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.