Archive for Books

Mar
04

New book on Belle Boyd

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A new book on Confederate spy Belle Boyd has recently been released. Belle Boyd: The Rebel Spy is the first serious non-fiction account of her life in 34 years. Belle Boyd was from Martinsburg, Virginia (West Virginia) and considered the most notorious and deceptive female spy to operate in the lower Shenandoah Valley during America’s Civil War. Boyd fought the war in an unconventional way by using the weapons of a woman’s beauty and a woman’s wiles. During the war, Belle Boyd was imprisoned three times, banished to the South, and eventually banished from the United States, only to become an author and actress in England.

Author CW Whitehair has used various sources, unpublished letters, diaries, and period newspaper articles to chronicle the life of the most courageous female spy serving the Southern cause during the war.

 

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Phantoms of the South Fork: Captain McNeill and his Rangers, by Steve French

Now available from Kent State University Press

February 21, 1865 – 3 a.m. – Cumberland, Maryland: A band of approximately 65 horsemen slowly makes its way down Greene Street. Thinking the riders are disguised Union scouts, the few Union soldiers out that bitterly cold morning pay little attention to them. In the meantime, in and around the town, over 3,500 Yankees are peacefully asleep.

Within the next half-hour, however, the McNeill Rangers had kidnapped Generals George Crook and Benjamin Kelley from the hotel beds and spirited them out of town. Despite a determined effort by Union pursuers to intercept the raiders, by that evening they had reached safety deep in the South Fork River Valley, over fifty miles away. Not long afterward, the generals were guests at Richmond’s Libby Prison. Southern General John B. Gordon later called the mission “one of the most thrilling incidents of the war.”

In September 1862, John Hanson McNeill recruited a company of troopers for Colonel John D. Imboden’s 1st Virginia Partisan Rangers. In early 1863, Imboden took most his men into the regular army, but McNeill and his son Jesse offered their men an opportunity to continue in independent service-seventeen joined them. In the coming months, other young hotspurs enlisted in McNeill’s Rangers. Operating mostly in the Potomac Highlands of what is now eastern West Virginia, the Rangers bedeviled the Union troops guarding the B&O Railroad line. Favoring American Indian battle tactics, they ambushed patrols, attacked wagon trains, and, from time to time, heavily damaged railroad property and rolling stock.
This book is the result of the author’s long study of primary source material, including numerous diaries, memoirs, reminiscences, and period newspaper articles. He has also used the available secondary sources, conducted many interviews of McNeill Ranger aficionados, and traveled throughout West Virginia, western Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, and the Shenandoah Valley following the trail of Captain McNeill and his Phantoms of the South Fork.

Steve French is a former middle school teacher and graduate of Hedgesville High School and Shepherd College. His other works include the multiple-award winning Imboden’s Brigade in the Gettysburg Campaign, Rebel Chronicles: Raiders, Scouts and Train Robbers of the Upper Potomac, and Four Years Along the Tilhance: The Private Diary of Elisha Manor. He is also the author of over eighty historical articles that have appeared in numerous publications.

Click here to purchase via Amazon.com…

Contact the author [sfrench52@yahoo.com] for information on how to obtain a signed copy…

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Oct
30

The Battle of Lewisburg, now available

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The Battle of Lewisburg, by Richard L. Armstrong, is now available from 35th Star Publishing.

The early morning hours of May 23, 1862 brought the horror of war to the residents of the small, mountain town of Lewisburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). A brigade of Union troops, commanded by Colonel George Crook, had occupied the heavily Confederate leaning town less than two weeks earlier. Now, Lewisburg felt the fury of a battle waged in her streets. Bullets flew in every direction. Cannon balls whistled overhead and occasionally struck the homes and other buildings of the town. Confederate soldiers, some of whom grew up in Lewisburg, fought and died in their hometown.

A few hours later, 240 Confederates were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The victorious Union troops suffered the loss of 93 men killed, wounded, and captured. Confederate Brigadier General Henry Heth, with a superior force, now found himself forced to retreat in complete disarray. Colonel George Crook would soon be promoted to brigadier general, largely because of his conduct at Lewisburg.
This carefully researched book by historian and author Richard L. Armstrong contains 248 pages, 34 images, and 13 maps (including a detailed map of the town the day after the battle by Captain Hiram F. Devol of the 36th Ohio Infantry). The cover features the beautiful painting of Lewisburg in the 1850s by renowned landscape artist Edward Beyer.

Lewisburg, now a part of the state of West Virginia, is the county seat of Greenbrier County, and is named for Revolutionary War period General Andrew Lewis. A previous winner of the “Coolest Small Towns in America” award, the town offers many quaint shops, restaurants, galleries, and other attractions. Walking tour brochures, including one focused on the Battle of Lewisburg, are available at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, located downtown on the corner of Washington and Court Streets.

