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Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Book Review

Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Images of America Book Review
Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Images of America Book Review
Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site Book Review

Lipscomb, Colby and Derrick Brown. Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site (Images of America)Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. 2024. 128 pages, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467160766, $24.99.

The Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing provides readers/viewers with a formula ready way to learn a brief history of a selected topic. Some teach more history than others and some titles are more needed than others. I think the argument can be made that Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site is a photo history that is needed.

Authors Colby Lipscomb and Derrick Brown have decades of experience at the battlefield as visitors and, currently, as staff members and this experience shows in their treatment of the material. As the authors themselves note, the book is not meant to be a retelling of the Battle of Bentonville, nor is it meant to be a history of the Bentonville community. Rather, “it is the authors’ fervent desire that these images relay the story of the struggles, victories, and labor that went into the creation of Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site and making it the place it is.


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Authors Lipscomb and Brown cover a wide swath of ground in a concise 128 pages that can easily be consumed in a single sitting. Chapter one is titled The Battlefield, as should be expected. Maps, period engravings, and photos of the primary players comprise the majority of the chapter.

The community of Bentonville and battlefield monuments and memorials are chapters two and three. These chapters contain a nice mixture of vintage and modern images. The Goldsboro Rifles monument takes center stage with several nice images throughout the years. This monument was erected by veterans of the battle years before the Historic Site was created . Begun in 1894 and unveiled in 1895, the marker is in memory of the Confederate dead.

The Harper House, built in 1855, served as the home to John and Amy Harper. During the  war, Union troops occupied the home. The use it as a temporary hospital for troops from Sherman’s XIV Army Corps. This structure is the only war era building still standing at the site and as such it plays a significant role in this book. Images include former inhabitants, grounds, the home through the years, and renovation efforts. For me, however, the chapter went on too long, reaching twenty-four pages.

The chapter titled Establishing a Historic Site brings to life the 1950s and 60s efforts to create the Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site. With images as diverse the signing of the property document, to parades, to fieldwork, and the development of the visitor’s center, this is a fascinating chapter. Several images show just how far museum exhibits have come in the last sixty years.

Programs and events are a key part of any historic site and Bentonville has been an active participant since inception. From a special Boy Scout badge to the development and expansion of annual reenactments, and the arrival of army staff rides, Bentonville is eager to share an accurate and true history of the battle and the events surrounding it. This enthusiasm leads to the final chapter, Bentonville in the 21st Century.

In 1999,  the opening of a new visitor’s center allowed the battlefield to welcome more guests than they had previously encountered. The “Dean of Civil War HIstorians,” Ed Bearss; “the unofficial mayor of Bentonville,” Tim Westbrook; and Eric Wittenberg, among others set the stage for the modern Bentonville park . With ongoing archaeological work, reinterpretations, and archival research, Bentonville is not an overlooked, end of the war, encounter. Visitors will learn of the 80,000 soldiers who fought here on March 19-21, 1865.

This book helps provide a gateway for readers wanting to learn more about the waning days of the Confederacy. Through this easy to navigate volume, readers will find themselves developing an interest in this late war conflict. They can then move to full battle treatments. Recommended.



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This book is not meant to be a retelling of the Battle of Bentonville. The authors do make two suggestions for readers interesting in learning more about this battle.

Mark L. Bradley authored the book Last Stand in the Carolinas: The Battle of Bentonville. Recommended by the authors as a companion book is Moore’s Historical Guide to the Battle of Bentonville. Both books are going on 30 years old.

For readers seeking a modern look at the battle in a concise and accessible format are referred to Calamity in Carolina: The Battles of Averasboro and Bentonville, March 1865. As part of the established Emerging Civil War series, this book is short, but full of detail, and comes with a budget friendly price of less than $20.

Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for providing a complimentary review copy of this book.


Click THIS LINK to read additional posts about books published by Arcadia Publishing/History Press.

If you are interested in soldiers from North Carolina, you should read my post on Charles George, a member of the East Band of the Cherokee Tribe who received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Korean War. CLICK HERE to read more.


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Texas Coastal Defense in the Civil War Book Release

Texas Coastal Defense in the Civil War

Arcadia Publishing New Release

Arcadia Publishing continues their role of releasing geographically specific works of history with their new book release Texas Coastal Defense in the Civil War written by William Nelson Fox.

Texas Coastal Defense in the Civil War book releaseFrom the publisher

Navigate the often-overlooked history of the resolute defense of the Texas coast during the Civil War.

