Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Having several ancestors who fought in the 37th North Carolina of the Branch-Lane Brigade, I was excited to see Lee's Immortals: The Battles and Campaigns of the Branch Lane Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861-1865, when it was still in pre-release. Then last month at work, its author Michael Hardy spoke at Pamplin Historical Park for the anniversary of the VI Corps Petersburg Breakthrough, where Lane's brigade was defending the Cockade City. Hardy brought up a number of instances where the brigade put in hard work which I did not know about, so my interest was piqued even further. Needless to say, I bought a copy to have him sign. I look forward to learning more about the battles and campaigns of this premier brigade in Lee's army.

I'm a sucker for pretty much anything published having to do with Petersburg. The almost 10 month-long campaign is finally starting to get its just due in terms of scholarly attention. Petersburg to Appomattox: The End of the War in Virginia, edited by Caroline Janney, is a fine and diverse set of essays which adds significantly to our knowledge of the places, events, and personalities who battled to capture and defend the Cockade City in 1864-65.

Almost every one of Grant's nine offensives in the Petersburg Campaign have received individual studies. Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864, covers the sixth offensive, which includes the fighting at Burgess Mill along the Boydton Plank Road, just a handful of miles from where I currently live, but also the actions along the Darbytown Road, north of the James River, just outside of Richmond. With this book Hampton Newsome has produced one of the best battle treatments of any Petersburg action available. I highly recommend it and am pleased to finally have a copy now in my personal library.

I came cross My Brother's Keeper: African Canadian and the American Civil War by Bryan Prince, while I was doing research on Alexander T. Augusta. Many fugitive slaves made their way to Canada in the years before the Civil War, and when blacks were finally allowed to serve in United States Colored Troop units, many of them or their sons joined Union units to help put an end to slavery and prove black men were fully worthy of citizenship and equal rights. This book will fill a large void in my knowledge about African Canadians and their service to the Union cause.

Inglorious Passages: Noncombat Deaths in the American Civil War by Brian Steel Wills is another book that was on my wish-list long before it was released. Last week Wills spoke about this book at the Petersburg Civil War Roundtable meeting, and the stories he included in his presentation were compelling tales of men who served but died in an unexpected manner. Wills describes soldiers who drowned, who committed suicide, who were killed in train derailments, in steamship explosions, in capsized ships, and in may other ways. This book covers an aspect of the Civil War that has long been begging for examination. Now we have a quality book that explored this fascinating yet sad topic.

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