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Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 (Civil War America) Hardcover – April 25, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0807829318 ISBN-10: 0807829315 Edition: 1st

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Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 (Civil War America) + In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat (Civil War America) + Trench Warfare under Grant and Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign (Civil War America)
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Product Details

  • Series: Civil War America
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (April 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807829315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807829318
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,620,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Field fortifications played a major role in the American Civil War, evolving from a widely despised expedient to a universally recognized necessity. It is a cause for astonishment that no one has attempted a scholarly look at that burgeoning military development--until now. "Field Armies and Fortifications", by Earl J. Hess, ably takes on the important topic, and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the war. (Robert K. Krick, author of "Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain" and "The Smoothbore Volley That Doomed the Confederacy")"

Book Description

"One of the most significant historiographical debates among currently practicing Civil War military historians. . . . A valuable contribution."--The North Carolina Historical Review

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Te Bada on May 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dr. Hess has authored one of the most significant books in print on the use of field fortifications during the US Civil War and the relationship of these works to the actual campaigns. Although there are some other books that do include some of this information, including several excellent post-war sources from the 19th century, this book does a remarkable job of putting the subject in perspective. Many so called "Civil War" experts simply do not realize the significance of the role of field and permanent fortifications during many of the key campaigns of the war and reduce everything to simple terms stating "there were breastworks, etc..." They simply give no detail and the reader can not understand such details as why some of these "works" were easily overrun, why some railroad cuts made great defensive positions and others did not, or even why on Cemetary Ridge at Gettysburg the troops of II Corps could not entrench themselves.

Hess not only describes what the defenses consisted of, but also shows how they affected the campaign. He also includes background information as well as detailing the events related to the campaigns. The book does not rehash the old story of bullets and beans in these operations, instead with Hess we see its bullets, beans and spades.

The reader will soon notice this book does not cover all the operations of the Civil War where fortifications were involved, but that is because this is the first volume with two additional ones planned. The publisher did a good job in reproducing the photos. One serious flaw is a lack of maps for the reader to follow everything mentioned in the text. This usually results from the publisher attempting to save on production expenses and there is not much the author can do to correct it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Trinque VINE VOICE on July 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In popular perception of Civil War combat, entrenchments were something that came along late in the war when troops, weary of being targets when marching across open fields, took to digging in the earth to find protection. As Hess amply demonstrates in this new volume, the first of a projected trilogy, entrenchments in fact were an integral part of the Civil War landscape from the earliest months. He backs his narrative with numerous citations from official and unofficial accounts and he discusses the details of how entrenchments were made (and how they evolved as the war went on). This volume is an important contribution to understanding how the war was fought and to better fix its place in the continuing development of military theory and technology.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James W. Durney TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A book on Civil War fortifications should be dry as the Sahara and as easy to get thru as a concrete block wall. In the hands of a lesser author that would be true! What we have is a very readable, intelligent history of the Civil War in the east with emphases on fortifications. The author chooses to follow the campaigns and discuss the use of or lack of fortifications during the campaign and in the ongoing war. This simple idea gives the reader a very good overview of the war and a very intelligent discussion of how and why "digging in" became the norm.
We start with a discussion of the American approach to battle and the theory of when and why fortifications were appropriate. This prepares us for the war's early months when armies use fixed forts to control areas but look for "a fair fight in the open". Reality meets theory during the Peninsula Campaign and The Seven Days as first one side and than the other is forced to dig. Hard lessons are quickly forgotten as the main armies struggle with the ideas of offensive or defensive actions and the fear fortifications will foster a defensive mentality. This interplay makes John B. Hood's actions outside Atlanta much easier to understand, something the book does not cover but a student of the war will grasp.
The three chapters on the war in the Carolinas are excellent! "The Reduction of Battery Wagner" alone almost pays for the book. I have not read a better account of Civil War sieges and the impact on the men than in this chapter.
The book ends with Mine Run and the Union not attacking the extensive fortifications in the area. When we reach the fall of 1863, the reader fully understands and appreciates the revolution that has occurred. The stage is set for the second volume "Trench Warfare under Grant & Lee".
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Format: Paperback
When analysis of Civil War battles usually takes place, there are works written about the infantry, cavalry and artillery and their tactical movements around the battlefield. But something rarely talked about are the fortifications and field works made by the armies in order to solidify the position of the armies both Union and Confederate. Earl J. Hess uses this work, Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War, to better explain the design, need and uses of the field works on the battlefields and the fortifications all around the coastline. This is the first in a series of books written on the field works during the Civil War.

Earl J. Hess is an associate professor of history at Lincoln Memorial University and has authored other works such as The Civil War in the West: Victory and Defeat from the Appalachians to the Mississippi and Pickett’s Charge – The Last Attack at Gettysburg. His book on Pickett’s Charge was the winner of the 2001 James I. Robertson Jr. Prize from the Civil War Library and Research Center.

Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864 is one of the three books Hess has written surrounding field works in the Civil War. Others in the series are Trench Warfare Under Grant and Lee: Field Fortifications in the Overland Campaign and In the Trenches at Petersburg: Field Fortifications and Confederate Defeat. This book about the fortifications during the Eastern Campaigns is a great start to the series, however, as it brings to light certain things which have been ignored or only slightly mentioned in the annals of history. What Hess does in this work is describe in great detail the way in which the field works were built on the field and the problems which the engineers on both sides faced during that endeavor.
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