While in Wisconsin, my family and I visited the Civil War museum in Kenosha. It has quite a few fascinating exhibits, including period battle flags, uniforms, films, a toy soldier exhibit showing the stand of the Iron Brigade on the first day of Gettysburg, etc. One of my favorite features of the museum is their gift shop which has a huge collection of used Civil War books for sale. I never fail to find often rare books on the Civil War. Here is a list of my purchases for 43 dollars earlier in the week:
- Jefferson Davis: American Patriot 1808-1861, Hudson Strode (1955)-Poor Jefferson Davis, portrayed as the Devil incarnate by the North during the War, he was often used as a scapegoat by Southerners after the War. The simple truth is that Davis was a gifted man who brought the Confederacy close to independence against all the odds. Hudson Strode was the first historian to have access to many of the personal papers of Jefferson Davis and launched a vigorous counterattack to the image of Davis as a bloodless pedant, revealing him instead as a passionate and complex man.
- The Hidden Face of the Civil War, Otto Eisenschiml (1961)-The Austrian born Eisenschiml was an oil company executive, and a tireless Civil War historian. He is perhaps best known for his 1937 look at the Lincoln assassination which posited that Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was behind the assassination. I regard this theory as completely loony. However, Eisenschiml was never afraid of controversy and is always entertaining to read. In this volume he savages both the North and the South for incompetence in the waging of the Civil War.
- The Celebrated Case of Fitz John Porter: An American Dreyfus Affair, Otto Eisenschiml (1950)-Eisenschiml takes on the case of General Porter who was court-martialed and removed from the Army for his actions at Second Bull Run, and who fought for 25 years to clear his name, a fight he ultimately won.
- Lincoln’s Scapegoat General: A Life of General Benjamin Butler, 1818-1893, Richard S. West, Jr. (1965)-A book in defense of “Beast” Butler. I like seeing arguments made for impossible cases, and attempting to convince me that Butler was not the most incompetent Union general is close to an impossible task.
- General Sherman’s Son: The Life of Thomas Ewing Sherman, SJ, Joseph T. Durkin, SJ (1959) A biography of the Jesuit son of General Sherman written by a Jesuit. Go here to read about Father Sherman.
- Grant Wins the War, James R. Arnold (1997)-A good one volume look at the Vicksburg campaign, the most decisive campaign of the War.
In other locations I bought three more publications on the Civil War:
- Civil War History, Volume Six, Number Three (September 1960)-An interesting mix of articles and book reviews from 56 years ago as the nation was on the cusp of the Civil War centennial.
- A Crisis in Command: Edmund Kirby Smith and Richard Taylor, Jeffery S. Prushankin (2005)-What looks to be a fascinating examination at the strained relationship between Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi theater for the Confederacy, and Richard Taylor, son of President Zachary Taylor, who led the Confederates to victory in 1864 against the Union Red River campaign in Louisiana.
- The World The Civil War Made, Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur, editors (2015)-A series of what look to be PC articles on the aftermath of the Civil War. Oh well, I picked it up cheap for seventy-five cents.