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Wide Awake Press Release

Wide Awake Press Release Publishing in May 2024

  Wide Awake Press Release Publishing in May 2024Thank you for reading this press release for Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force that Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War. This book will be released in May 2024 and is published by Bloomsbury Publishing. The author is Jon Grinspan. Grinspan is the Curator of Political History at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Press Release                                                                                          Provided By Bloomsbury Publishing

At the start of the 1860 presidential campaign, a handful of fired-up young Northerners appeared as bodyguards to defend anti-slavery stump speakers from frequent attacks. The group called themselves the Wide Awakes. Soon, hundreds of thousands of young white and Black men, and a number of women, were organizing boisterous, uniformed, torch-bearing brigades of their own. These Wide Awakes-mostly working-class Americans in their twenties-became one of the largest, most spectacular, and most influential political movements in our history. To some, it demonstrated the power of a rising majority to push back against slavery. To others, it looked like a paramilitary force training to invade the South. Within a year, the nation would be at war with itself, and many on both sides would point to the Wide Awakes as the mechanism that got them there.

In this gripping narrative, Smithsonian historian Jon Grinspan examines how exactly our nation crossed the threshold from a political campaign into a war. Perfect for readers of Lincoln on the Verge and The Field of Blood, Wide Awake bears witness to the power of protest, the fight for majority rule, and the defense of free speech. At its core, Wide Awake illuminates a question American democracy keeps posing, about the precarious relationship between violent rhetoric and violent actions.

 

The press release for Wide Awake: The Forgotten Force that Elected Lincoln and Spurred the Civil War shows this should be one of the most anticipated Abraham Lincoln related books of 2024. I hope to be reading this and subsequently posting a review. In the meantime, be sure to click the image or link above to order your own copy.

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.

 

Hidden History of Civil War Florida at Reflections of Manatee

Hidden History of Civil War Florida

Hidden History of Civil War Florida

Please join me on Saturday, February 17 in Bradenton at Reflections of Manatee. We’ll be discussing the Hidden History of Civil War Florida.  The Civil War continues to be a hot button issue more than 160 years later. Come and hear about some of the lesser known aspects of the war in the Sunshine State.

My book, Hidden History of Civil War Florida, published by Arcadia Publishing, has proven very popular and I am honored to have been asked to speak here.

As an FYI, I will not be discussing the Battle of Olustee and it is not covered in my book. There are several excellent full-length books available on the topic. In the limited space I had available in my book, I could not have done justice to the topic.

I am proud to announce this talk is sponsored in part by Florida Humanities. Thanks to their support, this event is free and open to the public. Come out to Reflections of Manatee and let’s discuss the Hidden History of Civil War Florida.

This post may contain affiliate links including links to Amazon. 

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Into the Vortex of Fire Press Release

Into the Vortex of Fire

Into the Vortex of Fire Into the Vortex of Fire is a work of historic fiction written by James Lamason and Gerard Mayers. Published by Dorance Publishing, the book follows the actions of the  11th New Jersey Infantry and their participation in the Battle of Gettysburg.

 

Into the Vortex of Fire author James Lamason
Into the Vortex of Fire author, James Lamason.

Book Forward

Below, please find the forward to the book Into the Vortex of FireThe forward was written by award winning author and Gettysburg campaign expert, Scott L. Mingus, Sr.

Gettysburg.

Into the Vortex of Fire Monument to the men of the 11th New Jersey on the Gettysburg battlefield
Monument to the 11th New Jersey located on the Gettysburg battlefield.

The mere mention of the word conjures up different emotions. For some, it evokes images of the battlefield, adorned for more than 100 years with impressive monuments and markers, making it one of the most impressive collections of outdoor statuary in the world. For others, Gettysburg means a family vacation, filled with battlefield and museum experiences, shopping, dining, and swimming in the hotel’s pool. To others, Gettysburg is a place of controversy, with debates lingering over the need for historic preservation versus the desire to add townhouses, retail shopping centers, casinos on occasion, etc.

