Edward G. Longacre
The University of Oklahoma Press, 2014, 662 pp. + 18 pp. Introduction, $29.95
Image courtesy of amazon.com
There have been a great plethora of books about the campaigns of Gettysburg, Antietam and Petersburg but when it comes to the first major land battle of Bull Run, or Manassas whichever you prefer, there are not so many options of scholarly work. In all honesty, many accounts of the Battle of Manassas, are portrayed in biographies of Stonewall Jackson without getting any treatment to itself whatsoever. Now, thanks to Edward G. Longacre, there is an in depth work about the campaign and people involved in the Battle of Manassas in 1861. What is accomplished in The Early Morning of War, is what every Civil War enthusiast has wanted for some time: a comprehensive book on the first battle of the American Civil War.
Edward G. Longacre is a retired United States Department of Defense Historian and has authored many books in his illustrious career. One of his most famous works, The Cavalry at Gettysburg, won the Fletcher Pratt Award. His biography of Wade Hampton III, Gentleman and Soldier: A Biography of Wade Hampton III won the Douglas Southall Freeman History Award. Among some of his other numerous works include General Ulysses S. Grant, the Soldier and the Man and Lincoln’s Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of the Potomac (1861-1865). This book is the forty-sixth volume in the Campaigns and Commanders series printed by The University of Oklahoma Press.
While the majority of this book focuses on the Bull Run Campaign, the book opens with a strong introduction on the four major players of the battle: Generals Beauregard, Johnston, McDowell and Patterson. Nowhere in the beginning of this book does Jackson get a proper introduction and that is one of the better parts of this book. Too many times when recounting the events of the Manassas Campaign, there are glorifications of Stonewall Jackson but Longacre avoids those lauds. Instead, he focuses on the major characters of the campaign giving us short biographies of them to start with. Because of this, there is a greater understanding going into the book about these men and their decisions based on their backgrounds and their political abilities. The account of the battle itself is a sweeping narrative aided by maps giving the reader a great understanding of what happened here. The photographs inserted into the middle of the book are quite interesting and show some of the people not usually associated with the battle and have been forgotten by history as participating in the battle such as Oliver O. Howard and Ambrose E. Burnside.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the Civil War, especially for anyone who wants to add a book about Manassas to their collection. This book adds to the great Campaigns and Commanders series along with being incredibly welcome into Civil War academia. It is well researched with an excellent bibliography along with a grasping narrative that never lets go. Longacre should be praised for the work which he has produced here as it will soon become another work of his well-regarded among the Civil War readers.