New Books on the night stand
William Marverl's Mr. Lincoln Goes to War ( 2006, Houghton Mifflin). I have enjoyed Marvel’s writing in the past so I picked it up. I am about ½ through it. Marvel’s assertion that Lincoln was calculating in how he positioned the South to take the first shot is not really a new theory. Richard N. Current’s Lincoln and the First Shot ( 1963, Harper and Row) covered a lot of this same ground. Marvel is a little harsher in his view of Lincoln during the lead up to Fort Sumter. While Current cites Lincoln as being aware that launching and expedition to the fort would probably lead to war he also indicates that Lincoln believed that a peaceful solution could be reached. Marvel on the other hand indicates that Lincoln missed opportunities to prevent war and in fact fanned the flames. The one thing that stands out is how Marvel debunks the idea that northern soldiers in 1861 were strictly motivated for patriotic reasons. He writes that the abstract notions of patriotism or principle really only played a superficial role in getting men from the north to volunteer in 1861. His theory is that was not a lot of difference in the motivation between those soldiers who enlisted in 1861 to those who enlisted in 1863
The second book which I did find at my local Border’s is Glenn W. LaFantasie’s Gettysburg Requiem, The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates. (2006, Oxford University Press). I picked this up because I am a sucker for books that have to do with the action around Little Round Top. Growing up in Maine the stories of Joshua L. Chamberlain could not be ignored. As I have grown older understanding how the legend of Chamberlain has grown (a lot through his own hand) has become more interesting. I this book will provide some good insight into how Chamberlain’s chief opponent at Gettysburg viewed what happened and worked to memorialize the scarf ices of his men.
The third book just arrived today. Edmund J. Raus Jr.’s Banners South, A Northern Community at War ( 2005, Kent State University Press). An initial overview shows that this a regimental history of the 23rd NY with a twist. Instead of the traditional focus on strictly the military aspects of the 23rd’s history Raus deals extensively with the connection between the common solider and the home front. I am looking forward to reading this book because as I work through my own research the element of the home front is never far from the minds of the soldiers.