This Bibliography has been provided by Art Chance (email@example.com)and is copyrighted. Please give him credit if you share any part of it.
Or, How to Sound Like you know a lot about The War without a Ph.D.
Adams, Michael C. Our Masters the Rebels A Speculation on Union Military Failure in the East 1861 - 1865. Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1978.
This interesting, but flawed, work hypothesizes that early Union military failure in the East was largely attributable to psychological causes. Adams posits that the North generally believed that the Southerner was a superior outdoorsman and soldier and expected defeat at his hands. There is a body of literature from the 1840s and 1850s emanating principally from New England that not only gives credence to the Southern cavalier myth, but seriously questions the manhood of, especially, New Englanders accustomed to an urban, mercantile life.
It is clear that the Army of the Potomac under a series of commanders grossly overestimated Confederate troop strength and military preparedness. For example, Pinkerton and other intelligence sources convinced Mj. Gen. McClellan that he was facing approximately 200,000 well-armed and trained troops as he began the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862. In reality, Confederate armies in Virginia during this period had a nominal strength of only about 70,000 troops, the effective strength was much less, most of whom were hastily raised in response to the Conscription Act of 1862, had at most a few weeks training, and wielded an unmanageable variety of mostly obsolete weapons.
Though Adams’ thesis is interesting and contains a grain of truth, it may be as easily argued that the new Republican administration in its insecurity and inexperience was deathly afraid of losing any battle after the disaster of 1st Manassas. Arguably, this insecurity may well have rendered its generals too insecure to take any risks. Like so much history using psychological and sociological methods, the work is long on assertion and short on proof. Military commanders are among the public figures least likely to record their fears and feelings of inadequacy. Consequently, much of the work is based on omniscient observation long after the fact. The work is worth reading and expands the literature away from the conventional literature, but is far too thin on documentation and objective observation to be accepted as authoritative.
Allardice, Bruce S. More Generals in Gray. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State U.P., 1995.
This work is the latest product of the cottage industry revolving around who was and was not a Confederate General. The academic battle line was drawn in General Marcus Wright’s list of Confederate general officers published during his work on the Official Record of the War of the Rebellion (quod vide). Wright’s 1911 compilation contains the errors and omissions that might be expected from an aging man relying largely on his memory and has been effectively superseded by Ezra Warner’s Generals in Gray (q. v.) published in 1959.
Allardice adds 137 names to Warner’s 425 (or 434, depending on how counted) who by his standards have a credible claim to the title of General. He adds an appendix that effectively dismisses the claims of 134 others. Allardice’s criteria and his logic in applying it are flawed in some instances. Clearly, Allardice is sympathetic to certain claims if for no other reason than respect for the memory of cherished ancestors. However, certain claims of militia officers and some political figures simply cannot be credited, no matter how much their descendants may desire that great-grandfather be considered a general. For example, Robert Barnwell Rhett, publisher of the Charleston Mercury, may have been luridly photographed in a General Officer’s uniform, but there is no record of his having served in the Confederate Army at all. Fortunately, Allardice does dismiss this and many other fatuous claims.
This work is most useful to the serious researcher for the biographical information it provides on regimental officers of the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. Spurious claims, myths, and ubiquitous brevet appointments attach most commonly to the captains, majors, Lt. Colonels, and Colonels of state raised regiments. Most of these men have been lost to history except in some instances in the immediate area of their homes. Allardice has made a significant contribution to the literature by ferreting out the men and the essential facts of their lives. But, what would have been so difficult about including an index?
Beringer, Richard E., Herman Hattaway, Archer Jones, William N. Still, Jr.. Why the South Lost the Civil War. Athens, GA.: University of Georgia Press, 1986.
This is considered the magisterial source on the political, social, and military causes of Confederate defeat. The standard causes are all here; lack of industry, supply difficulties, command and control failures, and simple lack of manpower, but the authors add another element that flies in the face of "lost cause" mythology; failure of civilian and even military will.
