Search

Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

Education and Preservation

Author

Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

Caught in the Maelstrom: The Indian Nations in the Civil War, 1861-1865

Dr. Clint Crow captures the essence of a civil war within the Civil War by explaining tribal conflicts that began long before 1861. The Five Civilized Tribes—the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek (Muscogee), and Seminole—were divided internally between a faction that resisted signing treaties with the United States government that gave up land for settlement by the expanding population of the United States and those that supported signing treaties as a means of preserving the tribe and avoiding further confrontations. 

   He adeptly develops the character of leaders representing all factions and particularly Cherokee’s Stand Watie (the only native American promoted to general in the Confederate Army and the last general to surrender his command upon the conclusion of hostilities) and John Ross, and the Creek, Opothleyahola.

   The Civil War west of the Mississippi River, the area designated as the Trans Mississippi Theater, has not generated as much interest by scholars of the Civil War as the Western Theater, the area from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River, or the portion of the country east of the Appalachian Mountains, the Eastern Theater. But, the Trans Mississippi, as Dr. Clint Crowe illustrates, is conflicted with political intrigue, both National and Tribal, personal vendettas, and all the challenges military operations present to a population caught in the path.  

   Dr. Crowe describes the military and political decisions that impacted upon the ebb and flow, and the losses and success on the battlefield that impacted the population long after the War Between the States ended.  The maps and illustrations provide ample support to the battle narratives and leadership assessments.  Caught in the Maelstrom is an excellent narrative that may entice further study regarding the area of operation known as the Trans Mississippi Theater.

Reviewed by Arley McCormick

Gettysburg: Kids Who Did the Impossible!

The book, Gettysburg Kids Who Did The Impossible by Gregory Christianson, is about a bunch of kids who risked their lives to either help soldiers or just keep their family and animals safe. This book also gives some perspective on what life was like during the war and battles. As I was reading this book I found that is was very interesting to me. I feel like both adults and kids could enjoy this book. There were pictures and stories to satisfy readers of all ages. There were facts about generals in the war, about Abraham Lincoln, and more. 

I cannot think of a single bad thing about this book. It was very well organized and had many paintings and pictures showing what was happening. I feel like this is an important book because all the time the only people mentioned were the adults who fought (and don’t get me wrong, they deserved to be mentioned for their actions) but everyone forgets about kids who also played an important role in the wars and battles. For ever person who bought a loaf of bread for a soldier and every young woman who helped at a hospital, they should have a chance for their story to get told. I feel that this is what the book did. It let their stories be told.

Reviewed by Emily Creekmore, 7th grade.

Confederate Soldiers in the American Civil War: Facts and Photos for Readers of All Ages

 Mark Hughes has written a great primer for those who are new to studying the War Between the States.  Chocked full of period “images”, this book gives a great overview into the culture of the period.  It is not a definitive history but serves to whet the appetite of those who do not have an in-depth understanding of the war.  It is a “picture book”.  The table of contents gives a fast overview of the topics illustrated.  They range from enlisting in the armies to technology, and POWs among other topics.

   What should be interesting to the reader are the numerous descriptions and captions for images not usually seen in other publications.  One would think that after all the books being printed, the images would be the same ones.  Not so with this book.  There are a plethora of images and they are well-annotated with interesting narratives.

   Hughes does a very good job of tying the images to historical facts regarding the war.  Prisoners are not just soldiers who are captured —- they are used as teaching points.  He uses the POW images to describe prisoner camps on both sides and the “exchange” system which eventually broke-down.  The images serve as a means by which to discuss the war in finite “bytes”.   For example, the war at sea is concisely addressed by giving the history of specific ships —- such as the CSS Chicora.  The Chicora’s history is the background for an explanation of the blockade.  Hughes even includes an image of one of his ancestors, Andrew Jackson Hughes explaining what happened to each veteran.

   The end of the book has interesting information on the “last” Confederate soldier; researching Confederate ancestors; an excellent glossary of period terms; and geographic points of interest in the South (including short descriptions, website addresses and locations).

   I highly recommend this book for high school students to senior citizens who don’t have a depth of knowledge regarding the war but would like to learn more.  

 

Reviewed by Ed Kennedy

Targeted Tracks: The Cumberland Valley Railroad in the Civil War, 1861-1865

 Admittedly, at first glance the thought may occur regarding why the Cumberland Valley Railroad, with its origin in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and terminus only about 25 miles inside the Maryland border at Hagerstown be of any consequence or interest with Civil War enthusiasts. The answer is revealed.