Click here for more information…

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Oct
07

Now Available: The Battle of Charleston

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char_flat_500_webThe Battle of Charleston, and the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign

by Terry Lowry

The Battle of Charleston (West Virginia), fought September 13, 1862, between the Confederate forces of Gen. William Wing Loring and the Federal command of Col. Joseph Andrew Jackson Lightburn, pales in comparison to many of the more well-known and documented engagements of the American Civil War. Yet the battle and the activities comprising the 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign, particularly Lightburn’s subsequent retreat, beginning at Fayetteville and ending at Point Pleasant, were of much more strategic importance than readily meets the eye and held special meaning for many of its participants.

One such individual was Sgt. Joseph Pearson, Company F, 44th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, who wrote about the battle of Charleston in his journal, “We had several killed and wounded in this affair, but it was only a skirmish to what we afterwards learned of war. Yet I was more impressed with the dread[ful] feeling of that little action than all the others I was in to the finish.”

The 1862 Kanawha Valley Campaign has long been neglected by scholars, probably due to the great national attention placed on the Battle of Antietam and the Maryland Campaign, which took place during this same time period. Owing to the meticulous work of author/historian Terry Lowry, it has finally been given its due.

487 pages, 8.5×11 trim size, hard cover, 332 photos and images (many never before published), 11 maps

Available here from 35th Star Publishing….

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reader_frontcover_sep27_2015_14135th Star Publishing of Charleston, West Virginia, has released a modern reprint of the History of the Fifth West Virginia Cavalry.

Originally published in 1890 by the Civil War veterans of the regiment, this new modern version includes the entire original text, 58 images, and an index. The author, Frank S. Reader, a member of Company I, was a newspaper editor and proprietor. His wartime experience as a clerk to both generals Averell and Sigel, as well as his newspaper background, served him well when he was asked by his regimental comrades to write and publish the history of their unit.

The book’s online availability includes www.35thstar.com, West Virginia Book Company, and Amazon.com.

 

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On This Day in West Virginia Civil War HistoryArcadia Publishing has released a new title, On This Day in West Virginia Civil War History.

West Virginia is the only state formed by seceding from a Confederate state. And its connections to the Civil War run deep. One day at a time, award-winning historian Michael Graham presents intriguing, event-driven anecdotes and history related to the state. On July 11, 1861, a Union force attacked 1,300 Confederate troops camped at Rich Mountain in a renowned battle. Confederate guerrillas raided Hacker’s Creek on June 12, 1864. Find little-known facts about the Battles of Droop Mountain, Carnifex Ferry, Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown and a whole host of others. Read a story one day or month at a time. Celebrate an entire year of Civil War history in the Mountain State.

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Sep
24

The Coal River Valley in the Civil War

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coalriverbookThe History Press publishing company has released a new title, The Coal River Valley in the Civil War by Michael B. Graham.

About the book

The three rivers that make up the Coal River Valley—Big, Little and Coal—were named by explorer John Peter Salling (or Salley) for the coal deposits found along its banks. More than one hundred years later, the picturesque valley was witness to a multitude of bloody skirmishes between Confederate and Union forces in the Civil War. Often-overlooked battles at Boone Court House, Coal River, Pond Fork and Kanawha Gap introduced the beginning of “total war” tactics years before General Sherman used them in his March to the Sea. Join author and historian Michael Graham as he expertly details the compelling human drama of West Virginia’s bitterly contested Coal River Valley region during the War Between the States.

About the author

Michael B. Graham, PhD, is adjunct professor of history, security and global studies at American Military University, Charles Town, West Virginia. He is senior vice-president for management and chief financial officer at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, D.C. He graduated from the Air War College and attended the Naval War College and Marine Corps Command and General Staff College, the Foreign Service Institute, Management Concepts Institute, USDA Graduate School and the Academy for Conflict Management and Peacebuilding. He has written or contributed to many books, including Liberating a Continent: The European Theater (Vol. 1) and Fall of the Rising Sun: The Pacific Theater (Vol. 2) in The Faces of Victory: The United States in World War II (Addax Publishing, 1995). He authored Mantle of Heroism: Tarawa and the Struggle for the Gilberts, November 1943 (Presidio Press, 1993), the October 1993 Main Selection/Book of the Month of the Military Book Club.

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cox_bio_coverCitizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era
New biography by the Ohio University Press

The wrenching events of the Civil War transformed not only the United States but also the men unexpectedly called on to lead their fellow citizens in this first modern example of total war. Jacob Dolson Cox, a former divinity student with no formal military training, was among those who rose to the challenge. In a conflict in which “political generals” often proved less than competent, Cox, the consummate citizen general, emerged as one of the best commanders in the Union army.

