The American Civil War

A Reading Diary. American History, Military History

Posted on November 9, 2015. Filed under: American History, Book Reviews, The American Civil War, The Walker Library |

III. History
A. American History
a. Early 19th Century
1. Jortner, Adam. The Gods of Prophetstown, The Battle of Tippecanoe and the Holy War for the American Frontier. Oxford University Press: New York, 2012 (310pp.) Read 3-8 to 5-17-14. This book goes into great detail of the lives of William H. Harrison (Maj. Gen. and President) and Tenskwatawa (The Prophet of the Shawnee), brother of Tecumseh and the religious/political revival led by Tenskwatawa and the trans-Indian movement and the political early life of Harrison. The first half of the book is a hard, tough, read but the last 1/3 is worth the work. A total of just a few pages on the actual battle of Tippecanoe but the study of Indian/US relations, the religion comparisons are fascinating. This book is a wonderful study of early American politics that lets you know they were thoroughly crooked and corrupt back then as well as today.
2. Clark, Thomas D. and John D.W. Guice. The Old Southwest 1795-1830, Frontiers in Conflict. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK 1989 (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque) 335pp. Read 06-23-15 to 08-25-15. This was a very good general history of the Old Southwest that covered inter-related topics. I found the book a bit tedious at times, other times quite a lively read, but all in all, a very profitable read about an area of our nation and our past that I knew next to nothing about. I read this book as a result of reading Remini’s book on the Battle of New Orleans a few months back (see below) needing some more background to Andrew Jackson and the region. I am very glad to have read this book but could only recommend it to someone who had a special interest in that region or time period; not for the general reader. Like the book immediately above, The Gods of Prophetstown, this book covers a LOT of information about our relations to the Indian nations, including the Trail of Tears.
b. Founding 18th Century
1. Olasky, Marvin. Fighting for Liberty and Virtue: Political and Cultural Wars in Eighteenth-Century America. Regnery: Washington D.C. 1995 (316pp.) This eye-opening, fantastic book was read 09-08-14 to 09-30-14. Wow! I had no idea how corrupt and immoral the British were at that time and how that played into the Revolution.
c. Colonies
d. Discovery
1. Morison, Samuel Eliot. The European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages A.D. 1492-1616. Oxford University Press: New York, 1974, (758p.) I purchased this book in 2000 and began reading it but never completed it. I restarted the book again in Nov.2013 and finished in 03-06-15. This book was somewhat of a difficult read as it is not just long but quite detailed. But Professor Morison (he was a US Navy Admiral and with a Ph.D. he was a professor at Harvard) writes with excitement that comes with having sailed many of the same routes that he writes about. So when he writes about Columbus he writes not just as a scholar but as a sailor who has made the same journey in a small ship. When he writes about Magellan, he writes as one who has sailed a ship through the Straits named for Magellan. When he writes of Drake on the California coast he writes as one who personally sailed the coast looking for the bay Drake put in to. Where I struggled in the book was with the lesser known explorers. At any rate, I am glad I have read it and plan on reading volume one of this set, The Northern Voyages in the future. The two things I was amazed at as I read this book were the frequency with which the Explorers were punished and imprisoned by the kings when they returned home. Morison makes much of this. The other thing I found amazing was the casualty rate of roughly 25% of all the mariners who set out on these voyages never made it home. These are stories of tremendous courage. It is the story of Western Civilization at its finest. While I cannot recommend this book for the general reader, it is an excellent book for those with an interest in sailing and in the Age of Discovery.
2. Delaney, Carol. Columbus and the Quest for Jerusalem. Free Press: New York, 2011 (319pp.) Read 03-28-15 to 05-08-15. This was an amazing book that rocked my understanding of Columbus! I had previously read Samuel Eliot Morison’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Sea, and IT was fantastic. That book and Roland Bainton’s biography of Martin Luther are my two top biographies of all time (and I just don’t read many biographies). But now, I must add Delaney’s work as being of equal in merit to Admiral Morison’s. Morison’s book surprised me about 8-9 years ago as I saw clearly that Columbus was a man of great faith, not just a nominal Catholic. And then I read Fuson’s edition of the Log of Christopher Columbus and again, the faith of Columbus shone brightly. What Delaney does, however, is to tie it all together and show that Columbus’ faith gave him a grand vision of sailing West to get to the East, in order to gain great wealth for Spain so that Ferdinand and Isabella could afford to raise an army and go on a Crusade to take Jerusalem back from the muslims and usher in the 2nd Coming of Christ. Delaney proves her point time and again using Columbus’ own writings to show his motivations. From my previous studies of Columbus I thought that his sailing west to get to the east was simply due to the blockade of trade by the muslims, but that is only part of the motivation. None of this was taught me in high school or college history, or even in seminary/graduate school. I highly recommend this book, even to the point of saying if you could read either Morison or Delaney, I would recommend Delaney.
3. Duggard, Martin. The Last Voyage of Columbus. Little, Brown and Company: New York, 2005 (294pp.) Read from 5-9-15 to 6-17-15. This is a very good, popular book on the 4th and final voyage to the New World by Columbus. Although it is written in a popular style, having read Morison and Delaney, I can definitely tell that Duggard knows his stuff. He included many details the others left out. By focusing on the 4th voyage Duggard is able to include those details and present what amounts to an amazing adventure story! The last chapter is outstanding as he tells what happened to all the key players later, and, most important, he tells the story of how Amerigo Vespucci got the credit for discovering the New World and Columbus was basically forgotten for about 300 years! I highly recommend!
e. Black History/Slavery
1. Northup, Solomon. Twelve Years a Slave. Dover Publications: Mineola, NY 1970 (336pp.). Originally published 1853. Read 02-16-15 to 02-24-15. This is an amazing personal account of the life of a free black man from New York who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 1840’s to 1850’s. This is a real page turner, hard to put down. This book absolutely is must reading for every American! Wow! In the last year a movie was made off of this book, which I have not seen, but now must see.
B. Military History
a. The War of 1812
1. The Burning of Washington, The British Invasion of 1814, by Anthony S. Pitch. Bluejacket Books: Annapolis, MD 1998 (298pp.). Read from Aug.24 to Sept.11, 2014 for the 200th anniversary of the burning of Washington DC. This is an outstanding, well-written book that is incredibly detailed and uses a ton of first hand, primary sources. The book is very fast paced and is an easy read despite the details covered. This was an eye-opening book for me! I highly recommend!
2. The Naval War of 1812 Modern Library-War by Theodore Roosevelt. The Modern Library: New York, 1999 (308pp. but I only made it to p.182). Originally published in 1882 when he was 23 yrs. old. I purchased this book 04-20-2000 and tried reading it 05-19-14 to 12-12-14 but simply could not finish it! I had read a couple of other of Roosevelt’s books and enjoyed them immensely, but this book is a very technical, extremely well researched doctoral thesis style book that analyzes all the minutia of the naval side of the War of 1812. The book is filled with technical, naval language and examines the primary sources in detail. One highlight of the book is Roosevelt’s detailed analysis of the primary and secondary sources. He critiques and praises various authors for their accuracy and fairness. I really wanted to read this book…but I just had to set it aside and move on.
3. Rising Up From Indian Country: The Battle of Fort Dearborn and the Birth of Chicago, by Ann Durkin Keating. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 2012 (294pp.) Read 12-12-14 to 01-10-15. This wonderful book gives the personal stories of several families and individuals who settled Chicago in the earliest days, when it was a trading post in Indian country, and tells the story of the Battle, not the Massacre, of Ft. Dearborn. In this meticulously well researched book Durkin explains the intricacies of the mixing of the races in the early 19th century Old Northwest and the impact of the War of 1812 on all concerned. This was really a fantastic book! Her closing chapters were amazing as she followed up on what happened after the war to the Indians, the Traders, the soldiers and the families. The last chapter was outstanding as she showed the relevance of the past for the present in Chicago. Really a Very good book!
4. The War of 1812 In the Old Northwest by Alec R. Gilpin. Michigan State University Press: East Lansing, MI 1958 (Introduction for the Bicentennial Edition by Brian Leigh Dunnigan, 2012) 286pp. Read 01-14-15 to 02-25-15. The Introduction to this excellent book by Dunnigan was especially helpful in explaining what Gilpin’s intentions were. The author was not trying to analyze or explain the war, he was giving a straightforward account of the war in the Old Northwest. However, what I found in the reading of the book is that he subtly did explain a lot of the war. First of all, Gilpin definitely took the side of Governor/General William Hull, one of the major scapegoats of the war under the Madison administration. Gilpin convinced me that Hull was given an impossible task and was not given the much needed support or command structure that was needed to accomplish his assignment. Most books I have read on the War of 1812 do look down on Hull, but clearly he should Not have been convicted. This book demonstrates the nearly useless roles of the militia, how the Indians were used by both sides to their own detriment and how crucial a well-established logistics plan is for maintaining an army. This was a very good book but absolutely needed about 30 maps to make sense of all the troop movements. The book gets a little confusing with all the different units, commanders, and Forts, and maps would help clear it all up. I recommend this book for those with a serious interest in the Old Northwest, the War of 1812 or US relations with the Indians.
5. The Battle of New Orleans: Andrew Jackson and America’s First Military Victory by Robert V. Remini. Viking: New York, 1999 (226pp.) Read 02-26-15 to 03-28-15. This was an outstanding book that was very enlightening to me. All my life I had heard of the great, but meaningless, victory won by Jackson at New Orleans after the peace treaty of Ghent had been signed. But never had I heard that the treaty was not in effect until after voted on by the US Senate over a month after Jackson’s victory. Jackson and the rag-tag thrown together army/navy defeated one of the most experienced British units that had fought in Europe against Napoleon. Remini’s point, that the battle became a major source of unification in America after so many dismal defeats in the War of 1812 and that the Battle was celebrated for decades, until supplanted by the Civil War, is a crucial and convincing point. Remini’s portrayal of Jackson again goes counter to most of what I have read in the past which painted Jackson in somewhat of a negative light. Jackson was a LEADER who commanded the respect of those he was around. This book definitely makes me want to read Remini’s massive 3 volume biography of Jackson.
6. A Very Brilliant Affair, The Battle of Queenston Heights, by Robert Malcomson. Naval Institute Press: Annapolis, MD. 2003 (328pp.) Read 04-23-15 to 05-13-15. This excellent study of the first land battle mounted from New York into Canada in the War of 1812 is military history at its finest. The first chapters give us the political and military situation leading up to the war and details about the major leaders. The details that the author gets into with supplies, equipment and training are amazing! I had to just shake my head as he describes the Americans going into battle in utter chaos and with no good plan or rehearsal for a night river crossing with raw recruits. This proves the old adage true, you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. Excellent read! Why, oh why, does not Hollywood make movies of these excellent bits of history?
7. Strange Fatality, The Battle of Stoney Creek, 1813, by James E. Elliott. Robin Brass Studio: Canada, 2009 (311pp.) Read 05-19-15 to 06-22-15. This is an excellent book, this is history as it should be written! The emphasis in this book is that Leadership matters! Elliott gives us a well written, detailed look at everything that led up to the battle and backgrounds to all the key players as well as many smaller figures who were there, making the book very personable. Generals to sergeants to privates to civilians, the author covers all their stories well. He shows how weakness in key leaders led to an almost disaster for the British/Canadians but the weaknesses of the Americans rescued defeat from the jaws of victory. This was a huge disaster for the Americans due to political appointments to the army, lack of leadership and training. The author was exceedingly fair to both sides. Including in an appendix the story of the battle as it was remembered later and the effort to raise a memorial was excellent! That was a nice touch that really capped off a wonderful book. .
8. Struggle for the Gulf Borderlands, The Creek War and the Battle of New Orleans 1812-1815, by Frank Lawrence Owsley Jr. The University of Alabama Press: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1981 (255pp.) Read 08-26-15 to 10-10-15. This is an outstanding book that told a story I had never heard before. Oh, I had heard of the Creek War, and I think in some John Wayne movie somewhere I had heard of Ft. Mims, but I just never realized this was all the Southern part of the War of 1812. This book is incredibly well researched and well written yet concise. I also learned more about the pirates Laffite than I had ever known. Highly recommend for the military history buff, or the true southerners who want to know their story. A great book for Indian-White relations history as well.
b. World War II
1. The Capture of Attu, compiled by Lt. Robert J. Mitchell with Sewell T. Tyng and Cpt. Nelson L. Drummond, Jr. University of Nebraska Press: Lincoln, NB. 2000. Originally published in 1944 by the U.S. Army’s Infantry Journal and sold to US Servicemen for a quarter, it was also distributed by Military Intelligence to help soldiers prepare for battle with the Japanese. This book is a Classic in military history. I purchased this book in September 2001…just prior to 9/11. This book tells the story of the last time a foreign invader attacked American soil, until Sept. 11, 2001. In reading some of the stories from the war in Afghanistan, I would say that The Capture of Attu needs to be read again by our military. I am sending this book to my son, SSGT Luke Walker, 1/501 (Geronimo!) in the 4th Bde. of the 25th Division, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska. They do very little training in the mountains of Alaska, and never in the Aleutians. Read in 2014.
c. World War I
1. Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, by Max Hastings. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2013 (628pp.) Read 08-27-14 to 10-07-14. This is THE Go To book for the beginning of WWI (with the possible exception of Barbara Tuchman’ book). Very readable, thorough and wide ranging Hastings covers the historical backgrounds and cultural issues of the main combatants, the political and economic realities as well as the military issues and combat. Uses a vast array of primary source material. Highly Recommend.
2. The Dawn Patrol (movie). Directed by Edmund Goulding, starring Errol Flynn, David Niven, Basil Rathbone. Warner Bros. 1938 (103min). This was an outstanding movie! I have heard of this movie all my life but only purchased it recently, in honor of the 100th anniversary of WWI. Watched it with Luke and Dawn. This movie alludes to another war coming a few times, and since it was released in 1938 it makes sense. It shows the despair and hopelessness of WWI and the stresses of command as a series of commanders experience the same fruitless orders that lead to senseless death of romantic, courageous, young flyers. I highly recommend!

