U. S. CIVIL WAR BOOKS
- Great! Run out and buy it!
- Good! Recommended!
- Flawed! Some redeeming features. Get it from the library.
- Gawd-awful! Avoid this one!
- Don't Ask!
- Not Rated!
These are, of course, only our opinions. Your comments or rebuttals to the Webmaster are always welcome.
BENSON, BERRY Berry Benson's Civil War Book - Memoirs of a Confederate Scout and Sharpshooter --- By Berry Benson (Edited by Susan Williams Benson)
If you want to get some idea of the dedication and determination of the Confederate soldiers, this book provides it. It is well written and appears to be very honest. Benson's comment on the vulgarity of the Union camps as opposed to that of the Confederate camps illustrates that times were different then. Although his treatment of the battles in which he fought is interesting, but brief, I especially enjoyed the escapes that he made from first, Point Lookout Prison, and then, from the infamous Elmira Prison in New York (Whoever wrote "Andersonville", should take a look at Elmira). A thoroughly readible book. Try to put yourself in his shoes at Spotsylvania, when the General told him, that, since there was not enough time, he would have to scout via the enemies's front line rather than go around it!
Now, for something completely different, read Casler's book, described next.
CASLER, JOHN O. Four Years in the Stonewall Brigade --- By John O. Casler (Notes by Dr. James I. Robertson Jr.)
What a scoundrel! All I can say is that John must have had a lot of nerve to publish his Civil War escapades. I cannot blame him for being a scrounge considering the constant lack of sufficient food. It is really amazing how, being a part of Stonewall Jackson's Corp, he was able to avoid Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Hell, he even saw little action at Gettysburg. Finally, when he was captured, his talents really came through for him. This little book is interesting, enjoyable, and amazing!
DAVIS, JEFFERSON Jefferson Davis --- By Joseph McElroy
FORREST, NATHAN BEDFORD A Battle From the Start, The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest --- By Brian Steel Wills
Not a likeable individual but a good fighter.
Generals of the Civil War Biographical Sketches of the Principal Leaders --- By Michael Golay
Golay presents photographs and brief biographies of twenty-four Civil War Generals, twelve on each side. Although the biographies provide just an outline of the career of each leader, the book can be used as a quick reference or initial introduction to the Generals.
With hundreds of generals in the Civil War, the selection of twenty-four principal leaders has to be, to some extent, subjective and if I selected twenty- four leaders, I have no doubt that they would not be the same as he selected. Accordingly, it is regrettable that he did not include a larger number of Generals in the book.
I also have an occasional disagreement with some of his remarks in the bios. For example, I believe the case has not been made that Nathan Forrest was responsible for the killings at Mount Pillow. (Would this be called a "Pillow Case"?)
All in all, this is a useful book and I would recommend it while noting its narrow scope.
A. P. Hill.
HILL, A.P. General A.P.Hill, The Story of a Confederate Warrior --- By James I. Robertson, Jr.
HOLLWOOD CEMETERY   Hollywood Cemetery, Her Forgotten Soldiers, Confederate Field Officers at Rest --- By Chris Ferguson
This is not only a very interesting and readable book, it is also a great reference source.
Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond, Virginia, is the most famous of the Confederate cemeteries because of the number and rank of the Confederate soldiers and officials buried there. Jefferson Davis, J.E.B Stuart, and George Pickett are just a few of Hollywood Cemetery's Confederate notables. Thus it is understandable that books have been written about the Cemetery's more famous residents.
In his book, "Hollywood Cemetery, Her Forgotten Soldiers", Chris Ferguson provides photographs and biographies for all of the 106 Confederate Field Officers (Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, or Surgeon) in Hollywood Cemetery. Even though the biographies of the officers (the forgotten soldiers of Hollywood Cemetery) are short, about a page each, they make compelling reading. In addition to the photographs and biographies of the officers; notes, source references, and grave locations are given. The grave locations are referenced to a map of Hollywood Cemetery included in the appendix.
As Ferguson says in the Introduction: "The purpose of this book is to record the deeds of Confederate field officers buried at Hollywood. It is for the families of these long-forgotten men who did their duty when their country called."
The book is well written and structured so that you can start reading it from any page that you open, or you can read it from cover-to-cover. I really enjoyed this book. It is truly worth owning.
HOTCHKISS, JEDEDIAH Make Me a Map of the Valley, The Civil War Journal of Stonewall Jackson's Topographer --- By Jedediah Hotchkiss (Edited by Archie P. McDonald)
This is not a book for the casual student of the Civil War. It is a day-by-day journel of Jedediah Hotchkiss's life during the Civil War, which mainly consisted of traveling the roads of Virginia and drawing maps. It is boring stuff to someone who is not immersed in the Civil War and is not familiar with what was going on at the time of the entries. But, in other ways, it is a wonderful document. As Jackson and Lee's topographer, Hotchkiss participated in, or was on the periphery of, many historical meetings. The occasional jewels that he drops among the pages of this book are well worth the effort to get around the constant "Reduction of map ..." refrain.
I am glad that the publisher took a risk and produced this chronology.
What a great book! Robertson has produced a thoroughly readable and detailed life of Jackson, including a lot of new information. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in Jackson or the Civil War.
Robert E. Lee.
LEE, ROBERT E. Lee, The Last Years --- By Charles Bracelen Flood
Lee, from the surrender until his death, is described in great detail in this thoroughly researched and well written book. It provides an important chapter in American history. As the author says, Lee would have been famous for what he accomplished after the war even if he had never participated in the war. He not only did more than any other American to heal the wounds between the North and South after the war but as President of Washington College (Now Washington & Lee) he instituted changes that were copied throughout the world and are even used in colleges and Universities to this day.
Get this book, if you want to avoid the current politically-correct propaganda against Lee and really understand the character of the South's, indeed America's, greatest general.
LEE, ROBERT E. LEE --- By Douglas Southall Freeman
This classic four volume biography and this author need no description by me. It is the great biography of the Civil War. There is also an Abridgment by Richard Harwell.
Note: The complete four volumes, nearly one million words, "LEE --- By Douglas Southall Freeman" is now online, placed there by Mr. Bill Thayer.
There are a lot of people currently defending Longstreet and saying that the attacks on him after the war were from people who were trying to make Lee a saint and thus made Longstreet the scapegoat. Well, from the viewpoint of someone who thinks both Lee and Longstreet were great, I must say that my readings about Gettysburg make it very difficult to assign failure to Lee, but it does seem likely that Longstreet's actions were contributory to the failure. But I digress. Read Wert's biography of Longstreet and see if you reach my conclusions. Like all of Wert's Civil War books, this is an enjoyable read.
John S. Mosby.
MOSBY, JOHN SINGLETON Mosby's Memoirs --- By Colonel John S. Mosby
Anything written by a major participant in the Civil War, such as Mosby, is interesting. Written long after the war ended, this book provides a different perspective. It is strange to read Mosby referring to the phone! Not a book for the reader looking for Civil War battles in detail, it is a good and interesting read.
MOSBY, JOHN SINGLETON Mosby's Rangers --- By Jeffery D. Wert
Wert knows Mosby better than Mosby, or so it appears. This is the book for the reader disappointed in Mosby's Memoirs, above. I know that Mosby wrote other books and, given time, I'll comment on them here. This book is quite clearly the result of considerable research on Mosby's Confederacy. It is a good read.
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