Sunday, June 14, 2009

Civil War guerrilla warfare publishing in the rest of 2009

I was never a fan of the roundtable discussions in previous issues of N&S magazine, but the latest one (in issue 11:3) about irregular warfare is quite good, a mostly excellent summary of the state of current scholarship and where it needs to go next.

Along with the contributions of Ethan Rafuse and John Inscoe, one of the better commentaries was from University of Arkansas's Daniel E. Sutherland. Long maintaining the notion that guerrilla warfare was central, rather than peripheral, to the way the Civil War was fought, Sutherland's argument has been reinforced by the accumulation of books and articles published on the subject in recent years. Soon, with A Savage Conflict: The Decisive Role of Guerrillas in the American Civil War (UNC Press, June/July), we will finally have the book length project that will presumably explore in greatest depth so far his revisionist (at least they used to be considered revisionist) views.

In September, University Press of Kansas will publish Clay Mountcastle's Punitive War: Confederate Guerrillas and Union Reprisals, a work that seems to pick up on many of the same themes, but with a special emphasis on how southern guerrillas shaped the nature of the Union's prosecution of the war.

Guerrilla tactics are rarely discussed beyond a piecemeal fashion or only in specific contexts, so Osprey's American Civil War Guerrilla Tactics (September) may prove interesting, despite the publisher's deserved reputation for uneven output.

Finally, in October, LSU Press will release Barton A. Myers' Executing Daniel Bright: Race, Loyalty, and Guerrilla Violence in a Coastal Carolina Community, 1861-1865, another in a line of scholarly local studies that have incrementally served to shape our current understanding of both guerrilla warfare and the character of the war most typically experienced by the south's civilian population.

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