The Civil War Shelf
Lieutenant General James Longstreet
F. Gregory Toretta
1940 Lawrence Road, Havertown, PA 19083
9781636241173, $34.95, HC, 264pp
Synopsis: Lieutenant-General James Longstreet (January 8, 1821 - January 2, 1904), commander of the First Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, was a brilliant tactician and strategist. Prior to the Civil War there were many technological developments, of which the rifled musket and cannon, rail transport and the telegraph were a few. In addition, the North enjoyed a great advantage in manpower and resources. Longstreet adapted to these technological changes and the disparity between the belligerents making recommendations on how the war should be fought.
Longstreet made a leap of thinking to adjust to this new type of warfare. Many others did not make this leap, including Robert E. Lee, "Stonewall" Jackson, Bragg, Hood and Jefferson Davis. Unfortunately, his advice was not heeded and given the weight it deserved. In contrast to many other southern generals, Longstreet advocated for defensive warfare, using entrenchments and trying to maneuver the enemy to assault his position, conserving manpower, resources and supplies.
With the advent of the highly accurate and long-range rifled musket, offensive tactics became questionable and risky. This caused Longstreet to come into conflict with General Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. Longstreet opposed the Gettysburg campaign and Lee's battle plans at Gettysburg against General Meade and the Army of the Potomac. At Chickamauga, Longstreet was at odds with General Bragg on how to proceed after the stunning victory by the Army of Tennessee over Rosecrans and his forces.
Longstreet was never given full authority over an army in the field. He was a pragmatic and methodical general and had his suggestions been utilized there arguably would have been a better outcome for the South. Many historians and biographers have misunderstood Longstreet and his motives, not focusing on the total picture.
"Lieutenant General James Longstreet: Innovative Military Strategist: The Most Misunderstood Civil War General" by F. Gregory Toretta offers a fresh and unique perspective on Longstreet and the Civil War. This narrative takes a new viewpoint of the Civil War and the generals who tailored their designs to pursue the war, analyses Longstreet's views of the generals and the tactics and strategy they employed and examines why Longstreet proposed and urged a new type of warfare.
Critique: Enhanced with the inclusion of an informative Introduction, an Epilogue (General Longstreet's Strategy and Tactics), twelve pages of Notes, a four page Bibliography, and a six page Index, "Lieutenant General James Longstreet: Innovative Military Strategist: The Most Misunderstood Civil War General" is an impressive work of meticulous and original scholarship offering an inherently fascinating and informative contribution to the growing library of American Civil War histories and biographies. While also available to students, academia, and Civil War buffs in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.95), "Lieutenant General James Longstreet: Innovative Military Strategist: The Most Misunderstood Civil War General" is unreservedly recommended as a key and important addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library American Civil War collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.
Editorial Note: F. Gregory Toretta is a writer and historian with a passion for the American Civil War, accumulating an extensive library and undertaking copious research.
Spectacle of Grief
Sarah J. Purcell
University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
9781469668321, $95.00, HC, 352pp
Synopsis: With the publication of "Spectacle of Grief: Public Funerals and Memory in the Civil War Era", Sarah J. Purcell i( the L. F. Parker Professor of History at Grinnell College), provides an illuminating history that informatively examines how the public funerals of major figures from the Civil War era shaped public memories of the war and allowed a diverse set of people to contribute to changing American national identities.
These funerals often featured lengthy processions that sometimes crossed multiple state lines, burial ceremonies open to the public, and other cultural productions of commemoration such as oration and song. As Professor Purcell reveals, Americans' participation in these funeral rites led to contemplation and contestation over the political and social meanings of the war and the roles played by the honored dead. Public mourning for military heroes, reformers, and politicians distilled political and social anxieties as the country coped with the aftermath of mass death and casualties.
Professor Purcell also shows how large-scale funerals for figures such as Henry Clay and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson set patterns for mourning culture and Civil War commemoration; after 1865, public funerals for figures such as Robert E. Lee, Charles Sumner, Frederick Douglass, and Winnie Davis elaborated on these patterns and fostered public debate about the meanings of the war, Reconstruction, race, and gender.
Critique: A unique and invaluable contribution to the growing library of American Civil War histories, "Spectacle of Grief: Public Funerals and Memory in the Civil War Era" is a masterpiece of original scholarship and an unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library collections. Informationally enhanced with the inclusion of illustrations, maps, sixty-two pages of Notes, a thirty-six page Bibliography, and a fifteen page Index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, Civil War buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject that "Spectacle of Grief: Public Funerals and Memory in the Civil War Era" is also available in a paperback edition (9781469668338, $34.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $20.49).
The Civil War on the Mississippi
Barbara Brooks Tomblin
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813167039, $49.99, HC, 388pp
Synopsis: Flowing from its source in northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River borders or passes through ten different states and serves as one of the most important transportation systems in the country. During the Civil War, both sides believed that whoever controlled the river would ultimately be victorious. Cotton exports generated much-needed revenue for the Confederacy, and the Mississippi was also the main conduit for the delivery of materials and food. Similarly, the Union sought to maintain safe passage from St. Louis, Missouri, to Cairo, Illinois, but also worked to bisect the South by seizing the river as part of the Anaconda Plan.
Drawing heavily on the diaries and letters of officers and common sailors, and with the publication of "The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River", Barbara Brooks Tomblin (who taught military history at Rutgers University and is the author of several articles and books) explores the years during which the Union navy fought to win control of the Mississippi.
Her approach provides fresh insight into major battles such as Memphis and Vicksburg, but also offers fascinating perspectives on lesser-known aspects of the conflict from ordinary sailors engaged in brown-water warfare. These men speak of going ashore in foraging parties, assisting the surgeon in the amputation of a fellow crewman's arm, and liberating supplies of whiskey from captured enemy vessels. They also offer candid assessments of their commanding officers, observations of the local people living along the river, and their views on the war.
