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Commanding the Army of the Potomac By Stephen R. Taaffe

Commanding the Army of the Potomac

By Stephen R. Taaffe

February 2006; 296 pages, 24 photographs, 9 maps, 6 x 9; Modern War Studies; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1451-6, $34.95

Commanding the Army of the Potomac By Stephen R. Taaffe
Commanding the Army of the Potomac
By Stephen R. Taaffe

During the Civil War, thirty-six officers in the Army of the Potomac were assigned corps commands of up to 30,000 men. Collectively charged with leading the Union’s most significant field army, these leaders proved their courage in countless battlefields from Gettysburg to Antietam to Cold Harbor. Unfortunately, courage alone was not enough. Their often dismal performances played a major role in producing this army’s tragic record, one that included more defeats than victories despite its numerical and materiel superiority.

Stephen Taaffe takes a close look at this command cadre, examining who was appointed to these positions, why they were appointed, and why so many of them ultimately failed to fulfill their responsibilities. He demonstrates that ambitious officers such as Gouverneur Warren, John Reynolds, and Winfield Scott Hancock employed all the weapons at their disposal, from personal connections to exaggerated accounts of prowess in combat, to claw their way into these important posts.

Once there, however, as Taaffe reveals, many of these officers failed to navigate the tricky and ever-changing political currents that swirled around the Army of the Potomac. As a result, only three of them managed to retain their commands for more than a year, and their machinations caused considerable turmoil in the army’s high command structure. Taaffe also shows that their ability or inability to get along with generals such as George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, George Meade, and Ulysses Grant played a big role in their professional destinies.

In analyzing the Army of the Potomac’s corps commanders as a group, Taaffe provides a new way of detailing this army’s chronic difficulties—one that, until now, has been largely neglected in the literature of the Civil War.

“This is one of the best Civil War books I have read in a very long time. An insightful, elegantly written, thoroughly enjoyable narrative that is informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking.”–Steven E. Woodworth, author of Nothing But Victory: The Army of the Tennessee, 1861–1865

“A fine study and one well worth the good reviews it will receive.”–Stephen Engle, author of Struggle for the Heartland: The Campaigns from Fort Henry to Corinth

“A book that’s sure to spark discussion.”–Brooks D. Simpson, author of Ulysses S. Grant: Triumph Over Adversity, 1822–1865.

STEPHEN R. TAAFFE is associate professor of history at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and author of The Philadelphia Campaign and MacArthur’s Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign, both from Kansas.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Civil War St. Louis By Louis S. Gerteis

Civil War St. Louis

Louis S. Gerteis

New in paperback: October 2004; xii, 410 pages, 24 photographs, 6 x 9; Modern War Studies;Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1361-8, $17.95 (t)

Civil War St. Louis By Louis S. Gerteis
Civil War St. Louis By Louis S. Gerteis

In the Civil War, rough-and-tumble St. Louis played a key role as a strategic staging ground for the Union army. A citadel of free labor in a slave state, it also harbored deeply divided loyalties that mirrored those of its troubled nation. Until now, however, the fascinating story of wartime St. Louis has remained largely unchronicled.

By the mid-nineteenth century, St. Louis had become the nation’s greatest inland city, providing a “gateway to the West,” a riverine crossroads for national commerce, and an ideal base for expansion-minded industrialists from the abolitionist Northeast. Yet as Louis Gerteis reveals, many of its citizens were staunchly dedicated to both slavery and the southern agrarian tradition. For them especially, federal martial law was an outrage, one that only served to nail the coffin shut on their loyalty to the Union.

Gerteis’s rich and engaging narrative encompasses a wide range of episodes and events involving the lynching of freeman Francis McIntosh and murder of publisher Elijah Lovejoy, the infamous Dred Scott saga (which began in St. Louis), city politics and martial law, battles in and around the city (at Camp Jackson, Wilson’s Creek, and Pea Ridge), major river campaigns, manufacture of ironclad combat ships, prison camps and hospitals, and efforts to secure civil rights for blacks while denying the same to former Confederates who would not swear loyalty to the Union.

Featuring famous figures like Thomas Hart Benton, John C. Fremont, Claiborne Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Sterling Price, Gerteis’s study also sheds considerable light on the participation of women and the status of blacks throughout the conflict, offering gripping images of black and white Missourians contending with the issue of emancipation.

Ultimately, Gerteis presents a compelling portrait of a war-torn city–teeming with wounded soldiers, displaced civilians, runaway slaves, federal prisoners, and profiteers–that was forever changed by its wartime experiences, even as it anchored Union victory in the west.

“An outstanding and welcome examination of a city of immense importance.”—Civil War Book Review

“A great read for local Civil War buffs and all of us enchanted by the city’s past. Gerteis fills his narrative with vignettes that vividly capture the tone, mood, and values of the time.”—St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“The bloody divisions created by the Civil War were deeper and higher in the Union slave states, where Americans were divided from the beginning and where there were numerous civil wars within the Civil War. Nowhere is this more true than in St. Louis. And no one has told the story of St. Louis’s civil wars better than Louis Gerteis. . . . A triumph.”–Ira Berlin, author of Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America

“Gerteis does a masterful job of unraveling the tangled mix of ethnic, racial, political, religious, economic, and kinship groups that defined this robust, cosmopolitan city. In so doing, he shows that not all the drama of the war took place on the battlefield.”–Daniel E. Sutherland, author of Seasons of War: The Ordeal of a Confederate Community, 1861–1865

“Replete with gripping and unforgettable images.”–Mark E. Neely, Jr., author of Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties

LOUIS S. GERTEIS is professor of history at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and author of Morality and Utility in American Antislavery Reform and From Contraband to Freedman: Federal Policy toward Southern Blacks, 1861–1865.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Dear Catharine, Dear Taylor; The Civil War Letters of a Union Soldier and His Wife

Dear Catharine, Dear Taylor; The Civil War Letters of a Union Soldier and His Wife

Edited by Richard L. Kiper; Letters transcribed by Donna B. Vaughn

November 2002; 424 pages, 12 photographs, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; Modern War Studies; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1205-5, $34.95

Dear Catharine, Dear Taylor; The Civil War Letters of a Union Soldier and His Wife
Dear Catharine, Dear Taylor; The Civil War Letters of a Union Soldier and His Wife

Taylor Peirce was 40 years old when he left his wife and family to enlist in the 22nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He served for three long years and saw action in both theaters of the Civil War—ranging thousands of miles from the siege of Vicksburg through engagements in Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, both Carolinas, and the Shenandoah Valley. During that time he saw his wife only twice on furlough, but still stayed in close contact with her through their intimate and dedicated exchange of letters.

