foreign exchange. By the end of the Civil War, the Confederacy had resorted to a number of financial expedients, including the most desperate of measures. The Confederate government seized the property of enemies, levied direct taxes, and placed duties on exports and imports. In addition, donations and gifts were gratefully accepted. All the while, treasury notes flooded the market, and loans were floated in an attempt to continue the Confederacy's existence.

Richard Cecil Todd shows how these measures were used by the Confederate government to meet its obligations at home and abroad. He also discusses the organization and personnel of the Confederate Treasury Department.

North By South: The Two Lives of Richard James Arnold

by Charles and Tess Hoffmann

From the publisher:
In 1823, Richard James Arnold, descendant of a Quaker family involved in the movement to abolish slavery in Rhode Island, married Louisa Gindrat of Bryan County, Georgia, and acquired a plantation called White Hall--thirteen hundred acres of rice and cotton land and sixty-eight slaves. Over the next fifty years, Arnold led two distinct, if never entirely separate lives, building through successive Georgia winters a profitable southern "paradise" rooted in human bondage, then returning each spring to his business interests and extended family in Rhode Island.
Organized around a surviving plantation journal kept during two winters and one spring, North by South encompasses Arnold's career as a rice and cotton planter as it uncovers the increasingly difficult social and moral disguises that enabled him to move freely through two worlds.

“North by South is an engrossing book. It makes a fresh and welcome contribution to the understanding of social and political history in the nineteenth century.”--Journal of Southern History

“A readily assimilated case-study that illustrates very graphically the flaws in the paternalistic planters’ view of slavery and the human contradictions, even in the North, of slave-ownership.”--Slavery and Abolition

“North by South deserves a place beside larger works like Robert Manson Myers’s The Children of Pride, and Malcolm Bell’s Major Butler’s Legacy.”--Alabama Review

Confederate Georgia

by Thomas Conn Bryan

From the publisher:
Published in 1953, Confederate Georgia describes life in Georgia during the Civil War. T. Conn Bryan presents the political, military, economic, and social aspects of life, including secession, preparations for war, industry and transportation, wartime finance, desertion and disloyalty, women in the conflict, social life and diversions, the press and literary pursuits, education, and religion. Although Georgia's relations with the Confederate government are fully treated, the main emphasis is on activities within the state. Numerous quotations from letters, diaries, and other source materials give a personalized view of the war and capture the spirit of the times.

Civil War Macon: The History of a Confederate City

by Richard W. Iobst

From the publisher:
This book offers an encyclopedic history of Macon, Georgia, during the Civil War. Macon is located at the head of navigation on the Ocmulgee River in the center of Georgia. In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War, Macon was a business community dedicated to supplying the needs of its citizens, of the cotton planters who grew the short-staple upland cotton, the principal foundation of wealth for the antebellum South. Now, for the first time in such detail, is the story told of Macon, Georgia, during the Civil War. What was life like in Macon during the war? What kinds of industry supplied the Confederate army? Why did Sherman not come down to Macon? What of Wilson's raid through Middle Georgia? These issues and much more fill the pages of Richard Iobst's very readable narrative.

Richard W. Iobst earned a Ph.D. in American History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of Bloody Sixth: History of the Sixth North Carolina Regiment, Confederate States of America, and more than twenty articles published in various historical records.