Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

I must have landed on his good list this year because Santa Clause was quite good to me. Friends and family know my reading obsession, and thankfully they feed it with gift cards and "wish list" purchases.

One of the primary five regiments who attacked at the Battle of New Market Heights was the 36th United States Colored Infantry, originally designated as the 2nd North Carolina Colored Infantry. Raised largely in occupied areas of northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, this unit was composed of both formerly enslaved men as well as free men of color. The 36th Infantry United States Colored Troops in the Civil War: A History and Roster by James K. Bryant, II, is sure to provide a compelling look into this important regiment.

For decades a lone interpretation of Reconstruction dominated. However with revisionist works that emerged by historians such as John Hope Franklin and Kenneth Stampp in the 1960s things changed as sources emerged and were unearthed which helped tell other stories. Reconstruction studies often focus on the era's political and social issues, and rightly so, but too little light has made its way to the United States army's occupation of former Confederate localities, especially during the immediate six year following the Civil War. After Appomattox: Military Occupation and the Ends of War by Gregory P. Downs seeks the remedy this void.

I've recently slowed down my formal book review submissions for various publications due to other projects that are taking more of my time. However, I will be reviewing Lee's Body Guards: The 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry by Michael C. Hardy for the Civil War News. This unit, which was recruited to serve as scouts, guides, and to carry messages and orders for the Army of Northern Virginia, provided invaluable service during its operation. I'm looking forward to learning more about their Civil War experience.

In a post a few weeks ago I shared Lt. Freeman Bowley's (30th USCI) account of his capture at the Battle of the Crater. That account came from Bowley's memoir, originally published in the National Tribune, the newspaper of the Grand Army of the Republic, in 1899. Available in book form too, and titled Honor in Command: Lt. Freeman S. Bowley's Civil War Service in the 30th United States Colored Infantry, it is edited by Keith Wilson. I recalled Wilson's name from his previous book Campfires of Freedom: The Camp Life of Black Soldiers during the Civil War. Memoirs always have to be read with an air of caution, especially those produced decades after the events they recall, but they can also be useful and insightful.

From the dust jacket description of Exposing Slavery: Photography, Human Bondage, and the Birth of Modern Visual Politics in America by Matthew Fox-Amato, it states: "Exposing Slavery explores how photography altered and was, in turn, shaped by conflicts over human bondage. Drawing on an original source base that includes hundreds of unpublished and little-studied photographs of slaves, ex-slaves, free African Americans, and abolitionists as well as written archival materials, it puts visual culture at the center of understanding the experience of late slavery. It assesses how photography helped southerners to defend slavery, enslaved people to shape their social ties, abolitionists to strengthen their movement, and soldiers to pictorially enact interracial society during the Civil War." Color me intrigued!

Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment