Monday, July 30, 2007

CWL --- Brawner's Farm: Manassas Inaugural Event, August 25th, 26th

My understanding of 2nd Bull Run is that it is a four day battle:
August 28th, Brawner's Farm: Iron Brigade vs. Stonewall Brigade
August 29th, The Unfinished Railroad: Pope vs Jackson
August 30th, The Unfinished Railroad & Chinn's Ridge: Pope vs. Jackson &
September 1st, Chantilly/Ox Hill

In July 2002, as my daughter was being oriented to George Washington University in D.C., I drove down the road to Manassas National Battlefield Park. In the morning I hiked the plateau from the Stone Bridge to Henry Hill House. In the afternoon I walked the Iron Brigade's route to Brawner's Farm and climbed around the railroad bed's famous 'cut' where Jackson's men stoned Federal soldiers. Last year, I had the privilege to camp, as a reenactor, in the Manassas Battlefield Park. The Pennsylvania Reserves reenactment group encamped on Stuart's Hill and I with several other hardy souls marched to Chinn Ridge.

Of course, after reading several books on 1st and 2nd Manassas since the 1960s, my ideas changed whenever I walk the ground. The Iron Brigade had to march uphill to reach the Stonewall Brigade. Longstreet's Assault did not roll over a flat Virginia plateau, but went up and down dry gullies with thickets that broke up the ranks. I had mentally pictured Longstreet's Assault as being similar to the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Assault at Gettysburg. No so in the least bit.

This August, I'll again march in the steps of the soldiers. As a Civil War infantryman and as a Signal Corps officer I'll be with my unit, encamped on Stuart's Hill but marching to Brawner's Farm. John Reid, NPS Ranger at Manassas National Military Park sent the following remarks to Pennsylvania Reserve event co-coordinator Joe Sodomin.

". . . the demonstrations [are] concentrated at Brawner Farm, and we are looking to really inaugurate the site with its renovated house and the grounds where the first combat of the second battle occurred with a grand finale to the summer. We are expecting 120 from the Stonewall Brigade and the 3rd U.S. and 3rd Maine (who will portray the 19th Indiana and the 2nd Wisconsin); with your 40 Pennsylvanians [Pennsylvania Reserve Division, a reenactment group,] we can really represent Brawner with both Black Hat and Doubleday's reinforcement to Gibbon (56th Pennsylvania). This is shaping to be the largest single event we have ever contemplated here, let alone presented! The troops will be like "sardines in a barrel" but we have enough room at Stuart's Hill and Brawner for camp bivouacs and demonstrations."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

CWL --- Four Fronts: Land Operations in Virginia, 1861

Land Operations in Virginia in 1861, Craig L. Symonds, in Virginia At War, 1861, William C. Davis and James I. Robertson Jr., University of Kentucky Press, 2005, pp. 26-44.

With the addition of Virginia to the Confederacy on April 17, 1861, many in the South thought independence was won. The second largest state in the Confederacy brought with it a navy yard near Norfolk, a canon foundry in Richmond, and more people than any other single state in the new nation. By the end of 1861, it became evident though that "the complex and often ontentious relationship between strategy and politics, and the squabbling between generals, many of whom had agenda of their own" were a severe impediment to a successuful rebellion. (p. 28)

In April, Robert E. Lee, major general commanding the state's militia and later military advisor to president Jefferson Davis, understood danger coming to Virginia from four directions: from Washington, D.C., from Harper's Ferry, VA, from the Ohio River Valley, and from Fortress Monroe on the Atlantic shore. Lee was right. The day after Virginia voters accepted the state convention's secession ordinance, Federal troops seized Alexandria, and within 60 General Benjamin Butler guided troops from Fortress Monroe to Big Bethel, which was about halfway to Yorktown.

During the same month, George B. McClellan directed a two pronged invasion from Ohio and into the western counties of Virginia. The crossroad towns of Grafton, Clarksburg and Romney in the eastern panhandle was captured. Wheeling and Grafton in the northern panhandle were seized as was the Kanawha River Valley in the western and central counties. The Cheat River valley was occupied after CSA forces were chased away. By September, the western counties of the state were held by Union troops. The drive was Washington, D.C. was thwarted in July at Manassas.

The loss of the western counties prompted Davis to send Lee to the front. He arrived and failed to achieve coordination between the two Confederate commanders, Floyd and Wise. Davis called former governor Wise to Richmond and sent 9,000 fresh troops to Lee. Rosecrans, front line Union commander in western Virginia, strategically withdrew to the mountiantops and let the foul weather do its work on the lines of the Confederate advance. On the Potomac front, the Federal debacle at Ball's Bluff in October and the Federal success at Dranesville in December, solidified a stalemante.

By the end of 1861 in Virginia, the Confederates knew that "one Reb could not whip three Yanks, at least not every time." The Federals understood the war would be lasting longer than 90 days. Both sides came to grips with "lessons not only about the management of troops, but about the care and feeding of political superiors." At the end of 1861, it was apparent that these four Virginian four front would see more military activity. 1861 in Virginia was militarily decisive but it would be in 1862. (pp. 42.43)

For more on the 1861 war for the western counties:
Lee Vs. McClellan: The First Campaign, Clayton R. Newell
Rebels At The Gate: Lee And Mcclellan On The Front Line Of A Nation Divided, W. Hunter Lesser

For More on Ball's Bluff:
A Little Short of Boats: The Fights at Ball's Bluff and Edward's Ferry, October 21-22, 1861, James Morgan (III)

For More on Bull Run/Manassas:
A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas, Ethan S. Rafuse

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Off Topic Novel: The Book Thief

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak, Knopf Press, 2006, 560 pp., hardcover $16.95

With a title like "Book Thief" any librarian would be entrigued. When I finished, I realized that I had just read Book Sense Journal's 'Book of the Year' in children's literature. Yes, this book is recommended for ages 9 and up and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Book Thief is not for every nine year old, that's for sure but it will keep the attention of sophisticated teens and most adult readers.

Death, not to be confused with Satan, narrates the World War II-era story. Death notices Liesel Meminger at her brother's funeral. It is the theft of The Gravedigger's Handbook which brings her to the attention of this very busy spirit. Leisel's father and mother, communists, are arrested and the child goes to live with a foster family (the Hubermanns) in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued, spitting mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. Liesel collects more stolen books as well as a peculiar set of friends: the boy Rudy, the Jewish refugee Max, the mayor's reclusive wife who has a whole library from which she allows Liesel to steal.

Death recounts it's exploration of humanity with Liesel dispassionately. Death is not a sentimental storyteller, but it does attend to an array of satisfying details, giving Liesel's story the nuances of chance, folly, and fulfilled expectation. Death, the narrator, is sardonic, wry, darkly humorous, compassionate and doesn't carry a scythe. "I traveled the globe . . . handing souls to the conveyor belt of eternity . . ." "I warned myself that I should keep a good distance from the burial of Liesel Meminger's brother. I did not heed my advice," Death writes.

Stolen books form the spine of the story. Though Liesel's foster father realizes the subject matter isn't ideal, he uses "The Grave Digger's Handbook" to teach her to read. Reading opens new worlds to her. She rescues a book from a pile being burned by the Nazis, then begins stealing more books from the mayor's wife. After a Jewish fist-fighter makes his way to the safety of the Hubermanns' basement, he whitewashes the actual pages of Mein Kampf to create his own book for Liesel, which sustains her through her darkest times. Other books come in handy as diversions during bombing raids or hedges against grief. But it is the book she is writes that, ultimately, will save Liesel's life.