With volumes written on the Civil War, little attention has been given to the defense of the Texas coast. Most military-aged Texans had been dispatched across the Mississippi, but those left behind resolutely weathered naval bombardments and repulsed invasion attempts. It was only at the end of the conflict that Federal troops were able to make their way into South Texas, as the Confederacy prepared its last stand at Caney Creek and the Brazos River. From famous battles to obscure skirmishes, William Nelson Fox provides an account of the Lone Star State’s defensive strategies during the Civil War.

159 pages. Bibliography, index, notes, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467155618. Cover price $24.99.


Thank you to Arcadia Publishing for providing a complimentary review copy of this book. A review will be forthcoming.

Thank you for reading my post announcing Texas Coastal Defense in the Civil War. This new book release from Arcadia Publishing will add to the growing literature on the role of Texas and naval affairs during the Civil War years. Read my reviews of other Arcadia Publishing titles using THIS LINK.


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Galveston and the Civil War James M. Schmidt
For those interested in Galveston, TX during the Civil War, I recommend this excellent volume written by James M. Schmidt, and published by Arcadia Publishing.


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Little(r) Museums of Paris Book Review

Little(r) Museums of Paris book review
Little(r) Museums of Paris book review
Little(r) Museums of Paris Book Review

Jacobs, Emma. Little(r) Museums of Paris An Illustrated Guide to the City’s Hidden Gems. New York: Running Press. 2019. ISBN 9780762466399. $20. 192 pages. Index, bibliography, drawings.

Planning a trip to Paris can prove to be an overwhelming task. How much time do I need? How to get there? Where to stay? Where to eat? Should I rent a car? What are the must see destinations?

While she can’t answer those questions for you, author Emma Jacobs can provide you with some off the beaten path alternatives that most visitors to Paris will never even know about. If you crave the unknown, less crowded, local flavor type of destinations, this is a book you have to read before visiting Paris.

What to Expect

In a book that is whimsical, yet serious; travel guide, yet travel writing; and brief, yet thorough, Emma Jacobs holds our hand through some locations that Rick Steves will not guide you to. With that in mind, this guide (if you want to call it that) is ideal for travelers who have visited Paris and seen the major sites. Maybe you are one of those travelers who doesn’t care to see the Eiffel Tower (gasp and shame on you). Or maybe you want to see Paris like a local might. If this sounds like how you travel, step on in.

First, a couple of things that differentiate this book from a standard travel guide. The book is in hardcover format. It’s not a traditional hardcover size but it’s hardcover none the less and a bit more difficult to take with you during a days excursion. Second are the illustrations. This is not your standard travel guide that is packed with color photos. Rather, these are Jacobs own watercolor illustrations. I might have like to have some color photos included but the illustrations are charming and well thought out.

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What is Included

The book is divided into nine chapters, listed below

  1. Marvels & Machines
  2. History
  3. Architecture & Design
  4. Around the World
  5. Time Capsules
  6. Artists & Ateliers
  7. Stage & Page
  8. Science & Medicine
  9. On the Outskirts

Each chapter contains multiple listings. All listings contain some basic information. This includes the museum name in both French and English. The address, phone number, and website are listed as are the hours of operation and admission fees.

Perhaps the most useful piece of information however is that Jacobs provides readers with the nearest Metro location. This information is crucial in trying to actually visit each location. Remember above when I asked about renting a car. Having been to Paris, here’s my advice, DON’T. Public transportation is readily available. The Metro is more reliable than buses, which are often well off schedule. Traffic in Paris can be a nightmare. If you aren’t familiar with the city and don’t have a good handle on the language, do not rent a car.


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Musee Curie
The Curie Museum is located in the third and last laboratory used by Marie Curie, the Curie pavilion of the Paris Radium Institute, built between 1912 and 1915. Consisting of a permanent exhibition space and a resource center historical, it offers the public the opportunity to discover the history of the Curie family, radioactivity and its first applications.

So, one issue I did have with this book is trying to determine just what is meant by “little(r).” Jacobs doesn’t supply a true definition of the term. She kind of punts on a definition in her introduction. Here she states, “luckily, a city with a museum the size of the Louvre left me a lot of flexibility in defining small.” I worked at a true small museum. A small museum does not have millions of artifacts or the budgets many of these facilities would appear to have. Potato, potahto.

