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 Post subject: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2021 11:06 am 
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Location: Tennessee
How often do people here read about the war?

I find it like some weird tar trap that I can never escape. I've been reading about it ever since I picked up an old "Life of General Custer" when I was just a kid. The images of Custer's Last Stand enthralled me and the 19th Century came alive. After seeing Glory and then Gettysburg (I was still a "kid" at the time) there was no going back.

I try to branch out and have read quite a bit on US History up to 1945 (when all history stops as my old teachers used to joke since that's when classes usually ran out of time and we recessed for the summer). I just picked up Ian Toll's trilogy on the War in the Pacific but it will be a month or so before I can crack the first open.

Meanwhile I am in the middle of my first real reading marathon on the French Revolution and Napoleon. I limited myself to five books on the topic so as not to get perpetually bogged down.

But still next to me now is a history on Sherman's march through Georgia and I knock out a chapter of that daily.

No matter what I do to try and escape the Civil War genre it just sucks me right back in. Sure, Washington is interesting. Lafayette enthralling. Napoleon is fascinating. The Seven Years War... wow. Teddy Roosevelt's life is epic to read about. WW1 and WW2 are tragic yet critical to understand. But in the end I just end up back with my stack of unread Civil War books. You couldn't pay me to read a book on the Women's Lib movement of the 1970s but give me a book on Women's issues of the 1860s and I can't put it down. :mrgreen:

Is there a self-help group out there for people like us?

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2021 9:27 pm 
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Here you go!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_War ... ivil%20War.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 1:29 pm 
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I hear you!
My problem is, I start one book, which leads me to another or I remember something I read in another book. Find that book and something in that one gets you reading...
It's a never ending battle.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 2:26 pm 
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Most of my Civil War reading has been on the internet lately. One matter of interest too me came up less than 48 hours ago which had me extracting Shelby Foote's tome from the shelves to discuss some new information provided on one of my earlier posts at CivilWarTalk. I had wriiten about how Jedidiah Hotchkiss had been instrumental in discovering the route that Gen Jackson took for his flanking manoeuvre at Chancellorsville. In doing so I quoted the following from Foote:

"During the night of 1 May Lee and Jackson met to decide how to get at Hoooker when Jeb Stuart joined them and advised that "according to Fitzhugh Lee … Hooker's right flank was 'in the air' on the Orange Turnpike, wide open to attack. Foote then goes on to describe Lee and Jackson's excitement at this news and Jackson asked about roads to which "Stuart replied that he did not know but he would do what he could to find out". However, without the map, Jackson was guessing he'd find a way that was relatively quick to get behind the Union. Regardless, he was heading off (and orders were issued for his troops to be ready to set off at 0400 the next day).

Early in the morning of 2 May (0400) Lee met with Jackson (following a meeting the previous night when it had been decided that Jackson would march to flank Hooker, even though Jackson did not have an exact route of march). While Lee and Jackson were talking, Hotchkiss "approached the generals and spread his map on another hardtack box between them …[Hotchkiss] had found the route he had been seeking, and as he spoke "he traced it on the map [I think it is probably this map (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3883s.cwh00059/?r=0.063,0.281,0.321,0.197,0)]: first due west to the furnace, then due south, away from the enemy, along a trail that gradually turned back west to enter the Brock Road, which ran northward to the plank road and the turnpike. However, he explained that the column must not turn north at this point, since that would bring it within sight of a Federal signal station at Fairview, but south again for a short distance to another road leading north and paralleling the Brock Road, which it joined a couple of miles above in some heavy woods just short of its junction with the plank road. That way, practically the entire route – some ten miles in length from their present position and firm enough throughout to support wagons and artillery – would be screened from the eyes of enemy lookouts." … Lee spoke … 'General Jackson, what do you propose to do?' Jackson put out his hand and retraced, with a semicircular motion, the route just drawn. 'Go around here,' he said. Lee kept looking at him. 'What do you propose to make this movement with?' he asked, and Jackson promptly replied: 'With my whole corps.'
… Lee absorbed the shock the words had given him. 'What will you leave me?' The question was rhetorical, he already knew the answer. But Jackson answered it anyway, as readily as before. 'The divisions of Anderson and McLaws.'"
The lead regiment of Jackson's corps set out at 8 o'clock. Jackson was in his new uniform, which JEB Stuart had been glad to see him wearing the previous night as it had been a gift from him to Jackson."

