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Major Grigg

Civil War books?

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Anyone reading or have read some good civil war books? I apologize for bringing up books in a game board, but I love reading this topic. I'm currently tackling James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. I own several McPherson books, and they are solid. 

Edited by Major Grigg
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From my brief experience with 1stVermont's rather...interesting threads, I don't think any involved took very much interest from that book.  Although I'm not 1stVermont or @Mr. Mercanto, and I haven't yet read any books, so don't take anything I say as truth. :)

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I am away from my library atm but those that i remember are:

Grant's Memoirs

From Manassas to Apomatox

LIncoln Speeches ( 2 volumes )

Shelby Foot Narrative ( 3 volumes )

3 months in the southern states

the bloody crucible of courage ( mostly an alasys of the evolution of weapons, tactics, the why's etc )

the artillery of nathan bedford forest

as to battle cry of freedom it's a good one volume overview

 

as a side dish;

the southern mind / the mind of the south

the impending crisis

i'll add more when i i'm back to my library.

 

I can access my wishlist online, some of the books i want to buy but have not yet read;

the free states of jones

stonewall jackson, by robertson

for bedford forest i want 3 more books:

the jack hurst bio, which is modern, the wyeth one, who was the surgeon of the company, and the campaigns of, which is more or less an autobio

lanterns on the levee

confederates in the attic

what caused the civil war, by ayers

in the presence of mine ennemies

mary chestnut civil war

 

Edited by Captain Jean-Luc Picard
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2 hours ago, The Soldier said:

From my brief experience with 1stVermont's rather...interesting threads, I don't think any involved took very much interest from that book.  Although I'm not 1stVermont or @Mr. Mercanto, and I haven't yet read any books, so don't take anything I say as truth. :)

 

2 hours ago, Major Grigg said:

Really? I'm enjoying it so far. I'm a fan of his work. I like it because it's the war in one book under 1000 pages. Rather than 3 volumes and 5000 pages. 


Lol he's being sarcastic. Both 1stVermont and myself made frequent reference to it, though 1stVermont struggled somewhat in the effort, on account of him not having actually read it, but simply quote mined it.

 

 

2 hours ago, Major Grigg said:

 

 

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About to get to bed, but I'll just a list a few good books off the top of my head. Sorry if its a bit slim. I know there are books not springing to mind at present lol. Also, I did not include Battlecry as it has already been established above. For the record, any understanding of the war can begin with this book as a foundation. @The Soldier, I highly recommend you make it your first Civil War monograph (and indeed it can be interpreted as a monograph) when you have the time.

For Battle histories and tactics:

"Gettysburg: The Last Invasion" by Alan Guezlo

"Chancellorsville" and "Landscape Turned Red" By Steven W. Sears

Military History:

"A Military History of the American Civil War" By John Keegan 

"Grand Strategy in the American Civil War" By Donald E. Stroker

Any of the "Civil War Campaign" Series. Right now I have most enjoyed the Chickamauga collection.

"The Hard Hand of War" By Mark Grimsly

Causes of the War:

"Disunion! The Coming of the Civil War: 1791-1858" by Elizabeth R. Varon

Socio-Military history:

"What this Cruel War was Over: Slavery and the Civil War" By Chandra Manning

"Billy Yank" and "Johnny Reb" by Bell Irwin Wiley

Home Front Socio-Military: 

"Unruly Women: The Sexual and Racial Politics of the Antebellum South" by Victoria Bynum

"Confederate Reckoning" by Stephanie McCurry

"This Republic of Suffering: Death and the Civil War" by Drew Giplin Faust


Regimental Histories:

"The Last Full Measure" By Richard Moe (A Regimental History of the 1st Minnesota)

Memoirs:

"No More Gallant a Deed: A Memoir a Soldier in the First Minnesota during the Civil War" by Sgt James A Wright (Edited by Steven W. Sears) 

Grant's Memoirs by, you guessed it, Ulysses S. Grant. Edited by Samuel Clemens.

Historiography: 

"The Union War" By Gary Gallagher

Essay Collections: 

"This Mighty Scourge" and "Why the Civil War Still Matters" By James M. McPherson

"Weirding the War: Tales from the Civil War's Ragged Edges" Edited by Steven Berry.

Anything from the "Campaign Series" especially the newest edition "Cold Harbor to Petersburg" which reflects the growth of new Socio-Military historiography in Civil War studies. 

Reconstruction:

"After Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Slavery at the End of the Civil War" By Elizabeth R. Varon

"After Appomattox" By Gregory P. Downes

"Race and Reunion" By David W. Blight

"A Brief History of Reconstruction: 1863-1876" By Eric Foner. 

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I have not yet read it, being more interested in the Rev War myself, but Seizing Destiny by Conner & Mackowski came highly recommended to me.  Its subtitle is, "The Army of the Potomac's 'Valley Forge' and the Civil War Winter that saved the Union."

