Ed Bearss wins the 2014 Douglas Southall Freeman Award for book on Petersburg Campaign

BearssSavas Beatie LLC announced today that Ed Bearss has won the Douglas Southall Freeman Award for 2014 for his book entitled The Petersburg Campaign. The award is given to the best published book of high merit in the field of Southern history.

Edwin C. Bearss is a world-renowned military historian, author, and tour guide known for his work on the Civil War and World War II. Ed, a former WWII Marine wounded in the Pacific Theater, served as Chief Historian of the National Park Service (1981-1994) and is the author of dozens of books and articles. He discovered and helped raise the Union warship USS Cairo, which is on display at Vicksburg National Military Park.

About the book (Savas Beatie web site)

Layout 1The wide-ranging and largely misunderstood series of operations around Petersburg, Virginia, were the longest and most extensive of the entire Civil War. The fighting that began in early June 1864 when advance elements from the Union Army of the Potomac crossed the James River and botched a series of attacks against a thinly defended city would not end for nine long months. This important—many would say decisive—fighting is presented by legendary Civil War author Edwin C. Bearss in The Petersburg Campaign: The Eastern Front Battles, June–August 1864, the first in a ground-breaking two-volume compendium.

Although commonly referred to as the “Siege of Petersburg,” that city (as well as the Confederate capital at Richmond) was never fully isolated and the combat involved much more than static trench warfare. In fact, much of the wide-ranging fighting involved large-scale Union offensives designed to cut important roads and the five rail lines feeding Petersburg and Richmond.

New historical novel about the former slave Robert Smalls

From Amazon:

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 1.49.41 PMA slave steals a gunboat and escapes with his entire family. Robert Smalls boarded the Confederate gunboat Planter and steamed her under the guns of Fort Sumter to the blockading Union Navy and to freedom. Robert was a slave and he surrendered to Admiral Francis Du Pont, one of the wealthiest men in the country. Robert and Du Pont created a friendship of equality that destroyed the barriers of race, wealth, and class. When he escaped with the Planter, Robert became The Man Who Stole Himself.


Booknote: American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO)

ABC-CLIO has recently released a new reference work entitled American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, hardback, 2011.  It will surely suffice for smaller libraries that have no single volume reference on the American Civil War. However, it is hardly “The” Essential Reference Guide.  A more appropriate titel would simple be “An Essential Reference Guide.”

But for the role it fills in the Civil War domain of reference it is a very fine work built upon the solid writing and work of 37 scholars, of whom about one-third are independent. The publisher was smart to secure esteemed historian Steven E. Woodworth as a lead writer. His essay contributions include valuable treatments on an Overview of the ACW, Causes of the ACW, Consequences of the ACW, and Leadership in the ACW.

The single tome is edited by James R. Arnold and Roberta Wiener. It is 432 pages, includes five essays in the appendix, a useful 42 page timeline, and 20 additional primary resource documents (e.g., speeches).  It is in hardback and is 7 x 10 inches.  Retail is $85.00.   Black-n-white pictures and maps are relatively limited in quantity.  There is a solid print bibliography and index.

About 20% of the entries are devoted to specific battles or campaigns and roughly 30% of the entries are biographical in nature.  That leaves 50% of the content to be of a general nature, which one would expect of a simple reference guide.

The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference  is a much better single volume for larger libraries especially since its much cheaper ($16.50 on Amazon) and more extensive in its coverage.  American Civil War: The Essential Reference Guide, is more suited to smaller school or public libraries.

New book on the Western Theater coming soon

I was excited to see this information posted on the University of North Carolina Press web site recently:

<SPAN STYLE= "" >The Civil War in the West</SPAN>The Civil War in the West

Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi

By Earl J. Hess

Approx. 424 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 39 halftones, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

Littlefield History of the Civil War Era


ISBN  978-0-8078-3542-5

Available: March 2012
Large Print

ISBN  978-0-8078-7231-4

Available: March 2012

The Western theater of the Civil War, rich in agricultural resources and manpower and home to a large number of slaves, stretched 600 miles north to south and 450 miles east to west from the Appalachians to the Mississippi. If the South lost the West, there would be little hope of preserving the Confederacy. Earl J. Hess’s comprehensive study of how Federal forces conquered and held the West examines the geographical difficulties of conducting campaigns in a vast land, as well as the toll irregular warfare took on soldiers and civilians alike. Hess balances a thorough knowledge of the battle lines with a deep understanding of what was happening within the occupied territories.

In addition to a mastery of logistics, Union victory hinged on making use of black manpower and developing policies for controlling constant unrest while winning campaigns. Effective use of technology, superior resource management, and an aggressive confidence went hand in hand with Federal success on the battlefield. In the end, Confederates did not have the manpower, supplies, transportation potential, or leadership to counter Union initiatives in this critical arena.

About the Author

Earl J. Hess is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in history at Lincoln Memorial University and has written many books on Civil War history, including In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat.

New Civil War timeline book by the LOC is a superb volume

The newly released “The Library of Congress Illustrated Timeline of the Civil War” by Little-Brown is instantly the best resource of its kind on the market, and well it should be. The senior writer and editor in the Publishing Office has led an effort to produce a first-rate reference book.  Every public library should have this book and even the casual Civil War enthusiast will thoroughly enjoy perusing its pages.

It’s a typical over-sized reference book ( 13 x 9 3.4), but thin enough – with just 240 pages – to stand alongside one’s existing Civil War atlases.  The layout is consistent, pleasing, and chalked full of interesting quotes and with more than 350 color illustrations.

