Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New and Noteworthy--- The River Was Dyed With Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest And Fort Pillow

The River Was Dyed With Blood: Nathan Bedford Forrest And Fort Pillow, Brian Steel Wills, University of Oklahoma Press, 274 pp.,  18 black and white illustrations, 4 maps,  appendices, bibliographic notes, bibliography, index, $29.95

From the Publisher: 
The battlefield reputation of Confederate general Nathan Bedford Forrest, long recognized as a formidable warrior, has been shaped by one infamous wartime incident. At Fort Pillow in 1864, the attack by Confederate forces under Forrest’s command left many of the Tennessee Unionists and black soldiers garrisoned there dead in a confrontation widely labeled as a “massacre.” 

In The River Was Dyed with Blood, best-selling Forrest biographer Brian Steel Wills argues that although atrocities did occur after the fall of the fort, Forrest did not order or intend a systematic execution of its defenders. Rather, the general’s great failing was losing control of his troops.

A prewar slave trader and owner, Forrest was a controversial figure throughout his lifetime. Because the attack on Fort Pillow—which, as Forrest wrote, left the nearby waters “dyed with blood”—occurred in an election year, Republicans used him as a convenient Confederate scapegoat to marshal support for the war. 

After the war he also became closely associated with the spread of the Ku Klux Klan. Consequently, the man himself, and the truth about Fort Pillow, has remained buried beneath myths, legends, popular depictions, and disputes about the events themselves.

Wills sets what took place at Fort Pillow in the context of other wartime excesses from the American Revolution to World War II and Vietnam, as well as the cultural transformations brought on by the Civil War. Confederates viewed black Union soldiers as the embodiment of slave rebellion and reacted accordingly. 

Nevertheless, Wills concludes that the engagement was neither a massacre carried out deliberately by Forrest, as charged by a congressional committee, nor solely a northern fabrication meant to discredit him and the Confederate States of America, as pro-Southern apologists have suggested. The battle-scarred fighter with his homespun aphorisms was neither an infallible warrior nor a heartless butcher, but a product of his time and his heritage.

Blurb:  "Readers of Brian Steel Wills's biography of Nathan Bedford Forrest, A Battle From The Start, know the quality of his work.  Wills now gives us the most comprehensive, dispassionate, and objective look wer are likely to get of Fo rrest's most controversial momnet---those awful minutes at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, when warfare briefly became butcher.  The River Was Dyed With Blood must become our safest guide through the murky terrain that separates soldiery frrom savagery, and how participants and posterity choose to remember moments many would rather forget."  William C. Davis, author of Fighting Men of the Civil War among others.

Monday, April 21, 2014

News---The Civil War's 750,000 Dead, Disease, and A Republic Not Necessarily Suffering As Much As Thought

The Civil War Death Toll, Reconsidered, Nicholas Marshall, New York Times, April 15, 2014

Excerpt: What did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true? 

In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures. 

One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.

But while factually correct, the statistics work to exaggerate the impact of the war. At its essence, the use of these statistics is designed to provide perspective, a laudatory goal. It is supposed to allow those of us looking back on the war to get a clear sense of the emotional texture of the time. The problem is that doing so violates one of the central codes of historical analysis: avoid presentism.
Instead of putting us in the minds of those who experienced the Civil War, it conjures up significance by equating disparate eras. And it is not enough simply to speak about numbers. To understand how deaths affect a culture, it is essential to examine the meaning ascribed to them beyond the statistics. In the case of the Civil War, historians have not adequately taken into account the context of death and dying in the period. 

Solid scholarly work exists on the central importance of death in antebellum America and the ordinary experience of death during the war, but Civil War historians have tended to sidestep this literature in order to claim the war years as exceptional. They have also underplayed the significance of the demographic realities that Americans faced before, during, and after the war. These reveal a society constantly coping with large-scale mortality. Americans throughout the period were lucky if they survived into middle age, and they recognized that life was more fragile than we do today.

. . . .