Museums such as Musee des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts) focus on the whimsical such as carousels, arcade games, wax figures, and the like.

If you are interested in fashion, a visit to the Musee Yves Saint Laurent (Yves Saint Laurent Museum) has to be on your list.

Paris is known for its art and art lovers will find plenty to enjoy in this book. A visit to the Musee Rodin (Rodin Museum) will satisfy any fan. You can see the famous Liberty Leading the People during a visit to the Louvre, or you can visit the Musee National Eugene Delacroix, and learn much more about the artist.

I could go on, but I think you are getting the picture here. There are museums for every style and taste in Paris. And while the author admits this book is no where near comprehensive, you could live for a year in Paris and not cover all the museums she has provided.

Some Cautionary Notes

As with any travel guide there are some cautions to be aware of. Travel guides can age poorly. This one is probably no exception.

Jacobs lists open hours and admission prices. Please remember, this book was published BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of that information could have changed in the ensuing years. It’s best to check the official website for each museum to confirm. I spot checked about a dozen of the sites from the book and with only 2 exceptions, all translated automatically to English. The others showed the option to do so with a click of the mouse.

An issue with the set up of the book by topic becomes the difficulty in planning to see several museums in a single day. It takes some work to determine museums that are within reasonable proximity to each other. Jacobs does provide several brief itineraries to close out the book. You have to reference these back to the text. It might have been nice to have these nearby destinations referenced in the individual listings as well.


Overall, I found this to be a worthwhile read. The book can be read cover to cover, as I did, or piecemeal based upon your interests.

This book is ideal for someone planning an extended stay in Paris, or for experienced visitors who are seeking adventure outside of the standard sites recommended everywhere else.

The price of the book is very reasonable at $20. The format makes it good for keeping on your shelf but maybe not for day to day wandering throughout the city. As with any travel guide, some information can become outdated, but you all know how to use Google to verify the information provided.



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Reserve your tickets to tour the Musee Yves Saint Laurent in Paris. Take a guided tour before the museum opens to the public. Click the image or THIS LINK for information and to book your tour. 
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Book Review–Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty book cover

Book Review—Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty

Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty biography written by Charles Leerhsen.

Leerhsen, Charles. Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty. New York: Simon and Schuster. 2015. ISBN 9781451645798 (paperback). $18.99. Index, b/w photos. 449 pages, 404 pages of text.



Winner of the Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year as awarded by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine, Ty Cobb, A Terrible Beauty is a book all baseball fans and historians should read.


Ty Cobb--courtesy Library of CongressTy Cobb A Terrible Beauty written by Charles Leehrsen
Ty Cobb–Courtesy Library of Congress

On the Mount Rushmore of baseball immortality, you will find Ty Cobb, the Georgia Peach. When your career batting numbers include lines such as 4,189 hits, twelve batting titles, a career .366 batting average, and nearly 1,000 stolen bases, immortality is yours. In Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty, author Charless Leehrsen takes on the monumental task of rehabilitating Cobb’s tarnished legacy.

Along with his batting prowess however, Cobb has another reputation that is not so glamorous. It is this reputation for fighting, having a short temper, being cheap, claims of his being a dirty player, and racism that former Sports Illustrated editor, Charles Leerhsen attempts to combat in his revisionist biography of Cobb. As reviewer John Williams stated in the New York Times with the books release, “Cobb’s image is not a fixer-upper; it’s a Superfund site.”


Cobb A Biography by Al Stump

Ty Cobb A Terrible Beauty
Leerhsen has a major bone to pick with Al Stump. Stump, a man with a not so clean reputation himself, was the co-author of Cobb’s autobiography My Life in Baseball, and then more scathing works in True magazine and later the book, Cobb: The Life and Times of the Meanest Man Who Ever Played Baseball, and comes in for repeated criticism, some of it deserved, from Leerhsen. The movie Cobb, based upon Stump’s work is given its share of criticism as well. In his note on sources he states the movie “was no help at all.”

In A Terrible Beauty, we learn of the difficulties Cobb had when breaking into professional baseball. The bullying and hazing of the day are things I hope would never be tolerated in locker rooms today. Some of it bordered on what might be called criminal. Cobb also had to deal with the murder of his father. A murder committed by his mother under mysterious and questionable circumstances.

