Alabama and the Civil War: A History & Guide, by Robert C. Jones, The History Press, Charleston, South Carolina, 192 pages, $14.26, 2017. Review by Arley McCormick
The book should have another subtitle; South of the Tennessee River. But, even as his work minimizes the war in communities north of the Tennessee River it fulfills the subtitle; A History & Guide. The most impressive chapters address manufacturing, prisons, forts, and key players.
Mr. Jones does not divulge the criteria that he used to choose the key players he addresses and it will challenge your imagination why he chose Emma Sansom and completely ignores the first Secretary of War, Leroy Pope Walker. He does address politicians, fire eaters, and Generals, but ignores the home front, bushwhackers and partisans. The value of the narrative is not in the detail but in the timelines that give a perspective on the life and times affecting the key players, logistics facilities, and events.
Mr. Jones narrative will garner interest from some of our most avid Civil War enthusiasts and disappoint others who cherish infinite details. But the descriptions of the war industry in Alabama south of the Tennessee River and the overview of battles perpetrated by Union Army General’s James Wilson and Able Streight, and Union naval officers Rear Admiral David Farragut and the seldom addressed incursion up the Tennessee River to the Shoals in North Alabama by U.S. Navy Lieutenant S.L. Phelps will delight others. Union General’s Ormsby Mitchel’s capture of Huntsville and Edward Canby’s capture of Mobile are also mentioned.
I define Mr. Jones work as an introduction to the Civil War in Alabama and in only 180 pages of narrative there are nuggets of information that will tweak your interest. It is an excellent, although compressed, source to begin further study.