Evidence for the extraordinary importance of affliction in the lives of antebellum Americans may be found in nearly any historical source from the period. Newspapers almost always included both poems about the death of loved ones and advertisements for nostrums claiming to cure a variety of ailments. Health became an important focus of advice manuals, and fiction frequently made use of death and sickness as plot devices. In many cases, private correspondence concerned matters of health to the exclusion of most other topics, and diaries overflowed with descriptions of suffering.
Given these circumstances, it is important to remember that approximately two-thirds of the deaths of soldiers came as a result of disease, rather than on the battlefield. Looking back from today, these numbers are difficult to fathom, and the image conjured by them is of horrendously unsanitary conditions in military camps. After all, these deaths seem to be as much a product of war as those that resulted from wounds: soldiers in camp were there to fight the war and they died because the conditions were necessary to conduct field operations with a massive army.

The evidence from the period makes clear that historians need to re-evaluate the way we have come to understand the carnage of the Civil War. The war added to an existing demographic and cultural problem rather than creating an entirely new one. Given this milieu, the nearly ubiquitous use by historians of a set of factually correct, yet misleading, statistics needs rethinking. To make a case for the bloodiness of the war in this manner says more about how we interpret these figures today — and the uses we make of them — than about the way Americans actually experienced the wrenching conflict.

Nicholas Marshall is an associate professor of history at Marist College. This article was adapted from Professor Marshall’s article “The Great Exaggeration: Death and the Civil War,” published in the Journal of the Civil War Era 4 (March, 2014).
 