But to many, the word Gettysburg brings images of something much more personal – the stories of ancestors and kin who fought there, of long-ago warriors from our respective home states, of young men and boys who never came home, many of whom still lie beneath the rich topsoil of Adams County, Pennsylvania. It is the collective stories of thousands of brave (and some not-so-valiant) soldiers, blue and gray, who survived to write their impressions of the three-day battle in their letters home, journals and diaries, newspaper articles, or in memoirs. Several of the soldiers who fought at Gettysburg later were fortunate enough to have the health and means to travel to the former battlefield to attend the dedication ceremonies for their regimental or state monuments, or to visit the graves or the locations where their respective regiments or batteries had once fought.

It is the latter, the stories of the men who were there, those who came back and those who never would, that form the backbone of this work. Author Jim Lamason, long a friend and spiritual brother, and collaborator Gerard Mayers (my co-author of our book of human interest stories of the Irish in the war) tell the story of one man from New Jersey and his comrades who sweated, toiled, and bled at Gettysburg. This book is a fitting tribute to the sons of New Jersey whose lives were forever changed in the fields that we now know as the Gettysburg National Military Park.

Huzzah.

Scott L. Mingus, Sr. York, Pennsylvania

 

I invite you to read other blog posts related to the Battle of Gettysburg by clicking THIS LINK.

Mr. Lamason and Mr. Mayers have not paid for this post nor have they provided a copy of their book. I have yet to read this title and have not seen a copy in person. Readers are advised to refer to online reviews for additional information.

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.

 

Civil War Times is one of the leading magazines on the subject. Leading scholars write on major topics of interest. With amazing photography and insightful book reviews, Civil War Times is a must read for enthusiasts. Click the image or THIS LINK for discounted subscription offers.


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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
July.

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
books.

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
soldiers.

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.

Nomatic

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
located.

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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Library Additions April 2023 (1) Osprey Publishing

Nashville 1864 written by Mark Lardas, illustrated by Adam Hook, published by Osprey Publishing.

I want to thank my new sponsor OSPREY PUBLISHING for providing review copies of several of their books. Look for individual book reviews in the near future.

After over 50 years of publishing, the Osprey list now totals nearly 3,500 books and the central mission is unchanged. Osprey continues to bring together expert authors, illustrators and military-history enthusiasts by delivering the information readers need to increase their knowledge and to enrich their leisure or professional pursuits. Osprey’s enthusiasm for military history is balanced by an equal enthusiasm for excellent publishing.

Campaign Series

Lardas, Mark (text) and Adam Hook (illustrations). Nashville 1864: From the Tennessee to the Cumberland (Campaign 314). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017. 96 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472819826, $25.

In September 1864, the Confederate army abandoned Atlanta and were on the verge of being driven out of the critical state of Tennessee. In an attempt to regain the initiative, John Bell Hood launched an attack on Union General Sherman’s supply lines, before pushing north in an attempt to retake Tennessee’s capital—Nashville.

This fully illustrated book examines the three-month campaign that followed, one that confounded the expectations of both sides. Instead of fighting Sherman’s Union Army of the Tennessee, the Confederates found themselves fighting an older and more traditional enemy: the Army of the Cumberland. This was led by George R. Thomas, an unflappable general temperamentally different than either the mercurial Hood or Sherman. The resulting campaign was both critical and ignored, despite the fact that for eleven weeks the fate of the Civil War was held in the balance.

 

Nashville Civil War Tour: The Battle of Franklin Bus Tour – $99.99

From visiting the battlefield of Franklin to the Carter House and Carnton Plantation, the Civil War historical tour offers an in-depth look into both the American Civil War and the prevailing culture of the Tennessee area during the mid 19th century. 

 

Orr, Timothy (text) and Steve Noon (illustrations). The Battle of Gettysburg  1863 (1) The First Day (Campaign 374). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. 96 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472848499, $24.

This volume, the first of three to cover the battle in depth, also emphasizes the experience of combat as witnessed by the rank and file-the ‘face of battle’-to borrow John Keegan’s expression. Primary accounts from common soldiers remind readers that Gettysburg was-first and foremost-a soldier’s battle, full of raw emotion. This superbly detailed study explores the battle chronologically; but in cases where several actions occurred simultaneously, the chapters are partitioned according to key terrain features. Among the action covered is the morning cavalry skirmish, the morning clash at the Herbst’s wood lot and at the railroad cut, the afternoon clash at Oak Ridge, the afternoon fight at the Edward McPherson farm, the afternoon rout of the 11th Corps, the last stand of the 1st Corps at Seminary Ridge, the Union retreat through town, and the positions of the armies at nightfall.

