Question of the Week: 4/29-5/5/24

What’s your favorite book about an 1864 battle or campaign?

16 Responses to Question of the Week: 4/29-5/5/24

  1. The Shenandoah Campaign as recorded by Terry Smith in his 2015 book, “Australian Confederates: How 42 Australians joined the Rebel Cause and fired the Last Shot in the American Civil War.” The Campaign of Confederate-flagged commerce raider Shenandoah commenced 30 October 1864 with capture of the cargo bark Alina off the west coast of Africa; and concluded eight months later with the destruction of the New England whaling fleet near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.

  2. “On to Petersburg” by Gordon Rhea. The deceptive movements Grant made after Cold Harbor confused Lee and permitted the Army of the Potomac to reach the James River. The story of the strategy, engineering and logistics are well told, as is the initial advances on the city of Petersburg. Brilliant book by Mr. Rhea.

  3. “The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs By The Sword” by James S. Price. An excellent telling of what is arguably the most important battle in African American military history.

  4. Albert Castell’s Decision in the West overwhelmed me with it’s sense of immediacy and it’s crisp, well thought out and often caustic, revisionist analysis.

  5. I’m not sure if it’s my outright favorite, but Robertson’s Back Door to Richmond, about the Bermuda Hundred campaign, really stands out to me for putting a new, well-researched, compelling spin on a little studied campaign.

  6. Gordon Rhea’s books on the Overland Campaign are excellent. I’m looking forward to reading Timothy B Smith’s books on the Vicksburg Campaign.

  7. Through the Howling Wilderness by Gary Joiner (foreword by Ed Bearss). This is a fascinating study of the combined operation by Nathaniel Banks and David Dixon Porter in Louisiana known as the 1864 Red River Campaign. Admiral Porter, who so effectively partnered with U.S. Grant in the Vicksburg campaign, found that Banks was no Grant (surprise!). This book is actually the second of Joiner’s three separate books on the campaign and is easily the best.

  8. Jamie Gillum’s Twenty Five Hours to Tragedy:The Battle of Spring Hill and Operations on November 29, 1864: Precursor to the Battle of Franklin. Also impressive as I think it’s self-published.

  9. I also really loved reading “ On to Petersburg” by Gordon Rhea. An excellent opportunity for Grant to beat Lee to the city was lost because of logistical decisions.

  10. ‘Lee’s Last Campaign: The Story of Lee and His Men Against Grant – 1864’ by Clifford Dowdey. Gordon Rhea’s five books on the Overland Campaign would have scored high, but for some gaffes. Strike 1. He opens every book by basically stating, “Lee was not a genius, Grant was – and this book will prove it!” He proceeds to write 325 pages demonstrating Lee’s genius and Grant’s bungling, all the while saying, “See? Lee was a genius!” and then at the end of the books says, “See? I told you – Grant was a genius!” Strike 2. In Book 5 he takes an inaccurate and unfair shot at Shelby Foote, clearly unable to contain his jealousy over the fact that Foote was a far better writer, and sold millions of his books while Rhea sells maybe 500 of his. Strike 3: When given the opportunity to help a brilliant young writer publish a spectacular new Civil War book, Rhea refused, basically stating, “Hey, this book would sell millions, but the story didn’t come to me, it came to another writer, so screw him.” Three strikes, Gordon – you’re out.

  11. “For Cause and Country”, Jacobson and Rupp’s book about the battles of Spring Hill and Franklin.

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