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Wilson’s Creek, A Book Review

Posted on April 30, 2012. Filed under: Book Reviews, The American Civil War |

By Bryan E. Walker

Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard W. Hatcher III is one of the best written, most thoroughly researched, and comprehensive accounts of a battle in the Civil War that one could ever hope to have the pleasure of reading. I give this wonderful book a 5 star rating ***** and highly recommend it. Honor!Lyon’s actions were illegal and unconstitutional! Social history. Military history. That’s what this book is about.

The authors’ hammer home the main idea that the men of both the North and the South came from strong communities that held to a code of honor and these men fought, suffered, and died, for the honor of their units, their communities that sent them to war, and for their own reputations. The authors tell us about the various communities and counties that raised individual companies of volunteers, outfitted them as best they could, made uniforms and flags for them, feasted them and sent them out to fight for what they believed in, and honor was their priority. Many personal correspondences are quoted that indicate the values these men and their women back home held dear-honor. They give first hand accounts from the battle of brave men, being horribly wounded, dying, but urging their fellows onward- honor. The authors’ use of newspaper stories was tremendously effective in communicating the pride the hometowns had as they sent their men off to battle, and the sense of honor they held after the battle. The closing lines of the book, p.334, where a newspaper, the Atchison Champion, 20 years after the battle (!) listed in bold type the men from their community who had deserted the First Kansas, shaming them forever, was powerful. Honor.

Whatever your feelings about war, about the Civil War, whichever side you supported, when you read this book you will feel a sense of pride at the HONOR exhibited by both sides. Sadly, as I read the book I could not help feeling that this manly and virtuous concept of honor is all too rare in today’s America. As much as the authors dealt with this subject, I cannot help but believe they intend to indict our present day for our lack of honor. The concept of community they clearly bring out from that day seems to be totally lacking today.

Contrasting with honor, the authors also bring out the illegal nature of what Nathaniel Lyon did toMissouri. At least ten times throughout the book phrases such as these occur: “Lincoln not only sanctioned Lyon’s action, he authorized the unconstitutional creation in Missouri of a U.S. Reserve Corps, which Lyon promptly filled,” (p.33); “Nathaniel Lyon did not ask permission to wage war on the state of Missouri,” p.44; “Lyon had declared war on Missouri,” (p.84). Point taken. Author Piston is professor at Southwest Missouri State and the book did win the 2001 Missouri History Book Award. And the authors do an excellent, and FAIR, job of analyzing Lyon, pointing out his good points as well as bad. All things considered, I believe the authors may have a slight Southern bias but hide it well as they do an extremely fair and excellent job of covering both sides in this battle. What Lyon did in Missouri WAS unusual at best, illegal- yeah, but most likely necessary for the Union cause. The firing onFort Sumter was not exactly legal either.

An example of how fair the authors were to Lyon is their praise of his innovations in using riverboats, railroads, the telegraph, and disinformation in the press for his campaign. They even go into the post-mortem events of the mishandling of Lyon’s body, his funeral, and all the claims in the press by men who stated he had died in their arms.

One of the things that make this book so amazing is the detailed social history the authors incorporate into this military history book. It is common in Civil War histories to give biographical chapters to the leading generals of both sides. This book goes into the biographical details of even the civilians whose lives were disrupted by a battle happening on their farms. And it works. Including the stories of the citizens, whose lands were occupied by the opposing armies, whose homes were shot up and occupied by soldiers and turned into field hospitals as the battle progressed, was sheer genius. But there’s more! The authors go into remarkable detail of the German immigrants’ lives and social conditions before the war, their contributions during the campaign, and what happened to them afterwards.

Which brings up another area where these authors excel. The final chapters which deal with what happened after the battle, are crucial. I do not recall ever reading a military history book that gave so much detail about the wounded and dead. Gruesome? Yes. Definitely not for the faint of heart. But vastly important. The struggle to bury the dead in the heat of August was a much needed detail. The authors describe how doctors and women who wanted to help with the wounded showed up from everywhere for miles around as Springfield, and all the farms surrounding, was turned into a vast hospital. Again, the authors manage to turn a terrible, horrible thing like war, into a heartwarming story that is not glamorous, but heroic.

Battles are chaotic, complex, and hard to follow, especially on a confusing battlefield that is broken up by geographical features that are cumbersome. The tactics used by Lyon and Sigel were difficult and, in the end, too complex for success. Piston and Hatcher do an excellent job of walking the reader through this hazy maze of battle. One crucial element of the book that they got right was the battle maps. These were plentiful and helpful. The authors gave us the big picture, all the little parts in sequence and took  time for the personal vignettes as well. This was a masterful retelling of a little known battle that in some ways, was useless for the bigger war. In other words, they told an outstanding history in an outstanding way, to honor those who fought for honor because it was worth telling.

In closing, one amazing statistic and detail the authors brought out about the Battle for Wilson’s Creek is that five (5) Union soldiers would receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for their parts in this battle. Honor!

On a personal note, in my attempt at reading through the Battles of the Civil War in chronological order, I got off to a late start-beginning in July of 2011, and have gotten further behind since. I just finished another book on the Ft. Henry-Corinth campaigns and almost decided to NOT go back and read this book after becoming aware of it. I am very glad that I did go back, breaking my sequence, and read about the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. I read this book in April of 2012.

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Battle Hymn of the Republic: Background, Sources and Usage

Posted on September 24, 2011. Filed under: The American Civil War |

Bryan E. Walker

This popular hymn was written by Julia Ward Howe during the American Civil War, in November 1861. The day prior to her writing of the hymn, during a military review near Washington, D.C., she had heard Company K of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer sing the song “John Brown’s Body” to the tune composed in 1856 by William Steffe. That tune was originally a campfire spiritual, “Canaan’s Happy Shore”, that had become quite popular all over the country. Her Pastor who had accompanied her at the military review, Rev. James Freeman Clarke, suggested that she write new lyrics for the popular song. That night she woke up with the lyrics in her head and hastily scribbled them down in the dark. Published in the Atlantic Monthly in February of 1862 the song became an instant favorite with the Union troops. James T Shields, editor of the Atlantic Monthly suggested the martial sounding title, “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

Howe’s husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, was a physician and a reformer who founded thePerkinsSchoolfor the Blind inWatertown,Massachusetts. He was one of a group known as the Secret Six who had funded the radical abolitionist, John Brown, prior to his infamous Harper’s Ferry raid (Oct. 1859), an attempt to capture the Federal Armory and arm the slaves in a revolt that was expected to spread throughout the South. Brown’s raid failed and Brown was captured by a unit led by Col. Robert E. Lee. Brown was quickly tried and executed but he had been captured with documents pointing to the Secret Six. Samuel Howe had to temporarily flee toCanadaalong with some of his co-conspirators. The connection with the song, “John Brown’s Body” for Julia Ward Howe, was more intense than a mere hearing of it as the troops marched by.

