Friday, July 19, 2019

New Book Review in Civil War News: The Fight for the Old North State

"Hampton Newsome's recommended book tells the chain of events - the highs and lows, the bumbling and the courageous, from January to May, 1864 in the Old North State. It's all here."
The August issue of Civil War News (subscription) has a nice review by Joan Wenner of The Fight for the Old North State. As noted in the review, Wenner lives in eastern North Carolina and has visited many of the places discussed in the book.
Among other things, Wenner describes the book as a "detailed, fact-filled journey through joint land and water operations" in North Carolina during 1864 and notes that the "social and political climate in the state is expertly relayed." The piece even includes an 1863 quote that Wenner unearthed in her own work from a judge in Greenville ("North Carolina was not left with enough troops to protect a potato patch"). This Civil War News review follows on the heels of two other recent highly favorable write-ups at Civil War Books and Authors and Random Thoughts on History.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Summer Sale: The Fight for the Old North State

Until July 31, you can get The Fight for the Old North State directly from University Press of Kansas for $24.12 (31% off and free shipping). Use code SUMM31 at checkout.

"In The Fight for the Old North State, Newsome certainly adds to his reputation as an indefatigable researcher. Text, notes, and bibliography indicate both extensive original manuscript research as well as thoughtful synthesis of the available secondary literature. Readers appreciative of the high-level research and narrative interpretation skills displayed in Newsome's earlier military study Richmond Must Fall will find the same qualities here." - Civil War Books and Authors

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Random Thoughts on History Blog Looks at The Fight for the Old North State

Some great comments on The Fight for the Old North State from Tim Talbott at the Random Thoughts on History blog. As many of you know, I'm a big fan of Talbott's site - so I was happy to send along a copy. He reads many interesting titles and prepares thoughtful write-ups about them. I've also enjoyed chatting with him about the Petersburg Campaign. You can read his full post about my book at his site but I've included an excerpt below:
Tim Talbott
Tim Talbott

"Meticulously researched, vividly told and interpreted, The Fight for the Old North State not only helped fill a void in my own knowledge, it will certainly become the go to source for the greater Civil War community to understand these particular actions. In addition to a nice set of maps, the book also contains a number of photographs that help the reader with some of the campaign's lesser known figures. Do yourself a favor and add The Fight for the Old North State to your library. I highly recommend it." -  Tim Talbott at the Random Thoughts on History

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

First Review of The Fight for the Old North State

The first review of the The Fight for the Old North State is out - a highly favorable, thorough, and thoughtful appraisal from Drew Wagenhoffer over at Civil War Books and Authors.
Review Excerpt
"Readers appreciative of the high-level research and narrative interpretation skills displayed in Newsome's earlier military study Richmond Must Fall will find the same qualities here . . .  In a narrative that details battlefield events and analyzes their military, political, and social contexts in equal measure, The Fight for the Old North State is an excellent history of an understudied late-war offensive that was a rare (though qualified) Confederate success. While racial and political violence were certainly not new to 1864, Newsome's account of the campaign also usefully portrays it as a clear, early demonstration that the coming year's increasingly frequent confrontations between the most volatile combinations of battlefield combatants would be characterized by rising levels of lethal violence. Highly recommended." - Civil War Books and Authors

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Grant's North Carolina Raid

In January 1864, Ulysses S. Grant proposed a large raid into North Carolina, one that would start from Suffolk, Virginia, move on Raleigh, and then draw on the Union base at New Bern for operations against Wilmington.
Chapter 4 of of The Fight for the Old North State goes into detail about Grant's proposal, which, by coincidence, was prepared only days before the Confederates attacked New Bern, initiating their own offensive in the state.
Though eventually rejected by officials in Washington, the plan (reproduced below) reflected the large-scale raiding strategy Grant and Sherman would employ elsewhere in the last few years at the war - for example, during the Meridian Campaign, as part of the March to the Sea, and at the end of the Petersburg Campaign. The proposal also demonstrated Grant's awareness of the importance slaves held for the Confederate war effort and the demoralizing impact these operations would have on North Carolina soldiers then serving in Virginia and elsewhere.

[Confidential.] Hdqrs. Mil. Div. Op The Mississippi, 
                                                                                                       Nashville, Tenn., January 19, 1864.

Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck,

General-in- Chief of the Army, Washington, D. C.:  

General: I would respectfully suggest whether an abandonment of all previously attempted lines to Richmond is not advisable, and in lieu of these one be taken farther south. I would suggest Raleigh, N. C, as the objective point and Suffolk as the starting point. Raleigh once secured, I would make New Berne the base of supplies until Wilmington is secured.
A moving force of 60,000 men would probably be required to start on such an expedition. This force would not have to be increased unless Lee should withdraw from his present position. In that case the necessity for so large a force on the Potomac would not exist. A force moving from Suffolk would destroy first all the roads about Weldon, or even as far north as Hicksford. From Weldon to Raleigh they would scarcely meet with serious opposition. Once there, the most interior line of railway still left to the enemy, in fact the only one they would then have, would be so threatened as to force him to use a large portion of his army in guarding it.
This would virtually force an evacuation of Virginia and indirectly of East Tennessee. It would throw our armies into new fields, where they could partially live upon the country and would reduce the stores of the enemy. It would cause thousands of the North Carolina troops to desert and return to their homes. 

It would give us possession of many negroes who are now indirectly aiding the rebellion. It would draw the enemy from campaigns of their own choosing, and for which they are prepared, to new lines of operations never expected to become necessary. It would effectually blockade Wilmington, the port now of more value to the enemy than all the balance of their sea-coast. It would enable operations to commence at once by removing the war to a more southern climate, instead of months of inactivity in winter quarters. Other advantages might be cited which would be likely to grow out of this plan, but these are enough. 

From your better opportunities of studying the country and the armies that would be involved in this plan, you will be better able to judge of the practicability of it than I possibly can. I have written this in accordance with what I understand to be an invitation from you to express my views about military operations, and not to insist that any plan of mine should be carried out. Whatever course is agreed upon, I shall always believe is at least intended for the best, and until fully tested will hope to have it prove so.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major- General
[O.R.A. 33:394-395]

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Thanks to the Outer Banks CWRT!

A completely staged podium shot
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit last night to the Outer Banks Civil War Roundtable. Typical of CWRTs, the members were welcoming, friendly, and knowledgeable. On top of that, they have a fantastic venue (at the Duck Woods Country Club), great food, and a nice happy hour. I was happy to have made the trip. Thanks to Mike Ross and the rest of group!

During the Q&A, one member talked about growing up next to Fort Totten in New Bern - it served as his playground of sorts. Fort Totten was a huge, multi-bastion work with a towering traverse across its western face - by far the largest fort in the New Bern defenses. It was leveled in the 1960s. We discussed the diagram (see below) of the fort included in The Fight for the Old North State.    

A diagram of Fort Totten from p. 52 of The Fight for the Old North State

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Map of Fort Clark, Hatteras Inlet from National Archives

On a recent research trip to the National Archives, I stumbled on this undated Union map of Fort Clark, part of the defenses at Hatteras Inlet. Though not relevant to my research, it seemed like a interesting sketch. Judging from the units mentioned on the map, I assume it was drawn in fall of 1861. I have not seen this reproduced elsewhere - though my knowledge is by no means extensive. If anyone has additional information, feel free to email me. Source: RG 393, Dept. of Va. and N.C., Misc. Letter Received.

NARA: RG 393