Thousands of books have been written on battles, armies, and soldiers. A limited number of books have been penned on women and the home front – both North and South. With the sesquicentennial, several volumes have been published or reprinted on cities during the Civil War. Just released is Susan Lawrence’s Civil War Washington: History, Place, and Digital Scholarship, which discusses the nation’s capital during the war, but also using new technology to advance scholarship. The Civil War Lover’s Guide to New York City by Bill Morgan provides an illustrated guide to sites to see and places to visit. John W. Robinson work Los Angeles in Civil War Days 1860-1865 has been reprinted, allowing current scholars to learn more about that Southern California city. Civil War Chicago: Eyewitness to History, edited by Theodore Karamanski and Eileen McMahon, presents excerpts that document that city’s development and role in the war. Thomas O’Connor’s Civil War Boston: Home Front & Battlefield follows the experiences of the city and its residents. Similarly, George G. Kundahl’s Alexandria Goes to War: Beyond Robert E. Lee chronicles the lives of men and women who gave service to the Confederate cause. For these and other books, stop by the store or visit us online.
On this day in 1834, John Wesley Powell was born in New York. His family moved and farmed the land in Wisconsin and Illinois. Young Powell soon turned to teaching, which gave him the opportunity to improve his own education. He became interested in natural science and his work garnered him a reputation with the Illinois Natural History Society. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Powell enlisted and soon rose to the rank of major and commanded an artillery battery. He lost a portion of his arm at Shiloh yet that did not keep him from returning to the military. After the war, Powell with ten men traveled down the Green and Colorado rivers, becoming the first Anglos to explore the Grand Canyon. He later mapped the Colorado Plateau and developed ideas on the development of arid lands. He was named director of the U.S. Geological Survey and later the Bureau of American Ethnology. His writings on the exploration of the Colorado River are still widely read. Wallace Stegner captured Powell and his thoughts on the development of the American West in Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. Donald Worster penned a wonderful biography of Powell in A River Running West. Thousands of people have been able to go down the Colorado River each year. In 1999, I was fortunate to be with my family as we ran the river, looking at the same canyon walls as did Powell over a hundred years ago.
On Sunday, Gordon and I went down to Fort Bowie National Historic Site with John Langellier, noted Western military historian and very good friend. Fort Bowie is about two hours southeast of Tucson. Visitors have a choice to take a nice 1.5 mile walk to the post, or a shorter, more accessible trail from a closer parking lot for those who can’t take the hike. Since it was a beautiful day, we chose to walk the 1.5 mile trail. As luck would have it, just as we got out of our truck in the parking lot, a NPS volunteer guide, Rick Hensel, walked up to us announced he would be leading a tour to the fort’s ruins in about ten minutes. We decided to join Rick and the other visitors for the guided hike. It was a great experience – between Rick, who did a fabulous job, and John, we learned so much about Cochise, the Bascom Affair and the Battle of Apache Pass. I recommend talking a day and traveling down to Fort Bowie – but do it before Arizona gets much hotter. If you want to read more about Cochise or the troubles with the Apache, I suggest picking up one of Ed Sweeney’s books. John Langellier also has written a good book on the Southern Arizona military posts which contain plenty of images.
On Tuesday evening, Anne E. Marshall, professor of history at Mississippi State University, spoke to the Scottsdale Civil War Round Table about Civil War and remembrance. Dr. Marshall, author of Creating a Confederate Kentucky: The Lost Cause and Civil War Memory in a Border State, talked about how Kentucky, which remained in the Union during the war, appeared to embrace a Confederate identify after 1865. We have a limited number of copies signed by Dr. Marshall. Other books, such as Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation and Burying the Dead but not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations & the Lost Cause, both by Caroline E. Janney, discuss how Union and Confederate veterans, as well as Southern ladies, remembered the war. Noted historians Gary Gallagher and William C. Davis have written and collected essays on the myths and realities of the Lost Cause and how Southerners viewed the Civil War. For these and other books, please stop by the store or check out they selection of Civil War books on our website
Because of the Great Famine in Ireland, many immigrants came to the United States around the mid-nineteenth century, although six of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Irish descent. With the beginning of the American Civil War, many Irish men enlisted in the Union Army – over 150,000 served, often forming their own regiments, including the 28th Massachusetts which was part of the Irish Brigade. The Irish Brigade, shouting their Gaelic battle cry, fought in some of the bloodiest battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg. Among the Irish Generals was Thomas Francis Meager. Although not in the same large numbers, the Confederate Army also had its Irish units, including the 6th Louisiana Volunteers and the Irish Rebels of the 15th Alabama. Many of the young Irish soldiers wrote letters home or left their memoirs which can now be read.
This past weekend was the Tucson Book Festival. It was great meeting and listening to such Western authors as Larry Ball, Sam Gwynne, Edwin Sweeney and Hampton Sides. It was interesting to learn how the scholars conducted their research or how they chose topics. Jeff Guinn was telling us about his new novel and the trials and tribulations in selecting a title for the book. On Saturday evening we attended a reception hosted by Bob Boze Bell honoring Marshall Trimble as he received his True Westerner Award presented by True West Magazine. Marsh has influenced students, scholars and those just interested in Arizona history for over forty years. He has written numerous books on Arizona history and currently writes a column “Ask the Marshall” in True West Magazine. Congratulations Marshall!
This weekend I watched the Tommy Lee Jones / Hilary Swank movie “The Homesman.” The book was written by Glendon Swarthout, a Scottsdale novelist. I was amazed at how close the film version was to the written word – of course there were some changes, but nothing that really changed the character of the book. I was reminded of how my mother told me that sometimes a good movie could draw people to reading and learning more about an actual event. The movie “Tombstone” with Kurt Russell had many people wanting to learn more about Wyatt Earp and the Arizona Territory. The same can be true with a novel, “Killer Angels” written by Michael Shaara which was made into the movie “Gettysburg” starring Jeff Daniels as Joshua Chamberlain. More people wanted to learn about what happened at Gettysburg and the fight at Little Round Top. Novels and movies are entertaining, but non-fiction book can also be very entertaining as well as informative. Let us help you find a great book including one about cowboys on the Western frontier or John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
On March 9, 1862, two new types of ships, ironclads, met in Chesapeake Bay. The C.S.S. Virginia (originally the U.S.S. Merrimack) was covered in heavy armor plating with large guns. The Confederates launched her in February and on March 8 she was able to sink two Union ships and force another to run aground. The Yankees also had their own metal clad ship, the U.S. S. Monitor, with a unique design of a flat deck with a cylindrical turret housing two guns. These two ironclads met on March 9 and shot at one another for four hours. Neither ship was destroyed, but the Virginia left, no longer threatening the U.S. Navy. Both ships did not survive the war with the South scuttling the Virginia a few months later and the Monitor sinking in a storm by the end of the year. Guidon Books has a large selection on this encounter between the ironclads as well as books on the ocean going blockade runners and fights on the inland waters. Stop by the store to view our selections or check out our new website.
The greater Phoenix metropolitan area is host to over a dozen baseball teams as part of the Cactus League Spring Training. Scottsdale is fortunate to have the World Champion San Francisco Giants play at Scottsdale Stadium. Having lived in California for 15 years, I learned to appreciate its rich heritage. We have books on the Gold Rush, San Francisco earthquake, the California missions, Native Americans as well as early ranching and settlement. While many of these titles are just starting to appear on our website, please stop by or give us a call if there is that special book you need on California history.