Both ardent Unionists who hated slavery and revered Lincoln, the Peirces wrote nearly every week over their long separation—letters that reveal a deep and abiding love for each other, as well as their strong-willed allegiance to the Union cause. Taylor’s letters tell of battles and camp life, drilling and training, brave and cowardly commanders, troop morale, raucous amusements like music and gambling, delinquent paymasters, and his own moral code and motivation for fighting. They include graphic descriptions of the battles around Vicksburg, including vivid details about burning plantation houses, digging canals and trenches, and enduring constant rifle and artillery fire.

Catharine, for her part, reported on family and relatives, the demands of being a single mother with three young children, business affairs, household concerns, weather and crops, events in Des Moines, and national politics, filling gaps in our knowledge of Northern life during the war. Most of all, her letters convey her frustration and aching loneliness in Taylor’s absence, as well as her fears for his life, even as other women were becoming widowed by the war.

The letters paint an engrossing portrait of a soldier and husband who was trying to do his patriotic and familial duty, and of a wife trying to cope with loneliness and responsibility while longing for her husband’s safe return. Beautifully edited and annotated by prize-winning Civil War historian Richard Kiper, they bring to life a nation under siege and provide a rare look at the war’s impact on both the common soldier and his family.

“A lovely portrait of a marriage amid the strains of war.”—William C. Davis, author of The Union That Shaped the Confederacy: Robert Toombs and Alexander H. Stephens

“These are great letters! They offer an extraordinary window into the emotional, familial, intellectual, and military experiences of two thoughtful and articulate Americans.”—Drew Gilpin Faust, author of Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War

“Few examples of Civil War husband-and-wife correspondence possess the magnitude and depth one finds in this volume.”—John F. Marszalek, author of Sherman: A Soldier’s Passion for Order

“A rare and valuable resource for students of the Civil War.”—Steven E. Woodworth, author of While God Is Marching On: The Religious World of Civil War Soldiers

RICHARD L. KIPER is associate professor at American Military University and an instructor at Kansas City Kansas Community College. His previous book, Major General John Alexander McClernand: Politician in Uniform, received the Fletcher Pratt Award and Alexander McClurg Award.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Decision in the West; The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 By Albert Castel

Decision in the West; The Atlanta Campaign of 1864

By Albert Castel

688 pages, 55 photographs, 18 maps, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; Modern War Studies; Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-0748-8, $24.95

Winner Of The Lincoln Prize

Decision in the West; The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 By Albert Castel
Decision in the West; The Atlanta Campaign of 1864
By Albert Castel

Following a skirmish on June 28, 1864, a truce is called so the North can remove their dead and wounded. For two hours, Yankees and Rebels mingle, with some of the latter even assisting the former in their grisly work. Newspapers are exchanged. Northern coffee is swapped for Southern tobacco. Yanks crowd around two Rebel generals, soliciting and obtaining autographs.

As they part, a Confederate calls to a Yankee, “I hope to miss you, Yank, if I happen to shoot in your direction.” “May I, never hit you Johnny if we fight again,” comes the reply.

The reprieve is short. A couple of months, dozens of battles, and more than 30,000 casualties later, the North takes Atlanta.

One of the most dramatic and decisive episodes of the Civil War, the Atlanta Campaign was a military operation carried out on a grand scale across a spectacular landscape that pitted some of the war’s best (and worst) general against each other.

In Decision in the West, Albert Castel provides the first detailed history of the Campaign published since Jacob D. Cox’s version appeared in 1882. Unlike Cox, who was a general in Sherman’s army, Castel provides an objective perspective and a comprehensive account based on primary and secondary sources that have become available in the past 110 years.

Castel gives a full and balanced treatment to the operations of both the Union and Confederate armies from the perspective of the common soldiers as well as the top generals. He offers new accounts and analyses of many of the major events of the campaign, and, in the process, corrects many long-standing myths, misconceptions, and mistakes. In particular, he challenges the standard view of Sherman’s performance.

Written in present tense to give a sense of immediacy and greater realism, Decision in the West demonstrates more definitively than any previous book how the capture of Atlanta by Sherman’s army occurred and why it assured Northern victory in the Civil War.

“One of the most important and original books on the Civil War published in the past decade. This book is richly detailed and massively researched. Its sharply revisionist interpretation of William T. Sherman is bound to arouse much controversy. All serious students of the Civil War will want to read it.”–David Herbert Donald, author of Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War

“Almost everything in this book is new or in some way ground breaking. It will immediately become the standard study of the campaign. The research is impeccable. A magnificent effort.”–William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour and former editor of Civil War Times Illustrated

“This is the fullest and most intelligible study of the Atlanta campaign that we have or are likely ever to have. The writing is lively, the research exhaustive, the interpretations sometimes provocative but always perceptive. This is how military history should be written.”–James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War

“Military history at its best by one of America’s leading historians of the Civil War. With dramatic flair and authentic detail in a fast-paced and suspenseful narrative, Castel brings the Atlanta campaign to life, penetrating the minds of the commanders as well as the thoughts of the common soldiers.”–Robert W. Johannsen, author of Lincoln, the South, and Slavery: The Political Dimension