While Cobb did have many difficulties, these do not allow a biographer to excuse away in any manner Cobb’s actions. He would fight seemingly anyone; from teammates and opponents, to umpires, to team staff, hotel workers, and even fans who catcalled him from the bleachers. Cobb’s admitted actions would probably lead to his banishment from the game today and more lawsuits than his lawyers could attend to.

In trying to bolster Cobb’s reputation, Leerhsen is at times not willing to place blame where it seems to belong, at Cobb’s feet. An example are multiple interactions with Bungy Cummings, an African American groundskeeper, who may have had a liking for alcohol.

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In 1906, what looks to have probably started as a harmless interaction between Cummings and Cobb led to a violent fight with teammate Charlie Schmidt. Schmidt claimed to have seen Cobb choking the wife of Schmidt, who was trying to stop Cobb from beating her husband. Leerhsen seems to shake off the episode calling Cummings a drunk. Cobb is forgiven because “It’s worth noting I think [Leerhsen is the I] that he [Cobb] didn’t claim that beating up Cummings and his wife was permissible because there were Negroes who had become too familiar or aggressive (as is sometimes alleged or suggested); what he said, rather, was that he did not beat them up.” This is a claim that seems most improbable. Schmidt is condemned as a man who had fought with Cobb on at least two prior occasions, thus seemingly making him in the wrong by default.

Cobb is deemed to have not been racist for his praise of stars such as Willie Mays. In 1952, regarding Black players in Major League Baseball, Cobb stated, “The Negro should be accepted and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly.” Easy for him to have said twenty-four years into retirement and five years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Would a Georgia born and bred Cobb have made such a comment during his playing days?

So, what do we make of Leerhsen’s book? Well, first, I have several editorial complaints that should in no way reflect upon Leerhsen, his research, or the text of this book. First is the lack of a formal bibliography. This is a massive oversight on the part of the publisher. The two page “Note on Sources” that is included is unacceptable. What this “Note” is, is two long unusable paragraphs listing secondary sources. The first paragraph includes works on Cobb (with further bashing of Stump of course.) The second is “Other books I consulted,” a listing of authors and book titles in no conceivable order.

My second issue is what pass for endnotes. Rather than have standard endnotes, what readers are presented with is each chapter receiving a single paragraph of text with page numbers and a very brief comment where material came from.  If this material is not included in the “Note on Sources” you are left even further mystified.  These paragraphs are difficult and not user friendly, nor are they endnotes. I get not having footnotes, though those are most convenient for readers, and I am happy enough to at least have traditional endnotes. This type of notation should be avoided by all publishers.

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After reading Leerhsen what am I left with? First, I am left with the nagging feeling I should have read all of Stump’s works prior. Because A Terrible Beauty is so focused on countering much of what has been written about Cobb, a grasp of that literature would have helped.

Secondly, it seems clear that the author has done plenty of research. While a majority seems to come from newspapers, which often have their own slant, Leerhsen is able to combat much of the reputation Cobb has been given (I hesitate to say earned after reading this book.) I would use the reputation for having been a dirty player as an example here. Instances of Cobb being involved in a “spiking” seem to have been rare. Players of the day do not seem to have universally considered him a dirty player. Did you want to have Cobb barreling down on you while stealing a base or stretching a hit? Probably not; does it appear he went out of his way to injure opposing players, no.

I might like to have seen a bit about Cobb’s legacy, especially in the Royston, GA area. Cobb’s burial location is discussed. This is a must see if you are travelling through town.

At the end of the day, who is the real Tyrus Raymond Cobb? Is it the violent, racist, possibly alcoholic of Al Stump; or the more moderate, misunderstood, Cobb of Charles Leerhsen? It is probably somewhere in between, but Leerhsen has done a commendable job in righting some of the past wrongs we have assumed true of Ty Cobb.

You may find all of Charles Leerhsen’s books using THIS LINK.

Bowman, GA is located just a short drive from Royston, GA, where Cobb called home. Here are some sites you should see if you visit Bowman. Use this link for my recommendations.

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Book Review–Battle of Gettysburg Timothy J. Orr

Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (1) The First Day written by Timothy J. Orr and published by Osprey Publishing

Batle of Gettysburg 1863 First Day Timothy OrrOrr, Timothy J. and Illustrated by Steve Noon. The Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (1) The
First Day. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. ISBN 9781472848499, $24.00. 96
pages, color and b/w images, maps, index, bibliographyy






Battle of Gettysburg 1863 Volume 2 Timothy OrrOrr, Timothy J. and Illustrated by Steve Noon. The Battle of Gettysburg 1863 (2) The
Second Day. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2023. ISBN 9781472854643, $25.00.
96 pages, color and b/w images, maps, index, bibliography.

