Interest in Civil War Increasing

Interest in the Civil War is growing exponentially. Since the two of us began writing and researching the people and places that are becoming the substance of the screenplay we are writing, we are regularly amazed at the new material available, especially books.

Every year, there are hundreds of new books written about this period of American history now 150 years behind us. A monthly newspaper, The Civil War Times, publishes reviews of several new books in each edition and includes links to another 15 or 20 reviews available on line. Visit civilwarnews.com to check them out.

One of the books just published this year is “One of Morgan’s Men: Memoirs of Lt. John M. Porter.”9780813129891

Porter was a first cousin of Tom Hines, renowned as Gen. John Hunt Morgan’s master spy. Hines, Porter and their handful of men spent much of the war behind enemy lines. They even visited Ohio and Indiana in the early summer of 1863, scouting for ways across the Ohio River for Morgan and his cavalry to invade the North.

“One of Morgan’s Men” was written in the 1870s but this new edition was re-edited by Kentucky lawyer and Civil War author Kent Masterson Brown. It is reported to be very readable for 21st century readers. The book is available at barnesandnoble.com.

The first two important books about Gen. Morgan were penned by his brother-in-law and successor, Basil W. Duke. Both “History of Morgan’s Cavalry” and “The Civil War Reminiscences of General Basil W. Duke. CSA” have been republished in recent years and are generally available at Amazon.com and elsewhere. However, the lack of indexes in these books limits their usefulness in looking up any specific people or places or dates. Much more readable and including many references to Duke’s books is “Basil Wilson Duke, CSA: The Right Man in the Right Place.”

This biography was written by Gary Robert Matthews and published in 2005. It is available in many places.

Other somewhat recent and generally available books about Morgan and his men include “Morgan’s Raiders” by Dee Alexander Brown, “The Longest Raid of the Civil War” by Lester V. Horwitz” and “Rebel Raider” by James Ramage.

One book you won’t find except, perhaps, in stores that specialize in out-of-print history, is “The Rebel Raider” by Howard Swiggert. This 1934 history was discovered at a flea market in Southern California by a regular reader of these blogs. Thank you, Brian Sullivan!

Expect to see more written about Morgan and his men leading up to the summer of 2013, the sesquicentennial of their Great Raid that started with battles of Union troops in Kentucky, then went north of the Ohio River into Indiana and Ohio.

Morgan’s Thunderbolt Raiders had operated in Kentucky off and on since shortly after the war began. Information and a map their activities in the Bluegrass state is available at http://www.trailsrus.com/morgan/

Indiana has a series of historical markers of the Raiders actions in the Hoosier state. Check it out at: http://www.hhhills.org/John-Hunt-Morgan.html.

There is also a paperback book about Morgan in Indiana, available at the Jefferson County Historical Society. It’s available at: http://jchshc.net/store/the-john-hunt-morgan-heritage-trail-in-indiana

Ohio is lagging. A group of Buckeye state Civil War buffs has been working for several years to create a trail similar to Indiana’s but has been hampered by a lack of money. The Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Historical Society have taken over the project and believe most of the signs should be in place by the end of summer 2012. A guidebook and free trail guide are to be completed well before the July 2013 dedication ceremonies.  In April 2013, OHS reported that all signs marking the trail are to be in place by the end of May.

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