Union soldiers entrenched along the west bank of the Rappahannock River at Fredericksburg, Virginia
What did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true?
In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures.
One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.
But while factually correct, the statistics work to exaggerate the impact of the war. At its essence, the use of these statistics is designed to provide perspective, a laudatory goal. It is supposed to allow those of us looking back on the war to get a clear sense of the emotional texture of the time. The problem is that doing so violates one of the central codes of historical analysis: avoid presentism.
Instead of putting us in the minds of those who experienced the Civil War, it conjures up significance by equating disparate eras. And it is not enough simply to speak about numbers. To understand how deaths affect a culture, it is essential to examine the meaning ascribed to them beyond the statistics. In the case of the Civil War, historians have not adequately taken into account the context of death and dying in the period.
Solid scholarly work exists on the central importance of death in antebellum America and the ordinary experience of death during the war, but Civil War historians have tended to sidestep this literature in order to claim the war years as exceptional. They have also underplayed the significance of the demographic realities that Americans faced before, during, and after the war. These reveal a society constantly coping with large-scale mortality. Americans throughout the period were lucky if they survived into middle age, and they recognized that life was more fragile than we do today.
Evidence for the extraordinary importance of affliction in the lives of antebellum Americans may be found in nearly any historical source from the period. Newspapers almost always included both poems about the death of loved ones and advertisements for nostrums claiming to cure a variety of ailments. Health became an important focus of advice manuals, and fiction frequently made use of death and sickness as plot devices. In many cases, private correspondence concerned matters of health to the exclusion of most other topics, and diaries overflowed withdescriptions of suffering.
Given these circumstances, it is important to remember that approximately two-thirds of the deaths of soldiers came as a result of disease, rather than on the battlefield. Looking back from today, these numbers are difficult to fathom, and the image conjured by them is of horrendously unsanitary conditions in military camps. After all, these deathsseem to be as much a product of war as those that resulted from wounds: soldiers in camp were there to fight the war and they died because the conditions were necessary to conduct field operations with a massive army.
But this is a present-minded understanding of the circumstances, because it ignores the epic antebellum confrontation with disease. If we work from an assumption that deaths from disease were not viewed at the time as war casualties, but rather as a continuation of prewar circumstances, instead of 750,000 casualties faced by Civil War-era Americans, we are left with 250,000. If we divide this figure by the four years of war, we have a crude estimate of 62,500 battlefield deaths per year.
But even this figure requires context to understand its significance. It is important to keep in mind that death rates were tremendously variable in the period, even within relatively stable locales, because of the unpredictable nature of contagious disease. Some areas reported rates that varied from below 2 percent up to 6 percent. A conservative estimate of a 2 percent death rate for 1860 would have meant about 629,000 deaths that year for the nation as a whole, while a 3 percent rate would have resulted in 943,000 deaths (today’s rate is consistently below 0.8 percent). The additional battlefield deaths in the war would thus represent an increase of between 7 and 10 percent over the normal rates. Significant, but hardly catastrophic.
If we look at changes in estimated death rates from Massachusetts that include antebellum, bellum and post-bellum periods, we notice that these Civil War variations had contemporary parallels. The largest single change in the 19th century in Massachusetts (including the Civil War years) occurred between 1871 and 1872, a 22 percent increase. However, the greatest change in the death rate between single years for Chicago between 1847 and 1864 was an astounding 296 percent. The Civil War additions, therefore, would not be out of line with normal variations before and after the war.
The experience with epidemic sickness and death in other historical moments should also remind us that Americans have been much more blasé about death from sickness than they are today. During the global flu epidemic at the end of World War I as many as 100 million worldwide, including 600,000 in the United States (roughly five times the number of American casualties in World War I and approaching the total number of deaths in the Civil War), perished over the course of just a few months. In addition, this was an unusual strain of influenza that killed mainly the healthiest cohort of the population (those in their 20s and 30s) through a violent immune response. If any event should have triggered re-evaluation of the nation’s approach to death (based solely on changes in incidence and scale, as Civil War historians often calculate), this would be it.
Yet one historian’s book on the subject is titled “America’s Forgotten Pandemic,” and he spends a significant portion of the book trying to explain why the epidemic seemed to disappear from public consciousness so soon after it waned. The answer, in part, is that well into the 20th century Americans viewed disease — and the death that came with it — as a constant, as something that had to be dealt with as part of everyday existence.
This is not to say that deaths in the war were not emotionally wrenching, or that they did not raise any number of new issues for Americans. The antebellum evidence shows that within a sentimentalized culture, death was indeedan important and profoundly disturbing event. Deaths in the war were also viewed in this way, and the trauma associated with them was real, heartfelt and an added burden.
The demographic picture that spans the war years, however, undermines the idea that the magnitude of death in the war necessarily forced Americans to reassess the implications of the carnage. Furthermore, because so many people died young in this era, the casualties would be interpreted very differently than today. The sense of loss that 21st century Americans associate with the relatively rare death of a young person was not the standard mode of response then.
Moreover, the connection of the deaths in the war to a greater cause imbued them with a meaning that should not be overlooked, and that may be seen as an improvement over the struggle to make sense of the vast numbers of dead during the antebellum period. In some way, the significance ascribed to deaths while in the service of protecting the Union or Confederacy obviated the antebellum need for understanding God’s will when those in the prime of life were cut down. For family members of soldiers, the interpretation was easily found. As a Minnesotan soldier named Patrick Taylor noted in a letter to his parents upon the death of his brother (the two fought side by side at Gettysburg), “Isaac has not fallen in vain. What though one of your six soldiers has fallen on the altar of our country. ’Tis a glorious death; better die free than live slaves.’”