The work employs a vast array of sources, many primary, to support its theses on the causes of Confederate defeat and the arguments are well supported. Whether or not one agrees, and many do not, this work stands far above all that has come before it. That said, most that came before it was hopelessly romantic, self-serving, or both. This is the seminal work employing genuine scholarship. Gary Gallagher, no mean historian, has applied his own counter-revisionism in The Confederate War (q.v.) and the serious researcher should consider Gallagher’s work as well.
Boney, F.N. Rebel Georgia. Macon, GA: Mercer U.P., 1997.
A Professor of History, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia and should know better. This work is a thin, chatty, and more politically correct rendition of T. Conn Bryan’s magisterial Confederate Georgia (q.v.). In keeping with modern trends in academia, the work is devoid of footnotes, but at least, heretically, does include something of an annotated bibliography. At least Professor Boney did not take the whole plunge and write the book in MLA format. This work is useful only to those who cannot bear to digress to a footnote, cannot procure a copy of Confederate Georgia, or as an example of how not to write history.
Bragg, William Harris. Joe Brown’s Army: The Georgia State Line 1862 – 1865. Macon, GA.: Mercer U.P., 1987.
Mr. Bragg is a high school Georgia History teacher and part-time instructor at Georgia College. Though most academic historians would consider Bragg an amateur (there is not a Ph.D. behind his name), his work has the tone and style of classic historical writing and better pedigreed historians could well follow his example. The work has good organization, a complete table of contents, a very serviceable index, a comprehensive bibliography, and footnotes in the right place, the bottom of the page.
Joe Brown’s Army is genuine scholarship on an arcane subject. It appears to be the only work in the current canon that gives insight into the relationship between Governor Joe Brown and Confederate authorities in the matter of raising and utilizing Georgia troops. The work helps to fill the gaps left by Confederate Georgia on military issues and provides comprehensive information on the regiments of the State Line, including rosters of the troops. This small book is a needed and welcome addition to the canon and should be in the library of any serious student of Confederate Georgia
Bryan, T. Conn. Confederate Georgia. Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 1953.
Dr. Bryan (Duke, 1949) was Professor of History at North Georgia College. This work is the magisterial history of the Confederate period in Georgia. Dr. Bryan cites his sources and provides informative annotations; though the notes are in the wrong place as endnotes rather than footnotes. Relying upon surviving state records and the personal correspondences of leading figures, Bryan provides a thorough general history of the state during this vital period.
Unlike Boney’s later Rebel Georgia (q.v.), Confederate Georgia is thoroughly and unmistakably Southern. The sentences and paragraphs are Faulknerian in length and Dickensian in compounded complexity. The style is difficult and jarring to the modern ear, but the baroque complexity is the music of moonlight and magnolias, and is delightful to the unreconstructed ear.
The work is at the advanced high school or college textbook level of breath and depth. It will satisfy the serious neophyte and leave the scholar hungering for more. Unlike other works, it will give the serious researcher directions to the "more" that he desires. The only serious weakness, and it is not insurmountable, is a minimal treatment of the mobilization of Georgia units to the PACS under the 1862 Conscription Act. This weakness is in keeping with the work’s focus on events in Georgia rather than the Confederacy as a whole, but the process by which Georgia provided more than 75,000 men, almost all as volunteers, deserves more consideration. At least this omission leaves some work for others. This work, though now out of print, should be in the library of anyone interested in the Confederate period in Georgia.
Cash, W.J. The Mind of the South. 1941. Introduction by Bertram Wyatt-Brown, New York: Vintage Books, 1991.
This work may well be the fundament of Southern intellectual history. It is required reading for any Southerner who would consider himself literate. The book violates all the rules of the modern academy. There is no attribution except where other works are mentioned in passing. There is no bibliography. There is only Cash’s elegant erudition. The work is entirely argument in Aristotelian rhetorical form. The Latin and Greek derived vocabulary will send all but the best read to the dictionary. The complex syntax will give pause to a modern reader accustomed only to the simple declarative sentence. All that said, the book is entirely necessary and wholly enjoyable.
