Mel's Reviews > 1861: The Civil War Awakening

1861 by Adam Goodheart
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's review
Dec 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: us-civil-war
Read from December 11 to 16, 2011

Having read about 40 books on the Civil War, I expected this book which covers the opening year of conflict to simply be a review of what I already knew. Goodheart pleasantly surprised me with new information and fresh appraisals of some subtle causes and large effects. An example is the story of General Benjamin Butler whose use of legalese termed black escapees from Virginia as "contraband" and not subject to being returned to their masters, a concept very advanced for the vast majority of even Union abolitionists. Another example is the North's fascination with Elmer Ellsworth and his colorful Zoaves and how they drove thousands to volunteer into the Union Army before the ugly reality of the war dawned on the country (Ellworth and his Zoaves, wearing bright red shirts and colorful pantaloons didn't last long once the firing commenced). 1861 is an entertaining and enlightening read.

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