American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Civil War Books

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

In "The Union War" author Gary W. Gallagher claims that the North went to war to preserve the Union, not to end slavery
In "The Union War" author Gary W. Gallagher takes issue with what has become the new conventional wisdom, that the North fought the war in order to achieve the emancipation of the slaves. While welcoming the post-civil-rights-era emphasis on "slavery, emancipation, and the actions of black people, unfairly marginalized for decades in writings about the conflict," he makes a very strong case that the dominating motive in the North was preservation of the Union.

"Blue and Gray Diplomacy" traces Europe's lack of role in American Civil War
The true lost cause of the American Civil War might have been any effort by Confederate diplomats to secure sovereign recognition by European powers, writes history professor Howard Jones in "Blue and Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations". The American Civil War so puzzled Europeans that they - in the end -stayed out of it, letting the Americans kill one another in what many on the old continent considered a senseless war. The Confederate States of America's failure to win recognition did not determine the outcome of the war by itself, but it surely contributed to its defeat.

The American Civil War: A Military History by John Keegan (book review)
John Keegan is the military historian's military historian. A senior lecturer at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, he is the author of 20 very comprehensive military history books. "The American Civil War" is filled with data that will send a thrill down any history buff's spine: details about tactics, geography, economics, ideology, generals, psychology, demographics, and weaponry. Keegan, who is British, takes the long view - a European view - of the American Civil War, placing it into broad historical context. Because the South had few if any large cities to attack its army "presented itself as the only target at which to strike." But that army could be elusive.

The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta by Marc Wortman [book review]
Civil War buffs whose knowledge of the burning of Atlanta in 1864 has been limited to the "Gone With the Wind" will be happy with Marc Wortman's "The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta." He gives a very readable and comprehensive look at the 44-day siege of the vital rail and manufacturing center by the forces of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman, providing also a history of the city that in less than two decades had become second only to Richmond as a war production city. Wortman claims Atlanta is the only American city to be besieged and destroyed, although many would include Richmond in that category.

Vicksburg 1863 by Winston Groom [book review]
The 5 maps included in Groom's account of the Union campaign to grab the Confederacy's Mississippi River stronghold of Vicksburg all but tell that story just by themselves. The maps reveals 5 of General Ulysses S. Grant's 8 failed efforts to grab the city. Including digging a canal to cut off the river's turn under the Confederate guns on Vicksburg's bluffs and advances through the bayous north and south of the city. There also were efforts by the Union's ironclad fleet to run the gauntlet of the guns. The eighth attempt, a 200-mile loop through the rivers and bayous north of the city, was "one of the strangest wartime expeditions in naval history."

Jack Hinson's One-Man War, A Civil War Sniper by Tom C. McKenney   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Jack Hinson just wanted to sit tight on his farm in an isolated area on the Kentucky-Tennessee border and let the Civil War swirl around. Instead, the war came marching right up his front gate and devastated the Hinson clan. So Jack Hinson, an "old" man in his mid-50s, showed that he could be just as determined when it came to killing. He shot 100 Union sailors and soldiers, mostly officers, before the civil war ended in 1865. Hinson covertly ordered a custom-made .50 caliber rifle with a long, heavy barrel, especially designed for long-range shooting - so accurate he could kill from 1,000 yards.

Throes of Democracy - The American Civil War Era, 1829-1877 By Walter A. McDougall
What is the key character of American nation? Walter A. McDougall has an answer: Americans are liars. "I believe Americans on balance are experts at self-deception... Far from destroying antebellum America, the Civil War was the completest expression of its political culture, racial fixation, paranoia, industrialism, mysticism, self-delusion, and anger" - a bloodbath that promised to end the nation's divisions but accomplished little." Northerners refused to see the failure of Reconstruction to bring equality to blacks and Indians, wanting to remember the war as "a glorious, victorious crusade."

This Republic of Suffering by Drew Gilpin Faust
The Civil War changed the way Americans look at death. In late 1862 Mathew Brady exhibited in his New York studio photos of the Antietam battlefield taken after the battle that claimed the lives of over 6,000 men. Photography was in its infancy, and since most Americans had never seen anything but drawings of war, the exhibition created a sensation. People who clamored to see the pictures were amazed even though the images showed none of the fighting, only its aftermath: burial parties, and most disturbing in this context, a picnickers relaxing at the scene where thousands had just died.

