November 29, 2011

Time for a Celebratory Cigar

I'm thrilled to announce that the final draft of my new work has been completed. As I've mentioned before, its working title is "Old Slow Town:" A Social, Political and Military History of Detroit during the Civil War. I turned the manuscript in to Detroit's very own Wayne State University Press earlier this week which means the peer review process now begins. If all goes as hoped, we should be looking at a Spring 2013 pub. date.

This was quite a challenging book as the various social and political issues heavily present in Civil War-era Detroit, i.e. draft resistance, race relations and labor unrest, all required a significant amount of analysis and study. Such home front issues were simply not pertinent in my past works. Plus, it was quite interesting to learn how concerns over street violence coupled with the fear of Confederate raids from Canada affected the local military authorities.

By the way, the caption to this August, 1863 Harpers Weekly draft cartoon is "Don't you see the point?" Indeed.

November 25, 2011

The Army of the Pacific, 1860-1866

I'm a total novice when it comes to Civil War operations in the far west and as part of my recent interest I came across The Army of the Pacific: Its Operations in California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, plains region, Mexico, etc. 1860-1866 by Aurora Hunt (1881-1965) and published by the venerable Arthur H. Clark Co. in 1951. Readers may recall that I first wrote of this fine press when I posted on The Organization and Administration of the Union Army back in January 2011.

According to one online writer, “the name ‘Army of the Pacific’ described both Union volunteer units recruited to stay in the Pacific coast states and territories, guarding them from natives and supposed Confederate incursions, and the mix of Regular and volunteer Union units known as the ‘California Column’ sent off to deal with Confederate regulars and irregulars in Arizona and New Mexico. Although they did fight the westernmost land battle in the Civil War (at Pichacho Pass in Arizona) against a few Confederate scouts, by the time they got to New Mexico the Confederates under General Sibley had been turned back at Glorieta Pass and retreated all the way to Texas, and the Californians were put on garrison duty, had occasional Indian encounters, and engaged in minor persecution of Mormons. The ones left behind didn’t have much excitement either, with a few miscellaneous skirmishes against various tribes and now and then the arrest of some real or imaginary Confederate agents.”

The Arthur H. Clark Company published this book as the first volume in their distinguished Frontier Military series. As for the author, her study was based largely on primary sources, including information obtained directly from the soldiers' descendants and rare territorial newspapers. Though the book may at one time have been considered the standard work, it now appears to be a bit dated though still quite useful. Other criticisms (Nevins) include that at 400+ pages, it was far longer than it needed to be. Nevertheless, as it was published by the Arthur Clark Company, it has maintained a high level of desirability among first edition collectors.

Like all Clark books, the work was published in dark blue cloth covers with gold gilt lettering on the spine and top edges of the sheets. The paper was a heavy, cream-colored stock with deckled edges, just what you would expect from a fine press. This one also featured 17 sepia plates and a fold-out map. I do not believe there was a dust jacket per se with this book though one bookseller reported to me that the book came in a plain white jacket with a hole cut in the front for the book’s front panel lettering to show through. As you can see here, fine first editions are not that common, with most of those available being ex-library. One bookseller reports that 1023 copies were printed.

In more recent years, the book was reissued by Stackpole and is readily available.

October 14, 2011

Last Train From Atlanta

It's been way too long since my last post. I've been in a controlled frenzy over the past month attempting to wrap up my manuscript on the history of Detroit during the Civil War. After working on this project for just over four years, I expect to be able to send it off to the publisher no later than mid-November. From there, the peer review process will begin.

I did however, take some time out last night to speak to the good folks at the Monroe Civil War Roundtable in SE Michigan. They had a nice selection of used books for sale and from the offerings I picked up a gently used first edition of this post's featured book.

Last Train From Atlanta was written by Adolph A. Hoehling and first published in 1958 by Thomas Yoseloff. Throughout the Civil War centennial and for years after, it was an extremely popular book with the general public and was considered one of the better popular history books from its day that dealt with the Atlanta campaign. Allen Nevins noted in his Civil War bibliography that one of its better features was how it portrayed the effects of the fighting on Atlanta's citizens. In addition, Steven Woodworth cited this book in his The American Civil War: A Handbook of Literature and Research as a solid treatment that focused on Southern civilians dealing with the siege. The author's technique was to present to the reader a day by day reconstruction of the events as they occurred and the impact they had on the city's populace, as seen through the eyes of Atlanta's residents. A testament to its popularity is that it was given the Bonanza Books reprint teatment in the 1970's with those copies being most prevalent today.

