Saturday, January 24, 2015

LSU Press to Publish Book on Sherman and the Confederate Home Front

Sherman’s War on Women

A Study of Home Front Hostilities on Sherman's March

Baton Rouge—Lisa Tendrich Frank’s book The Civilian War, to be published in April 2015, explores home front encounters between elite Confederate women and Union soldiers during Sherman’s March, a campaign that put women at the center of a Union army operation for the first time. Ordered to crush the morale as well as the military infrastructure of the Confederacy, Sherman and his army increasingly targeted wealthy civilians in their progress through Georgia and the Carolinas. To drive home the full extent of northern domination over the South, Sherman’s soldiers besieged the female domain—going into bedrooms and parlors, seizing correspondence and personal treasures—with the aim of insulting and humiliating upper-class southern women. These efforts blurred the distinction between home front and warfront, creating confrontations in the domestic sphere as a part of the war itself.

Historian Lisa Tendrich Frank argues that ideas about women and their roles in war shaped the expectations of both Union soldiers and Confederate civilians. Sherman recognized that slaveholding Confederate women played a vital part in sustaining the Rebel efforts, and accordingly he treated them as wartime opponents, targeting their markers of respectability and privilege. Although Sherman intended his efforts to demoralize the civilian population, Frank suggests that his strategies frequently had the opposite effect. Confederate women accepted the plunder of food and munitions as an inevitable part of the conflict, but they considered Union invasion of their private spaces an unforgivable and unreasonable transgression. These intrusions strengthened the resolve of many southern women to continue the fight against the Union and its most despised general.

Seamlessly merging gender studies and military history, The Civilian War illuminates the distinction between the damage inflicted on the battlefield and the offenses that occurred in the domestic realm during the Civil War. Ultimately, Frank’s research demonstrates why many women in the Lower South remained steadfastly committed to the Confederate cause even when their prospects seemed most dim.

Lisa Tendrich Frank received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Florida. She is the author and editor of numerous works relating to the Civil War, including Women in the American Civil War and the forthcoming The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia.

April 2015
256 pages, 6 x 9
Cloth $42.50s

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Book by Earl Hess To Be Published in April 2015

Civil War Infantry Tactics LSU Press to Publish Earl Hess’s Groundbreaking Military History in April 2015

Baton Rouge—For decades, military historians have argued that the introduction of the rifle musket—with a range five times longer than that of the smoothbore musket—made the shoulder-to-shoulder formations of linear tactics obsolete. Author Earl J. Hess challenges this deeply entrenched assumption. He contends that long-range rifle fire did not dominate Civil War battlefields or dramatically alter the course of the conflict because soldiers had neither the training nor the desire to take advantage of the musket rifle’s increased range. Drawing on the drill manuals available to officers and a close reading of battle reports, Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-unit Effectiveness demonstrates that linear tactics provided the best formations and maneuvers to use with the single-shot musket, whether rifle or smoothbore.

The linear system was far from an outdated relic that led to higher casualties and prolonged the war. Indeed, regimental officers on both sides of the conflict found the formations and maneuvers in use since the era of the French Revolution to be indispensable to the survival of their units on the battlefield. The training soldiers received in this system, combined with their extensive experience in combat, allowed small units a high level of articulation and effectiveness.

Unlike much military history that focuses on grand strategies, Hess zeroes in on formations and maneuvers (or primary tactics), describing their purpose and usefulness in regimental case studies, and pinpointing which of them were favorites of unit commanders in the field. The Civil War was the last conflict in North America to see widespread use of the linear tactical system, and Hess convincingly argues that the war also saw the most effective tactical performance yet in America’s short history.

EARL J. HESS is Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History at Lincoln Memorial University and the author of fifteen books on the Civil War, including Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign; The Knoxville Campaign: Burnside and Longstreet in East Tennessee; and The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi.

April 2015
368 pages, 6 x 9, 15 halftones, 20 charts
Cloth $45.00
Civil War / Military History

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

History Press New Release: Unionists in Virginia

The History Press is pleased to announce the publication of Unionists in Virginia: Politics, Secession and Their Plan to Prevent Civil War by Larry Denton.

Whether the Civil War was preventable is a debate that began shortly after Appomattox and continues today. But even earlier, in 1861, a group of Union-loyal Virginians—led by George Summers, John Brown Baldwin, John Janney and Jubal Early—felt war was avoidable. In the statewide election for delegates to the Secession Convention that same spring, the Unionists defeated the Southern Rights Democrats with a huge majority of the votes across the state. These heroic men unsuccessfully negotiated with Secretary of State William Henry Seward to prevent the national tragedy that would ensue. Author and historian Lawrence M. Denton traces this remarkable story of Virginians working against all odds in a failed attempt to save a nation from war.

Larry Denton, an authority on the secession crisis, is the author of "A Southern Star for Maryland: Maryland and the Secession Crisis," and "William Henry Seward and the Secession Crisis: The Effort to Prevent Civil War." He held several academic administrative posts at the university level from 1968 to 1978. In 1978 he accepted an appointment to serve as special assistant to the associate administrator of NOAA, a presidential appointee. He ended his career representing the Weather Channel in Washington and resides in Easton, Maryland.

Monday, November 10, 2014

New Releases from The History Press

Thanks going out to The History Press for sending along copies of a couple new releases.