Here is the song with all six verses:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:

His truth is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:

His day is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospelwrit in burnished rows of steel:

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;

Let the Hero, born of woman, crushthe serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,

He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,

So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,

Our God is marching on.


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on.

The hymn caught on with the Federal troops after the chaplain of the 122nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, C.C. McCabe, taught it to his unit (Reynolds, p.141). The tune, BATTLE HYMN, ironically came from the camp meeting circuit in South Carolina, by William Steffe. Reynolds tells us that the song was a favorite of General George S. Patton in World War II and became even more famous as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang it at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration on January 20th, 1965. Winston Churchill loved the song so much that he requested it to be sung at his funeral, which it was, in Westminster Abbey. It was also sung at the memorial service for Senator Robert F. Kennedy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral inNew York City.

The biblical references and allusions are many throughout the hymn. In vs. 1 we begin with “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord” clearly not a reference to the meekness of our Lord’s first advent, but rather to the anticipated 2nd Coming, the Apocalypse, which will be both glorious (for the Believers) and wrathful (for the Unbelievers). But why sing about the coming judgment? If you look at the nation’s situation at the time of the writing of the song, Judgment Day was a very present thing. The War Between the States was seen in apocalyptic terms. Slavery was considered to be a horrible moral problem that deserved the wrath of God. There were more deaths of Americans in this war than all of our other wars in history combined. They understood the judgment of God. In November of 1861 the big battles lay ahead, but the hopes of both the North and the South for a short glorious war crumbled after First Manassas (Bull Run) in July where the casualty figures and the defeat of the Union forces came as a total shock.America would pay a terrible price for the sin of slavery, yet still the North, and the abolitionists like the Howes, fervently anticipated a glorious victory over the forces of evil.

“Terrible swift sword” could refer to Judges 7:20; Isa. 27:1; but mostly Rev.19:15 because this verse contains a reference to a sword and treading the winepress with a fierceness.

Verse 2 reflects the camp experience and the great turning to religion that occurred during the war. Though Howe’s song was written prior to the Great Revival of ’63-’64, she seems almost prophetic in describing it.

Verse 3 refers to Gen.3:15 and Rev.12:1-10 in “crush the serpent with his heal.” But notice the very harsh attitude toward the South in “As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal”. In a lot of ways the Civil War was a religious war, in today’s terms, a jihad perhaps (the term jihad is abhorrent to me and I am NOT comparing the American Civil War to a muslim jihad- but many today would, hence my use of the term). Southern preachers and theologians like John L. Dagg defended slavery (Christian Ethics, pp.338-374) while Northern preachers preached against it. The Civil War was most unusual in that it was Christian vs. Christian with real evangelism going on in both sides. Gordon Leidner claims in his article, “Religious Revival in Civil War Armies”, that “It is estimated that over 100,000 Confederate and somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Union troops accepted Christ during the Civil War–roughly ten percent of the men engaged.”

Notice the evangelistic appeal of vs. 4 “Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!” yet also the note of triumphalism “never call retreat.” The theme of judgment is loud and clear with, “He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat” probably alluding to 2Cor.5:10 “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

Verse 5 references that Christ was born “In the beauty of the lilies”. This refers to Song of Solomon 2:1. The word “transfigures” comes from Matt. 17:2 and the transfiguration of Christ on the mountain. The famous 3rd line of verse 5 “as he died to make men holy let us die to make men free” clearly points to the gospel purpose of Christ’s death and links his atonement with the deaths of Union soldiers who were seeking to free men from slavery. This important point should be noted by many who claim the war was not about freeing the slaves. Granted, the Union went to war to preserve the Union, but the clear understanding of a substanital number of Americans was that the basic issue was slavery.

In verse six she begins with “He is Wisdom” referring to Proverbs 8. Line 3 of vs.6 has “the world shall be His footstool”, a reference to Isa.66:1; Matt.5:35; and, Acts 7:49. Howe has a curious mention at the end of vs.6 of slavery, “the soul of Time His slave,” thus implying, perhaps, that only God is a rightful Master and all else his slave.

What we see with “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is a song that is born in a violent age that seeks to make sense of the violence and proclaim the biblical truths appropriate to the political situation. It seeks to wrap the mission of the Union army in an evangelistic and apocalyptic theme straight from Scripture. It is amazing that Julia Ward Howe so understood military life, the times in which she lived, and Scripture that she was able to write this out in the middle of the night.

Julia Ward Howe was born on May 27, 1819and died October 17, 1910. Julia and Samuel Howe had six children, but one-Florence-was named for the child’s godmother, the famous Florence Nightingale, the pioneer woman nurse for the British Army in the Crimean War. Another daughter, Laura, would win a Pulitzer Prize in 1917 for her biography of her mother, The Life of Julia Ward Howe.


Dagg, John L. A Practical View of Christian Ethics. Sprinkle Publications: Harrisonburg, VA. 2006 (originally published as The Elements of Moral Science in 1859.)

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era in TheOxford History of theUnited States, vol. VI.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1988 (pp.204, 207).

Reynolds, William J. Companion to Baptist Hymnal. Broadman Press:Nashville, TN. 1976 (pp.140-141).



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A Review of “We Shall Meet Again: The First Battle of Manassas”

Posted on September 15, 2011. Filed under: American History, Book Reviews, The American Civil War |

By JoAnna M. McDonald

Reviewed by Bryan E. Walker

If you are a serious student of the Civil War and want a detailed analysis of the first Battle of Bull Run, We Shall Meet Again by JoAnna M. McDonald (Oxford University Press: 1999) is the book for you. If, however, you simply like to read a good military history book about some of the battles in the Civil War, stick to William C. Davis’ Battle At Bull Run. McDonald’s book is good, it is unique, and it is really for the specialist amongst the Civil War enthusiasts. I wish there were more books like We Shall Meet Again! Ideally, the serious Civil War enthusiast should read Davis and McDonald together, side by side.

McDonald gives a bare bones written account of each part of the battle. Her own material is not the major part of the book. While about one quarter of the written material seems to be quotes from participants, the majority of the pages are maps and photographs arranged in a fascinating, though repetitive, manner. Let me take chapter 2 as an example, “The Battle At Blackburn’s Ford” with a subtitle giving the date and the hours followed by a quote from that engagement by a participant. This is followed by four photos of the Opposing Commanders: Confederates Longstreet and Jubal Early and Union Tyler and Richardson. The only comment on the first page of this chapter (p.25) from McDonald is, “Only approximately 1,500 union troops actually fought in this battle.” The second page of chapter 2 has about three quarters of a page of her analysis and about one quarter of the page is quotes. Page three is map 4 ofBlackburn’s Ford on Thursday, July 18. Every other page is a detailed map of the progress of the battle and the chapter ends with what she calls a Vignette, a brief biographical sketch of one of the participants, for chapter two it is Mr. Wilmer McLean, a civilian landowner at the battle site.

Chapter six “Matthew’s Hill” is 26 pages long and is divided into the five stages of the battle with pictures of the commanders and participants, and pictures of the houses and terrain involved. And the maps. This book could be called a Battle Atlas of First Manassas. McDonald keeps her comments brief and to the point and illuminates what we see on the maps.

The only fair criticism I could offer is that many of the photos are repetitious, as she gives the same photos of the participants at every phase of the battle. Psychologically, however, this repetition helps the reader to consider these men as being real people, not simply objects from “back then”. Similarly with her vignettes.

One striking difference about McDonald’s work compared withDavis’ which I read just prior to this book, is that she does not seem to be overtly critical of either side.Davisclearly despises Beauregard but McDonald is quite even handed. She writes to give the details of the battle, not to evaluate the commanders.

Where McDonald does some serious evaluation is in her Chapter 14 “Summary”. Her quote underneath the chapter title is from Lincoln, “It’s damned bad!” Then she gives eight reasons why the Confederates won the battle in a stunning, brief summary. First on her list is the failure of the Union General Patterson “to detainJohnston’s force in theShenandoah Valley,” (p.176). Second was McDowell’s “two days waiting for supplies around Centreville”. Third, McDowell’s failure to properly use all the forces at his disposal. McDonald says (p.177) “In all, more than 23,000 Union soldiers played little or no part in the day’s fighting.” Fourth, “Poor logistics, and the sloppy execution of those plans”. Fifth, Burnside’s piecemeal attacks. Six, McDowell failed to attack when the Confederates retreated to Henry Hill. Seven, the ill placement of the two artillery batteries that ended up getting captured due to their close proximity to the Confederate infantry. Eight, McDowell failed to attack with more than two regiments at a time. McDonald summarizes, p.178, “Due to poorUniongeneralship, undisciplined soldiers, and the quick reaction of many Confederate officers, the Confederacy won its first major battle atManassas.”

McDonald includes several fine Appendices at the end of her book, and perhaps the most significant is Appendix III- Order of Battles. Here she lists every unit is both armies, the commanders and how many were killed, wounded and missing in that unit. This dramatically shows the difference between theUnionwhich was attacking and the Confederates who were in good defensive positions.

In conclusion, this book is definitely not for the general reader, but is a tremendous asset for the Civil War enthusiast or scholar. I wish that more military history authors would do the kind of map work that McDonald has done here. This book is a new genre for Military History, the single battle atlas.

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Battle At Bull Run by William C. Davis

Posted on September 13, 2011. Filed under: Book Reviews, The American Civil War |

A Book Review by Bryan E. Walker

If you want a well-written, fast paced, comprehensive yet concise, enjoyable book about the first major battle of the American Civil War, I highly recommend Battle At Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War by William C. Davis (Doubleday & Company: Garden City, NY 1977, 298pp.) The only criticism I can offer of this fine book is that more maps with more detail would have been helpful. But this is a thoroughly researched and documented book that is written like a popular history, but with backbone. The bibliography is extensive and includes a large section of manuscripts and personal papers, another large section on regimental histories and another large section on “Letters, Diaries, and Memoirs”. This is military history as it should be written.

Davis opens his book with a powerful summary of America’s sickness: “America, it seemed, had gone mad and gone to war with itself. Four decades of compromise between the sections of the country had come to naught, largely because the lawmakers of Washington repeatedly chose to treat the symptom rather than the illness. …It was a sickness that tore at the Republic’s very being and one that could only be dealt with in violence and in pain,” (p.1). The first chapter, “An Army in the Making” briefly summarizes the political developments around secession and then quickly gets into the creation of the Army and the opening moves. A reasonably good description of Generals Scott and McDowell is given and the plans for the opening of the war are touched on.Davis repeatedly makes mention of McDowell’s eating habits and stomach disorders and mentions that McDowell used Robert E. Lee’s Alexandria home as his Army HQ- something I had not been aware of prior to reading this book.