First editions are bound in black cloth with silver lettering on the spine. There is no statement of printing on the copyright page though the copyright year must say 1958. As offered here, there was apparently a special limited edition, signed by the author. Despite its age, it is not a difficult book to find in first edition status nor is it an expensive title though, of course, condition is the key. That is especialy the case with this book as, due to its popularity back in the day, most copies one comes across will probably have been heavily read.

September 7, 2011

Special Fall Book Sale!!

I'm hoping to clear out some shelf space so I've decided to offer some package deals on my own books. This offer will run until I generate the needed space!

Deal #1: Buy He Hath Loosed the Fateful Lightning and Glory Was Not Their Companion at the combined price of $50 (10% off retail) and get a trade copy of Give My Love to All Our Folks for FREE!

Deal #2: Buy Orlando M. Poe: Civil War General and Great Lakes Engineer at $50 (23% off retail) and get a trade copy of Give My Love to All Our Folks for FREE!

Give My Love to All Our Folks: The Civil War and Post-War Letters of Clinton DeWitt Staring and Charles E. Staring was my homage to fine press books and the old school idea of bookmaking as art. See picture at left and here for full details. I partnered with Deep Wood Press of Mancelona, Michigan on this one to create a slender volume of previously unpublished Civil War letters in a very limited edition of only 100 copies. That edition comprised 74 signed and numbered "trade" copies, as well as 26 signed and lettered copies bound in quarter leather and slipcase.

September 5, 2011

Poe Bio Now Available as Kindle ebook.

Kent State University Press, the publisher for my biography of Union engineer Orlando M. Poe, has informed me that the book is now available as a Kindle ebook in addition to its original hardcover format. The price will be $16.49.

This is the first time one of my books has been published in this format, so I'm looking for any feedback from fellow authors or publishers as to how your works have done to date as an ebook, as well as any promotional advice. Many thanks.

September 4, 2011

Life in the North During the Civil War: A Source History

I came across this interesting title the other day while doing some research for my current book project. Published in 1966 by the University of New Mexico Press, Life in the North During the Civil War: A Source History is described as “a living record of ideological discord in the North” from Secession to Reconstruction.” Its focus is to present important primary source documents, almost in total, nestled in between the authors’ contextual commentary.

Authors George Winston Smith and Charles Judah have arranged their work in a thematic manner, writing on numerous issues that held sway on the Northern home front during the conflict. Chapters such as “Citizens as Soldiers,” “The Voice of Politics,” “The Negro’s Place,” as well as ones pertaining to the economy, social stresses, amongst others, are all presented utilizing letters, speeches, newspaper articles, diary entries, et al as the primary focus. The authors’ commentary is then woven in between each document to add valuable context and background. In so doing, the authors succinctly explore the roles played by Northern politicians, freedmen, businessmen, soldiers, and economists. (See Eicher, The Civil War in Books, #1001) Further adding to the work are plenty of period woodcuts and editorial “cartoons” that complement each chapter’s particular topic.

It is an attractive 400-page work measuring 6x9” and bound in full avocado green cloth. First editions are so stated on the copyright page (there probably were no additional printings). While the book is not uncommon in the secondary market, finding a nice copy that is not ex-library is more challenging, which is usually the case with university press titles.

August 21, 2011

The National Archives' "Discovering the Civil War"

As part of the Civil War's sesquicentennial commemorations, the National Archives has assembled a travelling museum exhibition called “Discovering the Civil War.” After debuting in Washington DC earlier this spring, its first stop on its multi-city tour is in Dearborn, Michigan at the Henry Ford Museum, one of metro Detroit’s cultural crown jewels.

In its earlier press release, the National Archives describes that the exhibit will “peel back 150 years of accumulated analysis, interpretation, and opinion to take a fresh look at the Civil War through little-known stories, seldom-seen documents, and unusual perspectives. Discovering the Civil War presents the most extensive display ever assembled from the incomparable Civil War collection of the National Archives.”

With high anticipation, I set out yesterday to see the exhibit before it leaves town on September 6.

The first thing I realized was that the exhibit is presented thematically, rather than in a chronological fashion. Using the latest in interactive video technology on high-def touch screens at some presentations and more traditional glass cases at others, the exhibit sets out to ask some large questions and then presents numerous historical documents from its collections that the allow the visitor to form some answers. Most of the exhibit features letters, proclamations, photographs, etc. that have been blown up to a poster size facsimile for easier reading, often with the key passages highlighted for the reader. A nearby smaller plaque explains to the visitor what the document is, who wrote it and when, plus additional context.

Every possible theme is covered from women and the home front, who the generals were and their pre-war relationships, to more military-oriented topics such as foreign relations, espionage and the draft.

The role of slavery as the war’s central cause is, of course, front and center at almost every turn. How the war impacted free black men and women in the north is covered, as is the impact of reconstruction on blacks and whites alike. The exhibit concludes with a number of interesting presentations on the Civil War in our collective historical memory.

Visitors looking forward to seeing discussions of and documents pertaining to the war’s grand military strategies, campaigns or battles will be sorely disappointed. This is an exhibit that strives for nuance and therefore delves deep into the “why” of the war and how those answers impacted the course of the conflict. It seemed to me that any presentations that touched on the “battle” aspects of the war were almost an afterthought.

I can’t say I was surprised because this focus on slavery, emancipation, politics and the social aspect of the war is what is currently in vogue. And that’s understandable as the battle and campaign aspect of the war has, frankly, been covered ad nauseum over the past 150 years, IMO. If this exhibit comes to your home town, you’ll want to check it out.

August 15, 2011

Interesting Article on Collecting Civil War Books

I came across this article from Fine Books and Collections magazine and thought fellow Civil War Book Collectors might be interested.

Of special note was the author's comment regarding pamphlets printed during the war. I own very few but it is an area where I've been seeking to expand my collection. Anyone else out there collecting pamphlets?

July 13, 2011

R. E. Lee: A Biography

I was doing a bit of internet surfing the other night and came across a description of Douglas Southall Freeman's legendary four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee from the C. Dickens Fine & Rare BookSellers in Atlanta, Ga. It reads in part:

When approached by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1915 with the request for a biography of Gen. Robert E. Lee, CSA, Douglas Southall Freeman embarked on a 19-year journey that would finally produce the epic four-volume R. E. LEE in 1934. This set won a Pulitzer Prize in 1935 and has become one of the most respected biographies ever written.

Freeman, realizing that many biographies of Lee had been written prior to his accepting the task, sought sources that had been rarely, if ever, consulted. These sources included: the records of the Bureau of Engineers and of the United States Military Academy; collections of Southern families that included Lee's letters; correspondence and memoirs of those who served with and against him in the War Between The States; and the files of Washington and Lee University.

The portrait of Lee that Freeman paints in these four volumes is that of a true leader, who was loved by his troops and respected by those who opposed him. Lee was able to exhibit some of the best qualities of humanity in some of the most inhumane situations. In example after example, Freeman introduces us to this noble Victorian.

Along with its companion set, Lee's Lieutenants (also by Freeman), R. E. Lee provides a realistic, informative and sympathetic portrait of "Marse Robert", a man loved and respected in victory and defeat.

A first edition set of Freeman's biography of Lee is by any measure a cornerstone for Civil War book collectors and, almost needless to say, can be quite pricey. The work was published by Charles Scribners, bound in red cloth with gilt lettering on the spine, and in a slipcase. First editions are indicated by the Scribner "A" on the copyright page. Sets with a Freeman signature are even more rare, as seen here.

After winning the Pulitzer Prize, Scribners published the four volumes in a "Pulitzer Prize Edition," (pictured) which is far more affordable and visually more attractive. The second printing of Pulitzer Prize Edition was housed in a wooden crate that is now quite rare. The crate is printed on two sides with "R.E. LEE, 4 VOLUMES, PULITZER ED., SCRIBNER'S". Any set that includes the original slipcase or wooden crate will command a premium.

July 12, 2011

Does "Following the Flag" Also Apply to Civil War Books?