First up is The St. Albans Raid: Confederate Attack on Vermont (Civil War Sesquicentennial) written by Michelle Arnosky Sherburne.  In October 1864, approximately twenty-one Rebel soldiers took over St. Albans, Vermont, proclaiming that it was now under Confederate government control. This northernmost land action of the Civil War ignited wartime fear and anger in every Northern state. The raiders fired on townspeople as they stole horses and robbed the local banks. St. Albans men organized under recently discharged Union captain George Conger, F. Stewart Stranahan and John W. Newton to chase the Rebels out of town. The complex network of the Confederate Secret Service was entangled with the raid and conspired to unravel the North throughout the war. The perpetrators later stood trial in Canada, causing international ramifications for years to come. Michelle Arnosky Sherburne leads readers through the drama, triumph and legacy of the Confederate raid on St. Albans.

The second book is The Coal River Valley in the Civil War: West Virginia Mountains, 1861 (Civil War Sesquicentennial) written by Michael B. Graham adjunct professor at American Military University. The three rivers that make up the Coal River Valley--Big, Little and Coal--were named by explorer John Peter Salling (or Salley) for the coal deposits found along its banks. More than one hundred years later, the picturesque valley was witness to a multitude of bloody skirmishes between Confederate and Union forces in the Civil War. Often-overlooked battles at Boone Court House, Coal River, Pond Fork and Kanawha Gap introduced the beginning of "total war" tactics years before General Sherman used them in his March to the Sea. Join author and historian Michael Graham as he expertly details the compelling human drama of West Virginia's bitterly contested Coal River Valley region during the War Between the States.

I hope to make time for both of these in the not too distant future.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Releases-Savas Beatie & Penguin Press

The mailman has been pretty busy for the last couple of weeks with some new releases.

Embattled Rebel: Jefferson Davis as Commander in Chief written by James M. McPherson and published by Penguin. McPherson is the author of arguably the most widely read Civil War book of all time, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States). This assessment of Jefferson Davis contains just over 300 pages including notes and index. There are b/w photos and fifteen maps. A quick look at the typeset and format leads me to believe this is a book aimed at a wide reading audience and probably not one that is intended to break new ground.

Richmond Redeemed: The Siege at Petersburg, The Battles of Chaffin's Bluff and Poplar Spring Church, September 29 - October 2, 1864 written by Richard J. Sommers and published by Savas Beatie. This is a revised and expanded edition of the 1981 edition. This has all the attributes readers have come to expect from a Savas Beatie title. This book has considerable heft. No expense has been spared: index, notes, bibliography, order of battle, 22 maps, 91 b/w photos and need I say anything about the quality of the paper and binding. The book totals out at 661 pages. Not cheap but quality like this never is.  

Read an interview with Dr. Sommers on the SB website here.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review-Central Florida's Civil War Veterans

Grenier, Bob. Central Florida's Civil War Veterans (Images of America Series). Charleston, Arcadia Publishing. 2014. 128 pages, b/w photos. ISBN 9781467112024, $21.99.

The state of Florida has been receiving it's due lately with several excellent books coming out dealing with the state's role in the Civil War. Now, from Arcadia Publishing, author Bob Grenier brings us a large collection of photos dealing with Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate, from the Central Florida area.

In 10 chapters broken down by county, Grenier gives readers soldiers, locations and reenactors. As might be expected there are very few photos of actual Florida soldiers in uniform. If you have done Florida Civil War research you will understand why.

There is a nice mix of Union and Confederate men pictured. Many former Union soldiers retired to Florida. Many were also businessmen who saw the potential of the sparsely populated state, Cities like Haines City, Sanford, Hawk's Park (now Edgewater), Zellwood and others were named for those who fought during the war. African-Americans and women are also represented in the book.

I took particular interest in the chapter on Volusia County seeing that I live in this county. This was nicely done and had several photographs dealing with William Rowlinski, a Russian immigrant who served in the 24th SC Infantry before becoming a lighthouse keeper later in life. He was the first principal keeper of the Ponce Inlet lighthouse (called Mosquito Inlet at the time). I was also interested in anything that might deal with St. John's county area since I have written on St. Augustine and the war. I was not shocked to see a reference to the three Sanchez sisters. Their story of being spies for the Confederacy and warning Capt. J. J. Dickison about a Union raid often stretches the limits of reality. I did not include the story in my book because I couldn't find what I considered strong enough evidence to back the story. That being said however, this is a story that is burned into the mythology of Florida's war efforts and the sisters are often looked at as heroes. I imagine there is some truth to the story but as it is often told the plausibility of it just doesn't add up.

As with many books in the Images of America series there are inconsistancies in the quality of the photos. Many are quite grainy or damaged so it's easy to see that Mr. Grenier did the best he could with the limited source material available. Most photos however are quite nice and overall this is not a quibble just an observation.

For anybody interested in the role of Florida in the Civil War or how the state was impacted post-war this is a volume I can highly recommend. Overall, the photos are nice with a strong variety and the captions read well. There are no notes or bibliography but each photo lists where it is from allowing those interested to follow up if they would like.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Release-Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson

Thanks going out to Scribner for sending along a copy of Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson. The book should be available by the end of the month.

This is a quite large book, nearly 700 pages including index, notes and bibliography. There is also a section of b/w photos. Unfortunately, at first glance, many of these are the standard photos readers of Civil War books have seen many times. Twelve maps are included throughout the text.

Author S. C. Gwynne is not known for his writing on the Civil War but does have a strong history in having written Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and also the National Book Critics Circle Award. Dust jacket quotes come from Peter Cozzens, John Hennessy and others.