   The authors illustrate why every great military commander understands the value of a strong logistics support structure and they very ably address how a fledgling nation, recognizing the need to move goods from their point of origin to the American market and beyond to Europe, needed faster and more efficient transportation alternatives than road and rivers. They also address the contrast between the quality and quantity of rail in the North and the South and the use of rail as a force multiplier by rapidly transporting troops and war supplies by using interior lines i.e., rail but always subject to enemy interdiction. General Joseph E. Johnston demonstrated the concept at first Bull Run. 

   They describe the difference between the Federal government’s practice of nationalizing the use of rail and the Confederacy’s less aggressive management that conceded to States Rights doctrine by relying on patriotism to support an essential military need.

   Substantial research supports the narrative and the authors describe the various incidences with direct Civil War implications from John Brown’s clandestine shipment of arms to support his aggressive action in Kansas and Harpers Ferry, the Confederate raid on Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and the impact on the Union Army resupply after the Battle of Gettysburg. 

   Unlike the South, where the limited industry was devastated by war, in the North, the economy flourished and the railroads benefited financially adding to the economic benefits of westward expansion.

   The author’s respective skills complement and benefits the narrative with Scott Mangus’ skills as a consultant as well as his research and writing regarding slavery and the Underground Railroad. Cooper Wingert is also an accomplished author of Civil War related topics that complement the scientific background of Mr. Mangus. They provide a compelling analysis of the Cumberland Rail line in the era of national growth and war.

 

Reviewed by Arley McCormick

Attack at Daylight and Whip Them: The Battle of Shiloh, April 6-7, 1862

  The Savas Beatie paperbacks referred to as the “Emerging Civil War Series” are detailed guidebooks of the titled Battlefields. Similar to previous publications in the series a visitor to the site may drive the referenced route of the battlefield and digest the key elements of the fight from the perspective of both the Blue and the Gray. 

   Attack at Daylight and Whip Them, is focused on the leadership, tactical decisions of the Battle of Shiloh on both armies and the impact of national understanding of what the Civil War would become. It is an overview that describes and illustrates the judgment most historians consider the most insightful regarding the battle. It doesn’t challenge previous judgments but does offer explanations regarding the decisions and the personalities of those that made them. 

   The guide highlights the background leading to the battle, and the conflict often written regarding Generals’ Albert Sydney Johnson and P.G. Beauregard, General Lew Wallace, and Generals’ William Tecumseh Sherman and U.S. Grant. Gregory Mertz also highlights notable participants and the order of battle is very useful as well as the appendix listing other accounts of the Battle of Shiloh.

   There are ample photographs, sketches, and maps to prepare the reader for an interesting and informed visit to the battlefield. 

   I recommend this account of the Battle of Shiloh. It continues in the tradition of the series to providing a simplified version of the battle with all the ingredients needed to peak the enthusiasm of the Civil War novas and experienced student alike.  

 

Reviewed by Arley McCormick

“too Much for Human Endurance”: The George Spangler Farm Hospitals and the Battle of Gettysburg

   Libraries, private and public, include shelves of books dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg. All the fighting at the epic battle is documented in detail but the logistics and medical services have yet to be fully explained and documented. Mr. Kirkwood fills that void with “Too Much for Human Endurance”. 

   Ronald D. Kirkwood is an award winning writer and a docent at the Spangler farm since it opened in 2013. In describing the contribution of the Spangler farm he introduces leaders, surgeons and sergeants, and describes the ebbs and flow of the battle line as it applies to the tenacious attempts to save soldiers lives. He includes 60 photos and 13 sketches and maps with sufficient detail to clearly support his narrative.    

   Mr. Kirkwood describes the medical support that occurred on George Spangler’s Farm and much more. There is no doubt the authors intent to detail the medical support provided on the land associated with the farm and it’s relation to the battle itself is fulfilled. His description of the support structure amplified by numerous narratives provided by those that served as reluctant patients, and provides a description of death such as that of Confederate General Lewis A. Armistead.

   His narrative amplifies the status of medicine, sanitation, and the use of chloroform to mitigate pain and anguish, allowing medical practitioners to apply their skill to save lives.  While the patients on the farm were principally from the XI Corps. Other organizations were treated as well and the annexes detail the biographies of surgeons, elements of the XI Corps, how the artillery reserve at the battle was utilized, specifically the 2nd Connecticut Light Artillery, and an accounting of the Spangler farm wounded and dead. 