In the world of collecting first editions, serious collectors want the first printing from the country where the book in question made its first appearance. This is especially the case for any fiction genre, whether its literary fiction, science fiction, mysteries, etc. So if collectible author "A" has a new novel that appeared in England a week or so prior to its publication in the U.S., that British edition is the one many, if not most collectors will want. A well-known example is the Ernest Hemingway novel Across the River and Into the Trees, which was published by Jonathan Cape in England three days prior to its publication by Scribners here in the states.

If you consider yourself a Civil War first edition book collector, do such "rules" matter to you? Let me know, as I'd love to read your opinion on this.

My question is prompted by the recent publication of A World on Fire: Britain's Crucial Role in the American Civil War by acclaimed British historian Amanda Foreman. This much-hyped, 1008-page epic has just been published in the states by Random House to stellar reviews and may very well become the standard work on the subject.

Since the author is British, I went to to see if the book had been published there. Lo and behold, I discovered that it was first published in England on Nov. 4, 2010 by Allen Lane Publishers with the slightly different title A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided. So for me at least, that's the edition I will buy. Does such minutiae matter to any other book-loving Civil Warriors, or is such hair-splitting limited to the fiction genres?

UPDATE Aug. 21 - My book has arrived from England and to my surprise, it's a signed copy!

June 12, 2011

On the Maturing of the Rare Book Market

Veteran bookseller Ken Lopez gave a talk last year on what he sees as the dramatic changes that have taken place in the rare book market in the last 10-15 years, and the even more dramatic changes in the past 5 or 6 years. He talks about what kinds of changes have ocurred, what has caused them, what do they mean for now, and what are their implications for the future. Full transcript here.

May 25, 2011

Time Flies

I cannot believe it's been close to two months since my last post! Between the day job, family commitments and working on my current book project, time does indeed have a way of flying by.

But do not fret gentle collectors - a post on the premier book pertaining to Northern medical operations, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army, is forthcoming.

In the interim, two comments. First off, I visited the 33rd annual Ann Arbor (MI) Book Fair this past Sunday. As book fairs go, I'd say it's on the smaller side, nevertheless it was well stocked with scores of beautiful first editions in all literary genres at breathtaking prices. Civil War books however, were another story. Frankly, I was amazed at the relative lack of quality Civil War titles being offered. This was especially perplexing considering the ongoing sesquicentennial. Have others noticed anything similar?

Second, as I was signing on, I noticed at my "dashboard" that the April 5 post was #300. Amazing. This blog has been a source of great amusement for myself as well as a bibliographic learning experience. It was and is intended as a light-hearted gathering spot for Civil War book collectors. A cuppa joe and a friendly chat if you will. Nothing too serious though I do go off on a tangent from time to time. If you, fellow collector, have learned anything or enjoyed visiting from time to time, then it's been time well spent for me.

April 5, 2011

The "Battle" of Picacho Pass

My family and I are currently in Arizona for a combination business trip/family vacation. Yesterday we went hiking at the Picacho Peak State Park, which is located on I-10 about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. It's also the interpretive home for what's known as the Battle of Picacho Pass, aka Picacho Peak, which has the distinction of being the westernmost action of the Civil War.

It's also the smallest affair that I've ever heard of being graced with the descriptive term "battle." Indeed, the total number of combatants were fourteen Union and ten Confederate. Yes, you read that right. Here and here give good overviews of this April 15, 1862 cavalry engagement. The Civil War Album website has some good pictures of the park's various plaques and monuments, including this panoramic explanation of how the skirmish unfolded. Note that in this view you are looking toward the east across I-10. Picacho Peak is just behind you.

The park's visitor center sells a $6 booklet that gives a broad overview of the Civil War in the Southwest and how this engagement came to be. On a more substantial note, Andrew Masich's The Civil War in Arizona gives a thorough treatment of the Union's California Volunteers who fought in Arizona, which during the war was part of the New Mexico Territory. I picked up a copy at Guidon Books, a Civil War and Southwest Americana bookseller in Scottsdale, Az. since 1964.

On a more somber note, I've also learned that this engagement and its state park home are on the Civil War Trust's 2010 list of ten most endangered sites. See here for full particulars.

