Saturday, April 9, 2011

Book Review--Guide to Civil War Philadelphia

Sauers, Richard A. Guide to Civil War PhiladelphiaDa Capo Press, Cambridge, MA. 2003. 182 pages, b/w photos, index, bibliography. ISBN 0306812320, $18.95.

Guide To Civil War Philadelphia The City of Brotherly Love is most commonly associated with the American Revolution and the founding of our great country. With Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Ben Franklin's grave and more this is completely understandable. However don't that fool you. For Civil War enthusiasts there is a wealth of things to do  as this book so capably shows.

Part history guide and mostly travel guide this is a must have for those interested in the Civil War who are travelling to Philadelphia. The book is broken down by category: abolition and underground railroad, museums and libraries, Civil War sites, vanished Civil War sites, cemeteries, and outlying sites.

For a city that was as far from the actual war as Philadelphia was there are an amazing number of places to see. Listed by category in alphabetical order Saunders gives a brief description of each site and it's importance or relevance to the war. This is helpful but then we run into the main problem with the book.

The book is dated badly. Travel guides are old even by the time they are printed. This one unfortunately is eight years old. Museums come and go, hours and admissions change, and perhaps most importantly is the explosion of the Internet. Very few listings are shown as having a website which in this day and age I find hard to believe. Da Capo Press if you are reading...How about an updated version? A very good book could be made even better.

For researchers the large appendix will be very useful. Included are listings of manuscript holdings at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the Chester County Historical Society. A listing of Philadelphia shipyards and Civil War vessels is included as is a large listing of Civil War regiments and company breakdowns that were recruited in the city and surrounding area. A small listing of regimental histories is included separately from the bibliography.

Despite my reservation regarding the age of the book I can still recommend it as a starting point for those visiting Philadelphia who want to explore it's Civil War history. Take the information you gather inside and sit down with your computer and get the updated information that way. There are plenty of places listed here that you would miss otherwise.

Thanks to Bern at Battlefields & Beyond Military History Book Shoppe for reinforcing my purchase decision on this book.

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