Sunday, June 23, 2019

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

On the surface, the idea of members of one marginalized group enslaving members of another marginalized group is a bit difficult to comprehend. However, since reading Tiya Miles's The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story, I've been intrigued with the relationship between American Indians in the former slave states and their enslaved property. Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South by Barbara Krauthamer examines the slavery dynamic among the Choctaw and Chickasaw people. This looks to be a fascinating read.

While at the Gettysburg College Civil War Institute last weekend one of the panel discussions focused on various aspects of the Civil War's material culture and what these items meant to those of that period. The panel consisted of several of the contributors to the recently published War Matters: Material Culture in the Civil War Era, edited by Joan E. Cashin. This book contains ten essays by some of the top scholars in the field who seek to better understand the complexity of the conflict by looking at various items that citizens placed value upon and injected with symbolism. I was so fascinated by the panel discussion that I decided to buy a copy there. I've noticed a rather strong trend among scholars in recent publications to include aspects of material culture into their studies (see Peter Carmichael's The War for the Common Soldier and James Broomall's Private Confederacies). I've learned a lot from considering this particular perspective, and I'm sure this promising book will only contribute more. 

Today is the anniversary of the event that A Melancholy Affair at the Weldon Railroad: The Vermont Brigade, June 23, 1864, by David Faris Cross chronicles. During Gen. Grant's second Petersburg offensive (June 22-23, 1864) the II Corps and the VI Corps in their attempt to cut the Weldon Railroad suffered a tremendous Confederate counterattack that resulted in thousands of Union soldiers being captured. With my ongoing research into prisoners of war taken during the Petersburg Campaign, this book will be a important resource.

Continuing my book purchasing trend of the past year, I've found yet another collection of soldier's letters. This one comes from a member of the famed Texas Brigade, Joseph B. Polley, and is part of the University of Tennessee Press's Voices of the Civil War series. A Soldier's Letters to Charming Nellie, edited by Richard B. McCaslin is likely a familiar title to Civil War enthusiasts who have come across Polley's name in their Army of Northern Virginia readings. There is a reason it appears so frequently as a primary source.

David Silkenat's Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War is a recent publication that is receiving significant buzz. Yet another formerly unexplored topic, this book promises to provide a better understanding of how soldiers viewed the act of surrender and what it meant as a challenge to one's manhood and honor. This book should also be a big help in clarifying some of my thinking while researching prisoners of war during the Petersburg Campaign.

Virginia's Civil War, edited by Peter Wallenstein and the late Bertram Wyatt-Brown, is another book that had somehow previously slipped by my acquisition radar. It offers readers twenty diverse essays covering Virginia's experience in the conflict. Topics ranging from Robert E. Lee to religion to gender to postwar issues and memory are all covered. Again, these essays, from many of the field's top scholars, ensure that this volume, published in 2005, will provide unique perspectives in better understanding "Virginia's Civil War."

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