 

Combat Series

Yee. Gary. Union Sharpshooter vs. Confederate Sharpshooter: American Civil War 1861-1865 (Combat 41). New York: Osprey Publishing, 2019. 80 pages, maps, color and b/w photos, index. ISBN 9781472831859, $22.

During the American Civil War, the Union and the Confederacy both fielded units of sharpshooters. Sometimes equipped with firearms no better than those of their infantry brethren, they fought in a manner reminiscent of Napoleonic-era light infantry. Siege warfare placed a premium on marksmanship and the sharpshooter became indispensable as they could drive artillerymen from their guns. They could also become expert scouts and, for the Confederacy, impressive raiders–one raid netted almost 250 prisoners. Initially, Union marksmen enjoyed the upper hand, but as the Confederates began raising and training their own sharpshooters, they proved themselves as worthy opponents. In this study, Gary Yee, an expert in firearms of the period, assesses the role played by sharpshooters in three bloody clashes at the height of the American Civil War–the battle of Fredericksburg, the siege of Vicksburg, and the siege of Battery Wagner.

Weapons Series

Pegler, Martin. Sharpshooting Rifles of the American Civil War: Colt, Sharps, Spencer, and Whitworth (Weapons 56.) New York: Osprey Publishing, 2017. 80 pages, color and b/w photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 9781472815910, $23.

At the outset of the American Civil War, the wealthy inventor and expert shot Hiram Berdan initiated the setting-up of sharpshooting units in the Union Army; these units would be tasked primarily with open-order skirmishing, but also with long-range, accurate shooting. Initially, it was envisaged that the M1855 Colt revolving rifle would be the weapon employed by these specialists. Available in .36, .44, and .56 caliber, the M1855 swiftly earned a poor reputation, however, as it was prone to a malfunction known as “chain fire,” in which powder in all the unfired chambers would be ignited, seriously injuring the shooter.

 

 

Walter, John. Weapons of the Civil War Cavalryman (Weapons 75.) New York: Osprey Publishing, 2020. 80 pages, color and b/w photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 9781472842237, $22.

During the American Civil War, the mounted soldiers fighting on both sides of the conflict carried a wide array of weapons, from sabers and lances to carbines, revolvers, and other firearms. Though some sections of the cavalry placed their trust in the sabre, the advent of viable breechloading carbines–especially repeaters such as the Spencer–was to transform warfare within little more than a decade of General Lee’s final surrender at Appomattox. However, output struggled to keep up with unprecedented demands on manufacturing technology and distribution in areas where communication was difficult and in states whose primary aim was to equip their own men rather than contribute to the arming of Federal or Confederate regiments. In addition, the almost unparalleled losses of men and equipment ensured that almost any firearm, effectual or not, was pressed into service. Consequently, the sheer variety of weaponry carried reflected the mounted soldiers’ various roles in different theaters of operation, but also the availability–or otherwise–of weapons, notably on the Confederate side.

Fully illustrated, this study assesses the effectiveness of the many different weapons arming the Civil War cavalryman and analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the decisions made after 1865 concerning the armament of the US cavalry.

 

Not Series Related

MacGregor, Iain. U.S. Civil War: Battle by Battle. New York: Osprey Publishing, 2022. 128 pages, color illustrations, index. ISBN 9781472850119, $12.

The American Civil War was the most cataclysmic military struggle of the late 19th century, and in four bloody years of fighting from 1861 to 1865 over 620,000 American soldiers and sailors lost their lives in more than 8,000 battles, engagements, and skirmishes.

U.S. Civil War Battle by Battle tells the story of 30 of the most significant of these battles. These include some of the most famous clashes, such as the battles of Gettysburg and the Fredericksburg, which resonate through American military history, but also the less well known, such as the battles of Brandy Station and Cedar Creek.

