I’m currently reading Crimea by Trevor Royle. I have limited knowledge of the 1854-1856 war and, recognizing the limitations of a comprehensive study such as this, am learning a lot, not the least of which being that many of what I’ve always heard were “firsts” in our Civil War were, at best, seconds. Not that Royle points these things out: while the United States does play a role in his history of the war, he doesn’t draw comparisons between the two conflicts.
I thought this would be a good time to point you towards a blog I’ve been following for a while, Warfare in the Age of Steam. Run by someone named Ralphus, it puts the Civil War into a larger context, though that’s not its specific focus. Lots of cool stuff - Ralphus uses a variety of media including plenty of video clips, and he has a penchant for Zouaves, art, film, and miniatures. But he’s looking at the world in general during the period. Check it out. I’ve added it to the blogroll and it will show up on the page when next I update.