Portions of the text were provided by the posted reviews on by Francisca Goldsmith, of the Berkeley Public Library, CA and by Elizabeth Chang, of The Washington Post.

CWL --- 'At The Mercy of Decisions Made Elsewhere": Virginia's Secession Convention

The Virginia State Convention of 1861, James I. Robertson Jr., in Virginia at War, 1861, William C. Davis and James I. Roberston Jr. editors, University of Kentucky Press, 2005, pages 1-26.

Roberston sets forth three stages of the Virginia convention of 1861: February 13 through March 9, March 15 through April 3, and April 4 through April April 16. He traces the dissolution of the Unionist and Moderate ranks over the period of sixty days. The first stage begins with the failure of the Washington Peace Conference, the second stage ends with the submission of the Committee on Federal Relations report, and the third stage ends with Lincoln's call for 2,340 troops from Virginia.

On February 4, of the 152 delegates selected by 145,700 voters, less than 20% were secessionists. Of the remainder their were 92 moderates and 30 Unionists. These Unionist appeared to be conditional Union men; separation from the Union was unbearable unless the Federal government did not guarantee the protection of slavery in all states and territories. Pointedly, the Fugitive Slave Act had to be rigorously enforced. For these Unionist, the thought of Virginia leaving the Union was nearly unimaginable but the idea of taking up arms against the other slave holding states was unthinkable.

The March 4 inaugural speech of Lincoln did not guarantee the rigorous enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Law and insinuated that the Federal government would leave slavery alone where it existed but expeditiously relief the territories of any expansionist threat by slaveholders. The April 12 firing on Sumter and the April 15 call for troops dissolved the commitment of the Unionist and moderate state convention. The first vote for secession was 88 in favor and 55 against. Surprising, the Valley representatives were 10 in favor and 17 against secession. The state referendum on May 23 produced 125,950 votes in favor of secession and 20,373 against.
The four northwest counties of Virginia, the panhandle of Wheeling and close to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania voted against secession by a 20-1 ratio of the popular vote.

Robertson's essay, along with Ernest Ferguson's From Ashes to Glory: Richmond at War, emphasizes the place of Richmond newspapers as being one of the several excoriating forces at work during December 1860 through April 1861. On March 21 The Richmond Examiner stated "The conceited old ghosts who crawled from a hundred damp graves to manacle their State and deliver her as a hand-maid to the hideous Chimpanzee from Illinois have determined that not one word of their rubbish and gabble will be lost to posterity." To me this sounds much like how Hunter S. Thompson in the The Rolling Stone worked on Richard M. Nixon.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Media: Artillery Front!: Live Firing Cannon Videos

PBO Incorporated sells artillery pieces and of course, they must test their products!
Here are the links to the You Tube videos of the firing of loaded cannon at targets. The explosion at the target is amazing!

Look for the amount of smoke at the cannon's muzzle, the recoil of the piece and dust and smoke as the round hits its target and explodes.

http://www.pbocorp. biz/action. htm
the wwwsite of the company
12 pounder Navy boat howitzer
10 inch siege mortar
32 pounder field howitzer
3 inch Ordinance Rifle
13 inch Seacost mortar

New book on Gettysburg Retreat in production

The following is the July 17th posting of J. David Petruzzi from Hoofbeats and Cold Steel at

"Several years ago, Eric Wittenberg, Mike Nugent, and I completed the bulk of the work on a scholarly work about the retreat from Gettysburg. We were finishing ours up at about the same time Kent “Bat” Masterson Brown was completing his great book on the subject." [CWL note: Retreat From Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics and the Pennyslvania Campaingn, Kent Masterson Brown, 2005]

"So how is ours different from Brown’s?
Where Brown concentrated on the logistical aspects of the retreat, our book goes into very deep details of the nearly two dozen fights and skirmishes that occurred from July 4 until July 14 when the Army of Northern Virginia finally crossed the river. Our chronological narrative features the fighting, with the logistics as a background. Brown’s book is more the opposite. The two books together will finally give readers the full story of the Gettysburg retreat.

In addition, our book will also feature two detailed driving/walking tours of both the main retreat column and the Wagon Train of Wounded, from Gettysburg to the river. On both tours we were greatly assisted by retreat guru Ted Alexander. Think of this book as very much like Eric’s and my Stuart’s Ride book in scope, but on the retreat.

The book will be published by Savas Beatie LLC, the publisher of our Stuart book - and we couldn’t be more pleased. Savas does an absolutely wonderful book. The fine maps (lots of ‘em!) were done by the skilled Ed Coleman.

Release is expected by next year’s anniversary (perhaps May-June 2008)and I’ll keep everyone posted here as the book progresses."

CWL will look forward to this complimentary companion to Brown's Retreat From Gettysburg.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Off Topic Film: Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth, New Line Two-Disc Platinum Series, 119 minutes, 2006, released May 2007, Spanish with English subtitles,$34.95.

Spain, June 1944. A bloody civil war ended six years ago. Snuffing out the last bit of resistence in the mountains is the duty of Vidal,a fascist army captain. He orders his pregnant wife and his step daughter, young Ofelia, to the base camp located in a mill house. Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty and unimaginable magic when she moves in with her tyrannical stepfather.

A reader of fairy tales, Ofelia discovers, not far from the millhouse, a mysterious above and below ground labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving her ailing mother. But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur when she realizes the labyrinth is also within the very stones of the mill. Before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil, the army and the rebels, her mother and her stepfather. Inspired by the Brothers Grimm, "Pan's Labyrinth" is a fairytale for adults; there is no sex but there is violence. Ofelia may only be 12, but the worlds she inhabits, both above and below ground, are dark. Her guides is the persuasive Faun and the mother's maid, Mercedes. As her mother grows weaker, the faun offers to help her out of her predicament if she'll complete three treacherous tasks. Ofelia is not the perfect hero and her last decision is courageous, noble and fatal.

The story holds together and viewing it in Spanish with English subtitles increases the 'willing suspension of disbelief.' The second disk shows how the story was written, the director's vision of the story, the costumes and computer generated illustrations.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

News: Battle of Monocacy Climbs in Name Recognition with New VC, Film, Book

+The grand opening celebration for the new Monocacy National Battlefield visitor center took place on Wednesday, June 27th. The event featured a number of speakers, including a keynote address by former Congresswoman Beverly Byron, followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception. A slide show of its construction is at the Monocacy National Military Park's internet home page.

+The Civil War Librarian hopes to include a day of Signal Corps instruction at Monocacy NMP on his vacation in early August. To combat the disruption of communication during the Civil War, signal corps were used to relay messages through the use of flags. Frederick County, Maryland's Sugarloaf Mountain was used as a signal station throughout the Civil War, relaying information about Confederate activities from both Harpers Ferry and Washington, D. C. On Saturday August 4 and Sunday 5, a living history encampment of the Signal Corps will occur at the Monocacy NMP's Gambrill Mill. Demonstrations and informal interpretive talks will be conducted throughout the day to bring this unusual form of communication to life. For more information call (301) 662-3515.

