Friday, January 29, 2010

LSU Press 35% off sale

Be sure to stop by the LSU Press website. In honor of their 75th anniversay they are having a great sale now through the end of the year. Order books through their website and use the code 04ANNIVER and they will take 35% off the cost of your books. Sounds like a great way to pick up some great books. You can find their spring 2010 catalog here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New Release book

Just received this press release and also have received a review copy of the book. I'll have a review up soon.


For immediate release

ACU Press Releases New Civil War Biography

ABILENE, TX (January 25, 2010)—Abilene Christian University Press announces the release of a newly revised historical biography: B. P. Gallaway's, THE RAGGED REBEL: A COMMON SOLDIER IN W. H. PARSONS' TEXAS CAVALRY, 1861–1865.

THE RAGGED REBEL chronicles the true story of David Carey Nance-- a young, Northern-born Texas farmer-- who opposed slavery but got caught up in the carnage of the Civil War as a soldier in a Texas Cavalry. After enlisting against his father's will, Nance initially reveled in the camaraderie and excitement of military life, but his romantic concepts were quickly dismantled by the grim realities of deprivation, sickness, and the horrors of armed combat.

Author and historian B. P. Gallaway spent fourteen years preparing this delightfully written, well-documented narrative. He draws on Nance’s journals and letters to allow readers to experience much of the story first-hand. The narrative voice is one of sensitivity, who is a deeply religious farm boy, fighting for survival amid wartime conditions in the frontier regions of the western Confederacy. Gallaway's work not only reveals the day-to-day experiences of a common soldier in the core regiment of perhaps the most famous brigade in the Trans-Mississippi West, but also provides valuable insights into the military operations of mounted troops west of the river.

The book has already received excellent praise from historians and reviewers:

Frank H. Smyrl, in the Journal of American History calls THE RAGGED REBEL “. . . a small jewel of Civil War history well worth reading.”

Anne J. Bailey, in Southwestern Historical Quarterly states, “David Nance's personality animates this volume . . . Gallaway has provided an important source in nineteenth-century social history.”

And James Smallwood, in Civil War History writes, “Gallaway is a professional historian who brings a scholar's touch to RAGGED REBEL. Readers receive a ’bird’s eye’ view of an autobiography, yet also acquire the analytical overview of a master biographer.”

Combining peer-reviewed research with a flair for narrative, Gallaway has crafted a volume that is sure to entertain while it educates. ACU Press is excited to deliver the new, revised edition, which features a new introduction from the author, several historic photos, and a beautiful cover with original art by Southwestern artist Jodie Boren.

THE RAGGED REBEL is available from and other fine book sellers.

About the Author
B. P. Gallaway is emeritus professor of history at Abilene Christian University. His other publications include Texas, the Dark Corner of the Confederacy. He currently lives in Abilene, Texas.

About the Publisher
ACU Press, a part of Abilene Christian University, hails from Abilene, Texas. Naturally tied to its home state, the Press seeks to enjoy and give back to the state it calls home by publishing a developing line of Texas regional titles. With this line of books, they hope to support the work of local scholars and organizations, celebrate with their neighbors, and invite readers across the nation to see what this wonderful hardscrabble land has to offer. The Press is currently acquiring more titles in this area

Monday, January 25, 2010

Civil War books in weird places

You never know where your next Civil War books are going to come from. Sunday we were getting the oil changed in my wife's car. There's a Big Lots located in the same shopping center as the Firestone. Having a half hour or so to kill we walked over. I walked out with the following books all priced at only $3 each. Hardcovers none the less in perfect brand new condition.

1) 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History. Written by Charles Bracelen Flood

2) Lincoln President Elect. Written by Harold Holzer

3) Cavalryman of the Lost Cause: A Biography of J.E.B. Stuart. Written by Jeffry D. Wert

If you have a Big Lots near you it might be worth a stop. They had a really large assortment of bargain price hardcovers and trade paperbacks. You never know what you'll find.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Center for Civil War Photography announcement

The Center for Civil War Photography has announced that their 10th annual Image of War seminar will be held in Gettysburg this year. Read more below.

Save the Date for the 2010 Image of War Seminar in Gettysburg!
October 1-3, 2010

The Center for Civil War Photography's 10th annual Image of War seminar will be held in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and it will be the most complete experience yet offered on Gettysburg photography. It will feature a presentation by William A. Frassanito, photographic tours of all major battlefield areas by Garry Adelman and Tim Smith, a wet-plate demonstration by Rob Gibson, a new 3D show and other optional programs. All aspects of Civil War photography will be discussed--how to make them, how to view them, and how to use them.