ALBERT CASTEL is widely recognized as one of our most respected historians of the Civil War. He is also the author of General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West, Civil War Kansas, and The Presidency of Andrew Johnson.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

George Henry Thomas; As True as Steel By Brian Steel Wills

George Henry Thomas; As True as Steel

By Brian Steel Wills

March 2012;600 pages, 17 photographs, 19 maps, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1841-5, $39.95

WINNER OF THE RICHARD B. HARWELL BOOK AWARD, GIVEN BY THE CIVIL WAR ROUND TABLE OF ATLANTA

George Henry Thomas; As True as Steel By Brian Steel Wills
George Henry Thomas; As True as Steel
By Brian Steel Wills

Although often counted among the Union’s top five generals, George Henry Thomas has still not received his due. A Virginian who sided with the North in the Civil War, he was a more complicated commander than traditional views have allowed. Brian Wills now provides a new and more complete look at the life of a man known to history as “The Rock of Chickamauga,” to his troops as “Old Pap,” and to General William T. Sherman as a soldier who was “as true as steel.”

While biographers have long been hampered by Thomas’s lack of personal papers, Wills has drawn on previously untapped sources—notably the correspondence of Thomas’s contemporaries—to offer new insights into what made him tick. Focusing on Thomas’s personality and motivations, Wills contributes revealing discussions of his style and approach to command and successfully captures his troubled interactions with other Union commanders, providing a particularly more evenhanded evaluation of his relationship with Grant. He also gives a more substantial account of battlefield action than can be found in other biographies, capturing the ebb and flow of key encounters—Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga and Atlanta, Stones River and Mill Springs, Peachtree Creek and Nashville—to help readers better understand Thomas’s contributions to their outcomes.

Throughout Wills presents a well-rounded individual whose complex views embraced the worlds of professional military service and scientific inquisitiveness, a man known for attention to detail and compassion to subordinates. We also meet a sharp-tempered person whose disdain for politics hurt his prospects for advancement as much as it reflected positively on his character, and Wills offers new insight into why Thomas might not have progressed as quickly up the ladder of command as he might have liked.

More deeply researched than other biographies, Wills’s work situates Thomas squarely in his own time to provide readers with a more thorough and balanced life story of this enigmatic Union general. It is a definitive military history that gives us a new and needed picture of the Rock of Chickamauga—a man whose devotion to duty and ideals made him as true as steel.

“At long last, here is the definitive biography of George Henry Thomas. . . . An exciting, stirring, splendid achievement.”—Emory M. Thomas, author of Robert E. Lee

“A superbly crafted ‘inside’ story of an outstanding American and a true hero in overcoming his life’s many political adversities.”—Wiley Sword, author of The Confederacy’s Last Hurrah

“This is Wills at his best. . . . A major contribution to our understanding of Northern victory in the western theater.”—Larry J. Daniel, author of The Days of Glory

“Will stand as the basic source on the ‘Rock of Chickamauga’ for years to come.”—James I. Robertson, Jr., author of Stonewall Jackson

BRIAN STEEL WILLS is the Director of the Center for the Study of the Civil War Era at Kennesaw State University, where he is professor of history. He is the author of The Confederacy’s Greatest Cavalryman: Nathan Bedford Forrest and The War Hits Home: The Civil War in Southeastern Virginia.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Guide to the Battle of Antietam

Guide to the Battle of Antietam

Edited by Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson; 336 pages, 29 illustrations, 24 maps, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4
U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-0784-6, $14.95

Guide to the Battle of Antietam
Guide to the Battle of Antietam

“America’s bloodiest day”–the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862–left more dead American soldiers in its wake than any other 24-hour period in history. Antietam and the related battles of the Maryland Campaign that led up to the lethal confrontation did not result in decisive defeats for either side. But they did serve as a brutal warning to an out-gunned, out-commanded, and out-organized Union army.

Eyewitness accounts by battle participants make these guides an invaluable resource for travelers and nontravelers who want a greater understanding of five of the most devastating yet influential years in our nation’s history. Explicit directions to points of interest and maps–illustrating the action and showing the detail of troop position, roads, rivers, elevations, and tree lines as they were 130 years ago–help bring the battles to life. In the field, these guides can be used to recreate each battle’s setting and proportions, giving the reader a sense of the tension and fear each soldier must have felt as he faced his enemy.

“These guides are the most thorough, detailed, and accurate of their kind. I have used them to lead guided tours of several battlefields, with great success.”–James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Era of the Civil War

“I highly recommend this important and valuable series of guidebooks.”–Herman Hattaway, coauthor of How the North Won the Civil War and Why the South Lost the Civil War

“These guides can be enjoyed without ever leaving the easy chair, or they can become indispensable companions on tramps over the scenes of the greatest engagements of the Civil War.”–William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga

Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga

 Edited by Matt Spruill xv, 312 pages, 19 maps, 9 photographs, 5-1/2 x 8-1/2; U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles; Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-0596-5, $15.95 (t)

Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga
Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga

Not far from Chattanooga in northern Georgia, the Confederacy won one of its most decisive battles. This guide uses first-hand accounts to illustrate how this skirmish, only two days long, turned into one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War with 34,000–plus Union and Confederate soldiers killed, wounded, or captured.

Eyewitness accounts by battle participants make these guides an invaluable resource for travelers and nontravelers who want a greater understanding of five of the most devastating yet influential years in our nation’s history. Explicit directions to points of interest and maps–illustrating the action and showing the detail of troop position, roads, rivers, elevations, and tree lines as they were 130 years ago–help bring the battles to life. In the field, these guides can be used to recreate each battle’s setting and proportions, giving the reader a sense of the tension and fear each soldier must have felt as he faced his enemy.