Top 5 Books on the Civil War by Allen C. Guelzo
Top five Books on the American Civil War by Allen C. Guelzo, author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President and Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. (1) The American Civil War by Peter J. Parish: The finest single-volume survey of the Civil War. (3) Battle Tactics of the Civil War by Paddy Griffith: British military historian whose look at the tactics, weapons, and combat of the Civil War amaze. Favorite myths about rifled muskets and total war deflated. (5) Lee's Miserables: Life in the Army of Northern Virginia from the Wilderness to Appomattox by J. Tracy Power: The history of Civil War soldiers.

Books chronicle Civil War days in Cincinnati   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Over the last 15 years Robert Wimberg has researched and written 3 books dealing with the role of Cincinnati in that 4-year struggle that took nearly 600,000 lives. Even to this day, more Americans died in the American Civil War than all the rest of our wars combined - and population was then only a fraction of what it is now. Although Cincinnati was never directly attacked, it was a crucial center for transportation, manufacture, recruitment, financing and medical care during the war. What Wimberg has done is to comb through newspapers, letters and books to compile a day-by-day journal of the war's impact on the Queen City of the West.

Two intriguing views of the West's role in the Civil War
The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, by Leonard L. Richards, Knopf. West from Appomattox: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War, by Heather Cox Richardson. The "Civil War Battlefield Guide" lists 21 sites in the western states, most involving clashes with Indians, but several between Union and Confederate forces, including the very last battle of the war, at Palmito Ranch in Texas. While those battles in the West were sideshows to the major campaigns of Civil War, 2 new books bracket the Civil War between events in the West which, helped set the stage for the war and was a major factor in the postwar Reconstruction.

Excerpt: Last Flag Down: Epic Journey of the Last Confederate Warship
Never in the history of armed national conflict, had the investment of hope in a handful of gallant and daring individuals seemed so utterly pointless, so drastically out of scale. Their goals were manifold, and breathtaking: to rip a hole in the skin of the Federal blockade and thus open up channels of desperately needed arms and goods flowing from England to Dixie; to cripple Yankee shipping, along with the economically vital Yankee whaling fleet; ... and, in sum, to shock and disable Abraham Lincoln's war machine as traumatically as Stonewall Jackson's infantry had shocked it at Bull Run and Chancellorsville.

Book found about Andersonville Civil War camp and Henry Wirz
Camp Sumter, the Civil War camp better known as Andersonville and its commandant, Captain Henry Wirz of the Confederate Army, stand apart as the epitome of cruelty toward POWs. About 13,000 Union soldiers wasted away in inhumane conditions at the Southern camp under his watch. A military commission convicted Wirz of war crimes under charges of conspiracy to "destroy the lives of soldiers." Researchers in Upstate New York have discovered a book handwritten in 1910 by the last living member of the military commission. The 54-page manuscript by John Howard Stibbs offers a rare glimpse into a juror's recollections.

37th Regiment - Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
1862, with the Civil War raging, men from all over Western Massachusetts trekked to Camp Briggs where, on Aug. 30, they were organized into the 37th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The 37th Regiment would go on to fight in almost every major battle of the eastern theater, including Antietam and Gettysburg. Frank E. White has spent the last 10 years writing a book about the history of regiment. He learned that his great great grandfather had captured Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's oldest son, Maj. Gen. George Washington Custis Lee, at the battle of Sailor's Creek in 1865.

Book recalls Confederacy images -- 200 vintage photographs
Michael Hardy is back with "Remembering North Carolina`s Confederates," a photographic collection. The book collects over 200 vintage black-and-white photographs that not only capture the flavor of the post-war South but the effect of the war on the Tarheel State`s communities. While the photos aren`t contemporaneous with the civil war, the book marks significant places and people from the 1870`s. Highlights include Jefferson Davis`s funeral procession, reunions between Union and Confederate troops, historical monuments and text that describes each photograph and brings the past alive.

