Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Recent Acquisitions to My Library

Studies on individuals who participated in John Brown's 1859 raid on Harper Ferry continue to emerge to inform us. Previously works on white raider John E. Cooke, and black raider John Anthony Copeland are now joined by The Untold Story of Shields Green: The Life and Death of a Harper's Ferry Raider by Louis A. DeCaro, Jr. I've enjoyed and benefitted from DeCaro's previous works on John Brown, so I am confident this one will prove highly insightful as well.

An area of Civil War scholarship that is finally receiving much needed attention is army logistics. This critical aspect to understanding the success of the conflict's campaigns has largely escaped historians' focus. Civil War Supply and Strategy: Feeding Men and Moving Armies by Earl J. Hess looks to help fill a yawning void. Hess previously approached the topic with his Civil War Logistics: A Study of Military Transportation (2017), which I recommend reading before jumping into his most recent work, as it provides a solid foundation for better understanding the more campaign-focused Civil War Supply and Strategy


The men who served in the United States Colored Troops gave a number of reasons for why they fought. Some did so to to abolish slavery, some to save the Union, and many did so to stake a claim to the benefits of citizenship. In fact, a key element in the postwar move toward amending the Constitution to grant citizenship to African Americans born in the United States was the service and sacrifices of black soldiers in the Civil War. This was particularly true in the demands made by northern African Americans who tried to make the most of their service and who had learned from previously unsuccessful attempts for citizenship rights after military service in earlier American conflicts. Fighting for Citizenship: Black Northerners and the Debate over Military Service in the Civil War by Brian Taylor is an exciting new study exploring this relevant topic. I look forward to learning more about this political process.


 H. W. Brands is a prolific historian who publishes on various topics and diverse eras. His latest book, The Zealot and the Emancipator: John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and the Struggle for American Freedom looks at the different paths that these two giants of the mid-19th century American history took in attempting to solve the problem of slavery. One seemingly set things in motion with action, while the other responded to and negotiated the stream of emancipation politically. 

Happy reading! 

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