The most useful portion to the Civil War researcher is concise and insightful explication of the sociology of the antebellum South in Chapter II, "Of the Man in the Center." Cash, like so many Southern writers, achieved recognition only as an expatriate and principally among non-Southerners. The work seems almost to have been actively suppressed in the South, but should be promoted to its proper place near the top of the canon.
Elliott, Joseph Cantey. Lieutenant General Richard Heron Anderson: Lee’s Noble Soldier. Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1985.
- - -. "Richard Heron Anderson, Confederate General." Thesis. Appalachian State U., 1970.
Elliot’s thesis and later book adds little factual information to Walker’s (q. v.)earlier biography of the elusive General Anderson. Elliot tries to refute the allegation that Anderson was troubled and sometimes rendered ineffective by alcohol abuse, but the stain remains. Even if true, Anderson was far from the only General, North or South, with an alcohol problem and his record speaks for itself. Elliot goes farther than any Virginian would accept to give Anderson credit for Jackson’s success at Chancellorsville. It is clear that Anderson’s troops seized and held the vital position at Catherine’s Furnace that formed the hinge around which Jackson’s flank attack was swung, whose idea it was remains open to question. It is equally clear that Virginians have "first dibs" on the glory of the Army of Northern Virginia. Consequently, it is likely that even if it were conclusively proven that Anderson saw and seized the position and concomitant opportunity, and that he gave the orders leading to the flank attack (unlikely as he was a division commander and Jackson a corps commander at the time), the glory would still be Jackson’s.
At the distance of over 130 years there seems little need to defend or additionally glorify General Anderson. His deeds stand him high in the pantheon of heroes and martyrs even if he is little known. Elliot’s work is more accessible since newer and much more readable than Walker’s. It has value on that account.
Folson, James Madison. Heroes and Martyrs of Georgia: Georgia’s Record in the Revolution of 1861. 1864. Introduction and Annotations by Keith S. Bohannon, Baltimore, Md.: Butternut and Blue, 1995.
Assuming that the researcher has access to the OR (q.v.) and Henderson’s Roster (q.v.), this work should be the first volume in the library of one interested in Confederate Georgia’s military. Folsom’s work comprises the only contemporaneous histories of Georgia units in the Provisional Army of the Confederate States. It was intended to be a multi-volume work including all 65 PACS regiments and other military establishments. Only the first volume covering eighteen units, all in the Army of Northern Virginia, was ever published. Folsom apparently had extensive correspondence from other units as well as manuscripts, but asserts that General Sherman’s troops destroyed his materials. Folsom was an eccentric and, perhaps, questionable character, but the work relies on reports directly from the officers of the reported units and is thus that great treasure in Civil War material, an almost primary source. It is not truly primary as it was admittedly edited by Folsom, but is in the main the words of the officers.
Most of the reports were written from the Petersburg trenches in the summer of 1864. The prose is flowery and archaic, but has the ring of the time. The tone is hopeful, but not optimistic in most cases. The reports represent what was important to the writers at the time and things not said are maddening to modern researchers. For example, Lt. Col. M.R. Hall of the 48th Georgia goes to pains to tell how many railroad cars were required to transport the unit from Camp Davis, Georgia to Grahamsville, South Carolina, but says not a word about when uniforms were acquired, or where, or what kind, or what kind of weapons were issued. But, this sort of thing can be overlooked; for this is the real thing written by the real participants.
Foote, Shelby. The Civil War, A Narrative. 3 Volumes, New York: Random House, 1958.
For a Southerner there is only one comprehensive history of the Civil War: Shelby Foote’s magnificent three-volume work. The academics can have McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom and the Yankees can have Bruce Catton’s Trilogy. Foote is a Southerner who writes like a Southerner talks, or at least would like to think he talks.
