Preview: Miller, “Decision at Tom’s Brook”

6 08 2016

TomsBrookYet another Savas Beatie new release is William J. Miller’s Decision at Tom’s Brook: George Custer, Thomas Rosser, and the Joy of the Fight. This is a chronicle of the October 1864 clash of cavalry in the Shenandoah Valley, described by one Confederate soldier as “the greatest disaster that ever befell our cavalry during the whole war.”

Mr. Miller builds the story of Tom’s Brook on the framework of the relationship between Custer and his rebel counterpart Rosser. Both attended the USMA at the same time, and both were noted for their sometimes rash behavior and poor judgement on the battlefield. Like the Highlander says, “There can be only one,”and at Tom’s Brook one would lose his head to the other (if only figuratively). Note that the Lieutenant Rosser commanded the 1st Company of the Washington Artillery of New Orleans at Bull Run. Custer was there, too.

Here’s what you get: 212 pages of text, with page-bottom notes, plenty of illustrations, and Hal Jesperson maps; three appendices (orders of battle, strengths and losses, and notes on maps and topography – Mr. Miller is, after all, the author of Mapping for Stonewall: The Civil War Service of Jed Hotchkiss); a bibliography listing over three pages of archival sources and over three pages more of newspaper sources; and a full index.





Preview: Schmutz, “The Bloody Fifth”

3 08 2016

Layout 1Just what we need – another regiment known as “The Bloody.”

The bloody book in question this time is new from Savas Beatie, “The Bloody Fifth”: The 5th Texas Infantry Regiment, Hood’s Texas Brigade, Army of Northern Virginia, Vol. 1: Secession to the Suffolk Campaign, by John F. Schmutz. They’re not into the whole brevity thing when it comes to book titles these days, are they?

Schmutz, as you may recall from this interview, is the author of what I think is the best of the recent deluge of books on The Crater, succinctly dubbed The Battle of the Crater: A Complete History. So, expectations for Bloody are high in this quarter.

As you can gather from the title, this is the first installment of a multi- (two) volume work on the regiment, which the promo materials claim saw action in “nearly every significant battle of the Eastern Theater” (except, of course the most significant – please refer to the name and mission of this blog).

Here’s what you get: 281 pages of text with footnotes; Company Organization Profiles appendix; Dramatis Personae appendix; index. I’m guessing the bibliography will be published with Volume II. George Skoch maps and a light sprinkling of photos – mostly portraits – included.





Preview: Mingus & Wittenberg, “The Second Battle of Winchester”

30 07 2016

SecondBattleofWinchester_LRGNew from Savas Beatie is a joint effort by Scott L. Mingus, Sr and Eric J. Wittenberg, The Second Battle of Winchester: The Confederate Victory that Opened the Door to Gettysburg. I’m looking forward to this mainly because I’ve always been struck by the inconsistencies between the old saw of Richard Ewell having lost his aggressiveness – and decisiveness – after his wounding at Brawner’s Farm and marriage, and his performance at this prelude to Gettysburg. I’ll be interested to see if and how the authors have addressed that conundrum.

Here’s what you get: 429 (!) pages of narrative, with Hal Jesperson maps and plenty of illustrations, including present day photos; a driving tour appendix with seven stops and an extended tour with six more; Orders of Battle for Second Winchester and Martinsburg; a list of surgeons and chaplains captured during Second Winchester who were sent on to Libby Prison; the March 14, 1863 Resolution of the 123rd Ohio; a bibliography with plenty of primary sources; a full index; and the usual Savas Beatie page-bottom footnotes.





Preview: Trudeau, “Lincoln’s Greatest Journey

26 07 2016

Layout 1Making my way through this pile (which yesterday grew by two) we have what’s called an “unedited galley proof.” It’s one of those stages of publications I sometimes get, along with “uncorrected proofs,” “bound galleys” and “advanced reading copies (ARCs).” I’m not really sure what the differences are between all these, but they’re similarly difficult to preview because they usually don’t include indexes and sometimes have no maps or illustrations. Foot-or-endnotes often are citations only and don’t always include the more detailed notes you find in final editions. So, these previews tend to be even more brief than typical. But I made up for that by including this explanatory note.

An upcoming release (September 2016) from Savas Beatie is Lincoln’s Greatest Journey: Sixteen Days that Changed a Presidency, March 24 – April 8, 1865, by Noah Andre Trudeau. This is the story of the president’s longest absence from Washington during his terms of office, when he traveled to City Point, VA, in the days preceding the eventual surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. According to the publisher, Lincoln’s Greatest Journey “rewrites much of the heretofore misunderstood story of what really happened to Lincoln during this time.”

The narrative will clock in at around 261 pages, with an additional “Sources Casebook,” a Marine Muster Roll of U.S.S. Malvern, notes, bibliography, ten maps, and a good sprinkling of illustrations.

Look for this some time in September.





New in Paperback

24 07 2016

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I have a bunch of previews of new releases to post, but to jump-start let me quickly note the release of two titles in paperback. Both have been previewed here before, so I’ll just link to those.

First is John Michael Priest’s “Stand to It and Give Them Hell:” Gettysburg as the Soldiers Experienced It from Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top, July 2, 1863. It’s really tough to expand on that title, so read my preview here.

Also in paperback is the first volume of Dave Powell’s Chickamauga series, “A Mad Irregular Battle: From the Crossing of the Tennessee River Through the Second Day, August 22 – September 19, 1863. You can read that preview here.





2nd Rhode Island Photos

19 07 2016

John Banks has found some amazing photos of members of the 2nd Rhode Island before First Bull Run. These include great shots of the Rhode Islanders unique overall or night-shirt style uniforms.

The soldier identifications have been expanded on John’s site – visit it here. And here is a link to the Providence Public Library piece on the discovery of the photos.

Below are the photos. They are fantastic.

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California University of PA CWRT Recap

17 07 2016
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Photo courtesy of Mike Pellegrini

Last Thursday evening, July 14, I gave a presentation on Irvin McDowell’s plan(s) for the campaign on Manassas to the California University of Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable in California, PA. This built on the presentation I gave to the Central Ohio CWRT back in 2014 (see recap here). The evening before, I sat down and wrote a few things out – I don’t usually like to read prepared statements, but I was glad I did as it cut down on annoying umms and ahhs on my part and helped keep me on track. It also added to the length of the program, which I think clocked in at something like 1:30 to 1:45. But I didn’t see too many of the 55-60 in attendance nod off, and didn’t notice any getting up and bugging out before the meeting was over. This program continues to develop and change as my thoughts on McD’s plans evolve, but in essence it’s pretty much nailed down.

There were some good questions afterward, but not too many as we did run long and my programs typically have give and take while in process. The room in the Kara Alumni house was very nice and worked well. It was also very cool meeting Roland Maust, author of one of my top ten favorite books on Gettysburg“Grappling with Death”: The Union Second Corps Hospital at Gettysburg, who was in attendance.

Thanks to president Walter Klorczyk who heads up a very fine group. They meet on the 2nd Thursday each month on campus.

My next speaking engagement will be October 18, 2016, when I’ll present Kilpatrick’s Family Ties for the Lunch With Books series at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling, West Virginia. Stop by if you’re in the area – it’s a fun program.