March 31, 2011

"Gone With the Wind" Manuscript "Rediscovered"

Interesting story on the manuscript's history. I did not know that Margaret Mitchell's husband destroyed all of the manuscript in his possession following his wife's accidental death at age 49. Whether he knew or not about other sections of the manuscript existing is unknown.

...Snydacker continued. “Last summer, John Wiley, Jr., co-author with Ellen F. Brown on a recent release of a book called, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, called, knowing about the foreign language books. I went to the place where they were stored, scanned them for the author, and I was reminded of the 2011 75th anniversary of publication. So we began plumbing our acquisitions, and saw what we had while looking at the catalogue.” Snydacker told us. “So in the catalogue was listed this manuscript. We took it to the library committee and they agreed to take this public.”

Snydacker had it authenticated at Christie’s by Chris Coover, a senior specialist. “We carried it in a fireproof box and he verified that we had the long lost chapters. He was delighted with their condition. This small manuscript serves as proof of Mitchell’s work. Her husband did not know Brett had these last original typescripts.”

Check out the full article here.

March 25, 2011

Civil War Voices and Soldier Studies

I'd like to give a hat tip and thanks to Chris Wehner of Civil War Voices for his kind review of my book, Glory Was Not Their Companion: The Twenty-sixth New York Infantry in the Civil War. As the book specs in his comments point out, the publisher reissued the book last year in a trade paperback format.

Chris is also the operator of Soldier Studies, a well done, searchable archive of unpublished Civil War letters both blue and grey. I've added Civil War Voices to the blogroll.

March 20, 2011

Personal Recollections of the Civil War by John Gibbon

General John Gibbon (1827-1896) was one of those Civil War generals who seemed to have been everywhere in the Eastern theater, from the onset of conflict right up through the Appomattox surrender. His Civil War career began as chief of artillery for Irvin McDowell’s division, which was then followed by promotion to command of the legendary Iron Brigade at Second Manassas and Antietam. In November 1862, Gibbon was again promoted to command of the Second Division in John Reynolds’ First Corp. After being severely wounded at Fredericksburg, Gibbon was on the sidelines for several months but returned to duty in time to command the Second Division of Hancock’s Second Corps at Gettysburg. On two occasions during that engagement, Gibbon led the corps’ itself but was again wounded and carried from the field.

After regaining his health, Gibbon returned to division command for the Wilderness Campaign which led to a promotion to major general in June 1864. In January 1865, Gibbon was awarded formal corps command of the Army of the James’ newly-created Twenty-fourth Corps. At Appomattox, Gibbon was given the honor of being one of the officers designated to receive the formal surrender of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Following the Civil War, Gibbon stayed in the army and successfully continued his illustrious career as an Indian fighter on the Plains before formally retiring as a brigadier general in the regular army in 1891.

Gibbon began penning these memoirs in 1885 and were based heavily on his past diaries, letters, and personal notes. Post-war letters to and from current colleagues and ex-Confederates helped to flesh out his narrative. The general passed away in 1896 which led to his recollections sitting in a desk for over thirty years before they were dusted off by Gibbons’ daughter, who edited the manuscript and readied it for publication.

Personal Recollections of the Civil War was then published by G. P. Putman’s Sons in 1928 and from the beginning, received favorable reviews. That perception continues today with Gibbon’s memoir considered to be a candid, straightforward and important account of the war’s Eastern Theater. A contemporary review in the 1928 Book Review Digest described the work as “A volume of reminiscences which is one of the most readable and lifelike of any Civil War memoirs” and “a valuable addition to our knowledge of the Civil War.”

First editions can be readily had if you’re not picky about condition (such as the pictured copy), however copies in fine condition with dust jacket are surprisingly impossible to find, considering that the book was published by a major New York publisher and as relatively recent as 1928. In fact, I’ve been looking for ages and have never found one in acceptable condition. Note that I assume the book was issued with a jacket considering its vintage and the publisher. Reading copies are plentiful since Morningside published a facsimile reprint of the book’s original red cloth boards with gilt lettering in 1978 and then reprinted it years later in their standard format. Also surprising is that the title is not available via Google Print. Pictured copy offered here.

March 7, 2011

ABE Talks About Battle Books

ABE ( has a new page where they show off and discuss a number of Civil War "battle" books. Check it out here.