“These guides are 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: The Era of the Civil War

“I most highly recommend this important and valuable series of guidebooks.”–Herman Hattaway, coauthor of How the North Won the Civil War and Why the South Lost the Civil War

“These guides bridge the gap between sound military history and battlefield touring literature. They can be enjoyed without ever leaving the easy chair or they can become indispensable companions on tramps over the scenes of the greatest engagements of the Civil War.”–William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour and former editor of Civil War Times Illustrated

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri; The Long Civil War on the Border

Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri; The Long Civil War on the Border

 Edited by Jonathan Earle and Diane Mutti Burke; August 2013; 360 pages, 10 photographs, 6 x 9; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1928-3, $37.50; Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1929-0, $19.95

Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri; The Long Civil War on the Border
Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri; The Long Civil War on the Border

Long before the first shot of the Civil War was fired at Fort Sumter, violence had
already erupted along the Missouri-Kansas border—a recurring cycle of robbery, arson, torture, murder, and revenge. This multifaceted study brings together fifteen scholars to expand our understanding of this vitally important region, the violence that besieged it, and its overall impact on the Civil War.

Bleeding Kansas, Bleeding Missouri blends political, military, social, and intellectual history to explain why the region’s divisiveness was so bitter and persisted for so long. Providing a more nuanced understanding of the conflict, it defines both what united and divided the men and women who lived there and how various political disagreements ultimately disintegrated into violence. By focusing on contested definitions of liberty, citizenship, and freedom, it also explores how civil societies break down and how they are reconstructed when the conflict ends.

Essays on “Slavery and Politics of Law and Order along the Border” examine how the border region was transformed by the conflict over the status of slavery in Kansas Territory and how the emerging conflict on the Kansas-Missouri border took on a larger national significance. Other essays focus on the transition to total warfare and examine the wartime experiences of the diverse people who populated the region in “Making the Border Bleed.” Final articles on “The Border Reconstructed and Remembered” explore the ways in which border residents rebuilt their society after the war and how they remembered it decades later.

As this penetrating collection shows, only when Missourians and Kansans embraced a common vision for America—one based on shared agricultural practices, ideas about economic development, and racial equality—could citizens on both sides of the border reconcile.

“In this book a team of eminent historians reinterprets the riveting story of the infamous border conflict that inflamed the sectional crisis and impelled America toward the precipice of civil war. Told from a multiplicity of fresh and revealing perspectives, the story runs the gamut from the arrival of the first slaves in the region to the bloody clashes that wracked the border both before and during the Civil War to the legacy of the two states’ rivalry that has continued until the present day. Gripping, authoritative, and eye-opening, the essays will both captivate and enlighten readers with surprising new insights and original interpretations into the origins, character, and ultimate meaning of the long and violent border conflict.”—Kenneth Winkle, author of Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C.

“This sophisticated yet engaging collection addresses the quintessential political and social issues that defined the western border. Going well beyond the traditional timeframe for the ‘Civil War era,’ it explores not just the antebellum and war years, but also the decades of reflection that followed. A splendid primer for the history of that fiercely contested region.”—Daniel E. Sutherland, author of A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War

“This fine anthology underscores the central place of Kansas and Missouri in relation to the Civil War. It offers nuanced and wide-ranging explorations of history presented in an entertaining fashion.”—William Garrett Piston, editor of A Rough Business: Fighting the Civil War in Missouri

CONTRIBUTORS: Aaron Astor, Joseph M. Beilein Jr, Diane Mutti Burke, Brent M. S. Campney, Jonathan Earle, Kristen K. Epps, Nicole Etcheson, Michael Fellman, John W. McKerley, Tony R. Mullis, Jeremy Neeley, Kristen Tegtmeier Oertel, Christopher Phillips, Pearl Ponce, Jennifer L. Weber.

JONATHAN EARLE is an associate professor at the University of Kansas and the author of Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil and John Brown’s Raid: A Brief History with Documents. DIANE MUTTI BURKE is an associate professor of history at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the author of On Slavery’s Border: Missouri’s Small-Slaveholding Households, 1815–1865.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg

Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg

 Second Edition, Revised and Expanded; Edited by Jay Luvaas, Harold W. Nelson, and Leonard J. Fullenkamp; May 2012; 320 pages, 32 photographs, 39 maps, 5-1⁄2 x 8-1⁄2; U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles; Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1853-8, $39.95
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1854-5, $17.95 (t)

Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg
Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg

“Until you have walked the stone walls and trekked the woods along Seminary Ridge and then switched sides to gaze back across the fields from Little Round Top, you cannot truly understand what happened here from July 1 to 3, 1863. One of the best companions [for such excursions] is the U.S. Army War College’s Guide to the Battle of Gettysburg.”—New York Times

Here at last is the long-anticipated revised edition of one of the most respected and popular guides to the Gettysburg National Military Park. The authors have made significant changes to the guide, addressing alterations to the park during the past fifteen years and adding new information and improved maps that enrich park visitors’ understanding of one of the bloodiest and most momentous battles in American history.

The volume retains its signature blend of official reports, commanding officers’ observations, and terrain descriptions, as well as easy-to-use maps that allow park visitors to follow the battle as it actually unfolded. For the new edition, the authors provide double the number of maps—this time by master cartographer Steven Stanley—to effectively track directional changes for visitors driving through the park. They include new sections highlighting the strategic and operational context for the Gettysburg campaign and providing background about Lee’s decision to invade Pennsylvania. They have also added new information about the cavalry battle on Day 3 and the decisions and actions of General Meade, and the “Capabilities and Doctrine” appendix now addresses more fully the evolution of cavalry tactics in the battle’s aftermath. The new volume also features for the first time a useful appendix on logistics.