+The leading book critic of the Washington Post Book World and noted author gives a boost to the Mononacy National Battlefield Park by selecting a new book for his July 15th review. He likes it but has some quibbles. The Civil War Librarian has not yet perused the book but descriptions of it on allow me to conclude it is a mainstream publication, which is not a bad thing. The Battle of Monocacy needs to elevated in the 'popular mind'. A dramatic/documentary film, No Retreat From Destiny: The Battle That Rescued Washington, was released 2006 has helped to do that also.

The Washington Post review:

How Washington, D.C. Almost Fell to the Confederacy, Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post Book World, Sunday, July 15, 2007; Page BW15

Desperate Engagement: How a Little-Known Civil War Battle Saved Washington, D.C., and Changed the Course of American History, Marc Leepson, Thomas Dunne/St. Martin's. 303 pp. $25.95

On July 10, 1864, about 8,000 Confederate troops under the command of Gen. Jubal A. Early stood at the doorstep of the District of Columbia. Literally. They were "bedded down alongside the Georgetown Pike, strung out along a five-mile stretch from Gaithersburg to Rockville." The city of Washington was protected by an impressive array of fortifications -- Early appraised them as "exceedingly strong" -- but defensive manpower was sorely lacking; though nearly 35,000 troops were needed to protect the city, only about 10,000 were on hand, "nearly all of whom were physically incapacitated in some way or had never fired a weapon."

Yet Early, who certainly was no coward and, indeed, in the past had been feared by Union commanders for his boldness and inventiveness, chose not to attack. Whether he could have occupied the city has been endlessly debated, but that he chose not to try probably was a turning point in the war. As Marc Leepson writes:

"If [Early] broke through the ring of forts surrounding the city, Confederate veterans would be running loose on the streets of Washington, D.C. The U.S. Treasury, virtually undefended, was sitting ready for looting. Tons upon tons of brand-new, desperately needed war supplies, from blankets to rifles, were there for the taking. The president himself was a target of opportunity, not to mention the U.S. Capitol and dozens of other government buildings. . . . A 'rebel occupation of Washington for however brief a time,' former secretary of the Senate George C. Gorham later wrote, would have brought about 'serious consequences.' One of them 'would almost certainly have embraced the recognition of the Southern Confederacy by France and England, both of which governments were understood to be extremely desirous of even a slight pretext for such action.' "

That this did not come about, Leepson argues in Desperate Engagement, can be traced to two factors. The first and most obvious is that at the last minute Washington's defenses were significantly improved because, at the orders of Ulysses S. Grant, the seasoned troops of the Union's Sixth and Nineteenth Corps were rushed to the city from the Richmond area. The second is that three days before, Early had been forced into a fight he did not want at Monocacy, in Maryland a few miles from the town of Frederick, against federal forces under the command of Gen. Lew Wallace. Early prevailed in that engagement, but at considerable cost: "His ranks were thinned by the hundreds of men killed or severely wounded at Monocacy," and "of those remaining, large numbers were unfit for battle because they suffered from exhaustion after marching two days after the fight at Monocacy in what Union prisoner of war W.G. Duckett called the 'almost suffocating' heat."

All of which is to say that in this book we find ourselves firmly implanted in the land of what might have been. If Wallace had not possessed what he called "the determination to stay and fight," Early and his fresh troops would have had a straight shot to Washington. If Early had not been delayed at Monocacy, Grant might not have had time to grasp the seriousness of the threat to Washington and certainly would not have had time to rush crack troops to its defense. If Early had occupied Washington, all the dire consequences elaborated above probably would have arisen, and doubtless many others as well. The Confederacy still would have been in dire straits -- militarily, economically and politically -- but it would have been in position to sue for a peace far more favorable to its interests, probably one that would have maintained slavery in the Confederate states.

As is usually the case when we enter the land of might have been, the most salubrious effect of the exercise is to remind us that in war nothing is foreordained and the line between victory and defeat almost always is incredibly thin. When Robert E. Lee sent Early on his mission to Washington, he believed that Grant "would be forced to send a significant number of his troops from outside Richmond and Petersburg to defend the Union capital," and even though the mission failed to achieve its grandest goals, it did achieve that one. Grant might well have taken Richmond in the summer of 1864, ending the war then instead of in the spring of 1865, sparing untold thousands of lives and leaving both sides in better condition to reunite. As Leepson writes: "The July 9, 1864, fight at Monocacy has come to be known as 'the battle that saved Washington.' It was. It also very possibly was the battle that played a pivotal role in the series of events that started with Lee's June 12, 1864, order to send Early to the [Shenandoah] Valley. That series of events prolonged the Civil War for as many as nine long months."

In great measure this was due to Lew Wallace. He is best known now for his hugely successful novel Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) and the three Hollywood adaptations of it, but there was much more to him than that. His "long, eventful life" included journalism, law, the army and politics. By the spring of 1864, at age 37, he was "commander of the Eighth Army Corps and of the Middle Department based in Baltimore," his authority including "all of Delaware and Maryland from Baltimore West to the Monocacy River." He "was, in effect, the military governor of the city of Baltimore (with nearly 250,000 people, the nation's third largest) and the state."

Wallace was ambitious and packed a not-inconsiderable ego, but he was also principled and patriotic. He "had no formal military training," but at Monocacy he "chose an excellent defensive position," with "the [Monocacy] river in front of him, a river with few easily crossed fords." His force of 5,800 men was far inferior to Early's, which was somewhere around 16,000, but Early did not want to engage him: "The last thing he wanted was an all-out field battle against a significant enemy force bolstered by hardened, veteran Sixth Corps troops holding high ground on the other side of a river," but that is exactly what Wallace gave him. It ended only when "the overpowering, massed Confederate artillery" forced the issue and sent Wallace's forces into retreat. He left the battlefield "believing, he said to his dying day, that by holding up Early for nearly an entire day, he had reached his goal of giving Grant time to get experienced troops up from Petersburg to defend Washington and letting [Union army chief of staff Henry] Halleck know, with no degree of uncertainty, that Early and his men would be moving on a beeline toward Washington."

All of which is probable but scarcely certain. Had Wallace not possessed the foresight and determination to ignore Halleck's indecision and timidity, the capital of the United States might well have fallen into Confederate hands, but by the same token some other obstacle might have arisen in Early's path. On the whole, nevertheless, Leepson's arguments are persuasive, though it must be said in candor that he does not advance them in prose of any distinction or interest. Writing about military maneuvers and military commanders is a tricky business that can lead to confusion and cameo biographies indistinguishable from each other. These are traps that Leepson does not entirely avoid. He seemed more at home in a previous book, Saving Monticello, in which military history was of no consequence.

Still, Desperate Engagement will (of course) be of interest to Civil War buffs, whose numbers remain legion nearly a century and a half after the war's end, and to many other readers as well. Wondering about what might have been is a game more than a study of history, but it is an instructive, useful game that deepens our understanding of history's uncertain, unpredictable path. ·

Jonathan Yardley's address is

Portions of the text of this post came from the Monocacy National Military Park's webpage and from the Washington Post's Book World.

CWL --- Looking for Gettysburg Seminar Books?

Three are available at the GNMP bookstore. Each is under $15. The titles are:
Mr. Lincoln's Army (1998)
American Civil War in 1863 (2001)
'This has been a terrible ordeal': First Day's Battle (2006)

A WorldCat search shows only "I Ordered No Man To Go": Leadership (2002)in three libraries that will lend a copy inter-library loan.

