Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

A book that is receiving a significant amount of social media buzz is James J. Broomall's Private Confederacies: The Emotional Worlds of Southern Men as Citizens and Soldiers. How did Southern men navigate the emotional rollercoasters that were secession, war, and Reconstruction? This much anticipated study provides the answers. Fortunately, I happened across a 40% off sale on the UNC Press website and snagged a softcover copy.

Another UNC Press book that I've had on  my wishlist since I first heard about it is Larry J. Daniel's Conquered: Why the Army of Tennessee Failed. I will be reading it very soon for a published book review. My western theater reading has dropped off since moving back to Virginia four years ago, so this will be  a nice return visit to where my fascination with the Civil War began so many years ago. I've enjoyed Daniel's other books on Army of Tennessee subjects, and honestly, I can't think of a better person to write this particular book.

If I've said it once at work, I've said it a thousand times: the reason we know so much about Civil War soldiers is because they wrote so much . . . and it didn't hurt that their letters weren't censored. I can't get enough of reading "dead people's mail." It is so fascinating! With Christopher Hager's I Remain Yours: Common Lives in Civil War Letters we get even more glimpses into the worlds of folks from the mid-nineteenth century who were trying to make sense of the separation and loss caused by the Civil War. This should be a fantastic read!

Along with Civil War navies, another significant gap in my Civil War knowledge is how the war played out in eastern North Carolina. Coming to the rescue is Hampton Newsome's The Fight for the Old North State: The Civil War in North Carolina, January-May 1864. I consider myself fortunate to have discussed research topics with Hampton and sincerely respect his research and writing. He was kind enough to give me a complementary copy for my library. In my opinion, his book, Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864, is one of the top five books about the Petersburg Campaign. I'm sure The Fight for the Old North State will follow suit. If you haven't read Hampton's books, you need to.

Another intriguing title that I picked up through the recent UNC Press 40% off sale is Steven M. Stowe's Keep the Days: Reading the Civil War Diaries of Southern Women. Similar to letter writing, composing diary entries helped the authors get their inner-most thoughts out of their heads and onto paper. However, what we get from diaries and those that maintained them are usually different takes than even letter writers. Diarists usually believed no one but themselves would be reading their thoughts, so we get much more honest thoughts and feelings. Stowe uses a number of familiar diaries from Southern women during the Civil War to help us better understand their experiences.


  1. Tim, all of these books look interesting. Thanks for the update. I just finished reading the Rod Andrew book on Wade Hampton which was very interesting and insightful. Just started Chancellorsville by Stephen Sears.

    As to why the South performed poorly in Tennessee and the West in general -- poor leadership. Braxton Bragg in particular. Bragg's failure to capitalize on the victory at Chickamauga was the catalyst that eventually led to the fall of Atlanta. Although not one of my favorite Generals, Joseph E. Johnston really had little choice but to assume a defensive strategy after taking over for Bragg due to the numerical superiority of the Union forces. Also the choice of Hood after the Atlanta campaign was not a good choice. Even men without that level of command experience should have been given consideration. These include Cleburne, Richard Taylor, and various commanders from the Army of Northern Virginia.

    Always fun to play the old "what if" game. What if Jackson or Longstreet had taken command in the West.

  2. Hi Paul, Glad to hear you enjoyed the Hampton book. Yeah, the Army of Tennessee was being asked to do probably more than could handle. I'm looking forward to getting Daniels's take - it should be a fun read. Keep reading!

  3. Thanks for the kind words Tim. I hope you enjoy The Fight for the Old North State!