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The definitive work on the Army of Northern Virginia,  "LEE'S LIEUTENANTS" by Douglas Southall Freeman.   Yeah it's 3 volumes and well over 5000 pages but it is extremely riviting and well researched and written.  You'll breeze through it before you know it. ;)

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Grant and Sherman by Flood I found quite good as it gets into a lot of what made the Union war effort go.

Crucible of Command is interesting in the contrast it gives between Grant and Lee.  After reading these two books I reevaluated in my mind the relative merits of Grant and Lee.  The one often considered the best general was almost certainly not in my view.

Agree with Battle Cry as being the best on volume survey of the war and it's causes.

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I agree with Mr. Mercanto regarding 'Battle Cry of Freedom'. A must read for an overall understanding of the state of the Nation leading up to and through the ACW. A long read, but never dull in my opinion.

I will also put in my two cents for Stephen W. Sears' 'Landscape Turned Red'. I also enjoyed his book, 'Gettysburg'.

'For Cause & For Country' by Eric A. Jacobson is a well written book on the battle of Franklin, Tennessee - which culminated in the final defeat of the Army of Tennessee at Nashville a few days later.

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MAJ Grigg,

I wish to suggest a few of my favorites - but just like everyone else - each contributor's suggestions has their own peculiarities that may or may not appeal to you:

1. Antietam - the Soldier's Battle by John M Priest = great book with tremendous amount of maps showing placement of regiments at different places

2. Co. Aytch - by Sam Watkins = tremendous book by a soldier of the 1st Tennessee Regiment who fought at Manassas and then with the Western army for the rest of the war.  Many insights of the common soldier and a lot of humor - written for his kids 10 or so years after the war ended.

3. North With Lee & Jackson - by Kegel = lot of insights from a number of sources including Jed Hotchkiss - Jackson's map-maker who worked on secret maps for future campaigns (such as The Valley campaign - with map showing all the defensive positions for Jackson to study and plan (such as forced marching to Winchester)) & in early Feb 1863 making maps for Jackson of the lower valley including Harrisburg, PA, and then a continuance map(s) for going after the anthracite coal mines in the 6 counties east of Harrisburg and continuing on to include Philadelphia.

4. Return to Bull Run - by John J Hennessy = book by a Manassas Battlefield National Park Ranger who KNOWS his stuff about the 2nd Battle of Manassas / Bull Run of 1862.  He covers all the stories and actions - great book.  <He does not cover the ghost "Henry" who dresses in a Federal Zouave uniform and occasionally stands at the railroad cut, explaining the action of what was occurring in the Grover attack sector - have to be wary as if you take your eyes off him to see where he is pointing, he will disappear.>

5. Bull Run Remembers - by Hanson = a small book that covers incidents surrounding both 1st & 2nd Battles of Manassas / Bull Run.  Unique insights and flavors here, such as the story of John Rice, Federal soldier of Maine, who was hit in the left chest and observed moving slightly by a fence by a passing couple in their carriage (with handkerchiefs over nose and mouth due to the smell) two days after the battle.They took him to their home, nursed him to health and sent him on his way.  After the war he contacted them to thank them and asked if they needed anything.  They suggested they could use about $30 or more to repair Sudley Church (it still stands at the east end of the defensive line) which had been badly damaged and then used as a field hospital during both battles..  Mr. Rice went home and raised the money and sent it to help the repairs.  His doctor always wondering about his left-chest bullet wound, did an autopsy after his passing away only to find that his heart was actually located on the right side of his chest.

6. Barksdale's Charge - by Paul J. Tucker = discusses this charge at Gettysburg on the 2nd day, arguing his point that this was the Confederacy's high-water mark that almost brought the Army of the Potomac to its knees, not the next day's Pickett's Charge.

7. Hood's Texas Brigade - the title says it all.

I think we all wish you good reading!  B)

                              --Gael

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On 4/5/2017 at 8:45 PM, Major Grigg said:

Anyone reading or have read some good civil war books? I apologize for bringing up books in a game board, but I love reading this topic. I'm currently tackling James McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom. I own several McPherson books, and they are solid. 

If you're looking for something not quite as long and profound, something a little easier then 1500 pages of The Army of the Potomac, then I like With Lee in Virginia and Rifles for Watie for really light civil-war-era reading. 

Edited by Albert Sidney Johnston
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John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General. by Stephen Hood

........ John Bell Hood was one of the Confederacy’s most successful—and enigmatic—generals. He died at 48 after a brief illness in August of 1879, leaving behind the first draft of his memoirs Advance and Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States......

 

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My contribution here is, The Story of the Civil War, by John Codman Ropes, first published in 1894. He was a highly respected military historian of the time. This work is in 3 volumes.  He fell gravely ill at the time he was starting on the 3rd volume and asked his long time friend and fellow member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, retired Army Colonel William Roscoe Livermore (whose pic you see to the left) to finish it for him.