The Third Day volume will be following, most likely in early 2024.





The Osprey Campaign series should be familiar to readers of military history.
These books follow a template format that has proven successful. The books come
in at 96 pages and include a significant number of illustrations. While maps are
included it’s hard to say that a military history book can ever have enough maps.
For these titles, however, space is at a premium in order to include as much content
as possible.

The First Day covers events and actions on July 1, 1863, as would be expected.
Author Timothy J. Orr also includes helpful background material including a
chapter titled “The Invasion of Pennsylvania.” This chapter, coupled with brief
chapters on the opposing commanders, opposing armies, and opposing plans, help
orient readers into the complex actions set to occur throughout the first days of

The meat of The First Day is of course the action on the field. In one long chapter,
broken up with chapter sub-headings, Orr concisely discusses actions at Oak Ridge,
McPherson’s Ridge, Seminary Ridge, the Union retreat, Cemetery Hill, and the
actions after nightfall.

In volume two, The Second Day, Orr follows a similar blueprint with a single, long
chapter covering actions at Hunterstown and Benner’s Hill, Little Round Top,
Devil’s Den, the Rose Wheat Field, the “Valley of Death,”, the Peach Orchard,
Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, and Cemetery Hill. A brief separate chapter covers
nightfall actions.

I have a few observations on this series. The first, as previously mentioned, is the
need for as many maps as possible. For a new student of the battle, being able to
accurately place troops, along with understanding the topography, is crucial. I
would recommend picking up a copy of The Maps of Gettysburg, from the
excellent historian Bradley Gottfried or a copy of Gettysburg Campaign Atlas, a
very convenient, spiral bound book by Phillip Laino. These sources will prove
invaluable in understanding the battle and supplement the maps included in the

The 3D depiction maps created by Steve Noon are quite nice. The problem being,
due to their size, they spread over two pages and the binding breaks them up.
These maps include a nice breakdown of events being shown, including legends
allowing readers to locate where a specific regiment is located. The 3D effect helps
show woods and tree locations and helps viewers understand the terrain facing

Other maps included in these volumes are perhaps more familiar to those interested
in the Civil War. They have the appearance of the maps produced by the American
Battlefield Trust.


Both volumes contain an Order of Battle. These listings showing command
structure from Corps, to Division, to Brigade, and then listings of regiments in a
brigade, are extremely useful. These Orders can be a lifesaver in trying to
understand who was sent into battle along with where and who they are fighting
with and against. Bravo to Orr and Osprey for including this information.

A final observation is that these volumes are a perfect gateway for readers new to
the battle. There isn’t new ground being covered here and I didn’t finish feeling
there were new interpretations or material being presented. There is no problem
with that and that’s not what these books are for. With fighting as complex as the
three-day battle (not including the advance and retreat) was, for a new reader it can
be easy to be overwhelmed when picking up Coddington, Sears, or Trudeau. There
are publishers out there making a living off Gettysburg “micro-histories,” aimed at
covering every inch of battlefield, every brigade, if not regiment, and every officer where enough material can be

Because the format of the Campaigns series is fixed, these books allow for enough
detail to be valuable to new readers while the bibliographies provide an excellent
listing of materials for those seeking additional detail and information.

Thank you to Osprey Publishing for providing complimentary review copies of
both books.

If you would like to read more of my book reviews, please use THIS LINK to find them.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and
make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This
commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and
opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate
programs or sponsors providing products.

Take the "Reluctant Witness" walking tour and learn more about the town of Gettysburg in addition to the battle itself.
Join Ken Rich and his The Reluctant Witness walking tour to learn more about the town of Gettysburg along with plenty of battle history. Click the image above or THIS LINK to learn more and book your own tour.
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Library Additions June 2023 (1) Mercer University Press and more

A Wilderness of Destruction

Library Additions June 2023 (1)

We will start June 2023 off with a couple of new additions to the library. Both of these books were purchased by me and are not provided by a publisher or distributor.

Ross, Peter. A Tomb with a View: The Stories and Glories of Graveyards. London: Headline Publishing. 2020. ISBN 9781472267788, 352 pages, index, selected bibliography, b/w photos. $17.99.