March 2, 2011

Collecting Lincoln: The Making of a National Treasure

I found this very interesting piece about a man named Alfred Whital Stern (pictured at left), a clothing manufacturer who built one of the finest Lincolnia collections in private hands. In 1950 he donated the entire collection to the Library of Congress. According to the article, the collection is "comprised of more than 11,000 manuscripts, broadsides, portraits, political cartoons, newspapers, medals, artifacts, autographs and sheet music, and occupying its own room in the Washington library, the gift is known as the Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana." And my wife complains that I have too many books....

Among its highlights is a letter written by Lincoln to Gen. Joseph Hooker in 1863 offering him the command of the Army of the Potomac. According to Evans, the letter purchased by Stern in 1941 for $15,000 “is universally regarded to be among Lincoln’s greatest compositions.”

Check out the full article here.

February 20, 2011

Collecting U.S. Civil War Books: The Men & Women of the Conflict has published an interesting piece on collecting Civil War books called Collecting U.S. Civil War Books: The Men & Women of the Conflict . Lots of pics of older books. Cool stuff.

The Civil War was perhaps the quintessential American experience. It features battles, political intrigue, espionage, technology development, foreign relations, civic duty and citizenship, patriotism, nationalism, philanthropy, humanitarian assistance, liberation, and military occupation and much more. However, the one common thread throughout all the adjectives in the preceding sentence is that people were the means and the ends of each of these words. These words have a flesh and blood quality in rhetoric and reality.

February 15, 2011

The Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry

The Twenty-fourth Michigan Infantry is probably the most famous of the thirty volunteer infantry regiments that were born in the Wolverine State during the Civil War. That fame begins with the regiment's creation, for it was recruited from Detroit and surrounding Wayne County in July and August 1862 following Lincoln's call for 300,000 more men. The city leaders felt Detroit had suffered an embarrasing show of public Copperhead sympathy that summer during a downtown "war rally" and as a means of showing the city's proper patriotism, Detroit's leading citizens obtained permission from Governor Austin Blair to raise an additional regiment from Detroit, in addition to the six other regiments that were then in the process of being formed around the state.

Many of Detroit's leading citizens volunteered for the Twenty-fourth, which was also known as the "Detroit and Wayne County Regiment." In fact, its colonel, Henry Morrow, had served as Recorder's Court Judge prior to gaining permission to form the Twenty-fourth.

The Twenty-fourth went on to fight in all of the great battles of the eastern theater as part of the legendary "Iron Brigade," which was comprised of the Second, Sixth, and Seventh Wisconsin, the Nineteenth Indiana, and the Twenty-Fourth Michigan. At Gettysburg, the Twenty-fourth suffered the greatest number of casualties of all Union regiment. They went into the first day's fight with 496 men. When the smoke cleared, only 99 were left to gather round the flag.

The first regimental history was the History of the Twenty-fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade by Orson Blair Curtis. Blair served in the unit and published his reminiscences in 1891. First editions of that title are scarce and very pricey. (Copy to the right is a facsimile reprint offered here.)

Over seventy years later, Donald Smith authored The Twenty-fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade. Published by Stackpole Books in 1962 during the ACW centennial, the work was, according to Nevins, "a thouroughly complete, twenty-five year labor of love" that featured ample amounts of primary sources unavailable in Curtis' prior work. Smith's work is included in Eicher's bibliography (#1072) and is described as an "excellent survey, which deserves a place in the regimental section of every library." As shown here, first editions are not uncommon, however like most fifty-year-old books, the book's condition as well as that of the jacket will greatly influence price and if in fine condition, expect to pay in the $50-75 range.

February 13, 2011

Fighting the Good Fight Against Bookshelf Dust

The battle never ends. Check it out.

"The most effective dust management starts before a book ever reaches the shelf. "When I buy a book, I will carefully open it and slam it shut several times," he said. "Sometimes these big balloons of dust will cascade to the floor." This is where dust belongs, he said, down at vacuum level. Next, "you sort of riffle the pages." Finally, he will run a dry paintbrush along the edges.

As protocols go, it's a good one, Garner said. Yet at the same time he is dusting his books, many thousands of them are turning to dust. Acid paper, which was ubiquitous between 1870 and 1970, "tends to self-destruct," he said.