In chapter 2, “The Southrons Gather”,Davis describes the confederacy’s preparations and generals. Particularly enjoyable and noteworthy is his description of camp life amongst the confederates, their training and suffering from various diseases. Davis presents the case for Col. Philip Cocke being “perhaps the first to put into words the strategy that would be used to meet the inevitable invasion whenever it came” in regards to the strategic value of Manassas Junction. Another tidbit of trivia thatDavisincludes that was new to me was in his discussion of Robert E. Lee he tells us that it was Lee’s troops who had caught John Brown several years earlier. Little things like including that bit of background make for a good history book!

“Three Years Or The War” is the title of chapter 3 which discusses the Northern troops and generals as they prepared for war in the Washington D.C. area. It is particularly noteworthy to compare the preparations on page 42 of the Union army with what we read in chapter 2 about the training regimen of Jackson’s brigade. It seemed to me that the union troops did not drill quite as vigorously as their southern counterparts. This chapter also discusses the disaster that was General Patterson in the Shenandoah facing off with Johnston, or not. Davis places a lot of the blame for what happened in the west squarely on Scotts shoulders, “Scott handed Patterson a perfect excuse for sloth. Upon hearing that Harpers’ Ferry was taken, he asked if the general expected to pursue the withdrawing Confederates. Scott recommended no pursuit for the time being, and ordered that, instead, the regular Army infantry and cavalry with Patterson…be sent at once to Washington,” (p.47).

Davis next turns to discussing General Pierre G.T. Beauregard and his defensive preparations for the Confederates in chapter 4 “The Young Napoleon.”Davis tells of one particular aspect of the Confederate preparations that was very revealing: “When some of the men objected to the strenuous work, and that they, as gentlemen, had not enlisted to work like Negroes, Beauregard got Negroes. He persuaded local planters to lend him their slaves for much of the work,” (p.61.) Another detail thatDavisincludes is the use of signal towers and the ‘wig-wag’ flag system of communications developed for the US Army by one of his staff officers, Captain E. Porter Alexander.

Under political pressure, President Lincoln was the one who forced General Scott to get McDowell to go on the offense. It seems that nobody in this war wanted to go on offense except Beauregard; McDowell didn’t want to, but as he set out his plan, it ended up being a decent offensive plan. Chapter 5, “McDowell Plans A Campaign”  takes us through the hesitation and planning by Scott and McDowell to an enlightening discussion of the Confederate General Johnston and his revealing bird hunting expedition (p.82), yet another of the “little” details that Davis includes that makes this book a treasure.

Chapter 6, “The March To Bull Run”, Davis gives a sober evaluation of the beginning of this campaign: “’On toRichmond!’ was the rallying call of the war that would be ended before the summer….In their buoyant expectations, their boundless confidence, and their naivete`, these men seemed to be engaged in a children’s crusade rather than in a nineteenth-century war. Irvin McDowell was the exception. Seemingly alone of the Union high command, he knew what to expect despite his own lack of combat experience,” (p.90.) Davis gives details of the march fromWashingtonabout the lack of discipline amongst the soldiers who would not respect their officers as they dashed off at every stream to fill canteens or pick blackberries (p.97, 100.) and to loot property from rebel homes, looking for food and souvenirs.Davis, no fan of Beauregard’s, repeatedly mentions his convictions that McDowell would attack where He expected: “Like all of Beauregard’s plans, it was a hastily concocted and ill-conceived notion that depended entirely upon McDowell doing exactly as the Confederate expected him to do,” (p.103).

In “The Battle Of Blackburn’s Ford”, ch.7, Davis brings out one of the controversies as he relates the two different accounts of Gen. Tyler about what he see at Blackburns Ford, (p.114). Davis recounts how the 12th New York broke in panic under this relatively minor skirmish…foreshadowing of a disaster to come later. His respect for Sherman, one of the few Union heroes of the battle, shows on an account of Sherman’s coolness under fire on p.123. In yet another detail, Davis tells of how the next morning the confederates under Longstreet ate crackers and raw bacon for breakfast because no fires were allowed. Raw bacon?

Davis completes the horrible story of Patterson vs. Johnston in chapter 8, “Shadows In The Shenandoah”, but he begins the chapter with the dramatic and heroic ride of Colonel Alexander R. Chisolm who was carrying orders for General Joseph E. Johnston to head east and link up with Beauregard. His recounting of Johnston’s forced march away from the Union General Patterson and his fording of the Shenandoah Riverand the subsequent wild train ride is good reading and history at its finest. Davisappropriately places this rail movement byJohnston’s army as historic: “Already the Confederate high command had achieved a significant feat of arms. Making strategic use of railroads for the first time in the annals of warfare, Beauregard and Johnston, each outnumbered by the enemy forces in their respective fronts, had managed to make a concentration to face one of their opponents. Now the combined armies of the two Confederates numbered roughly 35,000 to McDowell’s 37,000. Essentially the odds were even….It was a new chapter in the rules of grand strategy, and one which almost everyone but the original authors-Lee and Cocke- would claim to have written,” (p.143.)

Davis criticizes Beauregard’s troop placement along Bull Runwith his heavy emphasis along his right flank, while leaving the best fording place at the StoneBridgealmost undefended. Repeatedly, Davis emphasizes that Beauregard expected McDowell to attack where he wanted him to, on Beauregard’s right flank. “Beauregard would not be swayed from his conviction that he knew as much about McDowell’s intentions as McDowell. The enemy would attack Mitchell’s Ford, and that was that,” (p.146).  But why does Davis criticize Beauregard for this placement when he has already told us on pp.73-74 that McDowell’s plan was to attack on that side of Beauregard? McDowell’s plan had to be changed because of Tyler’s disobeying orders at Blackburn’s Ford on July 18th; he now was going to attack from the north, going around the Confederate’s left flank. Perhaps Davis’ criticism of Beauregard is in light of what McDowell eventually did. It seems to me that Beauregard had some proper intelligence about McDowell’s plans and acted properly initially.

The opening paragraph of ch.9 “McDowell’s Victory” will sound familiar to all the veterans out there who have conducted a night movement. “It was dark though moonlit, and confusion was easily begun and just as readily spread. Men could not find their places in the line, and the line could not find the road.” (p.159).Davis gives a rich, detailed view of moving a clumsy, untrained army through the woods at night. Then Davis gives the view from across Bull Runof the “canny Confederate” Col. Nathan Evans who had skirmishers out and his main body of troops well concealed from the oncoming Federals.

Davis’ criticism of Beauregard is unrelenting in ch.9: “This was not exactly where Beauregard had planned to be fighting his battle. Indeed, almost nothing had gone as the young Napoleon anticipated…” (p.168). “Ever the grand strategist, he [Beauregard] decided that he still might take the offensive…Beauregard was apparently  confused,” (p.169). “Imperceptibly, Beauregard was losing control of the battle…” (p.170). The rest of ch.9 is devoted to an excellent account of the main battles around Matthew’s Hill which led McDowell to think the day was his.

Chapter 10, “Trust To The Bayonet” tells the story of the Confederate counterattack that stopped the advancing Federals, but it also continues the theme of criticizing Beauregard. “Beauregard was almost distraught. Everything had crumbled. His anticipated attack was not materializing. His left flank was crumbling,” (p.191). It was Johnston who finally intervened and told Beauregard that the battle was to be fought on the left and that he must reinforce the left. The Battle of Henry Hill would prove decisive and give the Confederates the day. Here we read of Hampton’s Legion and Jackson’s counterattack and steady defense, earning him the nickname Stonewall (p.197). But Davisis not afraid to offer the counter view that the moniker “Stonewall” was at first used in a derogatory manner by General Bee because Jackson’s Brigade was standing fast instead of moving to relieve the 4thAlabama.

Chapter 10 gives us the incident which in all likelihood lost the battle for McDowell. On p.203 Davis tells us that McDowell “directed his chief of artillery, William F. Barry, to order the two batteries forward, across Young’s Branch, and up the slope of Henry Hill almost to the crest…The battery would be far in advance of the infantry.” These batteries of Griffin and Ricketts would be destroyed and captured by the Confederates which turned the tide of battle which story is told in ch. 11, “A Tale of Defeat”.

Chapter 12, “Rout and Resolution” finishes the story with the disgraceful run back to the alleged safety of Washington DC. Davis tells us (p.252-253) that “McDowell blamed Patterson and, indirectly, Scott for allowing Johnston to make his junction with Beauregard…No one substantially faulted McDowell’s generalship in the battle. Sherman claimed that Bull Run ‘was one of the best-planned battles of the war,’ and McDowell planned it entirely on his own…McDowell’s fault, of course, lay in overestimating the ability of his raw troops to move quickly …” Davis admits that few, if any, of the generals knew how to fight this kind of modern war.

Davis discusses some of the fallout from this battle and what happened to the various leaders. McDowell became the undeserving scapegoat for the loss and McClellen was unfortunately brought in. Of McDowell,Davis writes, “He finished the war in command of the Pacific coast, where he stayed after the war to become a park commissioner in San Francisco. Few more tragic figures would emerge from the war,” (p.259). Davis relates the story of how Johnston eventually surrendered to Sherman in 1865 and the two became friends; Johnstoneven attended Sherman’s funeral as a pallbearer inNew York on Feb.14, 1891.

In conclusion, Battle At Bull Run by William C. Davis is an outstanding military history that should absolutely be in every Civil War student’s library. This is military history written as it should be. If you want to understand the first campaign of the Civil War, read this book!

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The Outbreak of Rebellion: A Review of John G. Nicolay’s Book

Posted on August 21, 2011. Filed under: American History, Book Reviews, The American Civil War |

The Outbreak Of Rebellion in the “Campaigns of the Civil War” series, by John G. Nicolay

A Review by Bryan E. Walker

John G. Nicolay’s The Outbreak Of Rebellion, Castle Books: Edison, NJ 2002 (originally published as part of a 13 book series in 1881; 226pp.) is a wonderful, though intensely partisan, beginning point for a study of the Civil War. Written by President Lincoln’s personal secretary, the book covers the secession of the southern states, Ft. Sumter, the early battles and war preparations to the results of the first major battle at Bull Run, July 21, 1861. While the book is an excellent introduction to the War Between the States, it at times borders on a hagiography of Lincoln. The contempt and calumny for the South and the adoration and praise of Lincoln is prevalent throughout. I would not consider this a weakness, however. Rather, this shows the depths of feelings of the time and is itself a clue to understanding the events 150 years later. I highly recommend this book as a primary source for studying the Civil War if it is used in conjunction with a modern book such as James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. I anticipate reading the other twelve volumes in this series (I read this book fromJune 24, 2011 toAugust 4, 2011).

