Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Best single volume battle studies?

The discussion last week on Hoofbeats and Cold Steel about personal libraries caused me to review my shelves a little more closely, and I found them a bit wanting in a few areas. Not wanting as in I can think of a few dozen more that I'd like to own (a permanent condition), but wanting in that there are several large gaps in the war that I have very little reference material on.

The biggest of these is the area of specific battles. I own very few works focused on specific battles or campaigns. I was fortunate enough to find a copy of John Hennessy's Return to Bull Run in a local store this weekend, which started me thinking about the area of specific battles and campaigns. I actually own very few of these. Reference works, unit histories, tomes on the cavalry and the war in general, yes, but very few on specific battles.

Given the quantity of what's available out there, I thought I'd ask for some input on quality. What are the best single volume battle studies out there right now? I'm specifically thinking about the Peninsula campaign and the Wilderness at the moment, but am certainly open to other suggestions. A quick search of Drew Wagenhoffer's site didn't turn up anything specific, although I'm now very interested in Michael Hardy's Battle of Hanover Court House after reading the review posted there.


DW@CWBA said...

I am a Western guy so you won't find much on the major eastern battles in CWBA. I own the books, but in general don't blog about them much! :-)

But to answer your question. I like the Hastings' book "A Pitiless Rain" (Williamsburg). Curiously, there are no book length studies of the indiv. battles of the Seven Days. The most detailed single volume is Brian Burton's "Extraordinary Circumstances".

I don't like it a whole lot, but the best Seven Pines book is one from the HE Howard series by Steven Newton. I think it's called the "Battle of Seven Pines".

As for the Wilderness campaign, you have to go with Gordon Rhea's book "The Battle of the Wilderness".

This is all from memory, so you might want to check for exact titles.

Don said...

Thanks for the input, Drew, that definitely gives me a starting point. I saw from your website that you had recommendations on the west and trans-Mississippi, which I will have to address sooner or later.

My best bet initially may be to find the Civil War NPS area on the Peninsula with the biggest bookstore and start perusing from there. I was very surprised to discover that there is nothing on the Civil War at Yorktown, and here in Williamsburg you definitely have to know where to look.

Thanks again for the comments.