Previews: Westholme Publishing, Tidball and Fredericksburg

25 10 2011

Last week I received two new books from Westholme Publishing, courtesy of reader and Westholmeian Bruce Franklin.

First up is The Fate of War: Fredericksburg, 1862, by Duane Schultz. Schultz is a professional psychologist, and in this study he uses the Fredericksburg Campaign as a Petri dish to examine how people, both soldiers and civilians, dealt with and reacted to the stresses of war. This is not a typical military history – it focuses on “the motivations, passions, and emotions of the people who fought on both sides.” If there was one place during the Civil War where pent-up emotion came to the surface with a vengeance, it was in Fredericksburg in December of 1862.

The second book has a greater appeal – on the surface – to folks with an interest in First Bull Run. John Tidball commanded a Union battery during the campaign and left some of its more colorful and lasting accounts, from beer guzzling Germans to the great rolling hips of commander Irvin McDowell. From 1891 to 1893 Tidball authored The Artillery Service in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-65 in the pages of the Journal of the Military Service Institution. These articles have been collected by editor Lawrence M. Kaplan into one volume, with the added bonus of extracts from a heretofore (sweet Jesus, my spellchecker just told me to use “an” before “heretofore”. Kill me now!) unpublished Tidball paper from 1905. I’m sure Craig Swain is drooling right about now. Unfortunately for us here, though, Tidball’s study begins with the Peninsula in 1862. Bummer that, but we won’t throw the baby out with the bath water!