Tag Archives: Civil War

Book Review: Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863

Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863. By Susan G. Hall. (Jefferson, NC and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2000. vi, 258 pp. $39.95, ISBN 978-0-7864-3738-2.)

In Appalachian Ohio and the Civil War, 1862-1863, Susan G. Hall provides a narrative history of a select group of Ohioans. Hall’s goal is to show how the Civil War affected the “small society” in Harrison County and the surrounding five eastern Appalachian counties during the one year period from the summer of 1862 to the following summer of 1863. For Hall, this represents a time of “crucial battles and political events which shaped the Civil War and the nation subsequently, and altered societies in many ways.” (p. 1)

This of course could be said for many different time periods during the four years of national conflict. But Hall claims that the recruiting of soldiers in 1862 led to a bitter division between Appalachian Ohio citizens who supported the Union’s actions and the growing presence of anti-war Democrats. She asserts that studying this specific period can illuminate the shift in soldier motivations and the rise of Copperhead support in Ohio, both of which contributed to why 1862-1863 was such a pivotal year affecting the home front and the men away at war. Continue reading

Book Review: “The Supply for Tomorrow Must Not Fail”

“The Supply for Tomorrow Must Not Fail”: The Civil War of Captain Simon Perkins Jr., a Union Quartermaster. By Lenette S. Taylor. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2004. xvi, 264 pp. Cloth, $35.00, ISBN 0-87338-783-x.)

A curiously neglected sub-genre within the abundant body of Civil War literature is that which recognizes the important, indeed critical, role played by logisticians in support of the land armies that ranged across a continent from 1861 through 1865. A modern military axiom declares boldly that “amateurs study tactics, while professionals study logistics”. Even so, there are scant comprehensive scholarly works devoted to Union or Confederate supply systems and even fewer that examine the efforts of individual quartermaster, commissary, or ordnance personnel whose existence was essential to the conduct of successful military operations. Lamentably—though perhaps inevitably—the trumpet blast and the roar of musketry continue to trump the army invoice, the railroad schedule, and the bill of lading as topics ripe for serious historical inquiry. Lenette S. Taylor, in “The Supply for Tomorrow Must Not Fail”, details the day-to-day activities of a heretofore-anonymous Federal quartermaster officer; in so doing she has created an important study in what remains a fledgling field. Continue reading

Book Review: The Struggle for the Life of the Republic

The Struggle for the Life of the Republic: A Civil War Narrative by Brevet Major Charles Dana Miller, 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Edited by Stewart Bennett and Barbara Tillery (Kent: The Kent State University Pres, 2004. xxiii, 301 pp. $34.00, ISBN 0-87338-785 -6.)

Among the thousands of books stemming from the American Civil War, memoirs of soldiers, Union and Confederate, constitute an appreciable share.  Given the accumulation of such books, perhaps publishers considering expending print and paper on another manuscript of personalia should weigh several questions:  does it present a significant view of a battle or campaign, of leading military figures, of ordinary soldiers or of why men fight.  Though hardly remarkable on any of these counts, The Struggle for the Life of the Republic, a reminiscent narrative of Charles Dana Miller, a soldier from Ohio, deserves publication primarily because of his description of camp life.

The editors, Barbara Tillery, a descendant of Miller and a desktop publisher, and Stewart Bennett, a historian, have given order to a narrative that Miller composed sometime between 1869 and 1881. Continue reading

Book Review: A Politician Turned General

A Politician Turned General: The Civil War Career of Stephen Augustus Hurlbut. By Jeffrey N. Lash. (Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press, 2003. xii, 300 pp. Cloth, $49.00, ISBN 0-87338-766-x.)

In recent years, readers of Civil War history have enjoyed a spate of works detailing the lives and contributions of so-called “political generals,” those elected officials, North and South, who received important military positions in recognition of partisan service to their respective sections. Books by James Hollandsworth and Richard Kiper have, for example, presented nuanced looks at Nathaniel P. Banks and John A McClernand respectively, two of the more notable politician-soldiers employed by the Union. As a practice, the awarding of general’s stars to rank amateurs strikes most modern students as at best cynical politicking, and at worst as a monstrous roll of the dice—many soldiers paid dearly for these battlefield neophytes’ lack of military acumen. Yet it must be remembered that military professionalism, now accepted as an article of faith in Western culture, was a nascent phenomenon during the middle nineteenth century. Early American society generally held career officers at arms length, preferring, in a paean to republican simplicity, the presumed talents of the virtuous citizen-soldier, one who dutifully left his civilian post to provide sagacious leadership in a military setting. Moreover, political generals, as Thomas J. Goss cogently argues in his important study The War within the Union High Command, played a vital role in garnering and maintaining national backing for war. To the growing list of quality volumes on such figures as Banks and McClernand we now include the work of Jeffrey N. Lash, whose A Politician Turned General examines the lesser-known (but no less controversial) Stephen A. Hurlbut.

The author’s chief contribution to the literature is one that, on the surface, appears to be purely semantic, but is in fact essential to understanding Hurlbut’s long and tumultuous Civil War career. Continue reading

Book Review: The Weary Boys

The Weary Boys: Colonel J. Warren Keifer and the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  By Thomas E. Pope. (Kent: The Kent State University Press, 2002.  183 pp.  Softcover, $16.00, ISBN 0-87338-729-5.)

The Civil War is one of the most written about events in American History.  Books detailing every aspect of the war find an eager audience made up not only of scholars but also of history buffs.  Studies of battles and leaders are especially popular with the general reader, and of this genre Thomas Pope’s The Weary Boys: Colonel J. Warren Keifer and the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry is one such example. Continue reading