“These guides are 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: The Era of the Civil War

“These guides bridge the gap between sound military history and battlefield touring literature. They can be enjoyed without ever leaving the easy chair or they can become indispensable companions on tramps over the scenes of the greatest engagements of the Civil War.”—William C. Davis, author of Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour and former editor of Civil War Times Illustrated

The late JAY LUVAAS was a history professor at the U.S. Army History Institute and U.S. Army War College. HAROLD W. NELSON, a retired brigadier general, is a former U.S. Army Chief of Military History. LEONARD J. FULLENKAMP is professor of military history and strategy at the U.S. Army War College and director of its Staff Rides program.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

After the Glory; The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans by Donald R. Shaffer

After the Glory; The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans

by Donald R. Shaffer

July 2004; 304 pages, 26 photographs, 6 x 9; Modern War Studies
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1328-1, $34.95

Winner Of The Peter Seaborg Award For Civil War Scholarship

After the Glory; The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans by Donald R. Shaffer
After the Glory; The Struggles of Black Civil War Veterans
by Donald R. Shaffer

The heroics of black Union soldiers in the Civil War have been justly celebrated, but their postwar lives largely neglected. Donald Shaffer’s illuminating study shines a bright light on this previously obscure part of African American history, revealing for the first time black veterans’ valiant but often frustrating efforts to secure true autonomy and equality as civilians.

After the Glory shows how black veterans’ experiences as soldiers provided them for the first time with a sense of manliness that shaped not only their own lives but also their contributions to the African American community. Shaffer makes clear, however, that their postwar pursuit of citizenship and a dignified manhood was never very easy for black veterans, their triumphs frequently neither complete nor lasting.

Shaffer chronicles the postwar transition of black veterans from the Union army, as well as their subsequent life patterns, political involvement, family and marital life, experiences with social welfare, comradeship with other veterans, and memories of the war itself. He draws on such sources as Civil War pension records to fashion a collective biography–a social history of both ordinary and notable lives–resurrecting the words and memories of many black veterans to provide an intimate view of their lives and struggles.

Like other African Americans from many walks of life, black veterans fought fiercely against disenfranchisement and Jim Crow and were better equipped to do so than most other African Americans. They carried a sense of pride instilled by their military service that made them better prepared to confront racism and discrimination and more respected in their own communities. As Shaffer reveals, they also had nearly equal access to military pensions, financial resources available to few other blacks, and even found acceptance among white Union veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic fraternity.

After the Glory is not merely another tale of black struggles in a racist America; it is the story of how a select group of African Americans led a quest for manhood–and often found it within themselves when no one else would give it to them.

“A valuable and long-awaited work, After the Glory provides a powerful social history of race and gender. It is a saga of triumph and tragedy, of limited and ambiguous victories, of black men struggling to find true freedom in postwar America.”–John David Smith, editor of Black Soldiers in Blue: African American Troops in the Civil War Era

“A comprehensive and carefully researched portrait of black veterans in the postwar decades.”–James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom

“A significant contribution to Civil War and African American history.”
Louis S. Gerteis, author of Civil War St. Louis

DONALD R. SHAFFER teaches history at the University of Northern Colorado. His writings have appeared in Civil War History and in the volumes Southern Families at War and Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front.

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges: $5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

 

A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community by Nicole Etcheson

A Generation at War: The Civil War Era in a Northern Community by Nicole Etcheson

 October 2011; 400 pages, 17 photographs, 1 map, 6 x 9
Cloth ISBN 978-0-7006-1797-5, $39.95

A Generation at War
A Generation at War

WINNER OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN HISTORIANS’ AVERY O. CRAVEN AWARD; BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF INDIANA AWARD, INDIANA CENTER FOR THE BOOK

Kansas University Ordering Information: Our online ordering feature is currently under construction. You can order books from the University Press of Kansas by calling 785-864-4155. Orders can also be emailed to upkorders@ku.edu. Our shipping charges:
$5.00 for first book, $1.00 for each additional book

The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou By Mark Hubbs

 

The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou

By Mark Hubbs

Review by Arley McCormick, TVCWRT Newsletter Editor

 

 The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou By Mark Hubbs

The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou
By Mark Hubbs

I, quite frankly, didn’t know what to expect. When Mark was on the Round Table board he corrected my writing on occasion but everyone does that so I had to set aside for a time that a former infantryman, Co-founder of the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table, and professional Civil Servant can actually write. I mean, really write; really.  Mark’s book is tightly written with a clear and insightful perspective on the life of a family during the civil war. He delivers a fresh portrayal of the Southern Home Front from the perspective of a slave describing the struggle to sustain a family caught in war and mystery.  A war where recalcitrant characters use strife and patriotism as a cloak for personal enrichment and Confederate government policy inflicts pain on everyone to promote Southern independence. Mark’s characters are believable and he eloquently illustrates the emotion of a young man growing up in a white family that views him as a member of the family, neighbors that few him as a slave, and slaves that view him differently.  Mark’s story is not only a history of life in a conflicted community but a powerful illustration of the conflicts, personal and regional, that make the American Civil War such a compelling era to study and understand.

 

An Interview with Mark Hubbs on the creation of “The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou”;

Editor; When did you decide to write Civil War historical fiction?

Mark Hubbs; In this case, I didn’t set out to write Civil War fiction so much as record family history.  I wanted to take some scattered occurrences that my Great Uncle told me and expand them into a comprehensive story line.  It’s funny, but I don’t really think of Wattensaw Bayou as a Civil War book.  It occurs during the War, and much of the conflict in the book stems from the War, but I see it as a story about family, loyalty, overcoming adversity and above all – finding forgiveness.

Editor; What was your motivation for writing a story from the perspective of a slave?

Mark Hubbs; The novel is written primarily in first person.  I needed a character that could see into the lives of all the people in this backwoods community, free and slave alike.  Thirteen year old Ephraim became my protagonist.  Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that he ends up in the Wright household as a 2 year old.  And, although officially a slave, he becomes a member of the family.  Mister Wright continually struggles to balance what is best for the boy and what his neighbors might think about him for having a slave living in his household as a family member.

