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The Civil War Chronicle: The Only Day-by-Day Portrait of America's Tragic Conflict as Told by Soldiers, Journalists, Politicians, Farmers, Nurses, Slaves, and Other Eyewitnesses

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2000

    Day by day contemporary flavorof the Civil War

    I have a few problems with his book, which is a collection of old photographs and sketches and letters, reports and other original source material organized in a day-by-day format and with a short commentary for putting each of the original sources in context. The photographs sketches are very nice and contain some that I hadn't seen before (and some old favorites such as the landscape after Hood blew up his ammunition train when abandoning Atlanta). The source material is good when it deals with the politics and the home front, nicely including Baltimore riots, New York draft riots, currency legislation and Grant's Jew order, banning them from his theater of operations. The lacking part to the book is its treatment of military operations. Major battles are reduced to operations reports or letters home about 2/3 of a page long, there are no maps and the day-by-day format eliminates continuity. One is merely left with account after account of regiments being crushed and (in the commentary) casualty figures without any understanding of why operations occurred where and when they did. Worse, the commentary is full of errors. E.P. Alexander is identified as 'Lee's chief of artillery'. Lincoln made T.S.C. Lowe chief of army aeronautics after meeting him on June 11, 1863 after which he resigned in May 1863. The Union ironclad Carondelet is identified as wooden-hulled. The Confederate ram Albemarle is said to have 'survived the mission, but it was so badly damaged that repairs could not be completed before war's end,' on page 404, but then on page 467, we read of the Union raid that destroyed it. Get this book if you want some contemporary flavor to add while you are reading a good general history of the civil war.

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