The evidence from the period makes clear that historians need to re-evaluate the way we have come to understand the carnage of the Civil War. The war added to an existing demographic and cultural problem rather than creating an entirely new one. Given this milieu, the nearly ubiquitous use by historians of a set of factually correct, yet misleading, statistics needs rethinking. To make a case for the bloodiness of the war in this manner says more about how we interpret these figures today — and the uses we make of them — than about the way Americans actually experienced the wrenching conflict.
- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155305#sthash.rlbC0sWN.dpuf
What did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true?
In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures.
One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.
But while factually correct, the statistics work to exaggerate the impact of the war. At its essence, the use of these statistics is designed to provide perspective, a laudatory goal. It is supposed to allow those of us looking back on the war to get a clear sense of the emotional texture of the time. The problem is that doing so violates one of the central codes of historical analysis: avoid presentism.
Instead of putting us in the minds of those who experienced the Civil War, it conjures up significance by equating disparate eras. And it is not enough simply to speak about numbers. To understand how deaths affect a culture, it is essential to examine the meaning ascribed to them beyond the statistics. In the case of the Civil War, historians have not adequately taken into account the context of death and dying in the period.
Solid scholarly work exists on the central importance of death in antebellum America and the ordinary experience of death during the war, but Civil War historians have tended to sidestep this literature in order to claim the war years as exceptional. They have also underplayed the significance of the demographic realities that Americans faced before, during, and after the war. These reveal a society constantly coping with large-scale mortality. Americans throughout the period were lucky if they survived into middle age, and they recognized that life was more fragile than we do today.
Evidence for the extraordinary importance of affliction in the lives of antebellum Americans may be found in nearly any historical source from the period. Newspapers almost always included both poems about the death of loved ones and advertisements for nostrums claiming to cure a variety of ailments. Health became an important focus of advice manuals, and fiction frequently made use of death and sickness as plot devices. In many cases, private correspondence concerned matters of health to the exclusion of most other topics, and diaries overflowed withdescriptions of suffering.
- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155305#sthash.rlbC0sWN.dpufWhat did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true?
In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures.
One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.
But while factually correct, the statistics work to exaggerate the impact of the war. At its essence, the use of these statistics is designed to provide perspective, a laudatory goal. It is supposed to allow those of us looking back on the war to get a clear sense of the emotional texture of the time. The problem is that doing so violates one of the central codes of historical analysis: avoid presentism.
Instead of putting us in the minds of those who experienced the Civil War, it conjures up significance by equating disparate eras. And it is not enough simply to speak about numbers. To understand how deaths affect a culture, it is essential to examine the meaning ascribed to them beyond the statistics. In the case of the Civil War, historians have not adequately taken into account the context of death and dying in the period.
Solid scholarly work exists on the central importance of death in antebellum America and the ordinary experience of death during the war, but Civil War historians have tended to sidestep this literature in order to claim the war years as exceptional. They have also underplayed the significance of the demographic realities that Americans faced before, during, and after the war. These reveal a society constantly coping with large-scale mortality. Americans throughout the period were lucky if they survived into middle age, and they recognized that life was more fragile than we do today.
Evidence for the extraordinary importance of affliction in the lives of antebellum Americans may be found in nearly any historical source from the period. Newspapers almost always included both poems about the death of loved ones and advertisements for nostrums claiming to cure a variety of ailments. Health became an important focus of advice manuals, and fiction frequently made use of death and sickness as plot devices. In many cases, private correspondence concerned matters of health to the exclusion of most other topics, and diaries overflowed with descriptions of suffering.
Given these circumstances, it is important to remember that approximately two-thirds of the deaths of soldiers came as a result of disease, rather than on the battlefield. Looking back from today, these numbers are difficult to fathom, and the image conjured by them is of horrendously unsanitary conditions in military camps. After all, these deaths seem to be as much a product of war as those that resulted from wounds: soldiers in camp were there to fight the war and they died because the conditions were necessary to conduct field operations with a massive army. What did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true?
In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures.
One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.What did the Civil War’s death toll mean to those who lived through it? We are now told that wartime deaths were unprecedented and overwhelming, and constituted one of the fundamental experiences for the wartime generation. But is this really true?
In recent years, statistical descriptions have been used by historians — including renowned scholars such as James McPherson, Eric Foner and Drew Gilpin Faust, but also celebrated filmmakers Ken and Ric Burns, among many – to drive home a characterization of the war based on the scale of death. They may be found across the range of media regarding the war, in films, museums, popular histories, scholarly treatises and lectures.
One such statistic is that the number of soldiers’ deaths in the Civil War – approximately 750,000 – was greater than the total number suffered in all other American wars combined. A second point makes use of the first figure: If one calculates the proportion of the total population who died while in military service during the war, and applies this percentage to present-day population figures, the equivalent number of deaths in the 21st century would reach above 7 million. This is a staggering figure that suggests that the Civil War generation made almost inconceivable sacrifices.
Esteemed Members
This all should be up on the site soon, but for the time being, hers the rough schedule of events for the Muster, which is scheduled for Friday, June 6, Saturday June 7 and Sunday, June 8.

