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9-08-2015, 00:06

Suggestions for Further Reading

The literature on the Civil War is enormous, and more material is coming out all the time. Not only is there an apparently endless flow of scholarly studies, of this battle, that general, or some particular aspect of the era, but there are even original documentary sources still appearing, as collections of letters and diaries reach public notice. It would be almost a full-time task to stay abreast of new works, let alone catch up on the previous century's production. In a way this is all illusory, for many earlier works need not be read, having been updated by more thorough modern research and scholarship. For every early work that has stood the test of time, and become a classic either for its writing or for its historical interest, dozens of others have been dated and discarded; for example, Richard A. Sauers in The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3-August 1, 1863: A Comprehensive, Selectively Annotated Bibliography (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1982) lists some twenty-eight hundred titles that deal with that one battle alone, and there have been dozens more in the years since his work appeared. These range from full-scale studies to commemorative addresses, and it would be a truly masochistic reader who might try to read them all. None of this is meant to excuse the following list, but is simply offered to explain why the list is as it is. I have been reading Civil War history avidly but unsystematically for nearly fifty years, and more systematically but no less avidly for the last five, since I began working up this book. At the end of it I am still more conscious of all the good books I have not read than of those I have. The Civil War scholar or buff looking at this list will undoubtedly feel the same way, but the list is intended less for those who are already familiar with the literature than for those who may, through youth or leisure time at last, be entering the fascinating world of Civil War study and argument. First of all, there is available a number of technical or factual compendiums that, while they may not make very good reading, are great browsing material, and are very useful for checking names and dates. As the great American historian Fletcher Pratt once remarked, it seems as if every other Confederate general was named either Lee or Stuart, but at least the Stuarts had the grace to spell their names differently. Among the most useful I have found is Mark M. Boatner III, The Civil War Dictionary (New York: David MacKay, 1959), and Patricia L. Faust (ed.), Historical Times Encyclopedia of the Civil War (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), while John S. Bowman (ed.), The Civil War Day by Day (Greenwich, Conn.: Dorset, 1989), is a helpful almanac. Fascinating capsule biographies of all the generals are in Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders, and Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders (both Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959 and 1964). Also useful is David C. Roller and Robert W. Twyman (eds.), The Encyclopedia of Southern History (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979). A good atlas in indispensable, and as always I have found V. J. Esposito (ed.), The West Point Atlas ofAmerican Wars, vol. I, 1689-1900 (New York: Praeger, 1959) to be very helpful. There are several more or less contemporary multivolume histories of the Civil War and the era; pride of place and scholarship must go to Alan Nevins, The Ordeal of the Union, 8 vols. (New York: Scribner's, 1947-1971). Bruce Catton, the great historian of the last generation, virtually created a Civil War renaissance in narrative history all by himself; The Centennial History of the Civil War, 3 vols. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1961-1965) is but one of his many works, and others are cited below. Where Catton took a generally Northern point of view, Shelby Foote in The Civil War: A Narrative, 3 vols (New York: Random House, 1958-1974) takes a generally Southern point of view. The latest of these collections is William C. Davis, The Imperilled Union 1861-1865, 3 vols. (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982- ). Threeand even eight-volume histories are as nothing, of course, to the original government treatments, and those who are truly caught up in the Civil War will want to refer to what are always known as the "Official Records"; these were collected and published at the turn of the century as U.S. Army, The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 130 vols. (Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1882-1900), and U.S. Navy, The War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies, 30 vols. (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1894-1922). These vast works contained official reports, correspondence, and commentaries, and provided fuel for veterans to argue with each other for years. Of the many single-volume histories, the one to start and end with is James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, vol. 6 of the Oxford History ofthe United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); this is in some respects a reworking of his earlier Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction (New York: Knopf, 1982), but each has enough material to repay separate reading. There are many studies on the political course of the war, and especially on the crucial years that led to it. An older one now is Avery Craven, The Coming of the Civil War (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957); one of the most thorough and readable is David M. Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (New York: Harper and Row, 1976); two books that define a lifetime's scholarship are Kenneth M. Stampp, And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1950), and his America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). A brilliant treatment of the progressive dissolution of the American federation is William H. Freehling, The Road to Disunion, vol. 1, Secessionists at Bay, 1776-1856 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990). Several other studies that deal with the ever more pressing issues of slavery and potential secession are Elbert B. Smith, The Death ofSlavery: The United States, 1837-1865 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967); William J. Cooper, Jr., The South and the Politics of Slavery. 1828-1856 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978); Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (Baton Rouge: LSUP, 1992); and John McCardell, The Idea ofa Southern Nation, 1830-1860 (New York: Norton, 1979). For a history of the whole Confederacy, there are Emory M. Thomas, The Confederate Nation (New York: Harper and Row, 1979), and E. Merton Coulter, The Confederate States of America, 1861- 1865 (Baton Rouge: LSUP, 1950). The issue of slavery has received increasing attention in the last generation. All of the following, of many that might be mentioned, can be read with profit: Hugh G. J. Aitken (ed.)> Did Slavery Pay? (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971); Robert W. Fogel, Without Consent or Contract: The Rise and Fall of American Slavery (New York: Norton, 1989); Roger L. Ransom, Conflict and Compromise: The Political Economy of Slavery, Emancipation, and the American Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989); Eugene D. Genovese, The Political Economy of Slavery (New York: Pantheon, 1965); and Kenneth M. Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South (New York: Vintage, 1956). As even these few titles suggest, increasing attention has not meant much agreement on the issue of slavery, and there is still argument over such fundamental points as whether or not slavery was profitable, or how it compared with the free labor of the North. A couple of more specific approaches are Herbert Aptheker, Abolitionism: A Revolutionary Movement (Boston: Twayne, 1989), and James M. McPherson, The Negro's Civil War (New York: Ballantine, 1965). Turning now to more directly military aspects of the war, there is a large number of studies that attempt to explain why the war took the course that it did; some of these are fairly commonsensical, and some are pretty far-fetched; some are very readable, some less so, but to a military buff, all are interesting. Two very large studies are Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones, How the North Won: A Military History of the Civil War (Urbana, 111.: University of Illinois Press, 1983), and Richard E. Beringer, Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, and William N. Still, Jr., Why the South Lost the Civil War (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1986). Archer Jones has also written Civil War Command and Strategy: The Process of Victory and Defeat (New York: Free Press, 1992). Frank E. Vandiver, Rebel Brass (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1956), explores the shortcomings of the Confederate command system, while T. Harry Williams, Lincoln and His Generals (New York: Knopf, 1952), examines the relationship between the president and his military people. A more current treatment is Joseph T. Glatthaar, Partners in Command: The Relationship Between Leaders in the Civil War (New York: Free Press, 1994). While those books deal with men on the same side, the peculiar symbiosis between leaders of the opposite side is examined in Charles Royster, The Destructive War: William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, and the Americans (New York: Knopf, 1991). One of the most remarkable theses on why the war went as it did, and one that has been considered a little too imaginative by most authorities, is Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage (University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1982). Though this might seem an odd place to list the following work, a different perception of Southern defeat is offered in Catherine Clinton and Nina Silber (eds.), Divided Houses: Gender and the Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). Two interesting collections of the war's issues are Gabor S. Boritt (ed.), Lincoln the War President, and Why the Confederacy Lost (both New York: Oxford University Press, 1992). A large number of books deals with the matter of soldiers, their lives and experiences in the war. The starting point for this aspect of the struggle is the two seminal books by Bell I. Wiley, The Life ofJohnny Reb: The Common Soldiers of the Confederacy (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1943), and The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldiers of the Union (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1952). Two more current, highly illustrated treatments along the same line are William C. Davis, The Fighting Men of the Civil War, and The Commanders of the Civil War (New York: Salamander, 1989 and 1990). Reid Mitchell has written a useful study in Civil War Soldiers: Their Expectations and their Experiences (New York: Viking, 1988), paralleled by Gerald F. Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War (New York: Free Press, 1987); for black soldiers, Joseph T. Glatthaar has written Forged in Battle: The Civil War Alliance of Black Soldiers and White Officers (New York: Free Press, 1990). That experiences and expectations were startlingly different is illustrated in one of the indispensable books of the war, originally appearing at the turn of the century, Thomas L. Livermore, Numbers and Losses in the Civil War (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1957). It is in campaign and battle history that the true military buff can wallow to his or her heart's content, for this area of Civil War studies is an ever-swelling stream, of which only a hint can be given here. The stream started early, and one can still read Robert U. Johnson and Clarence C. Buel, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, 8 vols. (New York: Century, 1884-1887) with enjoyment; this collection of battle experiences and memoirs and controversies was one of the great successes of the publishing world, with generals pushing and shoving to get in on it and present their view of what happened to the public. The classic study of the Army of Northern Virginia was Douglas Southall Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants, 3 vols. (New York: Scribner's, 1942- 1944); this was in essence a companion study to Freeman's Robert E. Lee, 4 vols. (New York: Scribner's, 1935-1942), and it seems almost sacrilegious to suggest that these volumes are a bit dated to the modern reader. Then on the other side of the field there is Bruce Catton's Army of the Potomac Trilogy (New York: Doubleday, 1951-1953). Several studies take the eastern battles and campaigns in sequence, starting with Stephen W. Sears, To the Gates ofRichmond: The Peninsula Campaign (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1992); then John J. Hennessy, Return to Bull Run: The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993). Antietam has received a great deal of attention, and two good studies are James W. Murfin, The Gleam of Bayonets: The Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign of 1862 (New York: Thomas Yoseleff, 1965), and Stephen W. Sears, Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1983). A recent study is Ernest B. Furgurson, Chancellorsville, 1863: The Souls ofthe Brave (New York: Knopf, 1992), and of the many books on Gettysburg, a comprehensive one is Edward B. Coddington, The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1979). Noah Andre Trudeau wrote Bloody Roads South: The Wilderness to Cold Harbor, May-June, 1864 (Boston: Little, Brown, 1989), and Burke Davis covered the closing campaign of the war in To Appomattox: Nine April Days, 1865 (New York: Rinehart, 1959); an older study of that campaign has recently been reissued in paperback, Joshua L. Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies (New York: Bantam, 1993); by modern standards, Chamberlain's writing style is a bit highflown, but it is still fabulous reading once one captures the rhythm. It was once thought that the western campaigns were the poor relation of Civil War studies, but that is certainly no longer the case. A mere sampling will offer the following titles: Benjamin Franklin Cooling, Forts Henry and Donelson: The Key to the Confederate Heartland (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1987), and Peter Cozzens, No Better Place to Die: The Battle of Stones River (Urbana, 111.: University of Illinois Press, 1991). Of many books on Vicksburg, Earl Schenck Miers, The Web of Victory: Grant at Vicksburg (New York: Knopf, 1955), is a useful coverage. Glenn Tucker wrote Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1984), but this has prob- ably been superseded by Peter Cozzens, This Terrible Sound: The Battle of Chickamauga (Urbana, 111.: University of Illinois Press, 1992). Next comes James Lee McDonough, Chattanooga—A Death Grip on the Confederacy (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1984), and then Albert Castel, Decision in the West: The Atlanta Campaign of 1864 (Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1992). James Lee McDonough and Thomas L. Connelly wrote Five Tragic Hours: The Battle of Franklin (Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1983), and Connelly also did an outstanding two volumes, Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee, 1861-1862, and Autumn of Glory: The Army of Tennessee, 1862-1865 (both Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1967 and 1971). An excellent work on what actually is a new area of study is Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., The Civil War in the American West (New York: Knopf, 1992). The Civil War era is a gold mine for those who prefer their history in the form of biography or autobiography; though it is indeed a little artificial to separate this list into campaign studies and biographies, when so many books could be included in both sections. Taking the Union first, probably the best one-volume life of Lincoln is Stephen B. Oates, With Malice Toward None (New York: Harper and Row, 1977). Recently the Library of America series issued Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 2 vols. (New York: 1989); no reader can avoid being impressed by Lincoln's clarity of thought and common sense, which shine through his work, and this is the best way to get through the evolution of his ideas and convictions. A fascinating examination of the effects of this evolution is in Mark E. Neely, Jr., The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991). The career of his early great rival is covered in Robert W. Johannsen, Stephen A. Douglas (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973). Offering further, contemporary, insight, the Diary of Gideon Welles, 3 vols. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin) was published in 1903- Fletcher Pratt wrote Stanton: Lincoln's Secretary ofWar (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1970), and Ralph Korngold wrote Thaddeus Stevens (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1955). A crucial diplomatic figure is covered in Martin Duberman, Charles Francis Adams (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1976); along that line mention might be made here of a new work by Howard Jones, Union in Peril: The Crisis over British In- tervention in the Civil War (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992). For more specifically military biographies, the place to start on the Union side is undoubtedly with Grant himself. Originally written as he was dying of cancer, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York: Library of America, 1990) is one of the monuments of American history and literature. It can be nicely supplemented by Horace Porter's personal memoir, Campaigning with Grant (New York: Bantam, 1991). The best general biography is William S. McFeely, Grant: A Biography (New York: Norton, 1981), and there is any number of other studies; one of the most famous is by the British theorist J. F. C. Fuller, Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1957). Bruce Catton's U. S. Grant and the American Military Tradition (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954) is still readable. Sherman's memoirs are very nearly in the same category as Grant's, and were recently reissued as Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman (New York: Library of America, 1990); Sherman has had a lot of recent attention, and in addition to Royster's book mentioned above there is John F. Marszalek, Sherman: A Soldier's Passion for Order (New York: Free Press, 1993). The other member of the winning trilogy wrote General Philip Sheridan, Civil War Memoirs (New York: Bantam, 1991); a recent biography is Roy Morris, Jr., Sheridan: The Life and Wars of General Phil Sheridan (New York: Crown, 1992). The reissuing of all these memoirs, most of them a hundred years old now, testifies to the continuing interest in the period. For the lesser commanders we have Stephen W. Sears, George B. McClellan: The Young Napoleon (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1988), an exquisite dissection for those of us who do not like McClellan. For some of the better commanders, there are Freeman Cleaves, Rock of Chickamauga: The Life of General George H. Thomas (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1948); Richard E. Winslow III, General John Sedgwick: The Story ofa Union Corps Commander (Novato, Cal.: Presidio, 1982); and David M. Jordan, Winfield Scott Hancock: A Soldier's Life (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1988). For some of the poorer, there are W. A. Swanberg, Sickles the Incredible (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1956); Robert S. Holzman, Stormy Ben Butler (New York: Macmillan, 1954); and William Marvel, Bumside (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1991). Some slightly lesser known figures are covered in Alice Rains Tru- lock, In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); Liva Baker, The Justice from Beacon Hill: The Life and Times of Oliver Wendell Holmes (New York: HarperCollins, 1991); and a new biography by Stephen B. Oates, A Woman of Valor: Clara Barton and the Civil War (New York: Free Press, 1994). Finally in this section, a few selections of the many collections of memoirs and letters: Just released is James M. Greiner, Janet L. Coryell, and James R. Smither, A Surgeon's Civil War: The Letters and Diaries of Daniel M. Holt, M.D. (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1994). Dale E. Floyd edited "Dear Friends at Home . . ." The Letters and Diary of Thomas James Owen, Fiftieth New York Volunteer Engineer Regiment, During the Civil War (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Engineers, 1985). Stephen W. Sears edited For Country, Cause, and Leader: The Civil War