Ep, as he is called, takes on a southern white dialect and shares the same outlook on life as his white siblings.  Other slaves along the Wattensaw accuse him of being a “Pet Nigga” and “Talking like white folk.”  And white people, assume he is putting on airs or mocking them by “talking smart.”  He becomes stranded between the world of free whites and the world of enslaved blacks.

By having Ep as my main character, he can interact with everyone in the settlement, thus propelling the story line with input and dialog from many other characters.

Editor; Could you explain your creative process leading to writing the book?

Editor; Could you explain the process that you used to capture the principle storylines?

Mark Hubbs; These two questions are related, so I’ll answer them together.  I don’t think I had any kind of process that I was conscious of.  I had a basic story line in my head, however once I got started; the book developed a life of its own.  A couple of times I felt I was just along for the ride!  Major characters turned out to minor, and minor characters grew to have major roles.  Details and twists and turns emerged as I fleshed out the story.

I had my biggest epiphany late one night while I was TDY.  I was staring at my computer screen in my little room on Kwajalein Atoll and it dawned on me how to most effectively frame the story.  That was when I decided to add the Depression Era Slave Narrative interview, and have the elderly Ep tell the story of the thirteen year old Ep.

The Slave Narratives played a major role for me in developing the African American characters.  The Work Progress Administration was the “Stimulus Plan” of the great depression.  Did the WPA help the economy?  No, but some of its products are priceless.  The Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves is one such product.  The project recorded the memories of 2,200 survivors of the horrors of the “Peculiar Institution.”  Ex-slave interviews were conducted in 1936 and 1937 in seventeen states.

Nowhere was the program more energetic or fruitful than in my home state of Arkansas.  677 narratives, in seven volumes, were collected there, accounting for almost one-third of all the interviews for the entire program.

The Slave Narratives are now on-line and include an excellent search engine.  I knew that Dr. Hazen, a real life character in my story, owned slaves.  On the off chance, I searched each volume for “Hazen.”  I was astounded to find not one, but four of Dr Hazen’s slaves mentioned in the narratives.  It was like finding a needle in a haystack, and I had found four of them!

Three of those slaves became characters in my book.  The fourth will appear in the sequel.

 

The first was Israel Thomas.  I had already developed a black character that was a lay preacher and would play an important part in Ep’s spiritual growth.  You can imagine my surprise and delight to find this passage in an interview of 63 year old Betty Hodge:

 

My mama was Lucy Lea till she married Will Holloway, my papa.  Then she married Israel Thomas the preacher here at Hazen.  He come from Tennessee with old Dr. Hazen. 

 

Of course Israel Thomas became my lay preacher in the story.  He became a preacher after the war and started a small ministry.  The place of worship that he founded is now known as Prairie Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.  It still holds regular meetings in Hazen, Arkansas.

Months after this, Phyllis and I made our first visit to Hazen to look for locations that are portrayed in the book.  My geological survey map showed a small cemetery in the area that I guessed was the old Hazen farm.  It was small and poorly maintained, with scores of unmarked graves.

The first gravestone that I discovered was that of Reverend I.G. Thomas!  The hair stood up on the back of my neck.  It was almost like Israel Thomas was waiting for me to find him.  I found two other Hazen ex-slaves in the same cemetery.

Editor; Will there be a sequel or another book focused on the Civil War?

Mark Hubbs; My publisher has already commissioned a sequel to Wattensaw Bayou.  Poison Springs will continue Ep’s story through the rest of the Civil War.  I’m only four chapters into Poison Springs.  I’m in the fortunate, but stressful, situation of having a book sold, but not yet written!

Editor; What would you most like the readers of The Secret of Wattensaw Bayou to take away from your writing?

Mark Hubbs; Foremost, to have an enjoyable read.  I love it when someone tells me that they hated for the book to end, or that they had trouble putting it down.  That is most gratifying.  After that, I hope they come away with a better understanding of Southern culture during the era and, that not all Southerners were Secessionists.

Editor; I understand you’re writing a blog. Is there anything else you would particularly like your readers to know?

Mark Hubbs; I’m almost finished with the first draft of my next novel.  For it, I move from 1863 Arkansas, to 1415 England.  The Archer’s Son, also based on some family history, follows a young boy and a company of archers on the Agincourt Campaign during the Hundred Years War.

 

 

 

You can see Mark’s history and archaeology blog at:  http://erasgone.blogspot.com/

Mark maintains a Facebook page (M.E. Hubbs) and an Amazon author’s page at: http://www.amazon.com/M.-E.-Hubbs/e/B00CLKCK82

This book is available directly from the author, at Books-A-Million stores, or can be ordered from most on-line book seller such as: http://www.amazon.com/The-Secret-Wattensaw-Bayou-Hubbs/dp/1934610763

 

Slavery in the American Republic – Developing the Federal Government, 1791-1861 By David F. Ericson

Slavery in the American Republic – Developing the Federal Government, 1791-1861

 By David F. Ericson

  Lawrence Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2011.  ISBN 978-0-7006-1796-8.  298 pages including notes and index. 

Reviewed by:  Mark E. Hubbs, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table (TVCWRT)

Slavery in the American Republic – Developing the Federal Government, 1791-1861  By David F. Ericson
Slavery in the American Republic – Developing the Federal Government, 1791-1861
By David F. Ericson

This book was reviewed as part of an ongoing book review project initiated by the TVCWRT in 2011.  Books submitted by various publishers are chosen by TVCWRT members for analysis and critique.

