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Capitol Hill Civil War Round Table

Keeping Civil War History Alive in Our Nation's Capital

Book Reviews by CHCWRT Members

The Smell of Battle, The Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War  by Mark M. Smith.

The narrative approach to Civil War non-fiction history is often clinical, factual, long on events, and short on the human condition. Sensory historian Mark M. Smith brings the reader a fresh, insightful, and intimate experience of the Civil War from a perspective of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste. Making the case that “the senses are our perpetual bodyguards, surrounding us unceasingly,” Smith uses five powerful vignettes of how the senses were assaulted during the Civil War. In each situation he sets up the dichotomy between the pre-war norm and what impact the war had on each sense. Read more.

The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare by Edward Hagerman.

In The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare Edward Hagerman portrays the American Civil War as a link between the old and new ways of making war, arguing that modern land warfare had its origins in the 1860s.  He does this by examining Civil War armies from an “organizational perspective” and discusses “how tactical and strategic ideas and organization evolved in response to mid-nineteenth-century American industrial technology, society, ideology, and geography, as well as to the tactical and strategic objectives of Civil War armies.”  Read more.

President Lincoln Assassinated!! The Firsthand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial, and Mourning Compiled and Introduced by Harold Holzer

Many times, the life – and especially the death – of Abraham Lincoln come to us highly filtered by sycophantic biographers or revisionist historians who want the reader to receive our information about the 16th President through their prisms of interpretation. The President Lincoln Assassinated!! book is a refreshing collection of first-hand, contemporary narratives about the assassination in the days that immediately followed the act. This compilation has been brilliantly assembled and introduced by acclaimed Lincoln expert Harold Holzer. Read more.

Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War by Todd Brewster.

Abraham Lincoln is remembered by history as the Great Emancipator. However, when he first took office he had no plans on freeing any slaves. He first spoke of freeing the slaves in July 1862 and six months later, he issued his Emancipation Proclamation. Todd Brewster chronicles those six months in Lincoln’s life in his book Lincoln’s Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months That Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil WarRead more.

Marching Home – Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War, by Brian Matthew Jordan

We know the story. The end of the Civil War. Men in gray returned home, vanquished, dispirited, but confident that they fought bravely and with a transcending spirit of honor in their hearts. Men in blue returned victorious, many bearing the wounds of war – the missing limb, the disfigured face – but they lived with the certainty that they had prevailed. As tottering, white-bearded old men they would march in celebratory parades, even mingle with their old foes on past fields of battle, such as Gettysburg. These men in blue were, after all, the victors. Read more.