Book sheds new light on civil war general U.S. Grant   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Before he became famous general in the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant was given command of Union forces at a strategically located little-known river town Cairo, Illinois. His experiences there honed his military skills that would be called on by Lincoln and turned the tide in favor of the North, which was being outfoxed by Confederate forces on their way to winning the war. Grant`s time at Cairo is the subject of "Key Command: Ulysses S. Grant`s District of Cairo." Grant set out to reclaim the River valley from rebel forces using his strategic skills. Capture of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in 1862 marked the first major Union victories.

Thanks to a relic hunter there`s a new pile of old books   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The collection is a chronological catalogue of the Civil War published for congressmen and other government officials in the 1880s. "This is from everybody, in their words, what happened," said Wayne Mills, who donated the entire 128-volume set - except one, Series I, Volume V, which catalogues the Battles of Second Manassas and Antietam. Mills bought the books from a relic hunter in 1986 with the intention of gathering information for locating Civil War relics. Mills located some lost Union and Confederate camps from the 1862 Peninsula Campaign based on research from the books and current maps.

Sharpshooters -- Shock Troops of the Confederacy   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Patton family had sons fighting on both sides, Union and Confederate. During the Battle of the Wilderness May 5 to 7, 1864, Jason and his younger brother "got within sight of each other." The younger Union solider was killed there. Jason Patton, who had won a shooting prize, became a sharpshooter with the 12th Alabama. Fred Ray was surprised to find that, although sharpshooters did yeoman`s service for the Confederacy, very little had been written about them. The latest book he found was published in 1899, written by a former sharpshooter. Finding information was like "digging history with your fingernails," Ray said.

Did Lincoln Blunder Into War - Mr. Lincoln Goes to War
Civil War historian William Marvel asks provocative questions in "Mr. Lincoln Goes to War", a new account of the war`s beginnings that casts President Lincoln`s leadership in a critical light. Lincoln did little to avert war; indeed, he hastened the outbreak of hostilities. The book questions not only Lincoln`s actions but also the basic aims of the Civil War, asking, "Would the bifurcation of the United States have been worse than the war waged to prevent it?" The author emphasizes mistakes by the Union`s military and political leadership. He faults Lincoln for employing authoritarian techniques in border areas where they only inflamed preexisting anger.

Book Shows Civil War through Diary of Confederal Soldier
Historian Tom Wing edited book "A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong." The diary was written during the Civil War from 1862 until 1865. It covers Strong`s enlistment in 1862, the march across Indian Territory, camp life in Fort Smith, and the Camden Expedition. Strong describes Confederate guerrilla operations, the execution of bushwhackers, and civilian life in wartime Arkansas. "Strong`s words speak volumes about the struggles of infantry soldiers, but more than that, he tells his story and his attitudes without bias. He also leaves us a record of federal soldier life west of the Mississippi."

New book offers rare Civil War photos and paintings   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Out of ammunition and fleeing enemy fire at the Battle of Gettysburg, Union Sgt. Warren H. Freeman came on a big, badly wounded Confederate officer who asked to be dragged to shelter from the fire of his own side. Three days of fighting in July 1863 in the Pennsylvania left more than 50,000 soldiers dead, wounded, captured or missing. Freeman survived Gettysburg, his ninth battle. His accounts made him the favorite Civil War chronicler for Margaret E. Wagner. Her new volume, "The American Civil War: 365 Days," has nearly 500 photographs, lithograph, paintings, drawings and cartoons. Many are rarely seen and some may never have been published.

Biography of General James G. Blunt - Tarnished Glory
Robert Collins: General James G. Blunt -- Tarnished Glory. "No one had done a biography of General Blunt before. He seemed interesting enough to sustain the book, and I found some interesting things about him that haven't appeared in other histories of the area that had mentioned General Blunt. General Blunt was Kansas' highest-ranking and most important Civil War general. He commanded troops in several battles in this region including Cane Hill, Prairie Grove, Honey Springs, Westport and the Second battle of Newtonia. It was his escorts that were killed at the Baxter Springs massacre."