Reading the West 2-1-10 |

Reading the West 2-1-10

With the sesquicentennial of the Civil War almost here, I’ll give you a few suggestions for recent books related to the conflict.

Susan K. Salzer won a Spur Award last year for her short story, “Cornflower Blue,” and she has expanded that story line in “Up From Thunder.” The story – and the novel – take you into a series of “what ifs.” What if 16-year-old Hattie Rood in her compassion met a young Jesse James? What if she cared for him when he was injured? What if they formed a bond that went beyond that of patient and caregiver?

Living with her widowed father, young Hattie does her best to avoid conflict that is the Civil War in her Missouri neighborhood, but finds that impossible when soldiers arrive at their doorstep.

Set in the region east of Kansas City, the Civil War in Missouri is more than the North against the South it is the Jayhawkers facing off with the Bushwhackers leaving innocent residents like Hattie Rood caught in the middle.

This is what you might call an “edgy teen” book since the main characters are teenagers, but the plot and some violent scenes make it more appropriate for older readers.

The book is published by Cave Hollow Press.

Glenn Dedmondt has done a considerable amount of research for his two books, “The Flags of Civil War Missouri” and “The Flags of Civil War Arkansas,” both published by Pelican Publishing Company. Each large format book has dozens of color and black and white illustrations and photographs. The drawings and photographs of the flags are well done, as is the text with rich detail about the flags, the regiments and even the details about where these flags are now located (some are in private collections, others in museums).

The Missouri flags were carried by such men as William C. Quantrill and William T. Anderson. In both cases, the flags included are Confederate flags; the author has chosen not to include any of the flags carried by Union troops.

The National Park Service notes that the state of Missouri contributed 241 Union regiments, home guards, cavalry and artillery units that served during the Civil War. Certainly they all had flags. Likewise, there were 10 Union regiments and units in Arkansas, which certainly would have had flags.

The fact that the author has not included any of the Union flags in these two books is an error only in the sense that he should have titled both books “Confederate Flags” so as not to mislead readers into thinking they would learn about all the flags from the conflict in those two states.

Finally Jerry D. Thompson and the University of New Mexico Press, provides a scholarly perspective of the Civil War in “New Mexico Territory During the Civil War, Wallen and Evans Inspection Reports 1862-1863.”

The reports of Wallen and Evans are held at the National Archives, and this is the first time they have been made available in print and therefore more easily accessible to the general public. The details in the reports give you an understanding of the lives of Union soldiers and the conditions of their forts in New Mexico Territory during the Civil War. There are notes as well as an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources to help you understand the conflict that was the Civil War in New Mexico.

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