More information and registration will be announced soon at

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Book Review--Lincoln's Labels

Schmidt, James. Lincoln's Labels: America's Best Known Brands and the Civil War. Edinborough Press, Roseville, MN. 2009, 208 pages, notes, bibliographic essay, bibliography, index, b/w photos. $19.95. ISBN 9781889020280.

As we go about our daily lives we seldom think about the origins or past of the companies that we do business with on a daily basis or whose products we regularly use. Jim Schmidt has written a book that provides an introduction to some of the major companies that proudly served their country and continue to be household names today.

If you own a Brooks Brothers suit you might find it interesting to know that this clothier supplies uniforms to many New York soldiers and also played a large part in the New York City draft riots of 1863 suffering approximately $70,000 in losses. In fact Brooks Brothers made the coat Abraham Lincoln was wearing on the night he was assassinated.

Prior to the start of the war Gail Borden created something he called the "meat biscuit". This failed product which was a concentrated food made of dehydrated meat and flour however led to his advances in in the dairy industry and the patent he received for advances in the concentration of milk. Despite costing soldiers up to a full days pay Borden's milk was considered a "great blessing" and was asked for in letters home.

Other companies Schmidt discusses include Tiffany and Co. who were known at the time for presentation swords, regimental flags and other symbolic items. Scientific American was a leading magazine for inventors and machinists rather than it's more general content of today. DuPont, who today may be best known for sponsoring Jeff Gordon in NASCAR, was the largest supplier of gunpowder to Union forces during the Civil War. Edward Squibb began his large pharmaceutical company and was a leader in providing standardized and effective anesthetics. Ether was the mainstay of his company at the time. While best known today as financial services companies American Express, Adams Express, and Wells Fargo all began in the express shipping business. During the war all made their name shipping war supplies. Each also was involved in the task of shipping the bodies of slain soldiers to their home towns for proper burial.

Schmidt has written an easily readable book. Each chapter is short enough to be read at a brief sitting but is thorough enough to satisfy all but the most particular readers. In his preface Mr. Schmidt sets out four goals in his book all of which I believe he has accomplished. First, he wants to tell the stories of companies who directly impacted the fighting. Secondly, he wants to relate how the war affected those companies. Third, and maybe most importantly, he is hoping this book will be a springboard to further research and scholarship on the business end of the Civil War. He even lays out areas that he feels are lacking in scholarship. Fourth, he hopes the book will show a new way of combining business and military history writing. By combining the traditional research methods of both writing styles Schmidt has written what should be considered a ground floor work that others will build upon.

For me the only area I would point out is the lack of southern view point. While several of the particulars in the book, the Borden family and DuPont Company for instance, were torn in their allegiances the book is really told from the Union side. In my opinion however I did not notice any bias and all this does is leave the door open for further research for modern companies that did business with the Confederacy.

Jim is the author of the forthcoming book Notre Dame in the Civil War: Marching Onward to Victory. Be sure to check his excellent blogs here and here. While there you can order a signed and inscribed copy that will be quickly delivered to your mailbox.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Abraham Lincoln on C-Span

I recently received the following from the good people at the Lincoln Forum. Looks like a couple of interesting shows.

Airing on C-Span 3 – Sunday, January 17th at 1:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

“President Lincoln's Humor” with Richard Carwardine

Richard Carwardine's presentation to the Lincoln Forum from November 17th, 2009 delivered at the 14th annual Lincoln Forum, “The Lincoln Bicentennial, Part II” held at the Wyndham Hotel in Gettysburg, PA.

Airing on C-Span 2 – Sunday, January 17th at 4:30 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time)

“Lincoln at the Crossroads” with Frank J. Williams

Frank J. Williams discussed the history of books about Lincoln and why new things can be learned about the 16th president at a dinner program held at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. by the Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance.

For more information, please visit C-Span's website at

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Book Review: The New Civil War Handbook

Hughes, Mark. The New Civil War Handbook: Facts and Photos For Readers of All Ages. Savas Beatie, New York. 2009, 158 pages, photos, maps. $14.95.

Mark Hughes recounts that on a visit to the Richmond battlefield he purchased the original Civil War Handbook written by William Price and that he has kept the book close by ever since. Based upon updated research and advances in technology Hughes decided to write a new and updated version. He has succeeded in writing an excellent book for those just beginning to study the war, for those of us a bit more advanced, and for those who are very knowledgeable there are still good nuggets included.