I checked with the Adams County Historical Society and it has no copies.

At this point, the GNMP Library under the direction of John Heiser, is the only place I know where each can be obtained and photocopied/scanned. A copier is available in the library and donations for copies printed are accepted. Researchers are allowed to take personal scanners into the library and scan documents and photographs.

John Heiser's contact information is:
Gettysburg National Military Park
717) 334-1124, extension 428

Monday, July 16, 2007

New for Fall: Live Free, Die Hard

Diehard Rebels: The Confederate Culture of Invincibility, Jason Phillips, University of Georgia Press, 272 pages, b/w historic cartoons and illustrations, notes, bibliography, index release date November 15, 2007 $34.95

Well into the final months of the Civil War, countless Confederate soldiers earnestly believed that victory lay just around the corner. How could this be? Jason Phillips reveals the deeply ingrained attitudes that shaped the reality of these diehards not only during the war but in the subsequent era, when the myth of the Lost Cause was born.

Much is known about what Confederate soldiers fought for; far less is understood about why they fought on despite long odds and terrible costs. Drawing on soldiers’ letters and diary entries from 1863 to 1865, Diehard Rebels explains how religious dogma and perceptions of Union barbarity and ineptitude affirmed in many soldiers a view of an indomitable South. Within the soldiers’ closely circumscribed world, other elements reinforced convictions that the South was holding its own against great but surmountable odds. Close comradeship and disorienting combat conditions were factors, says Phillips, as well as conclusions drawn from images and experiences contradicting the larger reality, such as battlefields littered with enemy corpses and parade-ground spectacles of Confederate military splendor.

Troops also tended to perceive the course of the war in far-off theaters, the North, and overseas in positive ways. In addition, diehards were both consumers and conduits of rumors, misinformation, and propaganda that allowed them to envision a war that was rosier than the truth but still believable. Instead of crippling diehards after defeat, old notions of southern superiority helped them uphold southern honor. The central elements of Confederate invincibility fueled white southern defiance after surrender and evolved into the Lost Cause.

Table of Contents:
Introduction. Southern Invincibility and Confederate Defeat
Chapter One. The Smile of Providence: Confederate Religion and Invincibility
Chapter Two. The Mask of Cain: Enemy Images in Rebel Minds
Chapter Three. Without a Murmur: Confederate Endurance and the Immediate War
Chapter Four. Gray Grapevines: Rumors and the Distant War
Chapter Five. The Face of Surrender: Diehard Rebels in 1865
Conclusion. The Aftermath of Invincibility

Jason Phillips is an assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University. He has also taught at Texas A&M University.

James B. McPherson, whose 2007 book is 'This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War' likes it--
"Diehard Rebels is a major contribution to the history of the Confederacy and the history of Southern culture. It offers an important corrective to the hindsight perspective that portrays an irreversible slide down the slippery slope of demoralization and defeat after the twin defeats at Gettysburg and Vicksburg."
—James McPherson,

Bertram Wyatt-Brown, author of 'The Shaping of Southern Culture', likes it too--
“Phillips persuasively answers a Civil War mystery. Why did so many Confederates doggedly keep fighting when any rational observer would have recognized looming defeat? Examining a most impressive array of sources, he finds that religious faith, cheerleading propaganda, admiration of the officer class, hatred of Yankees, military discipline, bonding in the ranks, stubborn denial of the obvious were all factors. Phillips eloquently and poignantly recounts the deprivations and sacrifices that were endured in vain hope of eventual victory. Every Civil War student, both the professional and lay reader, will find Diehard Rebels highly moving and tragic.”

Text Supplied by The University of Georgia Press with edits by The Civil War Librarian

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Forthcoming: Louisiana Tigers

First Louisiana Special Battalion: Wheat’s Tigers in the Civil War, Gary Schreckengost, McFarland Publishing, photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index,$45, Available Fall/Winter 2007

The author Gary Schreckengost reports that he has chosen to move his manuscript from White Mane/Burd Street Publishing to McFarland Publishing. Once scheduled for late 2006, his work on Wheat's Louisiana Tigers will now be coming out late 2007.

The cover above is from the White Mane/Burd Street Publishing of the unreleased book. The following is text supplied by McFarland Publishing.

From the little-known Filibuster Wars to the Civil War battlefield of Gaines’ Mill, this volume details the fascinating story of one of the South’s most colorful military units, the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion, aka Wheat’s Tigers. Beginning with a brief look at the Filibuster Wars (a set of military attempts to annex Latin American countries into the United States as slave states), the work takes a close look at the men who comprised Wheat’s Tigers: Irish immigrant ship hands, New Orleans dock workers and Filibuster veterans. Commanded by one of the greatest antebellum filibusterers, Chatham Roberdeau Wheat, the Tigers quickly distinguished themselves in battle through their almost reckless bravery, proving instrumental in Southern victories at the battles of Front Royal, Winchester and Port Republic. An in-depth look at Battle of Gaines’ Mill, in which Wheat’s Tigers suffered heavy casualties, including their commander, completes the story. Appendices provide a compiled roster of the Wheat’s Tigers, a look at the 1st Louisiana’s uniforms and a copy of Wheat’s report about the Battle of Manassas. Never-before-published photographs are also included.

About the Author
Author and historian Gary Schreckengost lives in Elm, Pennsylvania. An infantry officer in the Army Reserves, his work has been published in American Civil War Magazine, World War II Magazine, Field Artillery Journal and Armor Magazine.

Text supplied by author and publisher with edits by The Civil War Librarian.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New This Summer: Photographs of Gettysburg, 1863-1938

Historic Photos of Gettysburg, John S. Salmon, Turner Publishing Company, 206 pages, hardcover, $39.95.

Scott Mingus offers this post on the Military History Online military media room. I concur. His review follows these CWL remarks.
Civil War Librarian:

The most intriging photograph is the Taney Farmstead on the east bank of Rock Creek. The house and barn was a sharpshooters' post and the 2nd Virginia of the Stonewall Brigade unmercifully harrassed the 13th New Jersey of Colgrove's Brigade. Currently, the house are ruins which are hidden by trees and undergrowth. In addition, the photograph showing the kitchen at Camp Letterman Hospital during the autumn without leaves on the trees is remarkable in its content. Fully 75% of the book contains photos from late 1863 until the dedication of the Peace Light Memorial in 1938. The photographs of the 50th (1913) and 75th (1938) reunions are outstanding. The book is worth every penny.

Scott Mingus:

Veteran writer/author John S. Salmon has assembled an excellent collection of some of the most famous photographs of the historic Gettysburg, Pennsylvania battlefield and town, most taken with a couple of decades after the July 1863 battle. Included are some of the very best photographs, including some of the studies of dead soldiers, pictures of the key buildings and locations, early battlefield monumentation, and the various reunions of the veterans. The book is a very useful addition to the Civil War library and would make a fine “coffee table book” for display and browsing. The photo collection is varied and insightful, and the breadth of the pictures selected allows the reader to get a good feel for early photography at the battlefield and environs.

The author includes brief captions for the photos, and that is where I have some minor issues with the book. Hopefully in a second edition, some glaring errors in these captions will be corrected. For example, Zacharia Taney should be Zephaniah according to most local accounts (page 25); a barn on page 84 is portrayed as the Nicholas Codori farm (recent research has shown that this photo is actually a different barn, one that was behind the Dobbin House closer to town), and on page 74, the author incorrectly states that a grave belongs to W. Williams, Company B, 24th Michigan Cavalry should be the 24th Michigan Infantry. There are a few other nagging little nits as well in other captions.

