American Civil War
By Philip Katcher
One of the problems about the American Civil War as a period is the overwhelming volume of books available on the subject. Many of these books are to be honest not worth the shelf room. They hardly ever contain anything original, either in interpretation, or in the recounting of historical events. Regrettably the information contained inside them is often cursory, and of very little use to anyone beyond the casual reader.
It is a pleasure then to be sent a volume that is well worth the shelf space, and contains information of value to the beginner or history student, and the ACW fan. An Almanac by definition attempts to be all encompassing and it will contain details that are familiar. So the brief description of the roots of the conflict, and the chronology may cover well trodden ground, but they are well written, and as you would expect from Katcher, insightful. There is a section on the participants, which provides brief pen pictures of a host of military officers and politicians, many of whom I found unfamiliar.
The section on Combatant Forces details the pre-war military establishments of both sides including militia and the Military Schools. A mate of mine who is in the midst of preparing a campaign for the section detailing the military Departments and the garrisons of particular interest, as it saved him a lot of research, he was doubly happy when he found that the naval establishments of both sides was in the next chapter!
The Chapters on weaponry will be of more limited interest to most wargamers, or that has been my experience in the past (far too technical an issue I suppose). The bibliography is extensive, and I found the details of Civil war museums of interest, although I felt the list of websites was rather limited, though understandably so. The final section contains an eclectic selection of statistics ranging from battle losses to the depreciation rates of the Confederate dollar. It may be me but I found this fascinating. The text is supported by a good selection of contemporary photographs, so of which are familiar, others new to me.
All in all an excellent companion volume to the period, that will be used as a reference work on a regular basis, as well a a casual read.
Format Hardback: 240 pages
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