November 8, 2007

New Battle of Decatur Book w/ Small Print Run

I've just learned about a new "small press" book that discusses the overlooked engagement near Decatur, Alabama which became the opening salvo of Hood's ill-fated Tennessee Campaign. The book's full title is A Slight Demonstration: Decatur, October 1864, Clumsy Beginning of Gen. John B. Hood's Tennessee Campaign, which ended in disaster at the battles of Franklin and Nashville. According to the press release, "the new book by Decatur native Noel Carpenter (1918-2000) argues that Confederate General John B. Hood’s detour to Decatur in 1864 at the beginning of the Tennessee Campaign “was a defining event that re-shaped the entire campaign.”

The book is presented as "a meticulously detailed and documented account — the first book-length study of the four-day clash at Decatur," in which "the author examines the circumstances surrounding the events and how they overwhelmed the controversial young commander."

The posthumous publication of Carpenter's work has also garnered academic praise. Professor Daniel E. Sutherland, co-editor of The Civil War in the West, a series from The University of Arkansas Press, has said: “I found Carpenter’s account and analysis of events at Decatur thoroughly readable and quite convincing,” and “I came away from his narrative believing that historians may, indeed, not have given events at Decatur their due.”

From the collector's perspective, this is definitely a small press, regional publication which I touched on in an earlier post. According to the press release, following Carpenter's death in
December 2000, his daughter, Austin art director Carol Powell, undertook the task of preparing the manuscript for publication as a tribute to his effort. “As soon as I started reading the manuscript,” she says, “I recognized the quality of the work and wanted it to be shared with other history buffs and scholars. Daddy spent the last 12 years of his life — countless hours at the University of Texas libraries — researching and writing his story.

I've communicated with Powell who has informed me that the first printing is only 500 copies. It's hardbound with dust jacket and will be priced at $29.95. It seems the book will only be available through Robert Parham’s Civil War Relics shop at 723 Bank Street NW in Decatur, or by mail from the publisher, Legacy Books & Letters, 8308 Elander Drive, Austin, TX 78750. Collectors take note.

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