"The Civil War on the Mississippi" not only provides its readers with a comprehensive and vivid account of the action on the western rivers; it also offers an incredible synthesis of first-person accounts from the front lines.
Critique: An invaluable and inherently interesting work of groundbreaking Civil War scholarship, "The Civil War on the Mississippi: Union Sailors, Gunboat Captains, and the Campaign to Control the River" will prove to be a welcome and instructive contribution to community, college, and university library American Civil War histories. Informationally enhanced for the reader with the inclusion of an eight page Bibliography, forty-four pages of Notes, and a twenty-five page Index, it should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, Civil War historians, and Civil War buffs that "The Civil War on the Mississippi" is also readily available in a paperback edition (9780813186771, $30.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $12.99).
Bluejackets and Contrabands
Barbara Brooks Tomblin
The University Press of Kentucky
663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY 40508-4008
9780813125541, $40.00, PB, 400pp
Synopsis: One of the lesser-known stories of the Civil War is the role played by escaped slaves in the Union blockade along the Atlantic coast. From the beginning of the war, many African American refugees sought avenues of escape to the North. Due to their sheer numbers, those who reached Union forces presented a problem for the military.
The problem was partially resolved by the First Confiscation Act of 1861, which permitted the seizure of property used in support of the South's war effort, including slaves. Eventually regarded as contraband of war, the runaways became known as contrabands.
With the publication of "Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy", academician and historian Barbara Brooks Tomblin examines the relationship between the Union Navy and the contrabands. The navy established colonies for the former slaves, and, in return, some contrabands served as crewmen on navy ships and gunboats and as river pilots, spies, and guides.
"Bluejackets and Contrabands" presents a rare picture of the contrabands and casts light on the vital contributions of African Americans to the Union Navy and the Union cause.
Critique: Bringing out of an undeserved obscurity the African-American element of the Civil War struggles on the side of the Union and in direct opposition to the Confederacy, "Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy" is an extraordinary and impressively informative contribution to 19th Century African-American history in general, and Civil War histories in particular. Original, informative, exceptionally well written, organized and presented, no personal, professional, community, college, or university library American Civil War collection can be considered comprehensive or up-to-date without the inclusion of Barbara Brooks Tomblin's "Bluejackets and Contrabands: African Americans and the Union Navy". This unique work of Civil War scholarship is also available for the personal reading lists of students, academia, Civil War historians, Civil War scholars, Civil War buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in African-American history in a paperback addition (9780813186870, $30.00) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $28.50).
Scott L. Mingus Sr., author
Joseph L. Owen, author
PO Box 4527, El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
9781611215557, $32.95, HC, 336pp
Synopsis: It was the Civil War's largest battle second only to Gettysburg, but until recently, very little of consequence had been written about Chickamauga. You can count on one hand the number of authors who have tackled Chickamauga in any real depth, and most of their works cover the entire battle. Left unmined and mostly forgotten are the experiences of specific brigades, regiments, and state-affiliated troops. Scott Mingus and Joseph Owen's "Unceasing Fury: Texans at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863", is the first full-length book study to examine in detail the role of troops from the Lone Star State.
Texas troops fought in almost every major sector of the sprawling Chickamauga battlefield, from the first attacks on September 18 on the bridges spanning the creek to the final attack on Snodgrass Hill on September 20. Fortunately, many of the survivors left vivid descriptions of battle action, the anguish of losing friends, the pain and loneliness of being so far away from home, and their often-colorful opinions of their generals.
The authors of this richly detailed study based their work on hundreds of personal accounts, memoirs, postwar newspaper articles, diaries, and other primary sources. Their meticulous work provides the first exploration of the critical role Texas enlisted men and officers played in the three days of fighting near West Chickamauga Creek in September 1863.
"Unceasing Fury" clearly provides the Lone Star State soldiers with the recognition they have so long deserved.
Critique: An exceptional work of original research and meticulous Civil War scholarship, "Unceasing Fury: Texans at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863" is a significant and unreservedly recommended addition to the growing library of American Civil War histories and biographies. Especially appropriate for both community and academic library collections, informatively enhanced with the inclusion of two Appendices (Overall Casualties at Chickamauga in Texas Commands & Individual Texas Casualties at Chickamuga by Regiment), a fourteen page Bibliography, a four page list of Acknowledgments, and a fifteen page Index, "Unceasing Fury: Texans at the Battle of Chickamauga, September 18-20, 1863" also readily available for the personal reading lists of students, academia, Civil War buffs, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject in a digital book format (Kindle, $14.99).
Editorial Note #1: Scott L. Mingus, Sr., has written nineteen Civil War books. His biography of Confederate General William "Extra Billy" Smith won the 2013 Nathan Bedford Forrest Southern History Award and the Dr. James I. Robertson, Jr., Literary Award, and was also nominated for the Virginia Literary Award for Non-Fiction. A contributor to Gettysburg Magazine, Scott also maintains a blog on the Civil War history of York County (www.yorkblog.com/cannonball
). He received the 2013 Heritage Profile Award from the York County Heritage Trust for his contributions to local Civil War history.
Editorial Note #2: Joe Owen is a National Park Ranger at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City, Texas. He is also a co-author of two books about Hood's Texas Brigade, Texans At Gettysburg: Blood and Glory with Hood's Texas Brigade, (2016), and Texans at Antietam: A Terrible Clash of Arms, September 16-17, 1862, (2017), and is the author of Lone Star Valor: Texans of the Blue and Gray at Gettysburg (2019). Joe received the 2019 Jefferson Davis Gold Medal from the Daughters of Confederacy for outstanding research and writing.
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