Rebel at Large:The Diary of Confederate Deserter Philip Van Buskirk, Philip Van Buskirk Edited and with an Introduction by B.R. Burg, McFarland Publishing, notes, bibliography, index, 208 pp. softcover, 2009, $35.00
This diary is one of the most unusual produced during the Civil War because it contains very little about military life. Early in the war Van Buskirk abandoned his regiment, working as a schoolmaster, farm hand, and casual laborer. He wrote of the suffering civilians endured at the hands of contending armies. But he also found time to chronicle his fascination with handsome young lads he encountered during his life as a deserter—unwittingly providing modern readers an illuminating glimpse of class differences and sexual mores. Naval, social and sexual historians, in particular, will find much valuable source material.
To Petersburg with the Army of the Potomac: The Civil War Letters of Levi Bird Duff, 105th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Levi Bird Duff Edited by Jonathan E. Helmreich, McFarland Publishing, ,33 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index, 240pp. softcover (7 x 10) 2009, $45.00.
The letters of Levi Bird Duff present a perceptive picture of life in the Army of the Potomac from 1861 to 1864. They are unusual for their literacy, descriptions and continuity, the strength of opinions expressed, and their source: a private who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, thus a witness of the army at several levels. Leadership, organizational, weather, and morale problems that plagued Union troops are made clear. Written only for the eyes of Duff’s love, the messages reflect the tension experienced by many soldiers between the conflicting calls of duty and affection.
Tinclads in the Civil War: Union Light-Draught Gunboat Operations on Western Waters, 1862–1865, Myron J. Smith, Jr., McFarland Publishing, 90 photos, maps, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
softcover (7 x 10), 2009, $55.00.
Once the Union Army gained control of the upper rivers of the Mississippi Valley during the first half of 1862, slow and heavy ironclads proved ineffective in patrolling the waters. Hastily outfitted steamboats were covered with thin armor and pressed into duty. These “tinclads” fought Confederate forces attacking from the riverbanks, provided convoy for merchant steamers, enforced revenue measures, and offered tow, dispatch, and other fleet support services. This history documents the service records and duties of these little-known vessels of the Union fleet.
Text and Image Source: McFarland Publishing