Foote doesn’t call his work a history, but rather a narrative of the Civil War. He does, unlike most Southerners of his age, call it the Civil War rather than the submissive War Between the States, the more aggressive War of Northern Aggression, or the unreconstructed, but more correct, War For Southern Independence. His style is that of the classic, pre-Ranke, historian: awesomely erudite, but without attribution or bibliography. Consequently, he has been roundly criticized by the academy. Admittedly, he goes a bit overboard over Sherman and N. B. Forrest probably was not that important at the time, but he was from Foote’s neighborhood. Southerners understand these things.
Freeman, Douglas Southall. Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command. 3 Volumes, New York: Scribner’s, 1942.
Freeman’s great work is the standard reference for the activities of the Army of Northern Virginia and its commanders, at least its Generals, and must be accessible to any researcher. Though written in the 1930s, it has something of the "Lost Cause" apologists’ tone more associated with the 1880s. The great weakness of the work is that if one only read Lee’s Lieutenants, one would conclude that the entire war was fought by Virginians and for Virginia. The rest of the Confederacy hardly merits mention, though in his defense, the title is "Lee’s" Lieutenants.
The question of who, there must have been someone, was responsible for the Confederacy’s defeat has something of the tone and the futility of the 1950s litmus test of who lost China. The dispute came into the open in the great Longstreet vs. Early magazine and memoir battles of the 1880s. The modern reader can readily see that both were self-deceived and self-serving, but it did not necessarily appear so at the time. Lee’s martyrdom and sainthood were firmly established shortly after his death in 1870 and the keepers of the Southern faith would brook no dispute. Freeman’s work came at a distance that would allow a certain dispassion. He does employ genuine scholarship and in many areas a relatively high level of objectivity. Nevertheless, Freeman’s work does codify the preeminence of Virginia and Virginians, seemingly once and for all.
Modern scholarship has looked at command decisions and battle performance much more objectively, but the popular literature and, more importantly, the popular belief remains rooted in the 19th Century mythology as codified by Freeman. It is now safe to say that J.E.B. Stuart erred grossly, though Freeman is at pains to defend him even at Lee’s expense, by separating himself from the army during the Pennsylvania Campaign. That said, God help anyone who posits that Lee also erred grossly by joining a meeting battle without benefit of Stuart’s reconnaissance. In scholarly circles one may offer that Longstreet was right in desiring to avoid battle at Gettysburg or that Jackson’s sluggardly performance during the Seven Days Battles may have prohibited a decisive Southern victory. However, one is at peril to make either of those assertions at a Sons of Confederate Veterans gathering.
In any event, Freeman is valuable, even essential, to the student of the period, but it is highly biased. The serious researcher must use other sources as well.
Gallagher, Gary W. The Confederate War. Cambridge: Harvard U.P., 1997.
Gary Gallagher is Professor of History at Pennsylvania State University and one of the most highly regarded Civil War historians. The Confederate War is a counter-revisionist response to Why the South Lost the Civil War (q. v.). With exhaustive research and his expected elegantly simple prose, Gallagher rebuts Beringer, et al. on the issues of Southern failure to establish a national consciousness and ultimately the failure of the Southern will to fight.
Gallagher’s evidence and arguments are compelling, but not altogether convincing. One need not accept the mythologists’ view that the whole Southland was "a band of brothers" united in "The Cause", nor must one go so far as Beringer, et al. Gallagher is somewhere in the middle, but does not adequately account for obvious disloyalty, divisiveness, and failure of civilian will. The serious researcher of Confederate wartime psychology will consult both Gallagher and Beringer, et al.
Gilham, Major William. Manual for Volunteers and Militia. 1861. Privately published imprint.
Major Gilham was an instructor at Virginia Military Institute and his manual was widely used in the South. The State of Georgia had 10,000 copies printed and distributed to its troops in 1861 and 1862. Gilham’s manual may be distinguished from the better-known Hardee’s Tactics by its inclusion of artillery and cavalry instruction as well as infantry.