Johann Georg was born in Germanyin 1832 and immigrated to Americain 1838. A newspaper editor and politician in Illinois, Nicolay was appointed Lincoln’s personal secretary in the President’s first official act after his inauguration. After serving as the United States Consul in Parisduring the late 1860’s, Nicolay returned to Americaand, together with John Hay, wrote a 10-volume biography of President Lincoln and edited, again with John Hay, the 2-volume Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln.

In the preface Nicolay states that his research for a larger project (presumably his biography of Lincoln) “had furnished him (the author) a great variety of new material for the work; and this was opportunely supplemented by the recent publication of the Official War Records for 1861, both Union and Confederate, opening to comparison and use an immense mass of historical data, and furnishing the definite means of verifying or correcting the statements of previous writers.” (p.v.) He continues, “Under these advantages the author has written the present volume, basing his work on materials of unquestioned authenticity- books, documents, and manuscripts- and, indeed, for the greater part, on official public records.”  “He would gladly have appended to his pages full references and citations, but want of space absolutely forbade,” ( In these quotes we see a bit of the historical method of Nicolay. This is no mere personal memoir, which all too often covers up, omits or enhances the truth in order to accomplish the hidden goals of the author. The author lays claim to doing serious, objective work using the best of a variety of sources besides his own memories of the events he witnessed first hand. I do not think the serious nature of his research is impugned in the least by his obvious hatred for the South and his great love forLincolnthat fairly drips from many parts of his book. He writes with great passion and energy. The wounds from the war are still fresh 20 years later.

Nicolay’s first chapter, “Secession”, opens with, “The fifth day of October, 1860, is the initial point of the American Rebellion. Its conception, animus, and probably its plans, lay much farther back,” (p.1.) From this opening sentence we can see the author’s hint that he believes the rebellion was no spur of the moment thing, but was a deep conspiracy widespread in the South. This conspiracy theme shows up time and again. And he is certainly correct. He is more explicit on p.2, “…excepting in South Carolina, the rebellion was not in any sense a popular revolution, but was a conspiracy among the prominent local office-holders and politicians, which the people neither expected nor desired, and which they were made eventually to justify and uphold by the usual arts and expedients of conspiracy.”

Throughout the book Nicolay shows the evidence for the conspiratorial nature of the rebellion, but perhaps overstates the case for the people of the South being against secession. His hatred forSouth Carolinais particularly strong: “The State ofSouth Carolina, in addition, had been little else than a school of treason for thirty years,” (p.3). “The events which occurred inSouth Carolinawere in substance duplicated in the neighboring States of Georgia,Florida,Alabama,Mississippi, andLouisiana. These States, however, had stronger and more formidable union minorities than South Carolina; or rather, if the truth could have been ascertained with safety, they had each of them decided majorities averse to secession, as was virtually acknowledged by their governors’ replies to the Gist circular,” (p.8). “…it was only by persistent nursing, management, and in many cases sheer deceit that a semblance of majorities was obtained to justify and apparently indorse the conspirators’ plots,” (p.9).  In state after state Nicolay shows how the southern, democrat politicians manipulated events to bring about the desired end: secession. He points to much evidence inVirginia,Maryland,MissouriandTennesseewhere sizeable portions of the populations did not want to secede and were not slave owners, but whose politicians corrupted the system to override the will of the people to move toward secession.

It is this feature of his book that leaped off the page and struck me as being applicable to our time. His descriptions of the unethical Democrats of his day seem very familiar in our own. Political corruption remains the same, the two political parties are very close to what they were like in 1860. I got this same sense in reading McPherson’s book as well.

On p.13 is an interesting note aboutTexas: “The famous and somewhat eccentric General Houston was governor. His own long struggle to bringTexasinto theUnionmade him loth to join in its destruction. He resisted the secession conspiracy; but his southern pro-slavery prejudice also imbued him with the prevalent antagonism to the Republican Party. He therefore nursed a scheme to carryTexasback into independent sovereignty…” I mention this because in the current race for President, the Texas Governor, Rick Perry, has been accused of the same thing by the Liberal Main Stream Media and the Democrats (with a major difference being, of course, thatTexasand Gov. Perry are now conservative Republicans). 150 years later, and we see some of the same issues!

In ch.II “CharlestonHarbor” Nicolay begins telling the dramatic story of Major Robert Anderson andFt.Sumter. But beyond that, Nicolay lays bare the Buchanan administration. Look at the choice of words by Nicolay on page 17, the first page of chapter II. “Conspiracy”, “traitors”, “cabal”, “insidious suggestion”. And how he describes President Buchanan, “He possessed the opposing qualities of feeble will and stubborn prejudice; advancing years and decreasing vigor added to his irresolution and embarrassed his always limited capabilities….In the defeat of Breckenridge, whom he had championed, and in the sweeping success of the Republicans, he had suffered scorching rebuke and deep humiliation. His administration was condemned, his policy was overthrown; his proud party was a hopeless wreck. He had no elasticity of mind, no buoyancy of hope to recover from the shock,” (pp.17-18). Again, this is sounding very much like our present day and a Democrat President.

On p.19 Nicolay summarizes the different opinions of the cause of war: “He (that is President Buchanan) charged that Southern discontent was caused by ‘long-continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States,’ in face of the well-known fact that Southern interference in free territory was the cause of the crisis.” Having read McPherson on this topic, I will have to agree with Nicolay’s judgment. I have met a few people, usually involved in Civil War re-enactment societies on the Confederate side, who have that same mentality. The War of Northern Aggression was all the North’s fault and the South was an innocent victim.

In chapters II-V Nicolay’s in-depth discussion of the political developments surrounding the preparations for the attack on Ft.Sumterin both the Buchanan and Lincoln administrations is ahigh pointin the book for me. And then, his description of the battles to re-supply and holdSumterare like the icing on the cake.

Chapter VI, “The Call To Arms”, includes a wonderful account of howLincoln’s opponent, Stephen A. Douglas came to support President Lincoln afterFt.Sumter. It was a shame thatDouglasdied just a few weeks later.

“Baltimore” is the title for chapter VII and the dramatic story of the Massachusetts Sixth, the first volunteer regiment to form, equip and move towardsWashington. And the first to be bloodied and to shed blood. Having never studied the Civil War in depth before, I was shocked at reading this chapter and realizing the struggle inMarylandand that there had been a bloody battle inBaltimore. “The number of casualties was never correctly ascertained. The soldiers lost four killed and some thirty wounded; the citizens probably two or three times as many,” (p.87.)

In the eighth chapter, “Washington”, Nicolay gives a moving account of what it was like in our capital city which was surrounded by the rebels and sympathizers because, “Washington, in tradition, tone, and aspiration, was essentially a Southern city. Slavery existed and the local slave trade flourished here…” (p.97). Again, due to my lack of in-depth study of the Civil War, I really had not realized that Washington DC was essentially surrounded, almost cut off, and had to become an armed camp to survive. If the South had had the army for it, our national capital would have been captured. Nicolay writes from the perspective of a resident of besiegedWashington.

Part of my joy in reading Nicolay is the rich, 19th century prose with which he writes. I have long admired the literature of the 19th century: Poe, Twain, Dickens, Hardy, and others. Here is a sentence that particularly stood out, (p.104): “in comparison with the unmurmuring endurance that trudged through the Yazoo swamps, and the unflinching courage that faced the dreadful carnage of the Wilderness, later in the war, this march of the ‘Seventh’ was the merest regimental picnic; but it has become historic because it marked a turning-point in the national destiny, and signified the will of the people that the capital of the Union should remain where George Washington planted it.”

Chapter IX, “Ellsworth”, is a very sad war story about a young, 24 year old Colonel, Elmer E. Ellsworth. A native of New York, he had moved to Illinoisand became a leader of a volunteer, National Guard type drill team that became quite famous just prior to the war. After working for Lincolnin Illinoishe answered the President’s call for a volunteer Army and raised a regiment of “Zouaves” from his native New Yorkand took the regiment to Washington. His regiment, and others, were involved in taking Alexandria, Va.and Ellsworth was killed in action on May 24th while personally removing a rebel flag from ahigh point in the city. This kind of detail that Nicolay includes is worth the price of the book! Colonel Ellsworth, though very young, was quite famous throughout the North and was a personal friend of the President. Nicolay writes, (p.114) “Ellsworth was buried with imposing honors, from the famous East Room of the Executive Mansion, the President, Cabinet, and high officers of Government attending as mourners; and as the telegraph filled the newspapers with details of the sad event, every household in the North felt as if the dark shadow of a funeral had lowered over its own hearthstone.” Prophetic indeed.

Chapters X-XII tell the all too often neglected stories of the early fighting in Missouri, Kentucky, and West Virginia. In these states there was a civil war within the Civil War. Nicolay’s explanation of what was going on in western Virginia was particularly noteworthy as he again shows how a majority of the citizens of that part of Virginia were not slaveholders and did not want to secede, yet many politicians wanted to side with the rebels. Those who were against secession in western Virginiaformed the State of Kanawha, later re-named West Virginia. Nicolay then goes into the battles that McClellan fought against the rebels and gives an excellent account of that part of the war which won McClellan the reputation of a winner that would later propel him to the top position in the Army. Nicolay’s summation of  the battles of Rich Mountain and Carrick’s Ford subtly reveals his contempt for McClellan, (pp.153-4): “But this petty skirmish with three hundred rebels on Rich Mountain, and this rout of a little rear-guard at Carrick’s Ford, were speedily followed by large political and military results. They closed a campaign, dispersed a rebel army, recovered a disputed State, permanently pushed back the military frontier. They enabled McClellan to send a laconic telegram, combining in one report the scattered and disconnected incidents of  three different days and happening forty miles apart, which (without exaggerating literal truth except as to the Union losses and number of prisoners) gave such a general impression of professional skill and achievement as to make him the hero of the hour, and which started a train of circumstances that, without further victories, made him General-in-Chief of all the Armies of the United States, on the first day of November following.”

