Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Journal of Southern History Review

In case you missed it, I had the huge honor of having my book reviewed in the prestigious Journal of Southern History by Dr. Paul E. Coker of the University of Tennessee.  Dr. Coker has written extensively on the experiences of US Colored Troops from Tennessee during and after the Civil War and I couldn't be more pleased with the review.

Here is the full review:
The Battle of New Market Heights: Freedom Will Be Theirs by the Sword. By James S. Price. (Charleston, S.C., and London: The History Press, 2011. Pp. 125. Paper, $19.99, ISBN 978-1-60949-038-6.) The focus of James S. Price's study is a sometimes overlooked episode of the Civil War's Richmond-Petersburg campaign: the courageous but near-suicidal charge of black Union soldiers against entrenched Confederates at New Market Heights, Virginia, on September 29, 1864. The black units involved suffered heavy casualties, but Union forces ultimately won the position, and fourteen black soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor--a number that "equaled the total number of Medals of Honor issued to black soldiers in the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II combined" (p. 87).
This slim volume offers considerable insight regarding the black military experience. Some of Price's bolder claims, such as his suggestion that this was "arguably one of the most important days in American history," may not convince all readers (p. 9). Instead, perhaps the book's greatest strength is its exploration of the ambiguity and pliability of the battle's legacy. While the courage of the U.S. Colored Troops awed many observers, at least one Confederate soldier who surveyed the battlefield dead saw only a waste of "about a million dollars worth of niggers, at current prices" (p. 79). Elsewhere, Price counters arguments, perpetuated in recent studies, that Confederate defenders voluntarily withdrew and thus were not driven from their positions or that the Medals of Honor were merely a product of General Benjamin F. Butler's cynical self-promotion. Finally, an epilogue analyzing recent battlefield preservation efforts reveals the resistance of local landowners, one of whom angrily characterized plans for park expansion as yet another example of Yankee aggression. While some readers may dread wading into a detailed battle history, this book's clear writing style, inclusion of dozens of photographs and maps, and relevance to broader historical themes make it accessible for a general audience and worth consideration for undergraduate courses. [PAUL E. COKER, University of Tennessee]

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Upcoming Appearances

Well, even though there hasn't been much cooking on this blog in the past few weeks, things have been percolating behind the scenes and I have gotten enough public speaking requests to warrant a post! As always, if you’d like me to come speak at your event, just shoot me an e-mail and I will see if I can swing it. In the meantime, I’ll count on running into some of you at the following events:

November  12McLean Historical Society. Topic: Freedman’s Village at Arlington


May 24Clara Barton National Historic Site. Topic: USCTs during the Siege of Petersburg

June 20 – “Campaign Before Richmond” Sesquicentennial Symposium (featuring Bob Krick, Dick Sommers, and Louis Manarin) at Deep Bottom Park. Topic: The First Battle of Deep Bottom

September 9 Richmond Civil War Round Table. Topic: New Market Heights

September  26-28New Market Heights Re-enactment Weekend, Henrico County

November  9 – “Real to Reel” Movie and Lecture at Henrico Theater. Movie: Glory

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recapping Bristoe 150th

 Well, a big “thank you” goes out to all of you who took the time out of your busy schedules to attend the commemorative events surrounding the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Bristoe Station. All told, over 1,000 students and visitors participated in this event, which began on the morning of Thursday October 10th and ended at 6 PM on October 14th with the playing of “Taps.”

Fellow bloggers Ron Baumgarten and Craig Swain came out to see some of the events and the park was fortunate to have Dr. James I. “Bud” Robertson, Jr. give the keynote address. For those who may have missed it, here is the full address. Enjoy!