This three volume set stands out from most works on the Civil War in several ways. It was the first work to include topographical maps. At the time, it was practically impossible to place each map in its specific chapter. So they were mounted on the inside back cover. Later in the third volume Livermore had smaller, fit to page maps within the text. But still retained the larger maps at the back.

Another unique aspect was the large amount of historical documents that are referenced throughout. Of great interest are references to the actual correspondences from leaders to generals, generals to generals, that shaped policy and tactics. You won't believe what you will read here!!!!!

Finally the book was written as to be not only a history of the war but a critique as well. And as a teaching tool for cadets too.

A good part of the first volume really gets into the; why's the North and South got into the war. Yes I know easy...it was about slavery. But it's other things too and that was more interesting to me. Then FINALLY the war starts. And the books covers the campaigns throughout.

This isn't for the casual reader but more for those deeply interested in military history. The things you'll discover about decisions, the "why he didn't attack" and other "whys" while reading this will surprise you. The correspondences alone are fascinating!! There's so much here...it's worth the read for the avid civil war person.

Oh and why Livermore's pic for me? One of the founding fathers of war gaming in the United States!!! First to introduce table top war games as a way to teach tactics. AND, I got to live in the house he lived in 1878 when he was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Enjoy the books!

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I'm currently tackling Battle Cry of Freedom and despite the rather dry subjects of the first few chapters, I'm enjoying it a great deal.

I'm not American so the ACW was not something I came across naturally, like in school or conversation. But for Christmas 2015 my girlfriend gifted me 14 books in total, one of them just happened to be Bruce Catton's A Stillness at Appomattox. I was a bit put off by the fact that it was the third book of a trilogy and that I wasnt familiar with that period of history but once I started reading, I couldnt stop.

He tells the story of the final years of the civil war from the perspective of the Army of the Potomac, from the commanders right down to the common soldiers, focusing on their experiences and interactions rather than dry politics and social trends. Battles like the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbour and Petersburg are recreated with fascinating detail. It is entirely focused on a single theatre of the war, on a brief time-period and only the Union perspective so it's not best to read it for a full understanding of the civil war but the narrative is so well written and such a vital piece of the time period that it's a fantastic read.

It really highlights the reasons why the Army of the Potomac struggled for so long against a smaller force despite it's overwhelming resources, manpower and experience (mainly due to gross incompetence, confederate stubbornness and very bad luck). I've come to appreciate the desperate fighting that took place during a period that many assume was all down-hill for the Union.

(btw, Bruce Catton has a real 'thing' for Philip Sheridan.)

 

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23 hours ago, Albert Sidney Johnston said:

If you're looking for something not quite as long and profound, something a little easier then 1500 pages of The Army of the Potomac, then I like With Lee in Virginia and Rifles for Watie for really light civil-war-era reading. 

Is that rifles for Stand Watie? 

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I've been reading about the war for over 30 years.  Here's a list I would recommend to start (well its long).

 

Shelby Foote's 3 part narrative.

McPherson's Battle cry of freedom

Stephen Sears books on Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Antietam and the 7 days

Gordon Rhea's series on the overland campaign.  He has 3 out and the 4th one soon.

Peter Cozzens books on Iuka, Stones River, Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain

Dave Powell's 3 part series on Chickamauga

James Robertson's bio of Stonewall

Freeman's 3 part series Lee's lieutenants and his bio of Lee

anything by Earl Hess

if you like cavalry, the best writer about cavalry in the eastern theater is Eric Whittenberg he has books on Bristol Station, Stuart's ride at gettysburg, the retreat from gettysburg etc

John Hennessey's books on 1st and 2nd manassas

 

 

That will keep you busy for a while

Edited by jamieva
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1 hour ago, jamieva said:

I've been reading about the war for over 30 years.  Here's a list I would recommend to start (well its long).

 

Shelby Foote's 3 part narrative.

McPherson's Battle cry of freedom

Stephen Sears books on Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Antietam and the 7 days

Gordon Rhea's series on the overland campaign.  He has 3 out and the 4th one soon.

Peter Cozzens books on Iuka, Stones River, Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain

Dave Powell's 3 part series on Chickamauga

James Robert's bio of Stonewall

Freeman's 3 part series Lee's lieutenants and his bio of Lee

anything by Earl Hess

if you like cavalry, the best writer about cavalry in the eastern theater is Eric Whittenberg he has books on Bristol Station, Stuart's ride at gettysburg, the retreat from gettysburg etc

John Hennessey's books on 1st and 2nd manassas

 

 

That will keep you busy for a while

Nice list Jamieva and some I've never read! Thanks!

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The book cited in my signature from an author whose period studies are always interesting for the type of info on the mechanics and practicalities of battle as well as tactics and doctrine that is especially useful for the wargamer or rules designer (once a paper product, now in video games, but same considerations of how to provide a faithful representation. Most books don't give a fig if a regiment was fighting with skirmishers ahead, kept a reserve, or dug up some cover when paused for a lull, so knowing what the general practices and variation were is quite useful for a focus on the anatomy of battle.  

Edited by MikeK
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