We spend a lot time around here talking about our work on the Emerging Civil War Series published by Savas Beatie—of which we are immensely proud—but we do have a second book series, too: the “Engaging the Civil War” Series, published in partnership with Southern Illinois University Press. And our next book in that series is hot off the press!
The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect: The Life and Diary of Confederate Artillerist William Ellis Jones, by Constance Hall Jones, is now available. Connie, a descendant of William Ellis, has edited his diary and done extensive research about his life before and after the war, offering rich context for Jones’ compelling diary.
Here’s more about the book from SIUP’s website:
This remarkable biography and edited diary tell the story of William Ellis Jones (1838–1910), an artillerist in Crenshaw’s Battery, Pegram’s Battalion, the Army of Northern Virginia. One of the few extant diaries by a Confederate artillerist, Jones’s articulate writings cover camp life as well as many of the key military events of 1862, including the Peninsula Campaign, the Second Battle of Manassas, the Maryland Campaign, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.
In 1865 Jones returned to his prewar printing trade in Richmond, and his lasting reputation stems from his namesake publishing company’s role in the creation and dissemination of much of the Lost Cause ideology. Unlike the pro-Confederate books and pamphlets Jones published—primary among them the Southern Historical Society Papers—his diary shows the mindset of an unenthusiastic soldier. In a model of contextualization, Constance Hall Jones shows how her ancestor came to embrace an uncritical veneration of the army’s leadership and to promulgate a mythology created by veterans and their descendants who refused to face the amorality of their cause.
Jones brackets the soldier’s diary with rich, biographical detail, profiling his friends and relatives and providing insight into his childhood and post-war years. In doing so, she offers one of the first serious investigations into the experience of a Welsh immigrant family loyal to the Confederacy and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Civil War–era Richmond and the nineteenth-century publishing industry. Invitingly written, The Spirits of Bad Men Made Perfect is an engaging life-and-times story that will appeal to historians and general readers alike.
The book runs 272 pages, with 31 illustrations. It’s is available through Amazon or from Southern Illinois University Press.
And don’t forget other books in our Engaging the Civil War Series:
- Turning Points of the American Civil War, edited by Chris Mackowski and Kristopher D. White
- Where Valor Proudly Sleeps: A History of Fredericksburg National Cemetery by Donald C. Pfanz
And we’ll have news on our next book in the series coming soon (like, really soon)!