The illustrations are not just eye-candy for the reader either, although many of the images used in the book are very rare. A few I have to admit I’ve never seen before.  One will find

manuscripts in Lincoln’s own hand, onsite drawings made by a Civil War combat artist, maps, color lithographs, political cartoons, posters, [and] period photographs.

Margaret E. Wagner is no stranger to Civil War reference books either. She is the co-author and co-editor of “The Library of Congress Civil War Desk Reference” and “The Library of Congress World War II Companion.” She is also the author of “The American Civil War: 365 Days,” “World War II: 365 Days,” and “Maxfield Parrish and the Illustrators of the Golden Age.”

Most pages are divided into two parts. The top half (about 40% of the page layout) contains the artfully chosen illustrations to supplement the text. My favorites are images of actual hand-drawn pictures from the period.  The bottom 60% of the page contains the text based on a pertinent event for a given day of the month/year.

I was delighted to even find an entry for May 12-13th, 1862, for the escape of The Planter by Robert Smalls and his clandestine crew. The inclusion of this event shows the editor and her staff are well-informed as to an event that is normally overlooked by most resources of its kind.

The fine book retails for just $35.00 but can be purchased from Amazon for a mere $22.00 or so.

Kentucky Soldiers and Their Regiments in the Civil War (compiled by Steven L. Wright)

One of the best things about resources available on the American Civil War is that many are published, written or compiled by amateur historians who have developed a niche that few if any professional types would go in the direction of. Kentucky Soldiers and Their Regiments in the Civil War (compiled by Steven L. Wright) is just such a contribution.  Wright’s important work is doubtless a labor of love and Kentucky Soldiers fills a gap that will serve researchers on Kentucky Civil War soldiers unlike any other resource available presently.

Wright, a resident of Hodgenville, Kentucky, has a personal interest in a couple Kentucky regiments himself. To aid his own research he bought a microfilm reader years ago and started acquiring microfilm of various period newspapers like the Chattanooga Daily Gazette, the Louisville Daily Courier, the Nashville Daily Union among others. The compiler has been painstakingly combing thru these newspapers an indexing them for references to Kentucky units.  Thankfully, because many Kentucky served with units from other states (e.g., Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, etc.), the resource goes beyond its title ofKentucky Soldiers and Their Regiments in the Civil War.

Not only does each volume – there are five in all – have an index, but each volume is organized chronologically by individual names, locations, and military organizations.  One only need browse through any volume, locate a date, then read through some brief citations of actual newspaper copy pertaining to Kentucky units. Wright documents the resource he pulls from for each citation.

There are five volumes (paperback) in this set:

  • Volume I, 1861 (182 pages)  $25.00
  • Volume II, 1862 (260 pages)  $29.00
  • Volume III, 1863 (313 pages)  $35.00
  • Volume IV, 1864 (383 pages)  $42.00
  • Volume V, 1865 (295 pages)  $33.00

The complete set is $140.00

This resource is invaluable to Kentucky Civil War researchers (both Union and Confederate, including Home Guards and other State troops), and researchers interested in units and places in Tennessee and Indiana will also be ably served by Wright’s work.

To order the set send a check for $140.00 (includes shipping and tax) to:

Steven L. Wright, 105 Livingood Lane, Hodgenville, KY 42748


New book on battlefield preservation gives insight into first five Civil War parks

t01285Dr. Timothy B. Smith has teamed up with the University of Tennessee Press to publish an interesting book titled; The Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation: The Decade of the 1890s and the Establishment of America’s First Five Military Parks. Professor Smith details the Golden Age of Battlefield Preservation, the decade of the 1890s, when Congress created and funded the first five Civil War military parks.

Care to take a guess what were the first five Civil War parks? If you said ‘Gettysburg’ you’d be correct but Gettysburg was not the first park, Chickamauga-Chattanooga was.  In fact, of the first five Civil War battlefields to get a national park, three were in the Western Theatre of the war: Chickamauga-Chattanooga, Shiloh and Vicksburg.

Civil War Gazette recently visited Shiloh and Chickamauga-Chattanooga. Flickr picture folders of each park are available here: Chickamauga-Chattanooga and Shiloh.

PC070105.JPG by you.

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Books on Lincoln-assassination are riveting.

I recently finished reading my first book on the Lincoln assassination: “They Have Killed Papa Dead!”: The Road to Ford’s Theatre, Abraham Lincoln’s Murder, and the Rage for Vengeance.

Wow, what an interesting book to read. I could not put it down.  Amazing story. The details of the story are so amazing that one could not even imagine a Hollywood screenwriter being able to be more captivating with an imagination of licensed creativity.

This story has gripped my interest deeply.  I’m going to start reading another book on the topic: Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer.

New book on Lincoln-Booth is hard to put down

This weekend I started reading an excellent book on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Anthony S. Pitch; “They Have Killed Papa Dead!

Very interesting and fast-paced.  Does not read like a dry historical text.

The Library of Congress has a section in the official Abraham Lincoln Papers called the Assassination of President Lincoln. Check it out.


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Great story about a Civil War locomotive chase

I’m currently reading a very well-written and enjoyable book, Stealing the General, by Russell S. Bonds.

It’s the true account of how a band of Union soldiers swept down near Atlanta in April 1862 and stole a locomotive called The General.

They almost got away with it but many would lose their lives by being hanged by the Rebels.

The General on display in Georgia

The General on display in Georgia