   This is an excellent and very detailed look at the activities behind the battle line fighting at Gettysburg and a rare description of the energy exerted to save lives and support the tactical success of the Union Army at Gettysburg.

   As an aside former President Richard Nixon placed flowers at his great-great-great grandfather’s grave in 1953 at Gettysburg.

   Mr. Kirkland’s book is clearly an excellent addition to the Gettysburg story as well as a detailed accounting of military medical practice in 1863.

 

Reviewed by Arley McCormick

Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station: The Problems of Command and Strategy After Gettysburg, from Brandy Station to the Buckland Races, August 1 to October 31, 1863

 Meade and Lee at Bristoe Station is an outstanding book that answers the question: what did Lee and Meade do when both armies were in Virginia after returning from Gettysburg? It will be remembered that Longstreet with two divisions was sent West to reinforce Bragg, leading to Chickamauga, and some may remember the Union countered by sending the XI and XII Corps to reinforce Rosecrans. This left two depleted armies facing each other in Northern Virginia. 

   Lee resolved to take advantage of the situation by trying to replicate the Second Manassas Campaign – and he was partially successful, driving Meade all the way back to Centerville. However, miscues by A. P. Hill and skill mixed with some luck on Meade’s part thwarted Lee’s designs, and by the end of October, 1863, the armies had returned to their previous locations. This book is the story of that campaign.

   The author has done a great job – excellent description with plenty of maps allow you to see exactly what both sides intended and how they executed those intentions. I highly recommend this book as an exposition of both the tactics employed and the campaign strategy (operational art to us Army guys). Great read!

 

Reviewed by John Scales

“This Place Matters”

Tuesday, April 30, 2pm
205 Eastside Square

Mayor Battle and local officials will kick off Huntsville’s 2019 annual historic preservation campaign, which runs during May. He will proclaim that “This Place Matters” at the formerly-hidden, mid-1800s brick sidewalk.

The Huntsville-Madison Historical Society and The Historic Huntsville Foundation partnered with city departments and Berry Baugh Allen of Baugh Art, to design, fabricate, and install a modern viewing structure. It replaces the heavily weathered box that stood over the old sidewalk since 1974.

High school students from the theater department of Randolph School will mingle as characters from Huntsville’s early days, in honor of the Alabama Bicentennial, 1819-2019. A short tour of the ornate lobby of the former Elbert H. Parsons Law Library may be available as time allows.

The public is cordially invited.

Questions? Carol Codori, 256-293-0075 or carolcodori@att.net





The Real Horse Soldiers: Benjamin Grierson’s Epic 1863 Civil War Raid Through Mississippi

Dr. Timothy B. Smith, the author, wanted to tell a good story, describe the events in a social context, and include the operational considerations that fully illustrate the significance of the achievement.  He achieved his objectives.

John Wayne’s cavalry adventure “The Horse Soldiers” was entertaining but not exactly correct. Dr. Smith, also the author of “Champion Hill: Decisive battle for Vicksburg”, explains the considerations and analysis leading to the operational faints and distractions orchestrated in Northwest Mississippi and North Alabama to confuse the Confederate commanders in Mississippi and Richmond allowing Grierson to execute the primary mission; destroy and disrupt the Mississippi Southern Railroad resupply of Vicksburg that passed through the rail hub at Newton Station and distract Confederate action from Grant as he crossed the Mississippi River south of Vicksburg.

Mr. Smith includes a number of simple yet clear maps of the area of operation, essentially Mississippi, that aid understanding the complexity of the operational situation and the audacity of Grierson’s challenge. He provides an interesting character study of Grierson and other officers and men participating. He describes the task organization of the cavalry and detachments and the missions they were assigned and executed on their trek through Mississippi. All topics essential to a complete study of military operations. Readers will also enjoy the prologue that describes journalists, individual participants, Union military leaders, and even the Confederate response to the raid. The author also describes the impact of the raid on the lives of some soldiers for the remainder of the war and in life, providing testimony to how the hazards of war linger with its participants. 

This book will not only impress cavalry enthusiasts, but anyone with a serious or casual interest in Civil War operations and the personalities that experience it.

 

Reviewed by Arley McCormick

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