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Civil War Reading

April 5, 2010 12:38:23.695

I just finished two books on the civil war - one on Sheridan (more properly, on him and his top commanders) , and the other on the war in the Chesapeake Bay region . The Sheridan book covered the last year of the war - more or less, the Shenandoah campaign and the wrapup of the siege of Petersburg. Sheridan was an interesting character, and he ended up having a lasting impact on the army - his innnovations with cavalry warfare make me wonder - he would have been an interesting guy to pair with Patton during WWII.

Another thing that comes clearly through this book, at least for me - if you're going to fight a war, fight the war. No half measures, no "proportional response" nonsense - take the war to the enemy and make them regret the decision to go to war in the first place. I often wonder how differently many modern American wars might have gone had Sheridan, Sherman, and Grant been around to run them.

Anyway - if you're interested in this period of history, it's an interesting book, and short. A good companion to a biography of Sheridan.

The second book, about the war on the riverine Chesapeake, was fascinating. It really brought home to me how messy the border region war was between 1861-1865. All along the Chesapeake, the skirmishing, smuggling, and guerilla warfare went on non-stop until the very end of the war, and it was often a nasty business. Not that war is ever not nasty, but it was smaller scale and more personal - given the divided loyalties of the region, there was a lot of the stereotypical "brother vs. brother" thing going on.

If you want to read something that gives you a view of the war away from the common "Lee vs. a parade of Union commanders" thing, this is a good one to look at.

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posted by James Robertson

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