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Blue & Gray, Holiday 2005

Blue & Gray magazine is one of the top Civil War magazines available. The main articles usually contain endnotes, and the maps are very detailed and numerous. Blue & Gray has an "article and tour guide format". That is, the magazine contains a main article on a battle or campaign, and later in the issue you will see a tour guide of the area. If you are a battlefield tramper, this is the magazine for you. The Holiday 2005 issue focuses on the Battle of Perryville, the largest battle fought on Kentucky soil, fought on October 8, 1862. A portion of Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army attacked and nearly routed the Union I Corps under Alexander McCook. McCook's men held the Union left, and ended up fighting the battle almost alone. Due to an acoustic shadow, Buell and the other two Union Corps could not hear the heavy fighting to their north.
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The 1862 Kentucky Campaign and the Battle of Perryville by Stuart W. Sanders

By the early fall of 1862, events had not been kind to the western Confederates. Since that spring, large areas of Tennessee and all of Kentucky had been abandoned, and the Rebels had suffered losses at Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson, Shiloh, and Henry Halleck's drive on Corinth, Mississippi. The Union Army of the Ohio under Don Carlos Buell had started to move on Chattanooga, Tennessee. Amidst this gloom, the Confederates pulled themselves together and launched a two-pronged offensive into Kentucky and an attack on the Union forces around Corinth. Braxton Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee made up the larger part of the Kentucky offensive, with Kirby Smith's smaller army leading the way as the other prong. Buell was forced to give up his movement on Chattanooga, and he followed the Confederates all the way back to northern Kentucky. The end result was the Battle of Perryville, fought on October 8, 1862. Most of the southern units present at Perryville assaulted Alexander McCook's Union corps north of the town, and the other Union forces provided almost no help. They were unaware that a battle was even being fought due to an acoustic shadow in the area. Although the Confederates won the tactical fight, they soon realized the large size of the Union force and they were forced to retreat. Stuart Sanders did a nice job presenting an overview of the campaign and battle in this issue. I recommend reading this before trying the Perryville books of either Ken Noe or Ken Hafendorfer. It appears that this article relied more heavily on Noe's work, and the maps were actually based on the maps in Noe's book.

 

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Book Reviews

Books reviewed in this issue:

1. Audacity Personified: The Generalship of Robert E. Lee edited by Peter S. Carmichael
2. Vicksburg: The Campaign That Opened the Mississippi by Michael B. Ballard
3. Mountaineers in Gray: The Nineteenth Tennessee Volunteer Infantry Regiment, C.S.A. by John D. Fowler
4. In the Saddle with the Texans: Day-by-Day with Parsons' Cavalry Brigade, 1862-1865 edited by Anne J. Bailey

 

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Camp Talk

In this issue's edition of Camp talk, the magazine takes a look at the damage Hurricane Katrina did to Beauvoir, the late-life home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Efforts are beginning which hope to fully restore the home and Davis' Presidential Library to their pre-Katrina days. In a rather disturbing story, Civil War artillery enthusiast Ken Watterson is drawing flak for purchasing cannon from cemeteries and memorial parks. The organizations overseeing these places of rest simply could not refuse Watterson's large offers of money in exchange for the ordnance. Some people are upset and they feel that Watterson's actions are akin to desecrating graves. I wouldn't go that far, but I don't think this is a very moral way to go about collecting Civil War era artillery. In South Carolina, a judge refused to allow a descendant of Evander M. Law from selling a collection of 440 letters, many of which are written by generals or members of the Confederate government. The judge ordered these documents turned over to the state of South Carolina. Robert Lincoln, eldest son of Abraham Lincoln, built a large Georgian Revival mansion in Vermont, and the home has been named a Partner Place of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Other tidbits focus on Bentonville, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the battle of Mansfield, the Wilderness, Sharpsburg, the Gettysburg Peach Orchard, Fredericksburg, Kennesaw Mountain and Lovejoy Station.

 

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Wiley Sword's War Letter Series - A New Perspective on the Death of Gen. James B. McPherson at Atlanta

Wiley Sword presents two letter written shortly after the death of Gen. McPherson on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia during the Battle of Bald Hill, one of which was a letter from Sherman to Thomas describing the sad event. Sword points out that we often forget the human side to these well-known historical events.

 

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Driving Tour - The Battle of Perryville

This excellent little tour of the Perryville battlefield is presented by the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. The scenes of the fiercest fighting west of Doctors Creek and the Chaplin River are preserved surprisingly well for a Civil War battlefield. Sites in downtown Perryville are also covered in detail. This tour is up to the usual high standards of Blue & Gray.