This highly illustrated introduction, packed full of color artwork, covers every theater of the war and details infantry, cavalry, artillery, and seaborne units from both the Union and Confederate forces to give a true sense of the scale of the War between the States.

 

 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

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.

A Walking Tour of Frederick, Maryland – The Crossroads of Maryland – $36.83

If you have a love for history, stunning architecture, and charming small towns, then the Walking Tour of Frederick, Maryland is a must-do activity.

 

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.

 

Civil War Times

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Book Review Shiloh National Military Park (Images of America)

Shiloh National Military Park book cover

Book Review Shiloh National Military Park

Thank you for taking time to read my book review of Shiloh National Military Park. Here, two experts will take you on a visual tour of the important battlefield and modern day military park.

McCutchen, Brian K., and Timothy B. Smith. Shiloh National Military Park (Images of America). Charleston: Arcadia Publishing. 2012. ISBN 9780738591353. B/W photos. 127 pages. $21.99.

When armies under the commands of Ulysses S. Grant and Albert Sidney Johnston faced off on April 6 and 7, 1862, they could not have realized the carnage that would be left on the Tennessee battlefield. The Battle of Shiloh left almost 24,000 soldiers dead, wounded, missing, or captured, a staggering sum that included Confederate General Johnston.

In 1866, Pittsburg National Cemetery was established by the War Department; a name later changed to Shiloh National Cemetery in 1889.

Established on December 27, 1894, Shiloh National Military Park now serves as a reminder of those terrible two days of fighting that helped set in motion the events of the next three years. The park first operated under the guidance of the War Department but was moved to the National Park Service in 1933.

This 1894 legislation allowed for participating states to place monuments and memorials on the park grounds. The park as we know it today was beginning to take shape.

The Images of America series of books does an excellent job of providing access to usually older photos that the general public may not otherwise have the opportunity to view. In Shiloh National Military Park, authors Brian K. McCutchen and Timothy B. Smith achieve this standard, using images from the park collection.

Book Review Shiloh National Military Park
Shiloh Conquer or Perish book cover. Click to order.McCutchen is a former park ranger at Shiloh and has served at other national parks. Timothy B. Smith is a professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Martin. He is a leading scholar on the Battle of Shiloh and has authored what many consider the definitive volume on the battle, Shiloh: Conquer or Perish.

In this Images of America title, the authors showcase just over 200 images, broken into seven chapters. As might be expected in a collection spanning longer than 150 years, some images have reproduced much better than others. Occasionally there are images that seem a bit fuzzy and hazy. This is not a major distraction however. Each image contains a caption with most being around fifty words. The captions are easy to read and bring additional life to the images. 

I particularly enjoyed the chapter titled, “Memories in Stone and Bronze: Monuments of Shiloh.” This chapter highlights just a few of the more than 150 monuments that are located throughout the 4,000+ acres of the park. As McCutchen and Smith state, “To the veterans of America’s first monster battle…the statuary was much more. It embodied full representations of the brave solders of North and South and thus told the stories that they wished to convey to future generations.: (p.57)

A little-known aspect of the battlefield that the authors cover is the cyclone of October 14, 1909. This storm, that appears to have been building throughout the day, killed seven and injured thirty-three. Damage to the park and cemetery were considerable with Congress ultimately allocating $8,000 for the national cemetery and almost $20,000 for repairs and reconstruction at the park. In just over a dozen photos, the damage to the park is shown, with trees uprooted, buildings destroyed, and monuments smashed.

The beauty of a book such as this is its simplicity. A reader can know nothing of the battle and still enjoy the rich history on the pages, the book serving as a potential gateway to further study. For those knowledgeable on the battle and the terrain of the battlefield there is still plenty to learn here. Chances are good that many of the images will be new, even to seasoned students of the battle.

 This is not a new release, and the reality is, an expert such as Smith could probably release several similar volumes. Recommended for anybody studying the battle or planning to visit the Shiloh National Military Park.

Thank you for reading my book review of Shiloh National Military Park. I invite you to read more of my book reviews of Arcadia Publishing titles by using THIS LINK. 

