Emerging Civil War has chosen Hampton Newsome’s Fight for the Old North State: The Civil War in North Carolina, January–May 1864 (University Press of Kansas, 2019) as the recipient of this year’s Emerging Civil War Book Award. (Read ECW’s review of the book here.)
The Emerging Civil War Book Award recognizes a work of Civil War history with a public history focus published in the preceding calendar year. Recipients are chosen by ECW’s stable of published authors, making the award the only peer-to-peer award given by Civil War writers to Civil War writers.
Fight for the Old North State tells the story of the late-war Confederate resurgence in North Carolina. Using rail lines to rapidly consolidate their forces, Southern forces attacked the main Federal position at New Bern in February, raided the northeastern counties in March, hit the Union garrisons at Plymouth and Washington in late April, and concluded with another attempt at New Bern in early May. Newsome also covers the broader context, revealing how these military events related to a contested gubernatorial election; the social transformations in the state brought on by the war; the execution of Union prisoners at Kinston; and the activities of North Carolina Unionists.
“Newsome has proven to be among the best Civil War authors writing today,” said ECW Book Review Editor Ryan Quint. “His book on fighting in North Carolina was not only one of the best campaign studies I read last year, but have read ever.”
ECW author Sean Chick called The Fight for the Old State “a thorough, organized, and well researched book about a topic not often discussed.” Chick added, “Beyond it being good military history, Newsome takes time to discuss the political, economic, and social factors in the campaign. The result is among the best rounded and richest campaign histories I have yet encountered.”
Newsome is an independent author who lives in Arlington, Virginia. In addition to The Fight For the Old North State, he is author of Richmond Must Fall: The Richmond-Petersburg Campaign, October 1864 (Kent State Univ. Press, 2013), a study of Grant’s and Lee’s battles in the weeks before the 1864 election. He is also a co-editor of Civil War Talks: Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans (UVA Press, 2012) along with John Selby and John Horn.
Quint also announced two finalists for the ECW Book Award:
- Conquered by Larry Daniels (University of North Carolina Press, 2019)
- Bodies in Blue by Sarah Handley-Cousins (University of Georgia Press, 2019)
“The three works nominated this year for the Emerging Civil War Book Award have been among the best we have considered since creating the award,” Quint noted. “All three were extremely well researched and written, and all of them deserve high accolades. There is still so much to learn about the Civil War, and the three finalists this year all advanced our understanding of that chaotic conflict.”
Of Bodies in Blue, Quint said, “Sarah Handley-Cousins reminds us that war’s impact and trauma carries far beyond the immediacy of the battlefield, and the book is a great asset in the expanding scholarship that we have on medical care during and after the American Civil War.”
“Larry Daniel’s work brought to us new scholarship and a new understanding on what went wrong for the Confederacy’s Army of Tennessee, and how, fittingly to the title, it came to be Conquered,” Quint added.