The prose is difficult and archaic, the typeset jarring. The organization is not always apparent, the Table of Contents is confusing, and the index is absent without leave. Nevertheless, somewhere in there is everything the mid-19th Century soldier needed to know. In order to have any real understanding of Civil War battles, the life of the Civil War soldier, or, especially, to have any appreciation of the command and control issues confronting officers, one must have some familiarity with this work, Hardee’s, or one of the Union equivalents.
Only a re-enactor or serious military historian would have need to thoroughly read this book, but any researcher into military aspects of the period would do well to lightly peruse it. The incredible complexity of 19th Century military maneuvers when contrasted with the dearth of training afforded most Civil War soldiers, North and South, goes far to explain the carnage and confusion on the battlefield.
Joslyn, Mauriel P. Immortal Captives. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1996.
- - -. The Biographical Roster of the Immortal 600. Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing, 1992
Ms. Joslyn is a teacher and re-enactor as well as an accomplished amateur historian (using, if you will, the academically accepted standard that the sobriquet of professional historian requires that Ph.D.).
This work is a superbly researched and documented account of one of the least known episodes of the Civil War: the confinement under fire and systematic starvation of 600 captured Confederate officers, many ill and wounded. The men, mostly captured at Gettysburg and the Overland Campaign battles, were taken in the hold of a steamer from Fort Delaware and placed in a tent camp on Morris Island in front of the Union batteries bombarding Charleston as a human shield against Confederate counter-battery fire.
The companion Biographical Roster gives biographical details of each of the men. This is one of the very few biographical compilations of Confederate soldiers below the rank of General. The roster is not sourced, but the main work has extensive annotation and a complete bibliography. The Roster is alphabetical and has a regiment by regiment tabulation. The main work has a useful table of contents and a very complete index as well as rosters.
It must be admitted that Ms. Joslyn is a better researcher than writer, and the work is difficult at times. There are numerous excerpts from diaries and letters that provide an intimate view into the thoughts and minds of the men. These alone make the work worthwhile. Likewise, the biographical pieces on the many company level officers give a valuable view of a category of soldier almost lost to history.
Kennedy, James R. and Walter Donald Kennedy. The South Was Right. Gretna, LA: Pelican Publishing, 1994.
This interesting and provocative work harks back to Alexander Stephens’ and Jefferson Davis’ immediately postbellum work justifying the War for Southern Independence. The smirking, sneering tone is off-putting even to one who might fundamentally agree with the authors. Nevertheless, the work does have valuable and provocative materials from pre-war and wartime publications that simply are no longer a part of the standard history. This is the sort of work that mainstream, read academic, reviewers simply ignore. The point of view does not fit the modern canon; it is definitively not politically correct. Yet, the rebellious work does contain an alarming compilation of facts that do not fit the conventional wisdom about the causes, conduct, and aftermath of what the authors insist on calling "The War For Southern Independence."
The authors are fastidious with authenticating the facts asserted; though their fastidiousness in gathering facts that do not fit their view may be questioned. Likewise, many of their fact patterns are susceptible to alternative conclusions. From the distance of 130 years and with such a fragmentary record, post hoc ergo propter hoc is an easy trap for the unwary or a useful tool for one seeking to force a certain conclusion. This is a useful but dangerous book. In the hands of a critical, learned reader, it contains much that is useful and not readily available elsewhere. In the hands of one not intimately familiar with the period, it is the most dangerous sort of alternative informantion, for in it there is much truth.
McCarthy, Carlton. Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia, 1861 – 1865. 1882. Introduction by Brian S. Wills, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
This quaint little book is the precursor of Wiley’s magisterial The Life of Johnny Reb (q.v.). The prose is archaic and very Southern. The tone ranges from "Lost Cause" apologist to defiantly unreconstructed. The book is worthwhile just for the insight into the attitudes of a Confederate veteran in the 1880s.