Journal of Charles B. Haydon (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1993), and Robert Hunt Rhodes edited All for the Union: The Civil War Diary and Letters of Elisha Hunt Rhodes (New York: Orion, 1985). J. H. Kidd wrote his memoirs in 1901 as A Cavalryman with Custer (New York: Bantam, 1991). These few will serve as an introduction to the many. For the Confederate side, Jefferson Davis himself wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, 2 vols. (New York: Appleton, 1881); a major biography is Hudson Strode,Jefferson Davis, 3 vols. (New York: Harcourt, 1955-1964), and an excellent new one is William C. Davis, Jefferson Davis: The Man and His Hour (New York: HarperCollins, 1991). The peculiar relation between the Confederate president and his military men is examined in Stephen E. Woodworth,Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West (Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1990). In the biography sweepstakes, Southern political leaders have been largely overshadowed by military ones. Lee of course stands at the top of the list, but Freeman's monumental work, cited earlier, should be supplemented by more modern assessments, such as Thomas L. Connelly, The Marble Man: Robert E. Lee and His Image in American Society (New York: Knopf, 1977), and Alan T. Nolan, Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1991). For other commanders, there is a wealth of material. Craig L. Symonds has written Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography (New York: Norton, 1992); Longstreet has received sympathetic treatment in William G. Piston, Lee's Tarnished Lieutenant: James Longstreet and His Place in Southern History (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1987), and in Jeffrey D. Wert, GeneralJames Longstreet: The Confederacy's Most Controversial Soldier—A Biography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993). There are dozens of books about Jackson, including the older Burke Davis, They Called Him Stonewall: A Life of Lt. Gen. T. J. Jackson, C.S.A. (New York: Fairfax, 1988), and a newer John Bowers, StonewallJackson: Portrait ofa Soldier (New York: Morrow, 1989). James I. Robertson, Jr., wrote General A. P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior (New York: Random House, 1987), and Gary W. Gallagher did Stephen Dodd Ramseur: Lee's Gallant General (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1985). General insight on Lee and his command relations is in G. Moxley Sorrel, Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer (New York: Bantam, 1992). For the generals west of the mountains, there is Grady McWhiney, Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, 2 vols. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965); T. Harry Williams did P. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1954), and John P. Dyer did The Gallant Hood (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1950). Michael B. Ballard has written on Pemberton: A Biography (Jackson, Miss.: University Press of Mississippi, 1991), and T. Michael Parrish has done Richard Taylor: Soldier Prince of Dixie (Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), and on Hardee there is Nathaniel C. Hughes, Jr., General WilliamJ. Hardee: Old Reliable (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965). The other end of the scale is recounted in O. S. Barton, Three Years with Quantrill: A True Story Told by His Scout John McCorkle (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1992). A general picture of Confederate life and arms is in Walter Lord (ed.), The Freemantle Diary (Boston: Little, Brown, 1954), and a fuller one of life behind the war is in Mary Boykin Chesnut, A Diary from Dixie (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), while some aspects of life on the Union home front are illustrated in Alan Nevins and M. H. Thomas (eds.), The Diary of George Templeton Strong, vol. Ill of The Civil War, 1860-1865 (New York: Macmillan, 1952). Finally, for a few titles on the naval side of the war, there is Virgil C. Jones, The Civil War at Sea, 3 vols. (New York: Holt, Rinehart, Winston, 1960-1962), James M. Merrill, The Rebel Shore (Boston: Lit- tie, Brown, 1957), and Thomas P. Nash, Jr., A Naval History of the Civil WarQtfew York: A. S. Barnes, 1972). Somewhat more specialized are Richard S. West, Jr., Mr. Lincoln's Navy (New York: Longman's Green, 1957), Allen H. Gosnell, Guns on the Western Waters: The Story of the River Gunboats in the Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1949), and Rowena Reed, Combined Operations in the Civil War (Annapolis, Md.: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 1978). This list of some hundred-odd titles does no more than scratch the surface; choosing this many from a list that now numbers well over fifty thousand is really a lottery, and in citing these works I am conscious of several hundred more that I have read, enjoyed, and agreed or argued with over the years, and even more conscious of all those worthy books that I have not read. Here I can only hope that readers may be inspired to delve ever deeper into this fascinating era. If they are, this effort will have been worthwhile.

 

 

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