Preview: McCarthy – “Confederate Waterloo”

26 03 2017

Confederate_WaterlooI recently received a copy of Confederate Waterloo: The Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865, and the Controversy that Brought Down a General, by Michael J. McCarthy. This appears to be the latest in a series of books from Savas Beatie that take a new look at controversial figures and incidents (or rehash long-settled arguments, depending on your point of view). In this case, the author recounts the fight at Five Forks in the closing days of the war in Virginia, the relief of Army of the Potomac Fifth Corps commander Gouverneur K. Warren by U. S. Grant lieutenant Phil Sheridan, and the efforts of Warren to restore his “good name.” The literature accompanying the book states that it is a “fully researched and unbiased” account. I don’t know that there’s any way to prove that last part of that, and its accuracy will doubtless depend on whether or not the reader agrees with the author’s conclusions.

What you get:

  • A foreword by Bryce Suderow
  • An eight page introduction
  • 103 pp covering the battle
  • 150 pp on Warren’s quest for vindication
  • Nine pages on “The Continuing Quest to Influence Public Memory”
  • Orders of Battle
  • A twelve page bibliography, including seventeen newspapers and periodicals, one unpublished dissertation and one unpublished thesis, and three manuscript collections
  • Index
  • Nine George Skoch maps
  • Illustrations are portrait photographs, no period or modern images of the points of interest
  • Footnotes at page bottom

It should be fun to read reactions to – and predictions about – the book (read or unread) on the web. Feel free to share them here, if you like.

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9 responses

26 03 2017
Chris Van Blargan

I just received the book two weeks ago in anticipation of another Petersburg trip and plan to read the battle summary this week. However, having skimmed the book, I have to admit being disappointed. It’s another excellent SB production, but the title and online previews are a bit deceiving. I thought this was primarily a stand alone study of the battle similar to SB’s recent study of Tom’s Brook. But in truth, the battle overview is primarily a set up the Warren controversy. Indeed, of the 103 pages on the fighting, only half are devoted to Five Forks with the remainder covering Lewis Farm, White Oak Road and Dinwiddie Courthouse. Very good material, but the scope is about the same as Suderow’s collection of Bearss essays. The Skoch maps appear to be the same.

In summary, it appears to be an excellent study, but understand that this is much more about the controversy than the battle.

Chris Van Blargan

Liked by 1 person

27 03 2017
tps

Hi Chris, I am sorry you are disappointed, but hopefully you will read it and enjoy it. The maps have, I believe, been altered to fit the author’s research on FF, although a couple others are duplicates. Thanks for your support of our publishing program. We appreciate it. (Hope you liked Tom’s Brook, and will leave a review of it–and any others–which really helps our program and the authors.)

Onward.

Ted Savas

Liked by 1 person

27 03 2017
Chris Van Blargan

Ted, from what I have read so far, it’s an excellent book, and my disappointment was solely the result of mistaken expectations with respect to its campaign coverage.

I still hope for a definitive study/studies covering Hatcher’s Run through Five Forks, but SB has already done much to improve the historiography of this neglected period of the war.

Indeed, I’d be lost this weekend on the western flank without SB’s collection of Bearss essays, and I also plan to carry the McCarthy book in my backpack to reduce the battlefield tramping load.

Chris Van Blargan

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27 03 2017
Chris Van Blargan

I should add, I’ll be carrying Dawn of Victory from SB’s Emerging Civil War series as well.

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26 03 2017
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks, Chris!

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27 03 2017
tps

Thank you for posting this overview, Harry. Have a nice week.

Liked by 1 person

27 03 2017
Harry Smeltzer

That’s a lot of pressure to put on a guy, Ted. Now have to go out and make it happen.

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29 03 2017
ernie

some of his footnotes and have the wrong pages if you look at them careful

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29 03 2017
Harry Smeltzer

Thanks Ernie.

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