Thursday, August 21, 2014

Book Discussion: Maney 's Confederate Brigade at the Battle ofPerryville

As I mentioned in my recent post, I have been doing more reading in the last several weeks, so I thought I would make a couple of posts about some recent books I have read and enjoyed.

When I started this particular entry, I was going to discuss a few of these books all in one post, but I decided to discuss just one book at this time, as it was one I really enjoyed, and I read it just after my tour at Perryville, which allowed me to enjoy it even more than I would have with different timing. Not only did I have a better understanding of the land and area, but the tour left me we much more knowledge of individually leaders and units that this book discussed. It was great, though unplanned, timing on my part.


Maney's Confederate Brigade at the Battle of Perryville by Stuart Sanders discusses one of the main Confederate units at Perryville, a brigade led by Brigadier General George Maney, discussing in detail its role in the battle, following the attack by Daniel Donaldson's Confederates, much of which started near the area where the modern park entrance and museum are.

Sanders shows how this unit approached a Federal position, now known as the Open Ridge or Parson's Ridge, eventually attacking up the hill and dislodging the Union troops with hard, even hand-to-hand fighting, before continuing the fight down the other side of the hill, through the cornfield and through more severe fighting on Starkweather's Hill.

Sanders does a fine job of describing the fighting, troop movements and terrain, though perhaps my visit to the site helped make this seem more understandable to me. Nevertheless, after reading this book, I felt much more confident in my knowledge of at least this part of the battle, including questions about Maney's behavior during the fight (should he go forward with his troops or stay back with the reserves? ) and placement of individual units, such as the 41st Georgia or 1st Tennessee, among others.

I have read two other books that Mr. Sanders has written - Perryville Under Fire: TheAftermath of Kentucky's Largest Civil War Battle   and The Battle of Mill Springs, Kentucky - and enjoyed them as well, so I do believe that my enjoyment of this book was due to more than my springtime trip to Perryville. I enjoy his writing style and have found his books to be very well-researched, with detailed endnotes as well.

Selfishly, my hope is that the author, or someone else, can manage to write a similar book about the more southern  end of fighting at Perryville, closer to the Bottom House and Doctor's Creek. That would really give me a better understanding of this hard-fought battle often called "the Confederate High Tide in the West," and, possibly an excuse for another trip to this beautiful and hallowed ground.

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