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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Because the 18th Massachusetts spent most of its time on the East Coast, I never bothered looking at the other parts of the war. Last year this changed a bit when author Tom Wing opened my eyes to the “other” part of the Civil War.

Mr. Wing edited “A Rough Introduction to This Sunny Land: The Civil War Diary of Private Henry A. Strong, Co. K, Twelfth Kansas Infantry” which followed the exploits of a Union soldier during the war, most of which happened in Arkansas. Through the reviewing the book, email conversations with Mr. Wing and followed up with an interview showed me that there was just as much interesting things happening outside the East Coast as there was inside.

So when he told me that he was working with Mark Christ of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program on a book titled “The Earth Reeled and the Trees Trembled - Civil War Arkansas, 1863-1866” I asked to be notified as soon as it was published. I really wanted to further my knowledge, especially if an author whose previous work I enjoyed was involved.

Yesterday, it came to me in the best possible way, as a complete surprise.

Something must be in the air of the Civil War publishers, as it is quite a beautiful book and different than most. It is a soft cover but instead of being a small, thumb through; it’s an impressive 8x10. Chock full of pictures and illustrations, it certainly looks nice.

The book is a collection of essays that were given as 10 different lectures at the Old State House Museum (which just happens to appear on the cover in a period photograph) in 2003 and 2004. Flipping through the book, I am most intrigued by “The Civil War Journal of Dr. Henry M. Dye: Texas Surgeon in Arkansas. Why, you ask. Well, the doctor was kind enough to include illustrations of the different cases he dealt with and they are quite interesting too look at. That is not to say the others aren’t worthwhile, quite the contrary. I’ve already read the first essay, “Say ‘Au Revoir’ but not ‘Good-Bye’: The enduring Confederate Government of Arkansas” when all I had intended to do was read the first few paragraphs. Instead, before I knew it, I had finished it up.

If you are interested in buying a copy, please contact the Old Statehouse Museum. It should be for sale at the store soon but as of this morning it didn’t appear on the website yet.


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