During his school days at Oberlin College, no one could have predicted that the intellectual, reserved, and bookish Cox possessed what he called in his writings the “military aptitude” to lead men effectively in war. His military career included helping secure West Virginia for the Union; jointly commanding the left wing of the Union army at the critical Battle of Antietam; breaking the Confederate supply line and thereby helping to precipitate the fall of Atlanta; and holding the defensive line at the Battle of Franklin, a Union victory that effectively ended the Confederate threat in the West.

At a time when there were few professional schools other than West Point, the self-made man was the standard for success; true to that mode, Cox fashioned himself into a Renaissance man. In each of his vocations and avocations—general, governor, cabinet secretary, university president, law school dean, railroad president, historian, and scientist—he was recognized as a leader. Cox’s greatest fame, however, came to him as the foremost participant historian of the Civil War. His accounts of the conflict are to this day cited by serious scholars and serve as a foundation for the interpretation of many aspects of the war.

Book Review: Civil War Books and Authors

About the Author: Eugene D. Schmiel is a retired U.S. Department of State Foreign Service officer. He was an assistant professor of history at St. Francis University (PA) and has taught at Marymount, Shenandoah, and Penn State universities. He holds the Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University and coauthored, with his wife Kathryn, a book on life in the Foreign Service.

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Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson, By S.C. Gwynne

Rebel Yell: The Violence, Passion, and Redemption of Stonewall Jackson,
By S.C. Gwynne

From the author of the prizewinning New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon comes a thrilling account of how Civil War general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson became a great and tragic American hero.

Stonewall Jackson has long been a figure of legend and romance. As much as any person in the Confederate pantheon, even Robert E. Lee, he embodies the romantic Southern notion of the virtuous lost cause. Jackson is also considered, without argument, one of our country’s greatest military figures. His brilliance at the art of war tied Abraham Lincoln and the Union high command in knots and threatened the ultimate success of the Union armies. Jackson’s strategic innovations shattered the conventional wisdom of how war was waged; he was so far ahead of his time that his techniques would be studied generations into the future.

In April 1862 Jackson was merely another Confederate general in an army fighting what seemed to be a losing cause. By June he had engineered perhaps the greatest military campaign in American history and was one of the most famous men in the Western world. He had, moreover, given the Confederate cause what it had recently lacked — hope — and struck fear into the hearts of the Union.

Rebel Yell is written with the swiftly vivid narrative that is Gwynne’s hallmark and is rich with battle lore, biographical detail, and intense conflict between historical figures. Gwynne delves deep into Jackson’s private life, including the loss of his young beloved first wife and his regimented personal habits. Rebel Yell traces Jackson’s brilliant twenty-four-month career in the Civil War, the period that encompasses his rise from obscurity to fame and legend; his stunning effect on the course of the war itself; and his tragic death, which caused both North and South to grieve the loss of a remarkable American hero.

Online Book Reviews of Rebel Yell:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kate-kelly/new-stonewall-jackson-bio_b_5995644.html
http://www.washingtonindependentreviewofbooks.com/bookreview/rebel-yell-the-violence-passion-and-redemption-of-stonewall-jackson
http://www.huntingtonnews.net/98025
http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-rebel-yell-by-s-c-gwynne-1411764498
http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-rebel-yell-stonewall-jackson-sc-gwynne-20140926-story.html#page=1
http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/book-review-rebel-yell/

Author Bio
S.C. Gwynne, author of Rebel Yell, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National BookCritics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. For more information please visit http://www.scgwynne.com.

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Gray Days in MorgantownGray Days in Morgantown, by Clyde Cale, Jr.

On April 27, 1863, Confederate raiders under the command of General William “Grumble” Jones came to Morgantown in search of supplies and livestock. The raiders were part of a larger force led by Jones and General John Imboden sent to western Virginia to destroy railroads and industrial facilities.

The story of the raid on Morgantown is told by Clyde Cale, Jr., in a new book, Gray Days in Morgantown, published by the Monongalia Historical Society.  Cale’s meticulous research uncovered many little known details of the raid. Among these seldom told stories is the fact that the raiders made a return visit to town after residents thought they had left, and surprised many who believed it was safe to bring their horses and cattle from their hiding places. This is a book that Civil War buffs and local historians will want to own.

The book is $25 by mail, posting and handling included.  Checks made payable to Monongalia Historical Society may be sent to Monongalia Historical Society, PO Box 127, Morgantown WV 26507.

For more information, contact Richard E. Walters, at 304-594-2290, or rewalters@comcast.net.

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