That being said, the photos are the prize of the book. It is easily on the of the best anthologies of Gettysburg photographs in terms of overall scope. The poorly researched captions are not enough of a distraction to prevent me from recommending this book, especially if corrected in a second edition.

New for the Fall: Virginia's Families and Soldiers At War

Why Confederates Fought: Family and Nation in Civil War Virginia (Civil War America), Aaron Sheehan-Dean, The University of North Carolina Press, Hardcover, 272 pages. $34.95, release date October 31, 2007

In the first comprehensive study of the experience of Virginia soldiers and their families in the Civil War, Aaron Sheehan-Dean captures the inner world of the rank-and-file by utilizing new statistical evidence and first-person narratives. Aaron Sheehan-Dean is assistant professor of history at the University of North Florida. He is editor of 'The View from the Ground: The Experience of Civil War Soldiers' which The Civil War Librarian thoroughly enjoyed and discussed the individual essays in May, June and July.

CWL --- After 100 Years, E.A. Carman's Maryland Campaign To Be Published In Hardcover ; Companion Volume to LC Digitized Maps Online

The Maryland Campaign of September 1862: Ezra A. Carman's Definitive Study of the Union and Confederate Armies at Antietam, Joseph Pierro, editor, Routledge Publishing, 926 pages, $95.

In the words of Joseph Pierro, editor

Release Date and Size:

+ The release date is now September.

+ The book runs over 400,000 words (2-3 times the length of the average book). It will also be produced in a larger trim size (i.e, the pages are physically bigger than most books) in order to accommodate the volume of text. As to a final page count, the book is still in production, so that's still an open question. (No text will be cut, but the publisher is experimenting with a number of formats, some of which radically change the number of pages necessary.) The final stage (work on the index) will begin in about two weeks--and we're very hopeful that the book will be available for the 145th anniversary of the battle of Antietam this September 17.

Maps, not in the book but on the WWW:

+ It does NOT contain maps--which may sound odd for a work of this type, but there is an explanation. At the time Carman was compiling this massive history of the campaign, he was also working on a complete Atlas of the battle, covering the entire action in 14 large plates (the same size as the maps in the OR Atlas). Unlike his history, Carman's Atlas was published by the U.S. government (in 1904, with a second edition in 1908), though it's now long out of print and very difficult to find outside of major research libraries.

+ As it happens, however, the Library of Congress has recently digitized the entire Atlas and made it available on its website--along with free software that enables users to zoom and move across the maps and reproduce any section with crystal clarity. Anything less than Carman's original maps seemed a disservice to his text, and thus the editors chose to provide the website for the Atlas. Someday, hopefully, it will prove cost effective for a publisher to reproduce these absolutely beautiful maps in a new print edition.

The link to the digitized Atlas itself is:


Bibliographic Notes:

+ You will be happy to know that not only has the manuscript been annotated (rectifying one of the major obstacles to using Carman's manuscript--a decided lack of citations for much of his quoted material), but that the text is laid out with footnotes at the bottom of each page.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CWL --- Gettysburg NMP Seminar Papers

The Gettyburg National Military Park hosts an annual seminar and has published the papers from the fourth through the tenth meetings. John Heiser, Ranger and Librarian of the GNMP, has provided this list to Civil War Librarian. Many Thanks, John!

#1. The Fourth Annual Gettysburg Seminar. Gettysburg 1895-1995: The Shaping of an American Shrine,1995. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park.

Abstract: Collection of essays on the history of the park post-battle to 1895 and then to 1995. Hardcover, 153pp

Eric Campbell, ‘A Field Made Glorious’ Cemetery Hill: From Battlefield to Sacred Ground

Charles Fennell, A Battle From the Start: The Creation of the Memorial Landscape at the Bloody Angle in Gettysburg National Military Park

Kathleen Harrison, “Patriotic & Enduring Efforts” An Introduction to the Gettysburg Battlefield Commission.

D. Scott Hartwig, They Were Soldiers Once and Young and Brave: Veterans and Gettysburg National Military Park

Glenn LaFantasie, Memories of Little Round Top

John Latschar, Gettysburg: The Next 100 Years

Karlton Smith, Changing Faces of Gettysburg: The National Park Service at Gettysburg

Mark Snell, In Lasting Tribute: The U.S. Army and Gettysburg, Post 1863.

#2. Unsung Heroes of Gettysburg, Programs of the Fifth Annual Gettysburg Seminar 1996. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, ills., 133pp.

Abstract: Dissertations on civilians and military units and officers, and individuals who contributed to the development of the park at Gettysburg from the Fifth Annual Gettysburg Seminar.

D. Scott Hartwig, Casualties of War Effects of the Battle of Gettysburg Upon an Infantry Regiment

Rebecca Lyons, Hannah Ropes Family of Massachusetts: A Struggle for American Values
Edward Smith, Blacks in Blue and Gray: The Afro-American Contribution to the Civil War

Eric Campbell, “We saved the Line from being Broken”, Freeman McGilvery, John Bigelow, Charles Reed and the Battle of Gettysburg

Thomas Holbrook, Men of Action: Unsung Heroes of the Cavalry Battle

Timothy Smith, “These were days of horror.” The Gettysburg Civilians

Karlton Smith, Pettigrew & Trimble: The Other Half of the Story

Edward Guy, 100% Confederate Stories: The Men in the Ranks of the Army of Northern Virginia

Thomas Schaefer, If You Seek His Monument- Look Around: E.B. Cope and the Gettysburg National Military Park

#3. Mr. Lincoln’s Army, The Army of the Potomac in the Gettysburg Campaign, Programs of the Sixth Annual Gettysburg Seminar 1998. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, maps, footnotes, 324pp.

Abstract: Collection of essays concerning the Union Army at Gettysburg, featuring subjects including army morale, logistics and supply, general officers, strategy and politics.

Dr. Charles Fennell, “‘Heroes of Continual Defeat’, The Army of the Potomac on the Eve of the Gettysburg Campaign”

Eric Campbell, “‘The Army has never done so much’ The Army of the Potomac versus Public Opinion”

Mark A. Snell, “‘We Marched and Fought this battle without baggage or wagons’ The Army of the Potomac’s Logisticians during the Gettysburg Campaign”

Michael Phipps, “‘They too fought here.’ The Officer Corps of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry During the Battle of Gettysburg”

Kevin Coughenour, “Andrew Atkinson Humphreys, Divisional Command in the Army of the Potomac”

Karlton Smith, “Honor-Duty-Courage. The 5th Army Corps During the Gettysburg Campaign.”

Bert Barnett, “Union Artillery on July 3”

D. Scott Hartwig, “‘The fate of a country’, The Repulse of Longstreet’s Assault by the Army of the Potomac”

Gregory A Coco, “‘A laborious and vexatious task.’ The Medical Department of the Army of the Potomac from the Seven Days through the Gettysburg Campaign..”

#4. The High Water Mark of an Army, The Army of Northern Virginia in the Gettysburg Campaign, Programs of the Seventh Annual Gettysburg Seminar 1999. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, 158pp.