Enter a grave new world of fascination and delight as award-winning writer Peter Ross uncovers the stories and glories of graveyards. Who are London’s outcast dead and why is David Bowie their guardian angel? What is the remarkable truth about Phoebe Hessel, who disguised herself as a man to fight alongside her sweetheart, and went on to live in the reigns of five monarchs? Why is a Bristol cemetery the perfect wedding venue for goths?

All of these sorrowful mysteries – and many more – are answered in A Tomb with A View, a book for anyone who has ever wandered through a field of crooked headstones and wondered about the lives and deaths of those who lie beneath.

So push open the rusting gate, push back the ivy, and take a look inside.



A Wilderness of Destruction
A Wilderness of Destruction

Waters, Zack C. A Wilderness of Destruction: Confederate Guerrillas in East and South Florida, 1986-1865. Macon: Mercer University Press.  2023. ISBN 9780881468816. 259 pages, index, bibliography, foot notes, b/w photos. $39.00.

Modern historians have consistently treated Florida as a military backwater. Despite that assessment, Rebel guerrillas blocked repeated Union attempts to establish a stronghold in the Florida’s interior. After the “abandonment” of Florida by the Confederate government, in early 1862, Gov. John Milton organized guerrilla units to protect the state’s citizens. These irregular companies kept Union forces largely confined to a few coastal outposts (St. Augustine, Fernandina, and Ft. Myers), though the state’s citizens suffered greatly from the depredations of Unionist units.

After the Federals capture of Vicksburg, the South’s only significant source of beef were the vast herds in Florida. It fell to the state’s Rebel partisans to protect the state’s interior, thereby keeping open routes for the delivery of longhorns to the South’s major armies. Skirmishes and battles raged throughout Florida, but the flow of beef cattle halted only after Appomattox.

I do receive a very generous “thank you” in the acknowledgements but those of you who know me understand I have purchased this book for my Florida Civil War library without hesitation. Zack is an excellent historian and this is a book covering an important part of the Florida Civil War history.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products. 


Atlanta: Civil War to Civil Rights private tour. Tours last 3 hours. Click the photo for more information.
Click HERE, or the image above, to learn more and book tickets for an Atlanta: From Civil War to Civil Rights Private Tour.  Follow the history of Atlanta from a major American Civil War battlefield to the center of the US Civil Rights movement. Visit the site of the Battle of Atlanta, the oldest cemetery in the city, and the Martin Luther King Historic District. This incredible 3 hour tour will provide you a whole new appreciation and perspective for the city of Atlanta. 


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Book Review: Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, & East Lake County written by Bob Grenier

Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County written by Bob Grenier

Thank you for taking time to read my book review of Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County  written by Bob Grenier and published by Arcadia Publishing. This book makes a solid contribution to Lake County and Florida history.

Sorrento, Mount Plymout East Lake County book reviewGrenier, Bob and the East Lake Historical Society. Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County (Images of America). Charleston: Arcadia Publishing.  2023. 128 pages, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467109420, $23.99.

Lake County, Florida is a rapidly growing area in Central Florida with Clermont being a bedroom community for Orlando, but also with proximity to Tampa. With a population of 297,000 in 2010, the county now boasts a staggering 410,000 persons just over a decade later, a growth of over 71%. When a county grows this fast, how do long term residents keep up with their history? As the number of transplants, often with no roots or desire to put down real roots, grows, what can be done to preserve the legacies of those who have built these now booming areas?

While the Clermont and west Lake County areas are not covered in this book, Bob Grenier and the East Lake Historical Society have provided a fine volume that will go far in making sure the names, deeds, and legacies of those from the East Lake County area will not be forgotten.

Mr. Grenier is well qualified to have gathered photos and penned a volume such as this. He is the author of several other Images of America volumes including works on Tavares, and Leesburg, along with books on Central Florida veterans from the Civil War, and World War II. Bob is a well known speaker throughout the region and has presented his work at many museums and historical societies. Mr. Grenier exhibits a sincere passion for his subjects both in writing and in his presentations. If you get a chance to hear him present, I recommend attending.

Bob has been a resident of Lake County, Florida since 1985 when he moved south from Illinois. Originally settling in Mount Plymouth, Bob was familiar with the area. When the East Lake Historical Society was founded he was able to reconnect with the area. He has put his experience as an author, public servant, and museum director to work in compiling this fascinating volume.