There can be a gloom to antiquarian book collecting — the authors are dead, we are dying — and the dust doesn't help. Garner likes to place musty books of questionable provenance in the sun to cure. And he opens the windows and airs out the house every two weeks, preferably after a good rain has knocked down the dust outside."

January 26, 2011

Morningside Books

I just received the following email from Morningside Books and thought that fellow travellers may be interested:

Morningside Bookshop has a new owner. Andy Turner, associated with Morningside since 1993 and owner of The Gettysburg Magazine, has taken over ownership of Morningside. His goal is to continue on in the tradition of quality books that was established by Bob and Mary Younger. Morningside, along with The Gettysburg Magazine, are now part of Gatehouse Press. Gatehouse will continue to print and sell Morningside titles with the Morningside name on them.

Morningside has always carried many Civil War books by other publishers as well. As the business is reorganizing, we are adjusting our inventory. As part of this reorganization, we are offering many books for sale. These are books that will be sold at the sale price until they are gone and not restocked. Many of them are down to one copy left. Please see the pdf file listing books for $5, $10, $15, and $20 each. Click here for the list

To order, you can call or email, as we need to check stock to make sure the book you're looking for isn't sold out. Once we've verified it's still here, you can pay with a credit card, or we'll hold the book if you prefer to send a check. Please make checks payable to Gatehouse Press. Shipping is $6.00 for the first book and $2.00 for each additional book.

We're currently reworking the Morningside and Gettysburg Magazine websites to update them and combine them into a Gatehouse Press website. We'll let you know when it goes online. We'll also be sending out soon a listing of some of our rare and used books for sale.

With regards,

Andy Turner

Gatehouse Press
PO Box 1311
Dayton, OH 45401

January 25, 2011

Here we go again...

MARSHALL, AR – After the mayor of a small Arkansas town flew the confederate flag in observance of Robert E. Lee’s birthday, the city council passed an ordinance Monday saying only the US flag and Arkansas flag can be flown on city property.

Full story and video here.

By flying the flag from the city hall flagpole, the city of Marshall was giving a de facto endorsement of the flag and what it represented, which the local African-American community and possibly a notable portion of the white community probably found deeply offensive. While other members of the community may resent that "their" flag cannot be flown from the city flagpole, I think it's pretty obvious that the message of formally flying the Confederate battle flag on MLK's holiday is viewed by those offended as a big one-fingered salute to the African-American community. Let's keep the Confederate battle flag where it belongs: properly preserved and interpreted in museums and history books.

And as for the bit about "our heritage," Southern culture and heritage is a glorious and diverse one that spans well over 300 years. Why is it that some folks insist on drilling down to only those four years and basically ignoring the rest?

January 23, 2011

The Organization and Administration of the Union Army

January 24 Update - Mr. Robert A. Clark, current publisher of the Arthur H. Clark Company graciously replied to my email query from yesterday regarding the initial print run for this title. He states that the work was published in an edition of 750 copies. Further, he writes that "Many of the Clark Company’s catalogs stated that only 475 sets were printed, but all our publication records show that 750 sets were delivered by the bindery." Either way, that's a fairly small number. When you factor in all the sets that may have been lost or sullied over time, coupled with all of those that are/were in public libraries, it's easy to see why fine copies of this book are very collectible.

Today’s post is about an older but still important work titled The Organization and Administration of the Union Army 1861-1865, which explains how the Union army evolved from a small peacetime force into a potent military machine approaching one million men by the time the Civil War ended in 1865. It was written by Professor Fred Albert Shannon (1893-1963) and published as a two-volume work in 1928 by the Arthur H. Clark Company of Cleveland, Ohio at a then-whopping list price of $25. As you can see by this inflation calculator, $25 then equals $310 today! Nevertheless, the work’s impact and importance was such that it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1929.

The books’ primary focus was on the evolution of northern military policy regarding the enlistment and recruitment processes of the army. Shannon also discussed the inter-actions and relationships between the national and state governments in dealing with the problems and solutions pertaining to recruiting, training, equipping, and supplying the soldiers. The author relied heavily on a detailed analysis of census data for much of his conclusions. (As a sidebar, Shannon devoted an entire chapter to what he termed “The Slacker Problem,” which discussed the “skedaddlers” and others who avoided voluntary enlistment or the draft at all costs. I humorously thought “slacker” was a more contemporary term, but was obviously in use eighty-five years ago with the same meaning as today.)