The work is a veritable gold mine of details of the day to day life of the Army of Northern Virginia (ANV} soldier. Though, like so much Southern literature of or about the period, it all but ends at Gettysburg. It is an ironic fact that the great snowball wars of the Confederate winter camps in the winters of ’63 – ’64 and ’64 – ’65 are almost as well documented in the Southern literature as the battles after The Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor. Wiley is much more scholarly and authoritative, but the old soldier is much more fun.
Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia, CD-ROM, H-BAR Enterprises, 1995. Electronic compilation and search engine of Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia. 6 Vols., Lillian Henderson, ed., Georgia Department of Archives and History, Atlanta.
"Henderson’s Roster" is the standard reference for researchers into the service records of Georgia Soldiers. The original work was Ms. Henderson’s compilation of the handwritten records from surviving muster rolls and pension records. The work contains only records of those who served in infantry units of the PACS and has errors of both omission and commission. Many muster rolls were lost and many of those that survive have gross errors and misspellings. A researcher must look at any name that even resembles the name of the soldier sought. As the Roster has little or no biographical information, sorting out duplicate or close names can be a daunting task. Also, due to the dearth of muster rolls and parole records, veterans were allowed to qualify for pensions on the affidavit of other soldiers. For some the prospect of a veteran’s pension in the poverty stricken postbellum South was an insurmountable temptation. To be as charitable as possible, some would-be pensioners may have overstated their military careers. Despite its weaknesses, HR is absolutely necessary to the researcher.
H-Bar’s CD is unreliable and difficult to use. The data is simply a scan of the original work so searches are imprecise and difficult to limit. Expeditious searches require a very good knowledge of Boolean logic. That said, it is still far more convenient and far less expensive than a massive six-volume work.
Smedlund, William S. Campfires of Georgia’s Troops 1861 - 1865. Sharpsburg, GA: self-published, 1995.
This is a difficult work on an arcane subject, but invaluable to the serious researcher. Smedlund’s work is invaluable to the genealogical or other researcher in possession of period letters. A soldier’s address was commonly expressed as some or another regiment at some or another camp. Almost all camps were temporary, many had more than one name, and almost all are now all but lost to history. Smedlund’s exhaustive research has identified 734 different camps used by Georgia troops. He has also identified the units that used those camps. This information is critical because the soldier would likely refer to Gibson’s Regiment, McLeod’s Company at Camp so and so. Modern materials, relying principally on the OR would refer to this unit as Co. H of the 48th Georgia. Thus by comparing location and units using that location at a given time, the researcher can place the data in space and time. Likewise, even if the material is undated the researcher can determine when the unit was at a particular camp and place the material in time.
The work has many photographs and maps as well as useful general information on organization and mobilization of Georgia troops. There is a useful bibliography and thorough sourcing. The specific camps are arranged alphabetically and are individually numbered. Index references are to the item number rather than page and can be confusing. Likewise, though the work has three separate indexes, the indexing and references can be confusing. Though not a recreational read and sometimes difficult to use, the reference is required in the library of any serious student of Georgia’s Confederate military.
The Civil War CD-ROM, V1.55, Carmel, IN: Guild Press of Indiana, 1996. Electronic compilation and search engine of: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies; A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion – Frederick H. Dyer; Regimental Losses in the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) – William F. Fox; A Users Guide to the Official Records of the American Civil War – Alan and Barbara Aimone; Military Operations of the Civil War: A Guide Index to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies – National Archives historians, ed.
The Official Record, commonly called the OR, is a 128 Volume compilation of Union and Confederate official reports and correspondence. It is the most vital source for any Civil War researcher. Until recently it was only available in the largest libraries and archives. It has always been considered difficult and, of course, unwieldy to use. Several books have been written on how to use it. Modern computers and CD-ROM have solved that problem. Guild Press’ search engine is simple, reliable, and silky smooth. Modern technology will not make up for the lack of Confederate records, but they either never existed, were lost or destroyed, or are still where great-great grandfather hid them so the Yankees would not find them and use them if he were charged with treason. Also, one still has to know what to look for and how to ask the question. A fairly comprehensive knowledge of the period is necessary to properly use the documents and the search engine.
