Thursday, June 10, 2010

Civil War Books and Authors

I'm constantly on the lookout for new books, and it occurs to me that I don't give enough credit where credit is due.

One of the sites I check regularly is Andrew Wagenhoffer's Civil War Books and Authors blog. Drew seems to note just about every Civil War release and re-release and provides an astounding number of comprehensive and well-written reviews - the man must be a reading machine.

Although the Civil War is not the center of my interest, I mention Drew's site in particular because I owe him thanks for leading me to two books recently. Some time ago, Drew's posts alerted me to the impending release of a book of essays on The Chickamauga Campaign edited by Steven E. Woodworth. I finished the book a week or two ago and was glad Drew had found it for me. A post briefly discussing some of the essays is here.

Right now I am in the middle of another book of essays thanks to Drew, Confederate Generals in the Western Theater, Volume 1: Classic Essays on America's Civil War. Drew's recent review had me placing an order immediately, and so far I'm delighted.

Of the essays I've read so far, Grady McWhiney's acidic treatment of Bishop Leonidas Polk pleased me no end, since I'm convinced that the Bishop did more damage to the Confederate cause than any other (Confederate) officer. I can't say I agree with the theses of the next two pieces - positive assessments of Albert Sidney Johnston and Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard - but the authors make their cases as well as they can given that they have an uphill climb (in my humble opinion).

As always (and this is one of Drew's constant complaints as well), the volume of essays I'm reading now is deficient in maps. In the Beauregard essay, for example, author T. Harry Williams argues, among other things, that Beauregard's "march order from Corinth to the [Shiloh] battlefield . . . was not . . . unduly complex." But, for me at least, it's virtually impossible to follow the movements of the troops to the battlefield without a map, and so Williams' detailed descriptions in support of his argument basically go to waste.


  1. Thanks for bringing that site to my attention.

  2. E,
    Thanks for the plug. I'm very happy to read that you enjoy the site.

    I think it's pretty clear after the first two volumes that the SIUP series is not going to make maps a priority.

    I'm familiar with the road network between Pittsburg Landing and Corinth (or I used to be) but don't believe I've encountered a truly satisfying text or visual description of the botched march to Shiloh either. Maybe we'll get it if Savas-Beatie does a 'Maps of Shiloh' someday. I wonder if it is possible to accurately trace the march, brigade by brigade, over a set of time intervals.

    Anyway, thanks again. I very much enjoy your posts about antebellum politics and politicians, as well as your interpretive sensibilities.

  3. Drew,

    My pleasure. No more than you deserve.



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