David F. Ericson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University.  This is his third book on the politics of Slavery in the American experience.  Many scholars suggest that the institution of slavery slowed the development of the American state because of the friction between Southern and Northern politicians in the effort to protect slavery (Ericson uses the term “American state” instead of “Federal Government” in his narrative.)  Ericson presents evidence to prove the contrary – that the “peculiar institution” actually contributed to the expansion of American Federal government power.  I was drawn to the wide scope that the title seemed to promise.  However, Erikson’s arguments extended to just four main areas where the Federal Government increased expenditure of resources and extended its power in relation to slavery during this time frame.  These four areas were: enforcement of the slave embargo, establishment of the colony of Liberia, military expansion to protect slavery and enlargement of the Federal Government law enforcement due to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

The first area where the American state was developed as a result of slavery was the enforcement of the 1808 embargo of slaves that was required as part of the US Constitution.  After that date the US Navy became more and more involved in intercepting slave ships reroute from Africa to North America.  At first this was intended to block slavers bringing cargo to the United States.  However, in 1820 United States ships began patrolling off the west coast of Africa in concert with ships from Britain and other European countries.  This participation in the “African Squadron” waxed and waned as different administrations took interest.  The largest expenditure in men and ships to the African squadron occurred in the two years before the outbreak of the Civil War.  The War ended forever the anti-slaving patrols along the African coast.

Surprisingly, the most fervent support of the embargo came from the upper tier of Southern states.  Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky relied on the sale of slaves to the Deep South and western southern states.  The biggest battles over the embargo were not between the north and south, but between the upper south and Deep South who clamored for cheap slave labor.

Related to the enforcement of the slave embargo was the founding of the colony of Liberia.  As the enforcement of the embargo grew, the United States government partnered with The American Colonization Society (ACS) to establish a colony on the west coast of Africa.  This colony would provide a refuge for African Americans who desired to seek a better life in Africa, and a place to repatriate Africans who were rescued on the high seas from slave ships.  Many prominent Americans were members of the ACS, and doubtlessly many of these people’s desires may have been bigoted as they were interested in ridding America of Africans, instead ensuring that former slaves enjoyed a happy life in the “mother country.”  Members of the ACS lobbied congress for several years before the US government provided funding to the ACS.  Land was purchased from local leaders on the coast to establish Liberia and the United States established its first overseas colony in 1820.  Free blacks in America, who desired to move to Liberia, were offered free transport by the ACS, which was largely funded by contributions by wealthy Americans.  US Government funding for the colony changed during the years.  Although the Government only provided one third of the operating costs, the success of the colony relied on this funding and the support of the United States Navy for protection and transport of goods.  Eventually 10,000 African Americans were transported to Liberia, and several thousand rescued blacks were repatriated there.  The colony received its independence in 1847.

The longest and most costly military action of the early 19th Century was the series of three “Seminole” wars that occurred intermittently from 1814 until 1858.  Seminole is the collective name given to an amalgamation of various groups of Native Americans and Black people who settled in Florida in the early 18th century.  On the surface, these appeared to be campaigns to remove native groups from Florida, especially after the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  However, since colonial times, native tribes in Florida had been a safe haven for escaped slaves from Georgia and South Carolina.  Groups of Seminoles, and their adopted African members, occasionally launched raids into Georgia to plunder and to kidnap slaves to add to their numbers.  Strong lobbying from Southern states resulted in military action to curtail this refuge for escaped slaves.

The Fugitive Slave Act (FSA) of 1850 created a new law enforcement role for the United States Government.  This new law, which required the Federal and State governments to apprehend slaves who had escaped to free states, outraged most northerners.  Unlike the cries of “state’s rights” which emanated from the south in 1861, slave holding states were quick to deny state’s rights to free states when it came to fugitive slaves.  Southern states demanded that the Federal Government act when law enforcement personnel in free states failed to adhere to the FSA.  Because of the requirements of the FSA, the U.S. Marshal’ office was enlarged both in size and power.  Its oversight was shifted from the Department of State to the Attorney Generals’ Office. This created the first autonomous federal law-enforcement agency.  For the first time, Federal officials began to become involved on a large scale in state and local matters.  This had not occurred before 1850.

For each of these four areas, the Ericson cites expenditures of funds and increases in Federal personnel.  However, these figures are seldom put into context with other areas of Federal influence or spending.  As a result, it is difficult to see just how much the institution of slavery actually developed the Federal Government.  I think the author falls short of the premise that the title alludes to.  However, the author does an admirable job of describing the Government’s role is the four areas outlined above.  Much of the information was new to me and I found it very interesting.  Of particular note is the revelation that some of the political friction relating to slavery was between different elements of the Southern states instead of between North and South.

The issue of State’s Rights and how it was perceived and demanded by slave holding states was very illuminating.  Southern states clamored for a curtailment of the rights of states if those rights negatively affected slavery.  They demanded that the rights of the states be observed if those rights protected human bondage.

Mark Hubbs is an eleven year veteran of the US Army Infantry.  Since leaving active duty in 1992 and retiring from the Army Reserve in 2001, he has served as an historian and archaeologist for the US Army Space and Missile Defense Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.  His work has taken him to several far-flung islands in the Pacific where the fierce battles of World War II have left relics both above and below the surface of the corral sand, including Wake Island, Kwajalein Atoll and Midway Island.

War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama By Joseph W. Danielson

War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama

By Joseph W. Danielson

War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama By Joseph W. Danielson
War’s Desolating Scourge: The Union’s Occupation of North Alabama
By Joseph W. Danielson

Any soldier that witnessed the total ruin of German Cities during World War II or the massive destruction of Croatian villages during the Balkan wars of the 1990’s understand full well the impact an Army has on the life of a non combatant.  Historians caught in the number of battles, casualties, the contrasting personalities of politicians and leaders may be too engrossed in blood and pathos to notice that, what may appear to be an insignificant military operation at Huntsville, AL in April of 1862; one that removed a major railroad of the South’s lines of communication did, just as importantly, lead to a series of events that would galvanize the residents to resist and exist through the foreign occupation of Northern troops and alter the North’s definition of waging war on the noncombatants of the South.  Those that have engrossed themselves in the details of General Ornby’s occupation and the exploits of Colonel Turchin may be only a little disappointment but casually review the references Dr. Danielson lists and you will find sources most of our local enthusiasts have never seen or knew existed. This book is not about shedding blood for a new nation but could easily be defined as a political/military analysis and case study of the logic and causes for the Union altering the rules for taking the war to civilians during the Civil War. He addresses all the elements that made North Alabama unique. Dr. Danielson very effectively weaves the key issues of home front attitudes and disposition, the impact of slavery on both the occupiers and the residents of North Alabama, and the juggling of conflicting political and military guidance that ultimately must be enforced by troop on the street. What today we call “Rules of Engagement”.  Even the most experienced historian of North Alabama will learn something and be entertained by Dr. Danielson’s the presentation.