Abstract: Collection of essays relating to the Army of Northern Virginia in 1863, focusing on the Gettysburg Campaign, with essays on Ewell, Lee, and Cemetery Hill, James Longstreet, the Confederate artillery on July 3, and the role of Confederate Cavalry leaders.

John Heiser, The High Water Mark of an Army; Arnold Blumberg, Rebel Sabres, Confederate Cavalry Leaders in the Gettysburg Campaign;

Scott Hartwig, ‘Never have I seen such as charge’, Pender’s Light Division at Gettysburg, July 1; Bert Barnett, Colonel E.P. Alexander and the First Corps Artillery Assail the Peach Orchard;

Troy Harman, The Importance of Ewell’s Attack on July 2 Has Been Missed;

Eric A. Campbell, Richard H. Anderson’s Division at the Battle of Gettysburg;

Karlton Smith, “Never was I so depressed”, James Longstreet and Pickett’s Charge.

#5. The American Civil War in 1863, Programs of the Eighth Annual Gettysburg Seminar
2001. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, footnotes, 173pp.

Abstract: Set of essays dealing with selective aspects of the Civil War in 1863 including articles on the political motives of Jefferson Davis, the Vicksburg campaign, religion in the Army of Northern Virginia, foreign policy, and Lincoln's political motives to continue the war effort. All articles are by park staff.

D. Scott Hartwig, “We Must Fight More Vindictively: The American Civil Was in 1863.”
Bert Barnett, “He is Proud, Self-Reliant and I Fear Stubborn: Jefferson Davis and the Western Command.”

Terence J. Winschel, “Key to Victory: An Overview of the Vicksburg Campaign.”

Rebecca Lyons, “Long, Hot Summer of ‘63”

Troy D. Harman, “The Great Revival of 1863: Effects Upon the Army of Northern Virginia.”

Karlton Smith, “The Queen, the Emperor, and the Republican: United States Foreign Policy in 1863.”

Eric A Campbell,” Forever Free to A New Birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln in 1863.”

#6. “I ordered no man to go where I would not go myself.” Leadership in the Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg, Papers of the Ninth Annual Gettysburg National Military Park Seminar 2002. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, 214 p., ill.

Abstract: Papers of the Ninth Gettysburg National Military Park seminar, April 2002.

Michael Phipps, “Mahan at West Point, Gallic Bias and the Old Army: The Subconscious of Leadership at Gettysburg”

Tom Vossler, “The Opening Fight at Gettysburg” Modern Military Analysis”

Troy D. Harman, “In Defense of Henry Slocum on July 1”

Bert Barnett, “Leadership in the 1st and 11th Corps Artillery on the First Day of the Battle of Gettysburg”

Karlton Smith, “Colonel Edward Lyon Bailey and the Second New Hampshire Infantry at Gettysburg.”

Terry Latschar, “’My brave Texans, forward and take those heights!’ Jerome Bonaparte Robertson and the Texas Brigade”

D. Scott Hartwig, “’I ordered no man to go where I would not go myself.’ Norman Hall, Alexander Webb, Alonzo Cushing, and the Art of Leading Men in Battle”

Mark A. Snell, “‘A hell of a damned fool.’ Judson Kilpatrick, Farnsworth’s Charge, and the Hard Hand of History”

Glenn LaFantasie, “How Lincoln Won and Lost Gettysburg”

#7. “This has been a terrible ordeal.” The Gettysburg Campaign and First Day of Battle. Papers of the Tenth Annual Gettysburg Seminar.2006. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg National Military Park. Soft cover, maps, 288pp.

Abstract: Essays on leadership and battle action on July 1 from the Tenth bi-annual Gettysburg Seminar.

D. Scott Hartwig, The First Day at Gettysburg;

Eric A. Campbell, Voices of the Gettysburg Campaign and the First Day of Battle;

William G. Hewitt, Confederate Operational Considerations: Advance to Gettysburg;

Michael Phipps, Walking Point: John Buford on the Road to Gettysburg;

Anthony Nicastro, Why Gettysburg? Analysis of the Command Decisions and Intelligence Failures that Led to Gettysburg;

D. Scott Hartwig, Herbst Woods, July 1, 1863;

Bert Barnett, Confederate Artillery Operations on the First Day of Gettysburg;

Karlton Smith, Brigadier General Junius Daniel’s North Carolina Brigade on July 1;

Troy D. Harman, The 11th Army Corps and the Battle North of Town;

Matt Atkinson, General George Doles Georgia Brigade on July 1.

CWL --- Telling the Gettysburg Story: Soldiers and Civilians

Human Interest Stories of the Gettysburg Campaign, Scott L. Mingus, Colecraft Books Inc., 2006, 101 pp.

Having read as a child, "A Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends & Folklore" by B.A. Botkin, I came to understand that some history was unlikely to have occurred or was probably made-up. A couple of decades later encountering "A Treasury of Civil War Tales: Unusual, Interesting Stories of the Turbulent Era When Americans Waged War on Americans" by Webb Garrison I didn't change my mind. I have assiduously avoided human interest story collections because they were folklore, similar to the ruling of the judge when examining the tales told during the ghost tours in Gettysburg.

I am suspicious of newspaper articles that are written 20 years after the event.
I am also wary of stories that rely on coincidence.

But, Gregory Coco's "Confederates Killed in Action at Gettysburg", "On the Bloodstained Field" and "On the Bloodstained Field II: 132 More Human Interest Stories of the Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg" warmed me up to the possibility of reading collected human interest stories; Coco treated the material as an historian and closely mined the primary sources. Published in the late 1990's, Coco's collections were incidental to my Civil War reading. Now, closely examining the battle Gettysburg through battlefield tours and the literature of the battle, I have come to imagine that human interest story collections are more than trivia or entertainment.

Scott Mingus has provided 101 pages of human interest stories that do not rely on the coincidental, the folklore, or stories reported at the family reunion. Stories taken from memoirs, diaries, regimental histories, vertical files from the GNMP library, papers in the state MOLLUS collections, county histories, and (yes) newspapers are supplied by Mingus. Organized into Invasion, July 1, July 2, July 3 and the Aftermath, the author has given a thematic structure to the material. About a third of the stories relate to civilians or civilian-soldier interactions.

Among my favorites: the Pennsylvania Reserves show no mercy to a sharpshooter, retreating Rebel soldiers fall through the roof a pig sty and discover food and clothes, Michigan soldiers skim water from cattle hoof prints to make coffee, both Union and Confederate wounded drown in the Rock Creek flood of July 4th and battlefield scavengers are with the duty of burning and burying horses.

Mingus work should not be perceived as being merely entertaining, of having little consequence, or of being compiled trivia. The stories he has collected illustrate the varieties of human interactions under stress. Civilians are both bold and cowardly, both merciful and ready to charge for milk and bread. Soldiers use humor for relief. If history is storytelling, then Mingus has collected stories that are useful for illustrating the larger history of the battle.

Additionally, the author has retold the stories in his own words. This is not a 'copy and paste' book; Mingus' writing style is consistent and his voice comes through. Usually in collections of stories, there are a variety of styles and voices that lead to a 'herky-jerky' reading experience. The author's consistent voice and steady style enhances the thematic aspect of the work. I'll be shopping for Mingus' "Human Interest Stories of the Antietam Campaign" and looking forward the second collection of Gettysburg stories.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CWL --- Far From Heaven: Compromises and Conflicts of Faith By Yankee Soldiers

No Nearer Heaven Now But Rather Farther Off: The Religious Compromises and Conflicts of Northern Soldiers, David W. Rolfs, in The View From the Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, editor, University of Kentucky Press, 2007, pp. 121-144.

