Sunday, August 24, 2008

Book Review Roundup

As mini-reviews of books and Civil War web sites accumulate, I will consolidate them into permanent posts. The first three mini-book reviews follow.

Unfurl Those Colors (Marion V. Armstrong)

While I won't be doing formal book reviews, I will include opinions on recent reading. For thorough reviews, check out CWBN and CWBA, both listed in my favorite blogs list.

Unfurl Those Colors details the role of the Second Corps of the Army of the Potomac in the Antietam Campaign. Armstrong argues that Sumner's performance was not quite as bad as Sears and other historians contend.

Armstrong also argues that Sumner's decision to commit Sedgwick in the West Woods was reasonable given battlefield conditions, and that French's division did not drift toward the Bloody Lane, but was directed to attack to support the Federal right. His argument weakens a bit in his defense of Sumner's conduct after the destruction of Sedgwick's division.

Overall, Armstong delivers a detailed and entertaining analysis of the Second Corps' attacks upon the West Woods and Bloody Lane. Well worth reading, and sure to spark debate on these controversial actions.

The Ninth Corps at Antietam (John Schildt)

While this book provides interesting detail about the Ninth Corps in the Maryland campaign, I find it difficult to recommend due to a disjointed presentation, missing foot notes, and a lack of editing.

The main strength of the book is its diverse coverage of the Ninth Corps. Schildt includes brief histories of most of the regiments of the corps, material on hospitals after the battle, a narrative of Lincoln’s review of the corps during his visit to the battlefield, and extracts from regimental monument dedications.

If you are particularly interested in Ninth Corps minutiae, consider this book.

Roll Call to Destiny (Brent Nosworthy)

Brent Nosworthy’s new book compiles detailed accounts of several Civil War actions originally intended for his previous. Each examines a representative tactical situation, such as infantry in rough terrain, infantry assaulting fortifications, cavalry vs. cavalry, and artillery in attack and defense.

Aside from its generally entertaining vignettes, the book stands out for detailed tactical observations not always found in other works. What the book lacks in unity and synthesis is corrected when taken together with Nosworthy’s previous book. And as the accounts of each action stand alone, this is a great read for time-challenged Civil War enthusiasts.

Highly recommended, along with Bloody Crucible of Courage (get this book if you don’t have it).

No comments: