Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Civil War book is a 'must read' for Alabama history buffs

Georgia author and historian Robert C. Jones has come out with a great, new Civil War book that I highly recommend to everyone in the reading audience with an interest in Alabama history. It’s called “Alabama and the Civil War: A History & Guide.”

Published by The History Press, this 192-page book is divided into seven sections, each of which takes a close look at a different aspect of the war. Those sections discuss Alabama’s key players in the war, Montgomery’s role as the Confederate capital, battles that took place in the state, the state’s war manufacturing centers, prison camps and forts, and a timeline of Civil War events in the state.

Key players discussed in the book include Nathan Bedford Forrest, John Washington Inzer, Catesby ap Rogers Jones, Andrew B. Moore, John Pelham, Edmund Pettus, Phillip Roddey, Robert Emmett Rodes, Emma Sansom, Raphael Semmes, John Gill Shorter, Thomas Hill Watts, Major General Joseph Wheeler, Major General James H. Wilson and William Lowndes Yancey.

I was especially interested in the section on Thomas Hill Watts, who was from just up the road in Butler County. Watts was born in Butler County in 1819 and worked as a lawyer, farmer and state representative. In 1862, after an unsuccessful run for governor, he was appointed attorney general for the Confederacy by Jefferson Davis.

Watts ran for governor the following year and won, but only served 18 months before the war ended in 1865. Union troops captured him near Union Springs in Bullock County on May 1, 1865, but eventually turned him loose. He worked as a lawyer in Montgomery up until his death in 1892.

I also got a kick out of the chapter about Montgomery’s role as the Confederate capital. This chapter indicated that one of the reasons that the capital was eventually moved to Richmond, Va. had to do with the perception that Montgomery’s hotels weren’t nice enough to accommodate the fine tastes of the assembled Confederate big-wigs. Others say that it had to do with the fact that Richmond was a more comfortable place to live in the warm weather months as opposed to hot, humid, mosquito-infested Montgomery.

The book also includes a long list of sources and reference materials, which will serve as a good guide for anyone wanting to read more about the topics discussed in the book. The book also contains something that I can’t say I’ve ever seen in a book, that is, links to YouTube videos, where you can watch the author conduct lectures on Civil War subjects.

I have to admit that prior to reading this book, I just thought that I’d been to see many of the state’s important Civil War sites. This book did a good job of showing me that my Civil War history “field trips” had really just scratched the surface. I definitely added several new locations to my Civil War “bucket list” while reading this book.

In the end, if you’re interested in Alabama history and the state’s role in the Civil War, I highly recommend that you check out Jones’ new book. Not only does it provide a clear, concise review of Alabama’s role in the war, but if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself learning a lot that you didn’t already know. Copies of the book can be found for sale online through major booksellers like Barnes & Noble and 

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