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The Bombardment of Charleston: 1863-1865 [Paperback]

Our Price $ 12.71  
Retail Value $ 14.95  
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Item Number 427449  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   175
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2002
Publisher   Pelican Publishing Company
ISBN  1589800281  
EAN  9781589800281  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Using military records, diaries, and even vintage photographs, the author explores this period through eyewitness accounts. He agrees with many contemporary opinions that this deliberate and wanton destruction was a Union attempt to emake Charleston pay for her sins.i

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More About W. Chris Phelps

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Phelps is a member of the South Carolina Historical Society, the Charleston Civil War Round Table, and the Fort Sumter Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

W. Chris Phelps currently resides in Charleston, in the state of South Carolina.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > Civil War > General   [2351  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General   [15836  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > State & Local - By State > South Carolina   [318  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Interesting local history of controversial events, but disjointed presentation  Sep 23, 2007
Chris Phelps' recounting of the long bombardment of Charleston is a mixture of good and bad. While he clearly knows the local history inside and out, his retelling of the surrounding national military history contains quite a few errors or questionable interpretations. The bombardment of Charleston is a controversial topic even today, and as one might expect, a study by a local author brings some southern bias. He is not completely unfair; and does try to present both sides of local events. However, the way he approaches the wider events reveals some confusion.

The author's description of the bombardment of Charleston provides an example of tenacious defiance, retribution, frustration, and excess all in one. While it was not militarily unreasonable to bombard the city that was the prime instrument of secession and where the serious shooting began, it is also proper to ask if continued bombardment was worthwhile. Customarily, fear of attack or bombardment is why cities surrendered when the enemy closed within range. Charleston correctly presumed it could not be forced to surrender by bombardment alone. The Union was unable to effectively close on the city to fully besiege it or to attack and occupy, this left bombardment as the only active measure. The result was a bombardment of unprecedented length. The work indicates that while unable to force capitulation, the firing did serve a limited strategic purpose of disruption and dislocation of a key city's populace, as well as the psychological desire for retribution.

The chapters are ostensibly sequential, yet the timeline in some early chapters is a jumble. In chapters two and three the text skips from 1861 to 1865 and all points in between, sometimes without signaling the transition to the reader not yet familiar with the events. This makes the early chapters difficult to follow and interpret, but later chapters are more chronologically structured.

Fortunately, the maps provided are quite helpful in understanding the actual bombardment, although identifying key landmarks like St. Michaels would have been useful. The relevant portions of the local history are well researched and the bibliography is reasonably complete, although Brennan's "Secessionville", and Olmstead's "The Big Guns" are notably absent despite being published prior to this work and being relevant to it.

The author makes a limited summary and estimate of the shells expended during the bombardment and recounts the known damage to various structures. This provides a fairly good overview. He does not attempt to tally casualties as a result of the bombardment although accounts of individual deaths and wounding are provided. Overall, casualties were low since the affected areas were largely evacuated.

The author could have benefited from rigorous fact checking and fewer bold statements early in the book. One innocent but annoying feature is the repeated misspelling of John M. Brooke as "Brookes." I was also perplexed by the reference to Union General Truman Seymour's capture at Olustee, Florida in February of 1864--it was actually in May at the Wilderness. Contrary to what the author says, Franz Sigel's mission in the Shenandoah was not to ransack the agricultural productive capacity of the Valley (that was two commanders later, Sheridan--although the interim commander, Hunter, had been heading in that general direction.) The author also leaves the impression that Stones River was a CSA victory rather than a narrow defeat. He makes the assertion that Chickamauga was the greatest confederate victory, but considering the tremendous casualties and limited short-term gains, it seems a hard sell as the greatest.

This is a good source of the local Charleston history of the bombardment, but I recommend that readers crosscheck descriptions of outside events. If something sounds off, it probably is. The first half of the book is confusing; the second half is better.
Insight into Civil War Charleston  Jan 21, 2004
After visiting Charleston, it is not possible for someone to come away without a desire to learn all they can about its history. This book is very interesting and details this important period in the history of Charleston. The reader can picture the events as if they were happening today. Another visit to Charleston will be in order once this book is read in order to see the places mentioned.
fascinating  Apr 25, 2003
I recently visited Charleston and took the Civil War Walk with Mr. Phelps' company. During the tour the guide, Charles Hunt, enlightened me that Charleston had been severely bombarded throughout the war. I have studied the war extensively yet never knew of the bombardment of Charleston. After the tour I purchased this book and it was a fascinating read, detailing every aspect of this little known event. If you are going to visit Charleston you should read this book and augment the volume by taking the tour as well!
Outstanding book!  Jan 28, 2003
This book is written by an author who is well-versed in Charleston history, yet it is written from a down-to-earth point of view. It is an excellent resource on a subject that has never really been expounded previously. Most people know Charleston only because of Fort Sumter, but this book takes you deep into the Civil War giving one a sense of what really happened in this city during the War. This is an easy-to-read historical account of the Union army's attempt to break a city. Great read for any history buff!

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