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Book Review: Civil War Generals of Indiana written by Dr. Carl E. Kramer

Civil War Generals of Indiana

Kramer, Carl E. Civil War Generals of Indiana. Charleston: History Press. 2022. 140 pages, 136 pages of text. Bibliography, b/w images. ISBN 9781467151955, $23.99.

In his acknowledgements and introduction, author Dr. Carl E. Kramer, states that this book has been an off and on-again project for more than sixty years having started it while a freshman in high school in 1961. As with any student new to Civil War studies, the term “General” can be confusing at best, thus Kramer’s long-term quest for clarity.

Let’s count down the opportunities for use of the title along with Dr. Kramer. There are those who receive appointment to the rank of general (brigadier and higher). Of course, during the Civil War that could mean in the regular army or as a general of volunteers. Promotions to the rank of general were nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Second, you have Brevet Generals, those receiving a sort of temporary promotion to the rank but no real promotion. These brevets were often handed out based upon some noteworthy battle achievement most often made by a colonel or maybe even lieutenant colonel. You weren’t going to be made a brevet general from the rank of sergeant. Brevets to lower officer positions were also possible during the war.

The third opportunity for using the rank of general is from State Troops. These were most often militia groups and the appointment was made by the state governor.

Finally, you have those men who were just called general. They may have received the nickname for being a local leader, maybe it was sarcastic, or perhaps they gave themselves the moniker and it stuck for whatever reason. Needless to say, these men were not generals in the way Kramer is using the term.

As has been pointed out by Andrew Wagenhoffer, the issue of determining who is a Hoosier and who isn’t is a tricky one. Then, as now, people moved around. Family members often followed each other, at times following perceived economic or educational opportunities.

In determining if a “general” was eligible for inclusion, Kramer relied heavily on the standard work in the field, Generals in Blue written by Ezra Kramer. For state level generals, he relied upon Indiana in the War of the Rebellion, a multi volume report issued in 1869 and available in a reprint edition.

Determining a tie to Indiana became more difficult for Dr. Kramer as this can mean differing things to different people. Kramer settled on three criteria for inclusion in his book. The first is birth; anyone born in Indiana who met the other criteria is included. The second qualifying criteria is for men who were born elsewhere but relocated to Indiana and spent a significant part of their lives in the state. The term “significant” is not defined and so this criterion remains vague. The final criteria that merits inclusion is for men “who arrived in Indiana early in the war, played an important role in organizing the state’s military operations and maintained a significant presence after the war.” This criterion is again vague and open to interpretation as the terms important and significant are not defined.

Dover Books

Ultimately, Dr. Kramer has decided upon 121 men; including 44 full United States generals, 1 Confederate general (Francis Asbury Shoup), 62 Union brevet generals, and 14 state service generals. Twenty-one generals were born in Indiana as were 24 brevet generals.

Robert Huston Milroy courtesy Library of Congress
Major General Robert Huston Milroy
Image courtesy Library of Congress

Most of the biographies are one page long. A large number of the entries contain a photo, the majority of which are from the Library of Congress. The short length of each entry makes this book appropriate to pick up and put down at your leisure. Each biography can be read in a matter of a few minutes allowing readers the flexibility to read multiple titles without worries of being bogged down. Biographies can be read in any order with no concern about being confused.

One drawback I did note is that the book does not contain end/foot notes. There is a two-page bibliography however. For me, I would have found it helpful, or at least interesting, if Dr. Kramer had listed a recommended biography (if available) for each of the entries. Brief introductions to these interesting men could leave some readers wanting more. Overall, for a book of this nature these are minor quibbles. It is also possible that the author reached his word count limit. Arcadia/History Press try to stick to specific word counts in order to keep their titles within a page limit and thus helping control price.

For those interested in the role of Indiana in the Civil War this is a book that should be considered. Available at a budget friendly price it allows for a handy reference rather than trying to find Indiana generals at random in Warner.

Arcadia Publishing has generously provided a complimentary review copy of this book. Arcadia Publishing has also published five titles I have written as of the date of this post. This review has not been influenced by these factors and is based upon my reading of the work.

If you would like to read book reviews of other Arcadia/History Press titles, please click HERE. 

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