Walker, C. Irvine. The Life of Lieutenant General Richard Heron Anderson of the Confederate States Army, Charleston, S.C: Art Publishing Co., 1917.
Richard H. Anderson is one of the most enigmatic of the high-ranking Confederate officers. A South Carolina aristocrat who died in poverty; a division and corps commander of the Army of Northern Virginia; that rarest of ANV officers, a Lieutenant General who was not a Virginian; and a man almost lost to history.
Walker’s biography is almost the archetype of the romantic Southern biography of the heroes and martyrs of the "Lost Cause." It is only almost the archetype because it appears to be largely factual. Anderson, like A. P. Hill, confessed to a great distaste for army paperwork and consequently wrote little in the way of reports or memoranda. This is compounded by the fact that many of such papers as Anderson had were lost on the march to Appomattox. Such primary sources as are available come from the shards of Confederate records recapitulated in the OR and from Anderson’s private letters remaining in the hands of family and friends, notably his postbellum letters to Gen. D. H. Hill.n.b.
Walker’s lurid, archaic, and very Southern prose is laborious reading even for one who likes the genre, but the work is a good and necessary read for those with an interest in division and corps command of the ANV. The book is long out of print and this writer’s copy came on inter-library loan from Harvard University tied up in a shoestring and so crumbly that one hesitated to turn the pages. Many thousands of men fought and died under the command of the reticent and self-effacing "noble soldier" and he deserves a better memorium.
Warner, Ezra. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1959.
This magisterial work is a compilation of biographies and photographs of 434 men with a credible claim to the rank of General. The work is largely reliable, but a veritable cottage industry has grown up around proving or refuting the claims of various men to the title of General. Books, papers, and, especially, dagger sharp footnotes have been hurled back and forth across the academy ever since Gen. Marcus Wright’s first list of Generals. The battle still rages as exemplified by David Eicher’s scathing criticism of Bruce Allardice’s More Generals in Gray (q.v.) in his recent annotated bibliography. The book is essential to the serious researcher, but for most is better borrowed than owned.
Wiley, Bell Irvin. The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy, Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State U.P., 1943.
Bell Irvin Wiley was professor emeritus of history at Emory University and one of the most universally respected Civil War historians. The Life of Johnny Reb quickly became and remains the standard reference on the details of the life of the Confederate soldier. It adds little and owes much to McCarthy (q.v.) on matters of daily life, but goes far beyond McCarthy’s limited and parochial view.
Wiley comprehensively details the social, political, and spiritual environment of the soldier. Likewise, he seeks to give some characterization of the Confederate soldier in the final chapter: "What Manner of Men," though McPherson’s For Cause and Comrade may be more valuable in this area. The work is elegantly written and meticulously sourced with full notes, though they are endnotes, and an annotated bibliography. Wiley’s mark has stood for over a half century and seems likely to stand in most areas. McPherson with modern communications had better access to soldiers’ letters and other writings and consequently has superseded Wiley in recording the thoughts of soldiers.
There were some things that a Southern gentleman of the nineteen forties simply did not talk about and Wiley gives short shrift to the sexual propensities of the soldiers. In the ‘40s, the Southern Lady was still high on her pedestal and Southerners were loath to admit the extent to which Southern womanhood resorted to prostitution to keep body and soul together or simply for the money. Later scholarship has more than adequately filled this void.
Woodward, C. Vann. The Burden of Southern History, Baton Rouge, La., Louisiana State U.P., 1968.
- - -. The Future of the Past, New York: Oxford U.P., 1989.
Neither of Professor Woodward’s books are history, but rather are about historiographic method and writing history. Anyone who aspires to write Civil War or Southern history should read and re-read both works and keep them nearby if only to inspire a proper sense of humility in the presence of a master. Speak softly and write carefully in his presence.
Copyright 1998 - Art Chance