Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

During my 30 years or so of collecting books on the Civil War era, I've made it a goal to gather and read primary source collections. And, I've tried to find those expressing various perspectives to help me gain a fuller understanding of how our nation's defining moment impacted the people at that time. That trend continues with the majority of my newest acquisitions.

I have the diaries, and thus thoughts, of at least two other East Tennessee Confederate women in my library (Ellen Renshaw House and Myra Inman), but the experience of the war there is so interesting due to the politically divided nature of population, which was heavily Unionist in sentiment, yet in a seceded state. Eliza Fain's words appear in numerous scholarly studies from many of the top historians of this period, but now I have the opportunity to read her thoughts in context for myself. I found a copy on a temporary sale through the University of Tennessee Press for a steal. Sanctified Trial: The Diary of Eliza Rhea Anderson Fair, a Confederate Woman in East Tennessee looks to be a true treasure.

I appreciate William Marvel's often contrarian approach to history. His works poke and prod us to think differently about people, places and events of the past; whether we accept his conclusions or not. I bought his Andersonville: The Last Depot largely in attempt to hopefully mine his sources for links to Petersburg Campaign captures in effort to help me explore incidents in my own research. I'm sure this study, in one way or another, will challenge my previous notions about the Confederacy's most notorious prisoner of war camp.

I've enjoyed Stephanie McCurry's books since first reading her Masters of Small Worlds in graduate school. A few years ago, Confederate Reckoning: Power and Politics in the Civil War South, really opened my eyes to the unexpected power and political agency that those who did not have the vote (women and slaves) ultimately exerted on Confederate officials. Women's War: Fighting and Surviving the American Civil War appears to follow a similar vein as Confederate Reckoning in that McCurry makes sure that women do return to the shadows of the conflict.

I first heard about Letters from the Storm: The Intimate Civil War Letters of Lt. J. A. H. Foster, 155th Pennsylvania Volunteers from Peter Carmichael at last year's Gettysburg College Civil War Institute while he was speaking about his then forthcoming book The War for the Common Soldier. I just finished reading this fascinating collection of letters and will be sharing a review on here soon, so for now I won't say more.

Another collection of letters involving a spousal relationship are found in This Infernal War: The Civil War Letters of William and Jane Standard, edited by Timothy Mason Roberts. With this couple we get yet another intriguing perspective, that of Illinois Copperheads. Fascinating! I can't wait to delve into the sea of subjects this couple must have discussed.

Happy reading!

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