With chapter XIII, “Patterson’s Campaign”, Nicolay comes to the theme that would plague the Union Army: generals who could not fight and win. He begins the chapter, “Under the President’s three month call…” President Lincoln had issued a call for 75,000 volunteers for a three-month tour of service. One of the weaknesses of the book is that Nicolay fails to criticizeLincolnfor this lame response to the rebellion. Of course I am writing in hindsight, and not many in that day took the southern rebellion all that seriously and they generally had no idea it would be long, bloody war. But Nicolay does avoid criticizingLincolnat all.

This chapter opens with a description of General Patterson that is quite glowing; but it sets you up for his dismal failure that leads to McDowell’s defeat at Bull Run. Nicolay uses sarcasm well in his narrative of Gen. Patterson. “But so leisurely were his preparations and advance, that the rebels had every knowledge of his coming; and when, on June 15th, he finally reached the Potomac River, he found, instead of the ‘desperate resistance’ which had been looked for, that Johnston had hastily evacuated harper’s Ferry after destroying the railroad bridge and spiking his heavy guns, and had retreated….Patterson and his officers were greatly mystified by this withdrawal of the enemy….Advancing with a painful over-caution, as if Johnston were the invader, a part of the army crossed the Potomac on the 16th of June. Finding the rumor of the evacuation true, Patterson took sufficient courage to report a victory.” .Advancing with a painful over-caution, as if Johnston were the invader, a part of the army crossed the Potomac on the 16th of June. Finding the rumor of the evacuation true, Patterson took sufficient courage to report a victory.” Nicolay then gives a very worthy account of why it was the smart thing to do to evacuate Harper’s Ferry, implying that Patterson and his staff should not have been mystified.

He goes into a fair amount of detail to describe the misadventures of Patterson who should have chased down the rebel general Johnston, “It would appear that at this time two impulses struggled for mastery in Patterson’s mind. Apparently he was both seeking and avoiding a battle,” (p.164). He mentions a problem that would also plague McClellan later, Patterson greatly overestimated the number of rebels opposing him, and used the false numbers to convince himself that he could not win if he attacked. Nicolay’s summary of Patterson is noteworthy: “…they had gulped down an absurd rumor about the enemy being forty thousand strong without taking any efficient means to ascertain its correctness. And so lifeless and inefficient had the whole army become under such influences and management, that not till July 20th did Patterson learn the humiliating fact that he had wrecked the fair military reputation of a lifetime by permitting the enemy to escape through utterly inexcusable lack of energy and want of judgment. And if that reflection could be still further embittered, it was done by the early realization that his stupendous blunder had lost to the Union cause the first important battle of the war [Bull Run]” (p.167).

Chapters XIV-XV give us the account of “Manassas” and “Bull Run”. Nicolay defends General Winfield Scott by presenting his plan as reasonable and then he defendsLincolnindirectly by explaining why the army hastened to battle atBull Run. “Important reasons, both military, partly political, conflicted with so deliberate a programme [Scot’s plan]…Chiefly, however, the highly excited patriotism of the North, eager to wipe out national insult and vindicate national authority, was impatient of what seemed tedious delay. The echoes of theSumterbombardment were yet in the air; the blood on theBaltimorepaving-stones was crying loudly to heaven,” (pp.171-2).

In describing the planning for the Manassas campaign Nicolay again  shows us the fear of the Union generals of fighting outnumbered: “McDowell was emphatic in his protest that he could not hope to beat the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard…” (p.173). As it turned out, Patterson utterly failed to keepJohnstonacross theBlue Ridge, McDowell did fight a combined rebel army, and he almost won! Nicolay goes into intricate detail of the fighting atBull Runand shows us that McDowell actually did a fine job of leading his army and fighting the combined armies of Johnston and Beauregard.

In describing the march to the battle as well as the battle itself, Nicolay goes into detail to describe how unprofessional this army of volunteers was and how frustrating it was for the colonels and generals who were usually professionals. In both books I have read on this first major battle of the Civil War (McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom, William C. Davis’ Battle at Bull Run) it was stated repeatedly that the Union troops on the march would wander off to go blackberry picking and stop at every stream to refill their canteens; disrespect for officers was rampant.

Although Nicolay does not discuss it in these terms, but the unpreparedness of both the Unionand the Rebel armies is a theme in the history of the American military. It has only been in the last 35 years, since Viet Nam, that the military has dramatically changed from an army of draftees and underfunding/ill-preparedness into an army of professionals with the latest hardware and technical expertise to wage war effectively anywhere, anytime. Yet in these first years of the second decade of the 21st century, with the great economic collapse upon us due to the effects of the socialist welfare state, and the ten year long war againstAfghanistan andIraq, we are now entering a phase where our political leaders are screaming, “Cut the military”. One clear lesson we can learn fromBull Run and the battles preceding it is that a lack of preparedness is paid for, ultimately, in the lives of our young soldiers and the loss of national honor.

In his description of the battle ofBlackburn’s Ford I find an evaluation by Nicolay with which I disagree. He writes, “The affair ofBlackburn’s Ford thus proved something more than a preliminary defeat; it augmented the causes of a great disaster…. McDowell…abandoned his original plan, and had resolved to make the attack by marching northward and turning Beauregard’s left flank instead of his right.”  As it turned out, Beauregard had certainly planned on McDowell attacking his right flank, as McDowell had originally intended, and thus put the majority of his forces on his right flank. McDowell’s flexibility and willingness to change his plan was a strength. The battle would be lost for other reasons, not this change by McDowell.

Nicolay does a fair amount of criticizing Beauregard as he details the battle, and he also throws a snide comment or two at “Stonewall”Jackson. On pages 190-192 Nicolay gives the account of how the battle turned against McDowell. He stresses that the retreat of the rebels had placed them in a stronger defensive position in the mid-afternoon as the Union forces were weary from the long march and bitter fighting. Then, he gives the bitter account of the loss of a Union cannon battery due to confusion on the battlefield over uniform colors and placement of troops. The loss of these guns at this point in the battle sealed the fate of McDowell’s army.

Chapters XVI and XVII, “The Retreat” and “Conclusion” describe the complete meltdown of discipline as the Union army broke beneath the rebel counterattacks after the piecemeal efforts of the Northerners. Add to the chaos of a defeated army a large contingent of civilians and Congressmen who had come out to watch the war and you get a disaster, covered by the press, of course. Again, Nicolay, rightfully, defends McDowell: “Greatly ridiculed and denounced when it occurred, the battle ofBull Runis gradually finding its vindication. General Sherman says it was ‘one of the best-planned battles of the war, but one of the worst fought,’ and that ‘both armies were fairly defeated.’ General Johnston says: ‘If the tactics of the Federals had been equal to their strategy, we should have been beaten.’”

Nicolay says that the defeat atBull Runhumbled the North but also gave them resolve for a long fight. Of the South he writes, “Vanity of personal prowess is a weakness of Southern character; andBull Runbecame to the unthinking a demonstration of Southern invincibility,” (p.209).

In conclusion, I whole-heartedly recommend this work by John G. Nicolay. His partisan tenor throughout I actually found to be refreshing and I do not think it takes away from the accuracy of his facts. If you want just one quick resource for the Civil War, this would not be the book for you, but if you want to delve deeper into the War Between the States you should find time to read this primary source.

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“Why Study the Civil War?”

Posted on August 20, 2011. Filed under: The American Civil War |

The American Civil War 150th Anniversary Project:

A Personal Study with a View to Application

Bryan E. Walker

This year, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the War Between the States, or, if you are a Southron, The War of Northern Aggression.  Therefore, it seems appropriate for me to do some serious study of this great conflagration over the next five years. My plan is to read 3-4 of the large books that cover the entire time period and to read books about the various battles in chronological sequence. I have begun with James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom winner of the Pulitzer Prize, which covers the entire time period, but my initial book for reading about the various battles or stages of the war is John G. Nicolay’s The Outbreak Of The Civil War, in the “Campaigns Of The Civil War” series, published in the 1880’s My desire is to write book reviews of the various books I read over the next five years and thus, perhaps come to a better understanding of this huge and complex piece of American history.

I must state my biases upfront: I am from the American Southwest, raised a Southern Baptist, married to a girl from the Deep South, yet my sympathies lie almost entirely with the Northern cause and against, for the most part, the Confederates. I am reading history, and writing these reviews, as a born-again Believer in Jesus Christ, in the Calvinist strain of Baptist life. I am a conservative Republican, a part of the original Tea Party of 2009, and am an Army veteran from a family that has four generations of soldiers who have fought in WW1 and WW2, the Cold War andIraq.

Why would a Minister of the Gospel write about the Civil War on a blog which is primarily about ministry? First of all, I have always been interested in history, military history especially, ever since I was a small child. To an extent then, God gave me this desire. Personalities are partially determined by genetics and then by early childhood environments, and then our personal choices and decisions. I view evolution and determinism with disdain. While we cannot help what genes were given to us, and hence a large part of our nature and personality, I believe that God is Sovereign over our genetic makeup and our early childhood environments. God’sProvidence allowed me to be born into a godly, conservative, patriotic family where I was nurtured and taught well. As a small child I developed patriotic feelings and a desire to know more about my country’s history and to serve as a soldier when I grew up.

Essentially what I am claiming is that God intended me to be interested in history in general, American history especially, and military history in particular. Reinforcing this trend in my life were countless Sunday School lessons, sermons, and personal devotions from the Bible where the military exploits of Joshua, Gideon, Samson, and David were taught and explained. Even Jesus praised the faith of the Centurion, a Roman soldier, in Matthew 8:5-13. The New Testament NEVER tells soldiers to stop soldiering. John the Baptist in Luke 3:14 tells soldiers to not extort money from people and to be content with their wages; but he does not tell them to stop soldiering. When I was in college at OU on an Army ROTC scholarship in the years just afterAmerica leftViet Nam, I was an outspoken Christian while wearing the uniform. Many people asked how I could serve the Lord and be a soldier too. I would respond by pointing to the numerous positive examples of soldiers in both the Old and New Testaments. My interest in history and my service as a soldier go hand in hand and do not conflict with my faith. I view my service as a soldier and my interest in history as legitimate callings upon my life placed there by the Lord.

Secondly, I believe that all of history is His Story, and is moving in a purposeful direction that will ultimately result in the Apocalypse, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, I do not just study history for the fun of it, (although it is fun!), but to try to see what God is doing in history and see where things are heading. I believe in Providence, that is, that God is in control and has declared the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9-11 “…remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.”