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East Lake County is often overlooked in comparison to the cities in the mid and western parts of the county. As mentioned, Clermont is rapidly growing, having grown to almost 50,000 residents on its own, up from 28,000 in 2010. Cities such as Mount Dora, Leesburg, and Tavares, the county seat, often garner the most attention as might be expected. What of the small communities of east Lake County? They continue to be home to dedicated residents, proud of their local communities.

Mr. Grenier starts the book off with an interesting, but brief, two page introduction to his subject. Here, he quickly covers his subject matter. Here we learn of the Sorrento Immigration Service and how northern migrants helped develop the town in the post Civil War years. Special mention is given to Major Alexander St. Clair-Abrams, a man Mr. Grenier is well associated with, having expertly put together a  volume of Abrams writings.

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Mount Plymouth is described by Mr. Grenier as “a Currier and Ives painting come to life” (page 8). Here we learn of the Mount Plymouth Corporation and the plans of powerful men such as real estate developer H. Carl Dann, John Pirie of Carson Pirie Scott and Company fame, and baseball legend Connie Mack. Their dream was to develop a 5,000 acre parcel into a winter resort, reminiscent of the Scottish countryside.

The small community of Cassia on State Road 44, only about ten minutes from the Lake/Volusia County line is home to the annual Cassia Day, an event filled with food, games, music, and community, to help celebrate the heritage of this area which can trace its first settlers to the 1850s. I have often passed through Cassia on State Road 44 and never given it a moments consideration. That oversight needs to be rectified.

Readers are invited to find more of my book reviews from Arcadia Publishing. Please use this link.

The meat of the book is of course the photos, and this book is packed with them, including well over 200, spanning from the earliest days of these communities to more modern times helping show how these towns have evolved but still retain their sense of community. As can be expected, some of the image quality is better than others. The reproductions can only do so much based upon the source material. Overall though, I think you will be impressed.

Here we meet early settlers, families that often had to struggle to make their lives work. We also meet men like Sam Stoltz, a self taught architect from Chicago. Mr. Stoltz created Tudor style homes in Mount Plymouth. We get to see photos of some of these “Plymouthonians” in the book. (page 64)

We are treated to beauty queens (page 58), Civil War soldiers (page 86), Camp Boggy Creek (page 97), and a gentleman by the name of “Possum Slim” and his amazing story (page 51). My favorite images may be of the Sorrento Baseball Club dating to around the turn of the twentieth century (page 17).

For those interested in Lake County history this is a must have. Readers interested in Florida history and the development and evolution of small Florida towns should consider adding this title to their library. Well written, with a diverse subject matter included, Mr. Grenier and the East Lake Historical Society have done a fine job in showcasing this unique part of Florida.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.


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Library Additions April 2023 (2) Arcadia Publishing

Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County
Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County
Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County

Thank you to my good friend, the historian and author, Bob Grenier for providing a complimentary copy of his new book, Sorrento, Mount Plymouth, and East Lake County. 

For full disclosure, Bob is a friend of mine and I have had the pleasure of reading his work in the past and also seeing him as a presenter. He puts his heart into his work and his passion shows through. I have no doubt this book will be the same and it has move to the top of my to-be-read pile.

From the publisher:

The town of Sorrento in East Lake County, named for the picturesque coastal town in southwestern Italy famous for its abundance of orange and lemon groves, was first settled in 1875 by the William Butts family. They were soon followed by the Kerr, Reeve, and Miner families.

That same year, five bachelors from Ohio arrived–among them being Albert Matlack and Ed Averill, who were instrumental in the development of this new community. Matlack, who opened the first mercantile business with Charles Adams, surveyed, charted, and mapped the new town, while Averill built the first tourist hotel, called the Averill House.

By 1882, many motivated new settlers arrived, which prompted swift growth in this scenic village carved from the Florida wilderness. A church, schoolhouse, drugstore, post office, packinghouses, dairy farms, cattle and horse ranches, and brick, lumber, and turpentine mills, framed by peach orchards and endless rows of orange groves, established Sorrento as a flourishing destination.

Mount Plymouth, distinct with its famed Storybook homes of renowned architect Sam Stoltz and the celebrity winter retreat of the Mount Plymouth Hotel, compliment the East Lake County landscape.

To find Bob’s other books, please use this LINK. He has several titles that will be of interest to those studying Lake County, FL history and a couple of excellent books in the Images of America series dealing with Central Florida WWII and Civil War veterans.