Though definitely a scholarly work, the book nonetheless has an easy to read feel to it. Not surprising, for in the research for this post, I learned that one biographer described how Shannon strove to write history from the perspective of an average American. Shannon believed in common man values as the primary shaper of the United States and as such, held the wealthy in low regard. His interest in this topic first began as a student at Indiana University. After graduation, Shannon taught history at Iowa Wesleyan College for several years starting in 1919. Upon earning his doctorate in 1924, Shannon became an assistant professor of history at Iowa State Teachers College. In 1926 he was appointed associate professor of history at the Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science where he became a specialist in American social and economic history during the Civil War and antebellum periods.

First editions of this two-volume set are bound in dark blue cloth with gilt lettering and trim on the spine. The top edges of the pages are also in gold gilt, which seems to have been the Clark Company’s standard format, for as one admirer of the press wrote in 1963, “…the handsome octavo volumes with the ivory-laid, deckle-edged, uncut pages and the distinctive gold bands and prominent lettering on the spine have long been recognizable on library shelves as ‘Clark books’.” This definitely would have been considered a “fine press” work from back in the day. Like Neale books, the Arthur H. Clark Company also seems to be collected in its own right as a specialty publisher of western Americana, as the existence of this 1993 bibliography attests. The Arthur H. Clark Co. still exists today as an imprint of the University of Oklahoma Press. As for this specific book, the title and copyright pages should have matching 1928 dates in order to confirm first edition status. As you can see from ABE, first edition sets of this work that are not library discards and in solid condition tend to command prices in the $300 range.

January 8, 2011

Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia 1861-1865

A year ago I posted about John Billings’ timeless Hardtack and Coffee, considered to be the standard work about the common soldier’s life in the Union army, written, of course, by one who was there. Today’s post is about a book titled Detailed Minutiae of Soldier Life in the Army of Northern Virginia 1861-1865 which tells the story in homespun style of what the common Confederate private went through on a day to day basis and therefore stands as a companion volume to Billings’. One reviewer notes that McCarthy’s comments “are charming discourses on uniforms, camp life, rations and marches” while Nevins describes the book as “deserving of its reputation as ‘the most interesting and informative of all memoirs written by privates.’” The illustrations by fellow Confederate, William L. Sheppard, only add to its luster.

The book’s author was Carlton McCarthy (1847-1936) who by one account was a well-educated child with upper class upbringing. Due to his youthful age, McCarthy served in the Richmond home guard until he could formally enlist as a private with the Richmond Howitzers in 1864, ultimately surrendering with that unit at Appomattox on April 9, 1865. McCarthy’s older brother was a Confederate captain who was killed at Cold Harbor and served as an inspirational source for much of his material.

Kevin Levin of Civil War Memory gives an insightful review of McCarthy’s work as it pertains to the disbanding of the Confederate army following Appomattox and the soldiers’ journeys home.

Following the war, McCarthy took up his pen and wrote this book about his experiences in the war. The work was first serialized in the Southern Historical Society Papers between 1876 and 1878. Its first appearance in hardcover was an 1882 self-published, 224-page effort prepared by “Carlton McCarthy and Company” that featured a tan colored, embossed cloth binding with black and white plates internally. A second edition followed in 1888. Like any desirable book of this vintage, the price for a first edition will vary greatly with the condition. As you can see here, they’ll range from $27 for a truly beat reading copy to $350 for a copy in pristine condition. The pictured copy is an author-inscribed first edition and is offered for sale here.

McCarthy also served as the mayor of Richmond from 1904 to 1908. He passed away in 1936 and is buried at the Riverview Cemetery in Richmond.

January 1, 2011

Book Collecting in the 21st Century

I just discovered this online video presentation and wanted to share it with visitors to this blog. It is certainly an apropos topic. In it, Mr. David Gregor, book collector and owner of Gregor Books in Seattle, gives a slide presentation on the fundamental principles of book collecting in the 21st century. Enjoy.