Religion was the prism through which many Northern soldiers viewed and interpreted many their wartime experiences. Noted historians Stephen Woodworth, Reid Mitchell, Earl Hess, and Edward Ayers have emphasized that a large number of Civil War soldiers were intensely religious. Personal identity and worldview were firmly rooted in a commonsense reading of the Bible and when their understanding of their place in the world collided with warfare, soldiers turned to God for strength to endure the crisis. (p. 138)

Like any soldier today, the terrible emotional burden of combat placed soldiers in a position to consider the errors of their lives and to also be courageous in the face of death. Yet, beyond this surface viewing of the religious life of the soldier issue, David W. Rolfs adds the dimension of the severe psychological suffering which soldiers experienced.

Even as soldiers became acquainted with cognitive dissonance, that is when beliefs and behaviors are mismatched, they also experienced moral dissonance, that is attitudes and behaviors are mismatched. Moral tension and guilt are, at times, dealt with by the soldier changing his perception of his identity. The evaluation by historians of a soldier's self-perception is risky business. Rolfs admits that "it may not be possible to properly diagnose a soldier's psychological state on the basis of a few letters, but one can certainly make a reasonable hypothesis based upon the evidence." (pp. 134-135)

Depression among soldiers who held Christian beliefs was likely states Rolfs. in soldiers' letters he has found deeper emotions than the feelings of a guilty conscience. Stereotypical explanations such as the failures of simplistic faith, a focus on other-worldliness, and one dimensional understandings of sin, just does not match up with the religious content primary source documents. "The common soldiers' faith was actually far more realistic and complex that previously portrayed--realistic, in that it was a practical faith that seriously addressed the everyday problems believers encountered living in a fallen world, and complex because it was a comprehensive faith that encompassed a wide range of changing religious sentiments, from the steadfast certitude of the seasoned saint to the despair of a less mature believer suddenly confronted with doubts.' (p. 139)

For a copy of this essay, request it via inter-library loan or email The Civil War Libarian.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

CWL --- Ted Savas Clears the Air on Amazon.Com, 'Maps of Gettysburg' and the Need for a Second Printing

Ted Savas, is the director of Savas Beatie, the publishing company that just released Brad Gottfried's "Maps of Gettysburg." During the past week, he has followed the posts on Gettysburg Discussion regarding the book.

Here is his July 7th update on the issues involved:

Ordering: The book is widely available, so I do not know what Amazon is talking about when they say it won't ship for weeks. Unfortunately, Amazon went to the Big Dance with books, but left with appliances and make-up; i.e., failed to keep their book division well staffed. It is nearly impossible to get information changed on their site (it is often wrong, for many books), or get a correct answer to a simple question.

Signed and Inscribed Copies: Yes, we have signed copies Brad was good enough to agree to sign a few cases, but they were gone in a few days. He is out of books (again), but we have ordered up more from the warehouse in DC to his home in Maryland, so orders should all be in the mail by the end of this coming week (July 13). Yes, when you order a book from us it will automatically be signed, and if you want to confirm or would like it specially inscribed, send us a follow up email through our website at We posted a recent interview with Brad there that will also answer some of the questions I am being asked.

First Editions: As I write [July 7th], about 65% of the first edition is already gone-either sold outright or in the stream of commerce. Many ask how to make sure they have a first edition, first printing. The only books out there noware first editions, first printings.

However, this week we are ordering up a second printing, which will be available in three weeks. So, you can decideon the speed with which you should act-or not. Like all books, I am sure there will be something in Gottfried's "Maps of Gettysburg" we wish we had done differently, or written differently or presented differently. It is the nature of any beast such as this.

Our sincere hope is that what we have done contributes to the study of the campaign, and that it triggers additional excitement in others whose interest is currently but lukewarm-that would be wonderful. An entry point into seeing and understanding might well do that.

I got a phone call yesterday [July 6] from a man who bought a copy at the battlefield. He had never visited the field or read about the Civil War, but his 17-year old son wanted to go. So they drove 700 miles to see the field. He said they read Brad's book in the hotel, took it on the field, and both of them "really got into the battle." Now the dad wants to read more about it, and asked for reading suggestions. That put a huge smile on my face.

Another convert infected with the virus. Finally, let take the time to say thank you for all you do on this board. Itis amazing to see the knowledge bantered so easily about here. What you have done for Gettysburg and campaign is extraordinary. I wish I could play a bigger role, but my weak knowledge base would instantly be visible for all to see. So I will stick with publishing and reading and leave the discussion to the experts. Happy reading. Best regards.

Theodore P. Savas, Savas Beatie LLC, P.O. Box 4527 El Dorado Hills, CA 95762916-941-6896 (voice)916-941-6895 (fax)

CWL ---- Pivotal Battles: Ed Bearrs' Tour Guide

Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War, Edwin C. Bearrs, National Geographic Publishing, 464 pp., 19 maps, 80 illustrations., hardcover $28.00, paperback

A very readable text with sufficient maps and illustrations, Ed Bearrs 'Fields of Honor' recalls to mind the several tours of Gettysburg I've had with the author as the guide. This book is a wonderful coverage of some fine tours but what it is not, and what it does not intend to be, is an exhaustive story of campaigns. 'Fields of Honor' is best read before a visit to one of the battlefields covered in the text. Fourteen battlefields are toured; but everyone has their own list of 'turning points' and a few expected battles aren't on the editors' list.

The Blue Gray Education Society taped the audio portion of the former Chief Historian of the National Park Service tours. Friends of Bearrs transcribed, edited and added paragraphs that are shown in italics in the text. This lends itself to reading a text with two voices and at times is jarring to both the ear and eye.

The NPS' current historian emeritus, Bearss leads tours of America's battlefields more than 300 days per year. I am thinking that Ed Bearrs has been on 90% of all Civil War battlefields and that at some point there will be a sequel to this volume.

Friday, July 06, 2007

CWL --- In A Strange Land: Christian Soldiers at War

Strangers in a Strange Land: Christian Soldiers in the Early Months of the Civil War, Kent T. Dollar, in The View From the Ground: Experiences of Civil War Soldiers, Aaron Sheehan-Dean, University of Kentucky Press, 2007, pp. 145-169, notes.

Court TV 1863 Tuesday July 10
7p Privates Gone Wild!
8p. Corporals Gone Wild!
9p Sergeants Gone Wild!
10p Lieutenants Gone Wild!
11 p Captains Gone Wild!
12a Chaplains Gone Wild!
1a Surgeons Gone Wild!
2a-6a Camp Revivals

7p-1:55a Written, Directed and Produced by Thomas Lowery, author of the Courts Martial Series, The Story Soldiers Couldn't Tell, and Sexual Misadventures During the Civil War

2a-6a Written, Directed and Produced by the Holy Spirit

"I have gone entirely wild and If I ever get back I shall have my name taken off the church book for it is a shame and disgrace to the cause of Christ to be there. . . .
. . . pray for me but look upon me no longer as a worthy member of the church," confessed Marion Fitzpatrick, 45th Georgia, December 15, 1862.