The new information was this article (https://npsfrsp.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/stonewall-jacksons-last-map/) on the last map drawn by General Jackson in his own hand. In reading that article and consulting Foote I was able to deduce the following:
Although I can not judge whether it is "in Jackson’s distinctive hand" I accept their word that it is so.
The article says "An early article about the map asserts it was used by Lee and Jackson at their final bivouac on the night of May 1-2". I do not think it is the case. Foote says that on the night of May 1 when Lee was meeting with Jackson (after Stuart had bought news that "Hooker's right flank was in the air") Lee "kept peering at a map spread on his knees". Although the linked article does not give map dimensions, the fact that it could be pasted into a book indicates it is not large and unlikely to be a map that would be spread out across Lee's knees. Therefore it seems unlikely that it is the map used by Lee and Jackson on that night. My best guess (and that's all it is) is that it is a map quickly drawn by Jackson on that night while looking at Lee's map. At that meeting Jackson announced "My troops will move at 4 o'clock". Of course, Jackson did not move at 4 o'clock because, as mentioned earlier, Hotchkiss arrived that morning with his map.
The article also says "... most tellingly, Tabernacle Church are all marked in Jackson’s hand". I attach little importance to that as a church would be a notable landmark at the time and would be included on most maps of that era, as Hotchkiss and others also did as a matter of course.
I suggest the "squiggly line" over the River was just to show it was a river while the squiggly line over the Brock Road is to indicate the main known road that he was to take that Lee (on the night of May 1) "had traced a fingertip westward along the map [the one spread across his knees] from their present location ... past the front of the enemy position, then northward [i.e. Brock Road] to intersect the turnpike".
Finally, the article says "Tellingly, it does not include the network of roads that would carry him to the Brock Road on May 2". It does not do so because it was only on the morning of May 2 that Hotchkiss arrived with his map and information about those roads. That is also why I think it must have been a map drawn by Jackson during the night of May 1 during his meeting with Lee.

My favourite Hotchkiss map remains his map of the Shenandoah (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3882s.cwh00089/?r=-0.047,1.215,1.433,0.881,0. A very large map (about 3.75 feet wide by 8.5 feet long) that is also very detailed. Hotchkiss also took very detailed notes that enabled him to advise Jackson on many other details (e.g. which trails would be unsuitable in rainy weather.)

I live and I learn.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 4:07 pm 
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Gentleman,

May I ask what your favorite reading on the war has been? Always looking to add to the reading list, especially by other avid readers.

I will propose two books that I have found extremely compelling, one of which I finished in one sitting:

Robert E. Lee On Leadership by H.W Crocker III

Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne

The second book listed is mostly a wartime biography for Stonewall Jackson, but has insights and angles I haven’t found in other readings.

Thank you in advance for any suggestions!

Bid you all a good evening.

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Field Lieutenant JJ Jansen
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2nd Calvary Division, 3rd Calvary Corps (Forrest's)
Army of Tennessee

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:18 pm 
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Cadet Jansen
I have read Rebel Yell and agree with you it was quite compelling. I liked it better than They Call Him Stonewall.
I had to stop and think a minute about my favorite read and I have to say, it's the Shelby Foote trilogy.
I just enjoy he way he tells a story...history...what ever you want to call it. I've seen him come under scrutiny lately for being biased towards the Confederacy but, I can say I honestly didn't pick up on anything like that in said trilogy.
Besides, he's from Mississippi. What did you expect? :D
I also enjoyed Guelzo's "The Last Invasion"
* waits patiently while the crowd gathers rocks and ties a noose *
Let me explain. :D
It was the first full length read I did on Gettysburg...and there's just something about your first. :lol:
I've since read Sears and Pfanz trilogy, which I find more knowledgeable reads, but I just have a soft spot for that book.

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Army of the Tennessee

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2021 7:03 pm 
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As a history of the Civil War, Shelby Foote's trilogy stands alone. His background as a fiction writer lends the readability to his volumes.

For writing style combined with historical research on individual battles or campaigns, my preference is Stephen Sears, plagiarized or not. I have all of his books on the Eastern part of the conflict. For minutiae on Gettysburg, Pfanz is good. David G. Martin provides great historical research, but his writing can seem drawn out at times. You Reb types might be interested in a book by Edwin Longacre called "Lee's Cavalrymen". It is the history of the CSA Eastern cavalry.

But all of these concern themselves with the East. What about the West? It is hard to match Peter Cozzens trilogy of Stones River, Chickamauga and the battles around Chattanooga. He also has a stand alone book concerning the Corinth campaign. Albert Castel's "Decision in the West" is a complete history of Sherman's 1864 campaign to take Atlanta.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2021 7:23 pm 
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One book I failed to mention is quite different from the rest: Brent Nosworthy's The Bloody Crucible of Courage. It is a compilation as it states of Fighting Methods and Combat Experience of the Civil War. It is not concerned with individual battles or campaigns, but rather the origin of tactics, weaponry, naval development, artillery doctrine, fortifications, etc. A book other historians refer to when seeking specific information. It is quite readable.

In fact, it gave me the idea to raise a new topic in the MDT: "Things I Have Read That Cause Me To Change Parameters In These Games". It should prove of interest to many although they may not care to change. And "I" is meant to include any who wish to contribute.

Now, just to take time from my reading...

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2021 9:02 am 
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Castel's Decision in the West really is a great read. It really opened my eyes to the western theater and was the first time I remember connecting the dots that the war was lost in the west and not the east.

Over the past thirty years I believe Civil War scholarship has really changed the traditional interpretation of the war. In the past the overemphasis on Lee and the East really overshadowed Confederate failures in the west. Recent work has reevaluated the importance of generals like Sherman and Grant while also emphasizing the importance of western battles and campaigns to the overall victory of the Federals in the war.

The scholarship on the war will always go through revisions. Hell, even Bragg now has his fair share of defenders as Polk is the newest villain of choice for many writers.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2021 8:51 pm 
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Bruce Catton's book will always be my favorites. They might be dated but they were my introduction to the period.

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 Post subject: Re: Civil War Reading
PostPosted: Sun Sep 12, 2021 7:57 pm 
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I remember the great maps from those books

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