Here is an engaging one-volume encyclopedia on the American Civil War whose emphasis is on its illustrations – black and white or color, of individuals and battle scenes, period photographs and photos of Civil War artifacts including uniforms, flags, and swords, and present-day photographs of battlefields and other locations of note. While the illustrations are at the heart of his book, the accompanying narrative is interesting, not overly academic but meant for a general readership.
The book is divided into six parts: the soldiers, the uniforms, the leaders, the generals, the battles, and the weapons. In his presentation of what a soldier’s life was like during the Civil War, Davis includes illustrations of things soldiers would have carried - cooking utensils, shaving equipment, soap, games, and other things they needed.
The book is divided into six parts: the soldiers, the uniforms, the leaders, the generals, the battles, and the weapons. In his presentation of what a soldier’s life was like during the Civil War, Davis includes illustrations of things soldiers would have carried - cooking utensils, shaving equipment, soap, games, and other things they needed. Chapter three is about the dead, the wounded and prisoners. Two crackers (or hardtack are displayed, and disturbing images of dead and malnourished prisoners. In the second part, Davis presents soldiers’ uniforms for both sides.
The book’s fourth section is on the generals, but the third part – the section on the leaders - is about generals, too; one would think that government leaders such Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis would be included as leaders. Generals Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Admiral David Farrgut, Generals George H. Thomas, Galusha Pennypacker and George A. Custer are instead presented in the section on leaders. The following section is more an extension than a distinctly separate part, but more generals are added as well as some of their personal items. Davis includes some quite interesting artifacts from various generals - Lee’s uniforms, saddle, and hat, Grant’s uniform and insignia shoulder badges, and other such items.
In the section on the battles, Davis presents photographic images of the battlesites, sometimes before and after. Only paintings and drawings show battles in progress; photography at that time was not advanced enough to take images in motion. The sixth part, on weapons, features images of soldiers with various weapons including swords, knives, rifles, and cannons. Davis also presents color photographs of some of these weapons.
Davis succeeds in achieving the book’s titular purpose: to provide images of the Civil War and of artifacts that have survived. The images and artifacts are from various museums and archives, such as the National Archives, the Museum of the Confederacy, the Virginia Military Institute, the Civil War Library and Museum, West Point Museum, and many others. This book is recommended to those interested in various objects connected with the Civil War.
William C. Davis is the author of the forthcoming book Oregon Trail (Oct. 2007), and of The Pirates Laffite (2006), Lone Star Rising (2006), Virginia at War, 1861 (2005), Secret History of Confederate Diplomacy Abroad (2005), Civil War Album (2005), Civil War in Photographs (2005), and many other books.