October 5, 2010

The Rebellion Record

The Rebellion Record was in total a twelve-volume set that was published during the Civil War and in the three years following. Both during the war and in the decade following the conflict, it was certainly a valuable repository of primary source information for general readers, students and historians, but once the Official Records appeared on the scene, much if not most of its value vanished. Each volume is comprised of three sections: “Diary of Events,” “Documents,” and “Poetry and Incidents.” Within those sections, one will find newspaper reports from North and South, various documents and reports, public addresses, maps, engravings, and the aforementioned poetry.

Eicher’s bibliography (#748) refers to the set as an “entertaining hodgepodge of valuable documents and worthless material” that while it does provide “an authentic flavor of the reporting of the war,” the set “contains little worth reading that does not appear elsewhere in a more accessible form.” Any value to modern bibliophiles will be that of a period piece coupled with the always requisite condition, condition, and condition.

I will say that while Eicher’s sentiments are probably accurate in an overarching sense, nevertheless I have always found some very useful nuggets in here for my various book projects. Therefore I would always advise anyone conducting ACW research to give a glance into the Rebellion Record.

The set had two publishers during its initial appearance. G. P. Putnam’s Sons was the publisher from 1861-1863. D. Van Nostrand Co. then took over from 1864-1868 with G.P. Putnams and Henry Holt publishing the twelfth and final Supplemental volume. The entire set was reprinted by Arno Press in a faux leather, facsimile edition in 1977, though I believe that it too is now out of print.

I’ve always noticed that any copies I found for sale were usually ratty and beat, and never in a complete set. So when I saw the pictured leather bound set for sale, it certainly caught my eye. The full set is currently being offered at eBay here for a cool $1750 if you’re so inclined.

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