Bill Backus and Robert Orrison
Savas Beatie, 2015, 170 pp., $14.95
Image Courtesy of amazon.com
Most Civil War readers have little knowledge on the Bristoe Station Campaign, but recent works have surrounded themselves with this fight. There has been a new atlas about the campaign and some new books as well, but overall, there is no book which serves as a great introduction to the campaign. This is where The Emerging Civil War Series shines. One of the new works in this series is A Want of Vigilance which details the Bristoe Station Campaign and the people surrounding the events. The finished product is not only an incredible introduction, but is also a great work for future research which I have come to expect from The Emerging Civil War Series.
Bill Backus is a native of Connecticut and graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a Bachelor’s degree in Historical Preservation. Bill is working as a historian for a number of Civil War sites in Northern Virginia and has worked for the National Park Service at Vicksburg National Military Park along with the Petersburg National Battlefield. Robert Orrison has been a historian for more than twenty years and received his Master’s degree in Public History from George Mason University. He oversees the day-to-day operations of a large municipal historic site program in Northern Virginia. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable and the Mosby Heritage Area Association along with other organizations.
The first thing I would like to say about this book is that it easily breaks up the campaign. For someone who does not know a lot about Bristoe Station, this breaking up of battles helps create a better understanding as to what happened. I discovered that most people do not know as much about this campaign as other campaigns which happened in the year of 1863, but it was incredibly important nonetheless. There are also appedicies that deal with more detailed aspects of the battle such as cavalry actions of the 1st Maine, the Fall of 1863, and a more in depth look at the Battles of Rappahannock Station and Kelly’s Ford. In the chapters dealing with the battles, the narrative of the battle is aided by not only wonderful maps, but also drawings from the time and pictures of the field. One of the most fascinating things about this book was that it looked at the campaign not only as a standalone campaign, but also as the campaign after Gettysburg. The people involved are all familiar characters to most readers of the Civil War but their situations in this narrative are new to some.
Bill Backus and Robert Orrison have done a great service to the world of Civil War academia by writing this work, A Want of Vigilance, on the Bristoe Station campaign. While most people ignore the campaign due to the actions of the army earlier in the year of 1863, these two historians have created one of the best introductory works on the Bristoe Station Campaign. I highly recommend this addition to The Emerging Civil War Series.