Third, I believe that great saying by George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it,” from Reason in Common Sense, the first volume of his The Life of Reason. The study of history is inherently valuable whether we are remembering our own personal history so as to avoid repeating mistakes, or if we are American citizens preparing to vote.  My studies in the Book of Genesis have opened my eyes to what is going on in theMiddle East today, and, to some degree, I believe that my studies in the Civil War are instructive in what is going on inAmerica today. Everything eventually becomes history.

Americans of today are not, by and large, very interested in history; we are a people who live for the moment and might think of tomorrow in some optimistic way. But we are not good about remembering our past nor planning for things 50 years from now. We have become enslaved to the fleeting pleasures of the moment and are blind to the impact of the past upon the present. We cannot “fix” the problems of today if we forget how we got the problems. A people who forget who they were will be rootless and easily led into subjection.Libertyrequires the gospel of Jesus Christ and a well informed historical sense.

Fourth, I believe that CHRISTIANS should know their history. Obviously, if Christians want to understand their faith they must have a firm grasp of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, much of which is historical in nature. My church regularly teaches church history to our members. The Youth Minister teaches church history to the youth; we have two professors from Southwestern Theological Seminary who teach church history and historical theology at the seminary but who also teach church history in our church. We have an annual Reformation Celebration in the Fall where we celebrate our Reformed Faith.

But what about American history? Or Civil War history? Why include that in this blog? Why should Christians know much about this subject? I believe that Christians, in order to minister the gospel effectively, need to understand the times in which they live. 1Chronicles 12:32 speaks about the armed troops who came to help David in Hebron, “Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.” While understanding all the battles and tactics, weapons and generals may not be as helpful, certainly knowing the causes of the Civil War and the political techniques used by both sides is something that Christian people inAmerica need to know and understand today. Why? Because, I believe,America is almost as divided today as we were in the years leading up to the Civil War. There has been a huge Culture War going on in our country since about 1963; and it is getting worse. Some are predicting thatAmerica will break up in the next couple of decades. The Church needs to be peacemakers but we also need to prepare for what may be coming. Prior to the Civil War many people failed to understand what was about to happen. The Church needs to be proactive.

Here is a particular application of what I am saying. Race relations between blacks and whites inAmericaare still a difficult problem. One way to help both sides come to a greater understanding is read about the years leading up to the Civil War to understand the issues surrounding slavery. Then, reading about the Civil War will inform both whites and blacks of the price Americans paid to rid our land of the plague of slavery.

Fifth, Christians should be model citizens and give honour to the memories of those who have built this great and free country and seek to preserve the liberty we enjoy which was passed down to us by those who have fought, bled and died to maintain it. The obvious danger is compromising the gospel with the culture. We cannot afford to wrap the cross in the flag. But there is a tendency also to ignore the flag and the history it represents. Yes, Believers should be gospel focused and Christ centered and live their lives in a missional manner. But a part of that is to be a well informed, engaged citizen. We must stand firm with the early martyrs and refuse to say, “Ceasar is Lord”, but we should be able to sing proudly “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” which includes in vs. 4 “Our fathers’ God, to thee, Author of Liberty, To Thee we sing..” Or “America the Beautiful” vs. 1 “America!America! God shed His grace on thee” and verse 2, “God mend thine every flaw”, vs. 3 “May God thy gold refine”, and vs. 4 “God shed His grace on thee.” And few people seem to know that our National Anthem has other verses; vs. 2 “Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n rescued land Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!…And this be our motto: In God is our trust!” I believe that we can glorify God and improve our evangelism by being model citizens and that must include knowing and paying proper respect to our nation’s history. If Christians do not act as salt and light in our culture by sharing and living out the gospel and preserving that which is good in our history and culture, then we will abandon the field to those with ungodly motives who will fundamentally change this “land of the free and the home of the brave”. All that remains for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

In conclusion then, I am beginning a personal journey of studying the American Civil War and I am going to attempt to share some of my discoveries with you on this blog. I invite you to share your own adventures in history here with me through your comments and questions. I want to thank a local radio talk show host (retired) and Facebook friend, David Gold, for inspiring me to begin this study through his postings of New York Times articles about the Civil War. And I want to thank my 8th grade American History teacher, Ron Carter, and my 11th grade American History teacher, Janet Entwhistle, for inspiring me to study American history. Soli Deo Gloria!

Civil War Book Reviews:



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The Walker Library Project- The Civil War (as of 06-08-13)

Posted on April 21, 2011. Filed under: The American Civil War, The Walker Library |

Introduction: I grew up reading a few children’s books on the civil war and watching the old movies, but as I became a youth and began reading mature books, I was fascinated with the War Between the States. As an adult however, I quickly realized that the Civil War was a “black hole” by which I mean that if you once entered the massive amount of books on the subject, you would likely never return! Nonetheless, I do have this excellent collection of primary sources and a few secondary sources in the library. Here is a link to another post on Why Study the Civil War?

“Campaigns of the Civil War” series by Castle Books, Edison, New Jersey.


Vol.1, The Outbreak Of Rebellion by John G. Nicolay (one of Pres. Lincoln’s secretaries), published in 1881 and 2002 Castle Books (226pp.) **** Read from 06-24 to 08-04-11.

Vol.2, From Fort Henry To Corinth by Brigadier General M.F. Force, commander of First Division, 17th Corps, 1881 (204pp.)

Vol.3, The Peninsula by Maj. Gen. Alexander S. Webb, Chief of Staff-Army of thePotomac, 1881 (219pp.)

Vol.4, The Army Under Pope by John Codman Ropes, 1881, (229pp.)

Vol.5, The Antietam And Fredricksburg  by Col. Francis Winthrop Palfrey, 20thMassachusetts Infantry, 1882, (228pp.)

Vol.6, Chancellorsville And Gettysburg by Brevet Major General Abner Doubleday, Commander 1st Corps atGettysburg, 1882, (243pp.)

Vol.7, The Army Of The Cumberland by Brevet Brigadier General Henry M. Cist, 1882, (289pp.)

Vol.8, The Mississippi by Lieutenant Francis Vinton Greene, 1882, (276pp.)

Vol.9, Atlanta by Maj. Gen. Jacob D. Cox, Commander 23rd Army Corps, 1882, (274pp.)

Vol. 10, The March To The Sea-Franklin And Nashville by Jacob D. Cox, 1882, (265pp.)

Vol.11, The Shenandoah Valley In 1864, by George E. Pond, Associate Editor of the Army and Navy Journal, 1883, (287pp.)

Vol.12, The Virginia Campaign Of 1864 And 1865 by Brigadier General Andrew A. Humphreys, Commander 2nd Corps, 1883, (451pp. with an excellent selection of maps).

Supplementary Volume, Statistical Record Of The Armies Of The United States by Capt. Frederick Phisterer, 1883, (343pp.)


I have four volumes from the Civil War era in the Library of America series:

            Ulysses S. Grant: Memoirs and Selected Letters, by Ulysses S. Grant and edited by Mary Drake McFeely and  William S. McFeely. Library ofAmerica:New York, 1990 (Grant’s original autobiography was published in 1885 by Grant’s personal friend, Mark Twain. Grant died 5 days after completing the work which garnered immediate critical acclaim and is a classic.) the book has 1199 pages

            Memoirs of William T. Sherman, edited by Charles Royster. Library of America: New York, 1990 (1135pp.)  


            Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1832-1858, edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher. Library ofAmerica:New York, 1989 (898pp.)

            Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1859-1865, ibid. 788pp.


I have a few other primary sources that are rather random:

            John Ransom’s Andersonville Diary: Life Inside the Civil War’s Most Infamous Prison by John L. Ransom, with an introduction by Bruce Catton.Berkley Books:Middlebury,VT. 1994 ed. but originally published in 1881, (281pp.) I purchased this book on a family vacation toGeorgia at theNationalCemetery and Museum inAndersonville in 1995. Of the handful of Civil War sites I have visited, this was the most somber.

            One of Jackson’s Foot Cavalry by John H. Worsham, 21st Virginia Infantry. Broadfoot Publishing Company: Wilmington, NC. 1987, originally published in 1912 (?) with 215pp. I purchased this book at the Confederama Museum in Chattanooga, TN in 1991 while on a family vacation. On a side note, I served in the 3/47th Infantry, 3rd BDE, 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, WA. 1981-85. The battalion was named, “The Foot Cavalry”. . The unit had been Riverines inViet Nam, and then called the Tiger Battalion; it changed to the Foot Cavalry in the late 1970’s because they had done some long marches fromYakimaFiringRange in centralWashington, across the Cascades back home toFt.Lewis on the coast ofPuget Sound. I do not know if they renamed it Foot Cav with any knowledge of General Jackson’s Foot Cav.

            The Story of the Great March by George Ward Nichols, Brevet-Major, Aide-de-Camp to General Serman. Corner House Publishers:Williamstown,Massachusetts, 1984, originally published in 1865, (394pp.) I purchased this book at theCycloramaMuseum for the Battle of Atlanta, inAtlanta in 1991.

Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign From November 4, 1861 To June 17, 1862, by William Allan. Smithmark Publishers:New York 1995 (originally published 1880) with 284pp.


In my library are a few general books on the Civil War, that cover the whole war:

            Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, in The Oxford history of the United States series, by James M. McPherson.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1988, (904pp.)

            Bruce Catton’s Civil War, Three Volumes in One: Mr. Lincoln’s Army, Glory Road, A Stillness at Appamattox by Bruce Catton. TheFairfax Press:New York, 1984, (730pp.)

            None Died in Vain: The Saga of the American Civil War by Robert Leckie. Harper Collins Publishers:New York, 1990 (682pp.)

            Flawed Victory: A Nw Perspective on the Civil War, The New Perspectives in American History series, by William L. Barney. Praeger Publishers: New York, 1975 (215pp.) This was a textbook my sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma, fall 1978, Military History of the US to 1900, with Dr. William Savage, a required course for Army ROTC.

            A Pictorial History of the Civil War Years, by Paul M. Angle. Doubleday and Company: Garden City,New York, 1980 (242pp.)

          The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, by David J. Eicher. Simon & Schuster:New York, 2001 (990pp.)

           America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation, by David Goldfield.Bloomsbury Press:New York, 2011 (632pp.)