The reviewer is Arley McCormick, the Newsletter Editor for the Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table. He is a former soldier, consultant, and writer for the Military Review. Residing in Europe for fifteen years and totally engrossed in Napoleon he only recently began to absorb the details regarding the American Civil War and its impact upon the culture and social change in the South.

 

Victors in Blue – How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War By Albert Castel with Brooks D. Simpson

Victors in Blue – How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War

By Albert Castel with Brooks D. Simpson

(Lawrence:  University Press of Kansas, 2011), 362 pages.

Reviewed by Emil Posey, Tennessee Valley Civil War Round Table

 

Victors in Blue – How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War By Albert Castel with Brooks D. Simpson
Victors in Blue – How Union Generals Fought the Confederates, Battled Each Other, and Won the Civil War
By Albert Castel with Brooks D. Simpson

This is a book about the maturation of senior Union leadership and how, despite themselves, they managed to win the war.  At times it seemed like the Union raised incompetence to an art form – Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville come immediately to mind – but to be fair, when the Civil War started, both sides had to learn their trade at the larger organizational level (divisions, corps, and armies).  Many key leaders, north and south, were West Point cadets, and most of them had gained some experience in large unit maneuver warfare in the War with Mexico.  Still, the Union’s learning curve seemed to be shallower, at least as compared to its Confederate counterparts’, and that climb to competence was made against a backdrop of egos, animosities, rivalries, and ambitions.  And therein lays the tale Albert Castel and Brooks Simpson tell – “the war within a war that occurred among the top Union generals and how it affected their conduct of military operations.”

 

This is not a detailed description of the ebb and flow of the war per se.  As the authors point out (pg.195), “…the primary purpose of this book is not narration but interpretation designed to demonstrate why certain battles or campaigns were decisive in determining the outcome of the Civil War and thus the status, then and afterward, of the Northern generals who won them or in some cases lost them.”  It does walk us through chronologically the major campaigns of the war in both the Eastern and Western theaters, but the central theme is the interplay of relationships among senior Union leaders.

 

There is much here to intrigue Civil War enthusiasts, particularly those (like me) that have less-than-expert knowledge of the war.  The cast of characters was selected on the basis of their contribution to various key Union victories.  Discussion then revolves around four more criteria:  (1) why he won that battle or campaign (and this can cover a lot of ground, from superior skill on his part, to brilliant feats of arms of his subordinate generals, to sheer chance), (2) what his objectives were and how he set about realizing them, (3) the degree to which he accomplished as much as could be reasonably expected under the circumstances, and (4) if not, what he could and should have done on the basis of information available to him at the time, and why he did not do it.  The descriptions of the battles and campaigns are sufficient to put into context the broader discussion of these criteria.

 

With those criteria, Castel and Brooks have a wide catch.  They start with William Starke Rosecrans (and McClellan) and in western Virginia and the Battle of Rich Mountain, which resulted in Robert E. Lee’s failure in his first field command (at least in terms of keeping Virginia whole).  They follow this with Henry Wager Halleck and Ulysses Grant.  Given Halleck’s position and stature within Union political circles and his disfavor of Grant, it was no minor feat for Grant to persevere to the levels of command that he eventually reached.  This interplay alone is worth the price of the book, but they don’t stop there.  They go on to discuss William T. Sherman, George B. McClellan, Rosecrans again (actually he makes several appearances), John S. Schofield, George H. Thomas, and Phil Sheridan.  There are other players in this story – Joseph Hooker, John Pope, Fitz John Porter, among others – but they are in supporting roles.  Depending upon one’s predilections, you might be disappointed at some of these being included and other not, but the plate is full enough.

 

This is an even-handed and substantive discussion of these Union leaders and the interpersonal relationships that affected their careers.  There are a couple of downsides to the book.  One is maps.  They include maps of each major campaign, but the detail is somewhat lacking and, I have confess, there are never enough maps and never enough detail for me.  I also noted a spate of editorial mistakes clumped together towards the middle of the book.  These were not typos, but factual statements that are incorrect:  Cashtown, Pennsylvania is not east of Gettysburg (it’s about eight miles northwest), Reynold’s I Corps (being led by Abner Doubleday following Reynold’s death) did not deploy east of Gettysburg while in the process of relieve Buford’s troopers on Seminary Ridge, Milliken’s Bend is not northeast of Vicksburg (it’s northwest-to-north), and Porter’s gunboats attacked Grand Gulf on April 29, not May 29.  These are not horrendous in themselves, but they do beg the question of how many others escaped my notice.

 

The biggest let down, though, was the Epilogue, The Victors in Blue – Who and Why.  It is all too short.  It doesn’t bring the story together.  It isn’t climatic.  It adds little if anything to the main body.

 

Still, this is a valuable read (and easily read) with its focus on leaders more than events.  For novices and intermediates, it’s a great overview of the war.  For those more knowledgeable, even for you it should be well worth your time

 

This is a volume in the Modern War Studies, a broad series published by University Press of Kansas.  Castel is an accomplished Civil War historian and author, with a long list of books to his credit: books about Bloody Bill Anderson, Nathan Bedford Forrest, Sterling Price, William Quantrill,  Civil War Kansas, the Atlanta Campaign, and The Army of Tennessee, to name a few.  Brooks has contributed to several books as well, on such topics as the first year of the civil war, Gettysburg, Chattanooga and Shiloh, and authored two books on Grant, among others.

 

 

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