Friday: (3:00 pm) John Rudy will lead a town tour based on the??conditions in Gettysburg one year after the battle.

At the annual meeting/cocktail hour, Goerge Franks will offer a presentation on his book on the Battle Of Falling Waters.

Saturday; (8:30 am) Chuck Teague has offered two choices:?Wrights Brigade on? July 2 or the or the Union Defense?of Cemetery Ridge at the same time.? I'm torn.?
Esteemed Members
This all should be up on the site soon, but for the time being, hers the rough schedule of events for the Muster, which is scheduled for Friday, June 6, Saturday June 7 and Sunday, June 8.

Friday: (3:00 pm) John Rudy will lead a town tour based on the??conditions in Gettysburg one year after the battle.

At the annual meeting/cocktail hour, Goerge Franks will offer a presentation on his book on the Battle Of Falling Waters.

Saturday; (8:30 am) Chuck Teague has offered two choices:?Wrights Brigade on? July 2 or the or the Union Defense?of Cemetery Ridge at the same time.? I'm torn.?
Proposed Conversion of book shelf space to Communications Department digital camera studio space
Ground floor
To the right of Brian Carr’s office
15 feet wide, 19 feet deep [285 square feet]
Entrance door on the right side.
Construction: One wall with one door.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Forthcoming and Noteworthy---Manassas: A Battlefield Guide

Manassas: A Battlefield Guide, Ethan Rafuse, author; Erin Greb, cartographer;  University of Nebraska Press, 232 pp, 47 maps, 2 appendices, $21.95. [May 2014].

From the publisher:
This volume is the essential guide to the Manassas battlefields, site of two of the Civil War’s critical campaigns. Ethan S. Rafuse, a distinguished scholar of the Civil War, provides a clearly organized, thorough, and uniquely insightful account of both campaigns, along with expert analysis and precise directions for armchair traveler and battlefield visitor alike.

The July 1861 Battle of First Manassas and the August 1862 Battle of Second Manassas unequivocally influenced the course and outcome of the Civil War. The first battle dealt a decisive blow to hopes that the inexperienced armies of the North and the South could bring about a quick military resolution of the secession crisis. The second battle was the climactic engagement of a spectacular campaign that carried the war to the outskirts of Washington DC and marked the coming of age of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Manassas: A Battlefield Guide presents readers with a clear, convenient guide to the sites in northern and central Virginia that shaped the course and outcome of these campaigns. Lucid, concise narratives give readers a better understanding of the events that took place on these battlefields and of the terrain, personalities, and decisions that shaped them.


Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and has led staff rides and tours of historic battlefields for many military and civilian groups. He is also the author of several books, including Antietam, South Mountain, and Harpers Ferry: A Battlefield Guide (Nebraska, 2008) and McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union.

Blurbs: “This guidebook explores the campaigns of Manassas like no other. It will take you to obscure places long forgotten and accord them significance; it takes the familiar and illuminates them in ways not done before. Well written and dashed with analytical twists both thoughtful and helpful, Dr. Rafuse’s work is by far the best of its kind.”—John Hennessy, author of Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas

“No other work juxtaposes Lincoln’s writing and speeches with contemporary commentaries and criticism of him. Rawley’s careful selection of these documents and his judicious interweaving of his historical analysis and background come together to create a powerful dialogue with the reader as well.”—From the foreword by William G. Thomas

CWL:   Manassas: A Battlefield Guide is fifth volume in the This Hallowed Ground: Guides to Civil War Battlefields edited by Brooks D. Simpson, Mark Grimsley and Steven E. Woodworth.   Other volumes in the series include guides for 1] Antietam, South Mountain and Harpers Ferry, 2] Gettysburg, 3] Chickamauga and 4] Wilson's Creek, Pea Ridge and Prairie, Grove. CWL owns and frequently uses 1], 2] and 3].  These books are dashboard friendly for driving tours and readable at home. Both the maps and the narrative are clear, concise and cogent. 