To see my reviews and posts dealing with Arcadia Publishing books, please use this LINK.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.


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Book Review Sharpsburg (Images of America)


Sharpsburg Images of America Book ReviewBelow is my book review of Sharpsburg Images of America where authors Vernell and Tim Doyle strive to show the history of the town other than just the Battle of Antietam.

Doyle, Vernell and Tim Doyle. Sharpsburg (Images of America.) Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. 2009. ISBN 9780738568058, 127 pages, b/w photos, bibliography, $21.99.

The town of Sharpsburg, MD is a small community located in Washington County, near the border with Pennsylvania and is home to less than 1,000 residents. Sharpsburg was founded in 1763 and incorporated in 1832. The town is best known for the Civil War battle that occurred in September 1862, better known as the Battle of Antietam.  There, more than 130,000 combined Union and Confederate men fought it out to what many consider a stalemate that was ultimately a Union victory as Robert E. Lee and Confederate troops retreated south across the Potomac. The casualty toll from the battle was horrific, more than 22,000 dead, wounded, missing, or taken prisoner. More than 3,600 men would be killed. Today, many of the Union dead from this battle are interred at Antietam National Cemetery. Abraham Lincoln used the seeming Union victory as his opportunity to announce the Emancipation Proclamation.

In their Images of America series book, authors Vernell and Tim Doyle, a retired teacher and retired journalist respectively, try to remind us that the community of Sharpsburg is much more than the Battle of Antietam.  If you are unfamiliar with the series, authors pull together  around 150 images around their subject, providing concise captions to help further their story. In five chapters, the Doyles lay out a history of Sharpsburg where the battle plays only a partial role. Only one chapter is tied directly to the September 1862 fight. In fact, they make their point right from the start. The cover photo of the book features the J. Hammond General Merchandise store and was taken in August 1932.

In their five chapters, the Doyle’s outline the history of a small Maryland community, from its earliest days of small farms and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal through more modern days using a mix of photographs from their own collection, locals, the National Park Service, and other sources. This diversity of sources becomes one of the strengths of the book rather than relying on images from the Library of Congress that have been recycled over and over. Sure, there are quite a few  images from the National Park Service and the Washington County Historical Society, but I bet the vast majority of these photos will be new to readers.

Chapters include the Town, the People, the Battlefield, the Canal, and the Area. In less than 130 pages, the battlefield is only given fifteen direct pages. I don’t find that to be a problem and neither should other readers, even those interested primarily in the Civil War. Even with the destructive impact that the Battle of Antietam had, it is important to realize the community was there before and still remains there today.

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Interesting photos to me included that of Nancy Campbell (page 61) a freed slave, who at the time was described at a woman of “extraordinary good conduct and good character as proven to us by the testimony of William Rulett.” The chapter dealing with the C&O Canal showed just how important this was in diversifying job opportunities at the time. Other photos show just how similar our worlds are. Smiling groups of school children could be from most any community. Church groups  and choirs could be interchangeable with towns in the south or the west. Local baseball teams might play on fields across the country if not for SHARPSBURG being emblazoned on their uniforms.

Each image is accompanied by a few lines of text, explaining to readers/viewers what they are seeing. The authors do not have a lot of space available for these captions and many are quite short thought others do go into more detail. These are easy to read and make each chapter easily digestible at a sitting.

And yet, while the Doyle’s do an admirable job of trying to keep the focus off the battle, one can’t help but return to September 1862. Period prints, with images of the Dunker Church, and armed men in rows ready for battle mix with later views of the Bloody Lane and Burnside Bridge. While president Franklin Roosevelt pays his respects during the 1937, 75th anniversary commemoration, a Lions Club meets on the battlefield for a group photo with a piece of artillery in 1962.

Can Sharpsburg ever shed its Civil War association? No, and the question really should be, would it want to.

Antietam Photographic Legacy of America's Bloodiest DayFor those looking for insights into the Battle or a heavily Battle focused book this is not for you. If battle images are what you seek, I strongly recommend Antietam: The Photographic Legacy of America’s Bloodiest Day. For those interested in the community, and perhaps what the real Sharpsburg has been in addition to a bloody battlefield, this book is recommended.




If you would like to read more of my book reviews, please use this link.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. This commission does not affect any price that you pay. All views and opinions provided are my own and are never influenced by affiliate programs or sponsors providing products.


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