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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Cutting Your Manuscript Down to Size

You've sent off your manuscript to the publisher.

The publisher wants to publish it.

Except you have to cut 30,000 words.

Where do you start?

The easy pickings involve eliminating block quotations, retaining only the parts that are pure gold.

Then you have to see if there are elements such as exposition that can be condensed into tables, or nostalgic postwar humor that can be eliminated.

Go over your work sentence by sentence and see if words, particularly adverbs and adjectives, can be cut.  One need not state a soldier's rank except when it changes.  Sentences may have to be entirely restructured.

Minor figures may have to be dropped.

Anecdotes that do not get to the heart of the matter can go.

Examine your footnotes and determine if they can be shortened.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Which Cover Do You Like for "The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War?"

Savas Beatie is getting ready to publish my next book, "The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War."  Which of the proposed covers do you like?


When Edwin C. Bearss, former Chief Historian of the National Park Service, read this manuscript more than twenty years ago, he called the book "One of a score or so of outstanding unit histories."  
It has only gotten better since.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Hampton Newsome's definitive account of the Civil War action in early 1864 in North Carolina

Hampton Newsome's splendid account of the fighting along North Carolina's coast in the spring of 1864 is with a prospective publisher.  This excellent book depicts Pickett's lunge at New Bern in January, and Hoke's strike at Plymouth, Little Washington and New Bern in April and May.  It has Hampton's usual excellent maps.  Exhaustive research covers the political, economic, and sociological implications of the campaign.  This book has everything:  land battles, actions on water, the ironclads CSS Albemarle and Neuse--even a Federal armored train.  I can hardly wait for it to go on sale..

Hampton is the author of Richmond Must Fall, a history of the October 1864 fighting around Petersburg.  With John Selby and myself, he edited Civil War Talks: Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans.  Hampton drew the maps for my Battles for the Weldon Railroad, August 1864 and for my forthcoming Petersburg Regiment.  We share the same birthday but we are not Siamese twins because I was born a few years earlier.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Thanks, Miami Civil War Round Table Book Club

My presentation met with a pleasant reception on the evening of January 18 at the Miami Civil War Round Table Book Club.  I talked about the Petersburg Regiment (12th Virginia Infantry) on August 19, 1864, when it took losses in excess of forty percent in that incident of the Globe Tavern struggle that Lt. Col. William H. Stewart of the 61st Virginia in the Petersburg Regiment's brigade called, "The No-Name Battle."  It was a toe to toe fight between the 600 of Weisiger's Virginia Brigade and 150 Georgians knocked loose from Colquitt's Georgia Brigade, and 1,120 Federals from a decimated division of IX Corps.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Publication Schedule for My Next Book: The Petersburg Regiment

Looks like Savas Beatie is scheduling my next book for the end of 2018 or the beginning of 2019--"The Petersburg Regiment in the Civil War: The Battles and Campaigns of the 12th Virginia Infantry 1861-1865." Men from my wife's family served in this unit. John Wilkes Booth stood in the ranks of one of this remarkable regiment’s future companies at John Brown’s hanging. The regiment refused to have Stonewall Jackson appointed its colonel. Its men first saw combat in naval battles. In their first action on land, they embarrassed themselves. Their role at Gettysburg remains controversial. Yet by war’s end they would number among the Army of Northern Virginia’s most renowned shock troops. The accompanying picture, overused to illustrate other books, was painted in 1869 to depict the soldiers of the 12th Virginia in defense of Petersburg.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Plans for the Eastern Campaign in 1864

One of the reasons Halleck responded coolly to Grant's proposal of January 1864 for a raid with 60,000 men from Suffolk, Virginia to Raleigh, North Carolina, was that Old Brains doubted that forces sufficient for the raid as well as the defense of Washington, D.C. could be mustered.  Yet eventually such forces materialized.  The Army of the Potomac came up with about 103,000 present for duty, IX Corps with about 21,000.  The Army of the James mustered around 33,000.  Combining IX Corps with the Army of the James would have left the Army of the Potomac with 103,000 men to defend the capital while about 54,000 marched from Suffolk through Raleigh, wrecking railroads as they went, and seized Wilmington from behind.  Richmond would still have had rail links with the rest of the South with the Virginia Central, South Side and Richmond & Danville Railroads.  With the benefit of hindsight, the best plan may have been Maj. Gen. John G. Foster's.  This former Union commander in North Carolina recommended sailing up the James and seizing Petersburg.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Grant's Second Offensive

Grant's Second Offensive covered more ground than any other of the Petersburg Campaign/Siege of Petersburg.  In the north, on June 18, 1864, Sheridan was moving from King and Queen Court House to Walkerton in King William County. The Federals still had a base at West Point.  Hampton would fight Sheridan at Samaria Church on June 24.  Unionist Cavalry under Wilson and Kautz swept westward to Burkeville and then southwest to Staunton River Bridge and finally eastward through Reams and Jarratt's stations.  Despite its scope, the offensive resulted in far fewer casualties than several of the others.

The biggest action of the offensive took place on June 22, 1864, is knows as "The Petersburg Affair" or "Barlow's Skedaddle" and resulted in about 2,500 Federal casualties.  A number of myths have arisen in conjunction with this action.

1. It did NOT occur because the troops were worn out and had lost too many officer in the Overland Campaign.

2. The disaster did NOT occur because II Corps lost connection with VI Corps.

3. Barlow COULD have prevented the dissaster.  It would have been very difficult and he would have had to be very lucky, but it could have been done  However, if he succeeded, then the gap between II and VI Corps might have produced the same result.