Thursday, July 23, 2009

Books! Books! Books!

Among my favorite Bible verses is this one from Ecclesiastes 12: 12b

“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (NIV)

Don’t get me wrong, though, I love to read, and I anxiously await the publication of books by my favorite authors.

As for the Trans-Mississippi, some fine scholars have focused their attention on this part of the war. Occasionally, I will highlight favorite books on this far western theater. Here is one to start with:

Kerby, Robert L. Kirby Smith’s Confederacy: The Trans-Mississippi South, 1863-1865. New York: Columbia University Press, 1972; reprint ed., Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1991.

After the fall of Vicksburg, the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy struggled to find ways to manage with minimal direction from authorities in Richmond, Virginia. General Edmund Kirby Smith took charge of the department; critics dubbed his rule “Kirby Smithdom,” but he somehow managed to hold the department together until the Confederacy started to collapse in April 1865. Wide in coverage, the book has much detail about the home front, relationships between civilians and military leaders, economic issues, transportation, and military campaigns. This book is a great starting point for any understanding of the war from the Confederate perspective.


  1. Could you please tell us about the author. I'm trying to determine whether he's my old history professor at Notre Dame.

  2. According to the back cover of KIRBY SMITH'S CONFEDERACY Robert L. Kerby was indeed a professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. Also, I found the following information about Kerby on the dust jacket of his book THE CONFEDERATE INVASION OF NEW MEXICO AND ARIZONA, 1861-1862: "Robert E. Lee Kerby, despite the southern lilt to his name, was born in the borough of Manhattan, in the city of New York. A graduate of Fordham Preparatory School, and the University of Notre Dame (B.A. 1955, M.A. history, 1956), he stepped immediately from university classroom into the United States Air Force after his Master's degree was conferred upon him."