Wartime diaries of chaplains, both North and South, reveal that most soldiers showed little or no interest in religion at the outset of the war. Military campaigns, the meager number of trained chaplains and the general lack of interest among the enlisted men caused a decline in both the frequency and availability of religious services in camps. "Men who four months ago would not use a profane word can now out swear many others and those who would even shun a checker board now play cards for profit," reported Cyrus Boyd, an enlisted man from Iowa.

Drew Gilpin Faust and Steven Woodworth, scholars of the Civil War era, agree that camp life had a morally damaging effect on Northern and Southern soldiers. Kent Dollar, the author of this essay, has found many individuals who either resisted temptation or recovered after submitting to it. Usually, individuals with a kindred spirit managed to find each other, either in a neighboring company or in a neighboring regiment. Believing chaplains (and Thomas Lowery has shown that chaplains at times succumbed to temptations) were at many times scarce in the armies. Not finding a suitable chaplain exercising a gift for preaching, Allan Geer of the 20th Illinois decided to attend a Methodist and later an 'Ethiopian' worship service while campaigning in Tennessee.

During camp life, an enlisted man's time alone was a rare experience. Soldiers read their scriptures during guard mount or wandering away from camp. Over and over again, Dollar reports the importance of religious literature sent from home or distributed by the Christian Commission, which kept lending libraries in the camps. These portable book closets contained both the classics of literature and devotional materials.

By the early winter of 1862, in both the eastern and western fronts, revivals began to occur and continued to be launched in the early winters of 1863 and 1864. The impact of religion and revivals on soldiers' motivation to continue combat in the springs of 1863, 1864 and 1865 has been addressed by Peter Carmichael, Earl Hess and James B. McPherson. The seedbed for these revivals were the believing soldiers themselves. "Thousands of devout Christian soldiers were holding firm to their religious convictions and relying of their faith to get them through the first months of the Civil War," states the author.

To obtain a copy of this essay, ask your librarian or email the Civil War Librarian.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

CWL --- Brave, Dutiful, Good: George Gordon Meade

George Gordon Meade and the War in the East, Ethan S. Rafuse, McWhiney Foundation Press, 2003, 192 pp., illustrations, maps, index, notes, $29.95.

Ethan Rafuse states his purpose frankly. To provide a chronicle of the life and career of George Gordon Meade and to delineate the forces that shaped the Union war effort in the East and the military and political problems that Meade and other generals encountered as they pursed victory are his goals.(p. 15) He splendidly achieves them.

As in A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign and Battle of Manassas (2002) and McClellan's War: The Failure Of Moderation In The Struggle For The Union (2005), Rafuse deftly handles the primary sources to reveal the men and their mindsets on the battlefield. In each of his three works, the major dispute between the West Point trained generals, the political generals, and the administration of Lincoln is the line of operations to be pursued when the army advanced upon Richmond.

The West Pointer officers, even Hooker, believed the appropriate base to be the James River. The Lincoln administration, even Halleck, believed the appropriate base to be the railroads running north to south between Washington, DC and Richmond. The West Pointers in the Army of the Potomac were constantly frustrated by the Overland approach and were unable to convince the administration to adopt the James River approach. In the end, it is Grant who uses the Overland route to reach the appropriate base of operations, the James River.

Within the context of this struggle, Meade the commander of a brigade, a division, a corps and an army manages to excel. Citing Meade's extensive letters to his wife, Rafuse reveals a general who while it "was his job to offer suggestions, the final decision as to what policy he was to implement" rested with the Lincoln administration.(p. 169) Unlike McClellan and Hooker, Meade had a great contempt for history that had yet to be written. The statement of this attitude was in a letter to his wife written on April 10, 1865, the day after the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia. The first draft of that yet to be final draft of history appeared in newspapers. He had a very low opinion of politicians and newspaper editors. He made a effort to shape policy with politicians but made no effort to shape perceptions of newspapermen. He did not attempt to work with politicians by cultivating his own lobby of congressmen and senators.

As a commander of a brigade in the Pennsylvania Reserve division, Meade suffered two wounds at the Battle of Glendale, June 30, 1862. He recovered and rejoined his brigade in time for the Battle of 2nd Manassas in which the Pennsylvania Reserves refused to retreat in the late afternoon of August 30 and, it can be argued, saved the Army of Virginia, from a truly ignominious defeat by capture. Meade ascended to division command before Antietam and to corps command during the battle. He returned to command of the Pennsylvania Reserve division for the Fredericksburg Campaign. He commanded a the Fifth Corps during the January 1863 'Mud March.' He became the last commander of the Army of the Potomac during the early morning hours of June 28, three days before the Battle of Gettysburg.

Meade confided to his wife many personal evaluations. McClellan 'errs on the side of prudence and caution, and that a little more rashness on his part would improve his generalship.' (p.47) Towards Burnside "I never felt so disappointed and sorry for any one in my life as I did" for him; "he really seems to have even the elements against him." (p. 57) "Hooker has disappointed the army and myself in failing to show the nerve. . . . I am sorry for Hooker, because I like him and my relations have been agreeable with him; but I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that he has on this occasion [Chancellorsville] missed a brilliant opportunity." (p. 66)

As for Meade's own generalship, Rafuse provides quotations from both Rebel and Union generals, particularly E.P. Alexander and U.S. Grant, that express an appreciation of his competence and perception of duty. In the course of less than 200 pages, Ethan Rafuse has provided readable, even suspenseful, biography that will be enjoyed by both the buff and the scholar.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

CWL --- Maps of Gettysburg: First Edition Sells Out Within the First Week and a Few Quibbles

It appears that the first edition of Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley Godfried has sold out in its first week. The publisher, Savas Beattie, is putting out a second edition that will be available in early to middle August. Current orders at won't be shipped until then. One reader on the Gettysburg Discussion Group reports that Barnes and Noble has 33 in the warehouse; other readers state that the Farnesworth House in Gettysburg has several and Butternut and Blue will be bringing first edition copies to the vendors exposition in Gettyburg the weekend of July 7 and 8.
Savas Beatty, the publisher, has a few of the first edition left (as of July 6th). Their phone number is 916-941-6896.

An early quibble is with the title. "Why July 13th when the last CSA forces withdrew from Falling Waters, MD on July 14th?" asks George Frank, a Gettysburg Discussion Group member.

Also, Richard Faser of the Library Journal has a few quibbles:

One specific complaint about this book should be aired before all others: its title, The Maps of Gettysburg-rather than Maps of Gettysburg-implies that the maps contained herein have some official status or particular historical significance or are recognized as definitive in some way. In fact, they are the work of Gottfried (president, College of Southern Maryland).

Well executed in black-and-white, they have no particular quality that confers special importance upon them. The author provides 144 of these maps of the Gettysburg campaign and battle, each with a single-page commentary explaining the action rendered. Regiments are depicted as black or white blocks with appropriate numbers and state abbreviations, and terrain and roads are identified.

Perhaps the greatest oversight is that while the author provides details of space, he supplies none of time. Rarely does he offer any specific information about the duration of a given phase of the battle or what time of day it took place. In his cumulative overview of this abundantly studied battle, he never achieves the clarity for which he seems to be striving. For Civil War students and enthusiasts who already know enough about the subject, this book may be handy. An optional purchase for academic libraries.

The Civil War Librarian will follow the popular reception and the scholarly reviews.