          1861 The Civil War Awakening, by Adam Goodheart. Alfred A. Knopf:New York, 2011 (481pp.) Read Sept19-Nov.23, 2011. Outstanding! Pulitzer Prize material! This is a unique book in that it looks at the period from the campaign ofLincoln right up to a couple of weeks prior to the Battle of Bull Run.

       The Atlas of the Civil War, ed. by James M. McPherson. RP Classics: Philadelphia, 2010 (223pp.)


Part of my Civil War collection consists of a smattering of different battles and such:

           A Single Grand Victory: The First Campaign And Battle of Manassas vol.7 in The American Crisis Series, by Ethan S. Rafuse. Scholarly Resources Inc.: Wilmington, Delaware 2002 (226pp.)

Battle At Bull Run: A History of the First Major Campaign of the Civil War, by William C. Davis. Doubleday & Company, Inc.: Garden City, NY 1977 (298pp.)*** Read 08-05 to08-16-11.

Donnybrook: The Battle of Bull Run, 1861 by David Detzer. Harcourt:New York, 2004 (554pp.)

We Shall Meet Again: The First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) July 18-21, 1861 by JoAnna M. McDonald.OxfordUniversity Press: 1999 (230pp.)

Wilson’s Creek: The Second Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It by William Garrett Piston and Richard W. Hatcher III. TheUniversity ofNorth Carolina Press:Chapel Hill,N.C. 2000 (408pp.)

Bloody Valverde: A Civil War Battle on the Rio Grande, February 21, 1862, by John Taylor. University of New Mexico Press: Albuquerque, NM, 1995 (185pp.)

            Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, The Battle That Changed the Course of the Civil War, in the Pivotal Moments in American History series, by James M. McPherson.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 2002 (203pp.)

          Landscape Turned Red, The Battle of Antietam by Stephen W. Sears, Mariner Books: New York, 1983 (431pp.)

          The Battle of Antietam: The Bloodiest Day, in the Civil War Sesquicentennial Series by the History Press, by Ted Alexander, Chief Historian at the Antietam National Battlefield. The History Press: Charlestown, S.C. 2011 (190pp.)

           The Darkest Days of the War: The Battles of Iuka & Corinth, by Peter Cozzens. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, N.C. 1997 (390pp.)

           Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle, by Kenneth W. Noe. The University Press of Kentucky: Lexington, KY 2011 (494pp.)

          The Fredericksburg Campaign, Winter War on the Rappahannock, by Francis Augustin O’Reilly. LouisianaStateUniversity Press: Baton Rouge, LA. 2006 (650pp.)

Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg!, by George C. Rable. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2002 (671pp.)

             Battle of StonesRiver, Larry J. Daniel. LouisianaStateUniversity Press: Baton Rouge, LA. 2012 (313pp.)

            Chancellorsville, 2nd Edition, by Gen. Edward J. Stackpole. Stackpole Books: Harrisburg, PA 1958, 1988 (398pp.)

             Chancellorsville 1863, The Souls of the Brave, by Ernest B. Furgurson. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1992 (405pp.)

             Chancellorsville’s Forgotten Front: The Battles of Second Fredericksburg and Salem Church May 3, 1863, by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White. Savas Beatie: Savas Beatie, California 2013 (399pp.)

            The Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864 by Gordon C. Rhea.LouisianaStateUniversity Press:Baton Rouge,LA. 1994 (512pp.)

            Gettysburg: Culp’s Hill & Cemetery Hill by Harry W. Pfanz. TheUniversity ofNorth Carolina Press:Chapel Hill,NC 1993 (507pp.)

            The Army of Tennessee, byStanley F. Horn.University ofOklahoma Press:Norman,OK. 1952, originally published in 1941 (503pp.)

            Shiloh: the Battle That Changed the Civil War, by Larry J. Daniel. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1997 (430pp.) Notice that this book along with McPherson’s Antietam both claim to cover THE battle that Changed the Civil War. Many would claim thatGettysburg was THE battle.

            The Last Cavaliers: Confederate and Union Cavalry in the Civil War, by Samuel Carter III. St.Martin’s Press:New York, 1979 (338pp.)

            Sherman’s March, by Burke Davis. Randm House:New York, 1980 (335pp.) I bought this book at theCycloramaMuseum of the Battle of Atlanta in 1991.

            Forts Henry and Donelson: The Key to the Confederate Heartland, by Benjamin Franklin Cooling. TheUniversity ofTennessee Press:Knoxville,TN 1987 (354pp). This book was purchased on a vacation to the Vicksburg Battleground National Park in 1991. Notice again that the author considers the battles he writes about as “The Key” battles in the Civil War. This is common amongst historians, especially military historians. Which battle was The Key battle in the Second World War? And so it goes…but that is one thing that makes history so much fun!

            Chattanooga: A Death Grip on the Confederacy, by James Lee McDonough. TheUniversity ofTennessee Press:Knoxville,TN 1984 (298pp.) I bought this volume at the Chickamauga Battleground Memorial in 1991.

            Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West, by Glenn Tucker. Press of Morningside Bookshop:Dayton,Ohio 1984 (originally published 1961) with 448 pages. Purchased at theChickamauga Battleground Memorial in 1991.

            The Final Fortress: The Campaign for Vicksburg 1862-1863, by Samuel Carter III. Broadfoot Publishing Company:Wilmington,North Carolina 1988 (originally 1980) with 354pp. Purchased at theVicksburgNationalMilitaryPark in 1991.

            Chancellorsville, by Stephen W. Sears. Houghton Mifflin Company:BostonMass. 1996 (593pp.)

           Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West, by William L. Shea & Earl J. Hess.University of North Carolina Press:Chapel Hill,N.C. 1992 (417pp.)

          The Battle of Belmont, Grant Strikes South, by Nathaniel Cheairs South. University ofNorth Carolina Press:Chapel Hill,N.C. 1991 (310pp.)

        To the Gates of Richmond, The Peninsula Campaign, by Stephen W. Sears. Ticknor & Fields: New York, 1992 (468pp.)

Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862, by Kendall D. Gott. Stackpole Books:Mechanicsburg,PA. 2003 (346pp.)

Shiloh 1862, by Winston Groom. National Geographic:Washington,D.C. 2012 (443pp.)

Shiloh And The Western Campaign of 1862, by O. Edward Cunningham; Gary D. Joiner and Timothy B. Smith, editors. Savas Beatie: New York, 2007 though originally published as a dissertation at LSU in 1963, (480pp.)

Shenandoah 1862, Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Campaign, by Peter Cozzrns. The University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC.2008 (623pp.)

Return to Bull Run, The Campaign and Battle of Second Manassas by John J. Hennessy. University of Oklahoma Press: Norman, OK. 1993.


The wonderful Osprey History series has their brief, illustrated, books on just about everything military in world history. I  have six volumes on the Civil War:

             The American Civil War: The War in the East 1861-May 1663, by Gary Gallagher. Osprey Publishing:Oxford,Great Britain, 2001 (95pp.)

            The American Civil War: The War in the West 1861-July 1863, by Stephen D. Engle. Osprey Publishing:Oxford,Great Britain, 2001 (95pp.)

            The American Civil War: The War in the East 1863-1865, by Robert K. Krick. Osprey Publishing:Oxford,Great Britain, 2001 (95pp.)

            Fredericksburg 1862, by Carl Smith and illustrated by Adam Hook. Osprey Publishing:Oxford,England 1999 (96pp.)

            Shiloh 1862, by James Arnold and illustrated by Michael & Alan Perry. Ibid, 1998 (100pp.)

            Chancellorsville 1863, by Carl Smith illustrated by Adam Hook. Ibid, (96pp.)


I have just a few biographies other than the above mentioned books by Grant and Sherman:

           Abraham Lincoln- The Prairie Years and the War Years, One-Volume Edition by Carl Sandburg. Galahad Books:New York, 1993, originally published in 1925-26 (762pp.)

            Fighting Rebels and Redskins: Experiences in Army Life of Colonel George B. Sanford 1861-1892.University of Oklahoma Press:Norman,OK. 1969, (355pp.)

            Gray Fox: Robert E. Lee and the Civil War, by Burke Davis. TheFairfax Press:New York, 1956 (466pp.) I got this book at the US Army Infantry Museum atFt. Benning,GA. in 1991. This was the old, smaller museum.

            Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman, abridged by Richard Harwell, in 1 volume. Simon & Schuster:New York, 1991 (the original abridged edition was from 1961 and the original four volume book by Freeman dates to 1934). 601pp.


I have three volumes on Reconstruction that I am including in this Civil War section:

            Reconstruction, America’s Unfinished Revolution 1863-1877, by Eric Foner. Harper and Row:New York, 1988 (690pp.)

            The Story of Reconstruction, by Robert Selph Henry. Konecky and Konecky:New York, (originally published in 1961).

           Reconstruction after the Civil War, by John Hope Franklin. TheUniversity ofChicago Press:Chicago,ILL. 1961 (265pp.)


Here are some books on the political side of the North during the Civil War:

            Lincoln’s Wrath: Fierce Mobs, Brilliant Scoundrels and a President’s Mission to Destroy the Press, by Jeffrey Manber and Neil Dahlstrom. Sourcebooks Inc.:Naperville,ILL. 2005 (356pp.)

            The Avenger Takes His Place: Andrew Johnson and the 45 Days That Change the Nation, by Howard Means. Harcourt Inc.:New York, 2006 (286pp.)

            The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, by Thomas J. Dilorenzo and a Foreword by Walter E. Williams. Three Rivers Press:New York, 2003 (361pp.)

And finally, I have a few  books about the history of America before the Civil War that are written to show what led up to the war:

            The Impending Crisis 1848-1861, by David M. Potter, completed and edited by Don E. Fehrenbacher. Harper & Row:New York, 1976 (638pp.)

            The Road To Disunion: Secessionists at Bay 1776-1854, by William W. Freehling.OxfordUniversity Press:New York, 1990 (640pp.) I, unfortunately, do not have volume two of Freehling’s work.

            Ordeal of the Union, Vol.1: Fruits of Manifest Destiny 1847-1852, by Allan Nevins. Charles Scribne’s Sons:New York, 1947 (593pp.) I really kick myself over this book. I had a chance to get the entire 8 volume set really cheap at Half-Price Books but was a little slow on the draw and ended up with only vol.1.

            America in 1857, A Nation on the Brink, by Kenneth M. Stampp. Oxford University Press: New York, 1990 (388pp.)

            The Approaching Fury: Voices of the Storm, 1820-1861, by Stephen B. Oates. HarperCollinsPublishers:New York, 1997 (495pp.)

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