Hughes book is broken down into four parts: facts, images, figures, and miscellany. The images and captions by far take most of the book at over 70 pages. There are some very famous photos and many I had not seen before. The figures section includes estimates of the number of soldiers, numbers killed and injured, prisons, alternate battle names, and more.

There are several areas that I took particular interest in and feel are helpful for both those new and experienced. On pages 17 and 18 Hughes includes an organization of the armies. This is key information for those just starting out and who don't understand the set up of the armies. I also feel the glossary is a great help. By no means thorough at only four pages it still gives a nice overview of common terms. The Civil War Points of Interest section is broken down by state and includes website information. I'm not sure how accurate the sites are since websites are known to change. Still this is a great help overall. I particularly enjoyed the Civil War Bookshelf section. Of course everybody is going to have their own favorites and while this list did seem to be heavy on more current titles with several from SB thrown in it is still something that should be checked out especially by those looking to build a Civil War library. My favorite section however is the Civil War on the Web. Great information for researchers or those who just have an interest in learning more.

A few minor quibbles of course. On page 12 Hughes mentions the "Congressional Medal of Honor" It's really just the Medal of Honor and he does correct this later on page 122. As I was going through the images section I noticed that some but not all contained source information. I found my answers by rereading the forward and that unmarked photos are from the National Archives AND the Library of Congress. Hard to tell which however if you want to download your own copy. The figures section does not give clear reference as to where the numbers came from. Again in the preface mention is made of several resources but no specifics as to what came from where. However for a book of this type these are really small issues of minor importance. I doubt anybody will be referring to this title to figure out how many deaths there were at Point Lookout prison.

Overall this is a quick read and is a book highly recommended for anybody just starting to study the war. There is plenty here that will keep their interest and give them a good foundation.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Book Review--Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine

Desjardin, Thomas A. Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign. Oxford University Press, NY, NY. 1995, 239 pages, maps, b/w photos, notes, bibliography, index.

For those who have read much on the Gettysburg campaign the story of the 20th Maine and Joshua Chamberlain is old news. Desjardin however takes this story and turns it into something unique, vital, and highly readable.

The story picks up after a round of smallpox effectively keeps the 20th out of the Battle of Chancellorsville. Due to illness and the promotion of the much disliked Adelbert Ames there is a leadership gap which is filled by the little experienced Chamberlain. As we know Chamberlain was up to the challenge.

Desjardin presents a well balanced and quick moving account of the fighting at Gettysburg and the important battle that took place at Little Round Top. Here the 20th Maine prevented a flanking maneuver by the 15th Alabama and depending upon whose view you read perhaps saved the Union. Whether you believe this or not there is little doubt that the fighting here was critical to the success of Union troops overall in Pennsylvania.

As the battle draws to a close Desjardin describes the carnage. The scene at the Abraham Trostle house is given several pages and shows just how brutal the fighting at Gettysburg really was: "During and after the battle, wounded men of both sides had crawled to this barn for shelter or comfort, and many of them remained unable to flee as it evaporated into a roaring inferno....Some of the bodies were charred to the skeleton or mere ashes while others lay swollen with their clothes burned off." (page 101).

Desjardin finishes off his work with a post-war wrap up for both Joshua Chamberlain and William Oates. Chamberlain was promoted to Brigadier General near the end of the war. After the war he returned to Maine where he was elected governor for four one year terms and eventually was named president at Bowdoin College. In 1893 he received the Medal of Honor. Not to be out done William Oates had a successful post-war career as well. This included writing two books on the battle. In addition he served 14 years in the United States Congress and served a single term as Alabama governor. Becoming a loyal citizen Oates served as a brigadier general during the war with Spain in 1898.

Desjardin summarizes that the ultimate outcome of the battle was the irreplaceable loss of men and material for Lee and the Confederate army. The 20th Maine played a key role in helping to turn the war. While important, the contributions of the 20th Maine may be overstated with the popular success of the book Killer Angels and the film Gettysburg.

Overall Desjardin has written a highly readable book. It is a book that should be read any student of the Civil War. The book is especially recommended for those who have read Michael Shaara and want to know the real story. For those looking for more in depth research the notes and bibliography are highly recommended as are the five appendixes which include casualty lists on both sides, number of combatants, and first hand recollections.