Civil War Virginia: Battleground for a Nation, and: Mosby's Confederacy: A Guide to the Roads and Sites of Colonel John Singleton Mosby (review)
- Civil War History
- The Kent State University Press
- Volume 38, Number 3, September 1992
- pp. 247-249
- View Citation
- Additional Information
book reviews247 numerous private and public collections and, in a few cases, from printed sources, the portraits are identified by date; details such as retouching and variations in insignia and uniform are noted. Most are the same that appear in Generals in Gray and, predictably, the images vary in quality. Some are improved in The Confederate General (Frank C. Armstrong, William E. Baldwin, John S. Bowen) and some are poorer (William Barksdale, William L. Brandon). A few are truly memorable, particularly the death portrait of Turner Ashby. For some of the subjects the portraits show change through the war years, but is it really useful to have twelve images of Beauregard and eight of Cheatham? Likewise, the editors have chosen to print very similar likenesses taken at the same photographic session (James P. Anderson and James J. Archer, for example). For its well-rounded biographies and evocative portraits, this handsome edition will be an excellent source for scholars and buffs alike. Lynda Lasswell Crist Rice University Civil War Virginia: Battleground for a Nation. By James I. Robertson, Jr. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991. Pp. ix, 188. $18.95.) Mosby's Confederacy: A Guide to the Roads and Sites of Colonel John Singleton Mosby. By Thomas J. Evans and James M. Moyer. (Shippensburg , Pa.: White Mane Publishing Company, 1991. Pp. xi, 134. $29.95.) It now appears that the beginning of the last decade of the twentieth century will be noted as one of the greatest epochs in the writing of the Civil War military history. Virtually every day new campaign and battle studies, new unit histories, new biographies of commanders, new analyses of strategy and tactics, and new photographic collections come to hand. Many of these studies involve a depth of research into primary sources unparalleled in Civil War historiography, while others profit from insights gained by new developments in the social sciences and medicine. Nor are great synthesizers missing from the current scene, as the virtual canonization of James McPherson and Shelby Foote attests. Indeed, it seems as if every publisher, from boutique shops to university presses to the great trade houses, wishes to fill its catalogs with Civil War titles. Always strong, the demand for Civil War books, especially militaryrelated subjects, is currently undergoing a veritable explosion, fanned by the hurricane of popular interest generated by Ken Burns's Civil War documentary. Inevitably, not all of the works published during this flurry of interest will be of lasting quality, and some should never have seen 248CIVIL WAR HISTORY the light of day under any circumstances. Nevertheless, there are several reasons to applaud this bonanza in Civil War studies in addition to the fact that new classics are being created. First, some works targeted for a mass audience, if done well, may introduce new readers to the subject, thereby furthering the cause of historical study in general and Civil War military history in particular. Second, works catering to the apparently insatiable desire of Americans to tour historic sites by automobile may inadvertently create a similar effect. Most books will never be classics, but they too are useful which modestly seek only to popularize a significant subject or to entertain the reading public with historical material. So it is with the two books under review. James I. Robertson, Jr., needs no introduction to readers of this journal, which he once edited. During an earlier boom in Civil War studies, approximately thirty years ago, Robertson produced a short pamphlet for the Virginia Civil War Commission entitled Virginia, 18611865 : Iron Gate to the Confederacy. Long out of print, that pamphlet attempted to provide in brief capsule form an overview of Virginia's role in the Civil War, with primary emphasis on military events. Now, in Civil War Virginia: Battleground for a Nation, Robertson has expanded his original pamphlet in size but has maintained his focus upon military events in the Old Dominion. The book's chronological development is broken roughly at midpoint of the war by two chapters that survey soldier suffering in hospitals and prisons and the homefront. Otherwise, the story is the oft-told one of campaigns and battles from Manassas to Appomattox. Large numbers of contemporary illustrations illuminate...