Civil War Sesquicentennial

Painting by Mort favorite Civil War Artist.

Sadly, given everything going on in my life professionally, personally, and politically, I have not been able to really get into the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Which is too bad, because Virginia is going all out to celebrate this milestone in American history

There were some pretty major milestones this year...the Battles of Shiloh, Second Manassas (or Second Bull Run for you Yankees) and the upcoming anniversary of the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg.

Because of this milestone, the publishing industry is producing several new Civil War titles...oh, yes, books, books and more books.  It's really surprising and gratifying to see so much excellent scholarship on the war this year.

So let's begin..

The first recommendations are two volumes covering 1861 and 1862 by the Library of America:
These are really marvelous primary sources collections edited by Stephen Sears (more on him later).  Not only are these fantastic books, they are fantastically made books.  Truly a joy to add to a Civil War Library.  Along with these books, the Library of America also has two volumes of Abraham Lincolns papers from the war time period.  If you haven't read Lincoln's second annual message to Congress {the precursor to today's State of the Union Address}, you should:  
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country....Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free--honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just--a way which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless."
As mentioned, this excellent series is edited by Stephen Sears...who just happens to be one of my favorite Civil War campaign and battle historians.  He has written some of the best books on the major battles in the Eastern none.  I will only discuss the battles of 1862..since of course, I will need more blog posts for next year.

 His first volume, To the Gates of Richmond, covers the campaign of the Seven Days Battle during June of 1862.  Sears also gives the background and early maneuvering of the armies, including the command organization and generalship of both armies.  This was the first book of Sears I read, and I was immediately hooked, as Sears does an excellent job of writing a campaign history, linking together the battles in a seemless manner that goes all the way from Oak Grove to Malvern Hill. 

His second volume covers the bloodiest day of the war, the Battle of Antietam in September 1862.  For whatever reason, Sears skipped over Second Manassas, that book is below, but picks right up from the aftermath of that battle.  He does an excellent job of showing the flow of the battle that day...from the Cornfield to Burnside's Bridge.  He really gets into the gritty detail, and spares no criticism of McClellan's timidness and excessive caution that caused him to miss a major opportunity to destroy Lee's army and perhaps end the war.

Now, for whatever reason, there has not been a lot of scholarship on the 2nd Battle of Manassas.  I have had this book for about a year, but have not picked it up I can't really say  much, other than it was highly recommended on Amazon. 

That's about it for now.  I hope to have a better post at the end of the doubt AFTER the election, to discuss the end of the 150th commemoration of the occurrences of 1862.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of the year from U.S. Grant at the Battle of Shiloh...which I am currently reading about...should have a book review soon.

"Well Grant we've had the devil's own day haven't we?" 
"Yes," said Grant, "Lick em tomorrow though." - Gen. U.S. Grant responding to Gen Sherman's remark following the costly Union victory at the Battle of Shiloh.

Seems like good advice for the Republicans....