Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Great Books!

In my last posting, I bemoaned the heavy emphasis on eastern campaigns in the early stages of the sesquicentennial. In response to a list of Civil War books published in The Wall Street Journal, I started offering a counter-list of six personal accounts by soldiers in the trans-Mississippi. Last time, two Confederate primary sources were featured, and for balance two Union accounts are highlighted this time.

Britton, Wiley. Memoirs of the Rebellion on the Border: 1863. (Chicago: Cushing, Thomas, and Co., 1882; reprint ed., Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1993).

Britton, a young Missourian, served in the 6th Kansas Cavalry, a unit that campaigned along the troubled border region. Britton’s war was fought in Missouri, Arkansas, and the Indian Territory. This account, possibly based on a journal, only discusses events that occurred in 1863. There is no attempt at objectivity in the book—Union soldiers only engage in good deeds in this account. However, Britton was a keen observer of the countryside and had a strong empathy for civilians, and these elements are the strength of the book in my opinion. Since Britton and his regiment served at times close to the area where I live, I find this book highly interesting.

Cotham, Edward T., Jr., ed. The Southern Journey of a Civil War Marine: The Illustrated Note-Book Of Henry O. Gusley. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2006.)

Featured in an earlier posting on my blog, this book merits attention because it features naval actions along the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston and then eastward to Mobile Bay. Gusley was captured at the battle of Sabine Pass, and his captured “note-book” was published in the Galveston Tri-Weekly News during the war. His notebook has been paired with sketches made by Dr. Daniel D. T. Nestell whose service paralleled Gusley’s. Beautifully produced and edited, this is one of my favorite trans-Mississippi books to be published in the last few years.

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