Lower Image is of the author, Ethan Rafuse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New and Noteworthy---The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning Is Both Incisive and Accessible

The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning, Lawrence A. Kreiser and Randal Allred, editors, University of Kentucky Press, 257  pages, bibliographic notes, index, $40.00.

The eleven essays, introduction and afterward offered in The Civil War In Popular Culture: Memory And Meaning are each scholarly, informative and entertaining.  The perspectives and focus of the fourteen authors' essays are both broad and unique. A casual bookstore browser may think that it is another book about reenactors for reenactors but that would certainly be a mistaken impression. The essays chosen and edited by Kreiser and Allred are compelling for the questions they address.

What do we know of how Civil War veterans came to psychological terms with the aftereffects of killing? Where Confederate amputees viewed as whole men who could be married? What value did veterans and early visitors to Chickamauga battlefield park during 1890s place on relics they found there?

If 80% of all Americans receive no historical training beyond high school, then what success can the Gettysburg National Military Park have in placing slavery into the battle and its legacy?  Is the Civil Preservation Trust's rebranding itself as the Civil War Trust, its investment in Internet web pages and mobile phone applications eliminating actual visits to the battlefields that the foundation has preserved?

What does the history of Civil War board games tell us about what the popular culture views as entertainment and hobby? Have Lincoln movies homogenized the president who confessed his own childhood was among the simple annals of the poor? Has Lincoln the lawyer become both a vampire slayer and a pragmatic emancipator in the popular mind?

Does the film Glory offer an honest depiction of Civil War combat? There is indeed one essay on reenactors. How do today's Good Ol' Rebel reenactors understand racism, slavery and their Lost Cause?

Clear, concise and cogent, the essays are both incisive for the scholar and accessible to the general reader. The bibliographic notes appear at the conclusion of each essay and encourage readers and graduate student to realize the dynamic nature of the field pursue new avenues of research in popular culture.


Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Forthcoming---A Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign

Guide To the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, edited by Charles R. Bowery, Jr. and Ethan S. Rafuse, maps by Steven Stanley, University of Kansas Press, 420 pages, 47 maps36 illustrations, $34.95 hardcover, $19.95 paper.

Text From The Publisher:  Lasting from June 1864 through April 1865, the Richmond-Petersburg Campaign was the longest of the Civil War, dwarfing even the Atlanta and Vicksburg campaigns in its scope and complexity. This compact yet comprehensive guide allows armchair historian and battlefield visitor alike to follow the campaign’s course, with a clear view of its multi-faceted strategic, operation, tactical, and human dimensions.
A concise, single-volume collection of official reports and personal accounts, the guide is organized in one-day and multi-day itineraries that take the reader to all the battlefields of the campaign, some of which have never before been interpreted and described for the visitor so extensively. Comprehensive campaign and battle maps reflect troop movements, historical terrain features, and modern roads for ease of understanding and navigation. A uniquely useful resource for the military enthusiast and the battlefield traveler, this is the essential guide for anyone hoping to see the historic landscape and the human face of this most decisive campaign of the Civil War.
Charles R. Bowery, Jr. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. Ethan S. Rafuse is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.

Blurbs: “A stellar contribution to the long and excellent tradition of the U.S. Army War college guide that covers one of the most important campaigns of the Civil War. The authors’ organization and contextualization of their story are superbly done and the maps are outstanding, among the best I have ever seen depicting the action and topography of the Richmond Petersburg battle sites.”—Earl Hess, author of Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg

“A much needed edition on the final campaign to capture Richmond and Petersburg.  This book brings together the events on both sides of the James River enabling readers to understand this very complex and prolonged military event.”—Chris Bryce, Chief of Interpretation, Petersburg National Battlefield

“The most thorough, detailed, and accurate books of their kind. Indeed, they are unique. I have used them to lead guided tours of several battlefields, with great success.”—James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom
CHARLES R. BOWERY, JR. is an officer in the U.S. Army who has taught Civil War history at West Point, led tours of Civil War battlefield sites, and authored Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. ETHAN S. RAFUSE is a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author, editor, or coeditor of nine books, including McClellan’s War: The Failure of Moderation in the Struggle for the Union and Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865.