Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Civil War in Illinois by Tom Emery

The Civil War in Illinois by Tom Emery is a collection of newspaper columns that the author wrote from 2011 to 2014.  The seventy-one articles are about 650 words each and were written for a general audience. The stories are brief (about two printed pages), which makes the book good bedtime or doctor's office reading. However, this brevity and target reader may leave the more knowledgeable Civil War reader wanting more detail. Fortunately, Emery has included notes for his articles that will guide the reader wanting more.

The following selections were those that I found most interesting:

  • 9th Illinois Suffered Most Losses - The regiment suffered 366 casualties out of 578 at Fort Donelson and Shiloh.
  •  The Drummer Boy of Shiloh - Fact and fiction concerning John Clem.
  • Nine Generals from Galena - Galena produced the second greatest number of generals from Illinois including Ely Samuel Parker, a Native American.
  • "Uncle Dick" Oglesby - Nice summary of highlights General Oglesby
  • Emancipation Reaction - The Emancipation Proclamation gets mixed reactions from Illinois soldiers.
  • McClernand and Controversy - McClernand thought a great deal of himself and he let everyone know about his achievements.
  • John M. Palmer - A political general who performed admirably on the battlefield and had no use for the "West Point clique."
  • The Eccentric Turchin - Overview of career of Russian born general.
  • The Charleston Riot - Armed conflict between pro-war Republicans and anti-war Democrats in Charleston, Illinois. 
  • Illinois P.O.W. Camps - Summaries of conditions at four major camps in Illinois
  • "Ransom Blazes!" - Highlights of military career of Norwich officer, Thomas Ransom.  
Tom Emery is a freelance writer and historical researcher from Carlinville, IL. He has created twenty-four book and booklet titles and is a frequent contributor to multiple newspapers.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Teacher of Civil War Generals - Major General Charles Ferguson Smith, Soldier and West Point Commandant

It has been five years since I started my efforts to write a biography of Major General Charles Ferguson Smith. Today I am pleased to announce that Teacher of Civil War Generals  is available from McFarland & Company. I want to thank McFarland for turning my dreams into reality. Their commitment has allowed historians to learn more about Smith and provide them with material that may assist in their research and writing. I believe that Smith displayed the best parts of being a soldier and this biography will illustrate his commitment to discipline, loyalty, commitment, and honor.

From the training field at West Point to the entrenchments at Fort Donelson, Charles Ferguson Smith was the soldier's soldier. During his nearly forty-two year career, General Smith was a teacher, mentor, and role model for many young officers who became prominent Civil War generals. He was respected and admired by his former students and future officers including Grant, Halleck, Longstreet, and Sherman. This long overdue reveals a man who was a faithful officer, an excellent disciplinarian, an able commander, and a modest gentleman.

Smith served at the US Military Academy from 1829 to 1842 as Instructor of Tactics, Adjutant to the Superintendent, and Commandant of Cadets. However, he was more than a instructor training cadets in the art of war. He set an example to junior officers in the Mexican War leading his light battalion to victories and earning three field promotions. Smith served with Albert Johnston and other future Confederate officers in the Mormon War. He mentored Grant while serving under him in the Civil War. Smith rose to the rank of major general while refusing to solicit political favors and court journalists. He "turned the tide" at Fort Donelson which led to Grant's rise to fame.

In April 1885, Fanny Oliver, who was trying to gather information for a biography of her father to be written by General William F. Smith, received a letter from his friend, Henry Robert Crosby. Crosby shared his memories of Smith, suggested others Mrs. Oliver might contact, and left her with the following advice:
And now please let me say one word in this respect. Do not let it be done in a hurry. There is a good deal of ground to cover. Florida and Mexican War, service at the Military Academy and different posts in the West, special duty in the Utah Expedition as well as the Civil War. This information will take some time to collect.
I hope that I have been true to both Mrs. Oliver's intent and Mr. Crosby's advice.

For more information on Teacher of Civil War Generals, please consult my author site.

Please see McFarland & Company or Amazon to order the book.

Allen with copies of photograph and painting
of Major General Charles F. Smith