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The Civil War: A Narrative

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The Civil War: A Narrative

The Civil War: A Narrative
Volumes 1–3, hardcover
Author Shelby Foote
Country United States
Language English
Subject American Civil War
Genre Narrative history
Publisher Random House
Publication date
1958, 1963, 1974
Pages 2,968
ISBN 0-394-46512-1, 0394419510, 0394419480
OCLC 86110903
973.7
LC Class E468 .F7

The Civil War: A Narrative (1958–1974) is a three volume, 2,968-page, 1.2 million-word history of the American Civil War by Shelby Foote. Although previously known as a novelist, Foote is most famous for this non-fictional narrative history. While it touches on political and social themes, the main thrust of the work is military history. The individual volumes include Fort Sumter to Perryville (1958), Fredericksburg to Meridian (1963), and Red River to Appomattox (1974).

Contents

  • Writing 1
  • Volumes 2
    • Fort Sumter to Perryville 2.1
    • Fredericksburg to Meridian 2.2
    • Red River to Appomattox 2.3
  • Foote's comments on writing 3
  • Detailed release information 4
  • Notes 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Writing

On the strength of his novel Shiloh, Random House asked Foote for a short Civil War history. Foote soon realized that the project would require much more time and energy, and therefore offered to write a comprehensive narrative history of the war. Random House agreed, and using the money from his 1955 Guggenheim Fellowship (Foote won Guggenheims also in 1956 and 1959), Foote set out to write the trilogy's first volume, Fort Sumter to Perryville. This 400,000-word account was published in 1958. By 1963 Foote had finished the second volume, Fredericksburg to Meridian.

In 1964 he began Volume 3, Red River to Appomattox, but found himself repeatedly distracted by the ongoing events in the nation and was not able to finish and publish it until 1974. Writing the third volume took as many years as had the first two combined.

Volumes

Fort Sumter to Perryville

The first volume covers the roots of the war to the Battle of Perryville on October 8, 1862. All the significant battles are here, from Bull Run through Shiloh, the Seven Days Battles, Second Bull Run to Antietam, and Perryville in the fall of 1862, but so are the smaller and often equally important engagements on both land and sea: Ball's Bluff, Fort Donelson, Pea Ridge, Island No. Ten, New Orleans, Monitor versus Merrimac, and Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign.

Fredericksburg to Meridian

The second volume is dominated by the almost continual confrontation of great armies. The starting point for this volume is the Battle of Fredericksburg, fought on December 13, 1862, between General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside. For the fourth time, the Army of the Potomac attempts to take Richmond, resulting in the bloodbath at Fredericksburg. Then Joseph Hooker tries again, only to be repulsed at Chancellorsville as Stonewall Jackson turns his flank, resulting in Jackson's mortal wounding.

In the West, one of the most complex and determined sieges of the war has begun. Here, Ulysses S. Grant's seven relentless efforts against Vicksburg demonstrate Lincoln's and Grant's determination. With Vicksburg finally under siege, Lee again invades the North. The three-day conflict at Gettysburg receives significant coverage. (The lengthy chapter on Gettysburg has also been published as a separate book, Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign, June–July 1863; his account of Vicksburg was published separately as The Beleaguered City: The Vicksburg Campaign, December 1862 – July 1863.)

Red River to Appomattox

The final volume opens with the beginning of the two final, major confrontations of the war: Grant against Lee in Virginia, and Sherman's March to the Sea to Lincoln's assassination and the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.

Foote's comments on writing

Detailed release information

Original release by Random House:

  • The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Random House. 1958–1974.
     
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Random House. 1958.  
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Random House. 1963.  
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox. New York: Random House. 1974.  

Vintage Books, a Random House subsidiary, issued the series as trade paperbacks in 1986:

  • The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Vintage Books. 1958–1974.
     
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Vintage Books. 1958.  
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Vintage Books. 1963.  
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox. New York: Vintage Books. 1974.  

Beginning in 1999, Time–Life published a fourteen volume "40th Anniversary Edition" with contemporary photographs and illustrations. This edition was sold by subscription, but when Time–Life exited the book business, remaindered copies appeared in bookstores. Relatively few copies of volume 13 were printed, increasing the value of that volume and the set as a whole. The divisions were based on keeping each volume to 288–300 pages (a few are shorter or longer), rather than historic or thematic considerations. Each volume has its own index, which appears to be more detailed than the indexes in the three-volume edition. For example, "Rockfish Gap" appears in volume 13 of the Time–Life set, but not in volume 3 of the original edition.

  1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Secession to Fort Henry (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Donelson to Memphis (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Yorktown to Cedar Mountain (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  4. The Civil War: A Narrative, Second Manassas to Pocotaligo (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  5. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fredericksburg to Steele Bayou (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  6. The Civil War: A Narrative, Charleston Harbor to Vicksburg (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  7. The Civil War: A Narrative, Gettysburg to Draft Riots (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  8. The Civil War: A Narrative, Tullahoma to Missionary Ridge (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 1999.  
  9. The Civil War: A Narrative, Mine Run to Meridian (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2001.  
  10. The Civil War: A Narrative, Red River to Spotsylvania (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2001.  
  11. The Civil War: A Narrative, Yellow Tavern to Cold Harbor (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000.  
  12. The Civil War: A Narrative, James Crossing to Johnsonville (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000.  
  13. The Civil War: A Narrative, Petersburg Siege to Bentonville (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000.  
  14. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Stedman to Reconstruction (40th Anniversary ed.). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life. 2000.  

In 2005, Random House published the narratives as nine volumes by splitting the original three into three volumes each. Some of the maps from the original work, hand drawn by Foote, were replaced by more elaborate, full-color maps that originally appeared in the Time-Life Civil War history series. Photographs and artwork were also added.

  1. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fort Sumter to Kernstown: First Blood–The Thing Gets Under Way. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  2. The Civil War: A Narrative, Pea Ridge to the Seven Days: War Means Fighting, Fighting Means Killing. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  3. The Civil War: A Narrative, Second Manassas to Perryville: The Sun Shines South. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  4. The Civil War: A Narrative, Fredericksburg to Chancellorsville: The Longest Journey. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  5. The Civil War: A Narrative, Gettysburg to Vicksburg: Unvexed to the Sea. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  6. The Civil War: A Narrative, Tullahoma to Meridian: Riot and Resurgence. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  7. The Civil War: A Narrative, Red River to Chattahoochee: Another Grand Design. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  8. The Civil War: A Narrative, Petersburg to Savannah: War Is Cruelty–You Cannot Refine It. New York: Random House. 2005.  
  9. The Civil War: A Narrative, Five Forks to Appomattox: Victory and Defeat. New York: Random House. 2005.  

In 2011, Random House released a new edition of the trilogy,[1] edited by Jon Meacham, along with a companion volume by Meacham entitled American Homer: Reflections on Shelby Foote and His Classic The Civil War: A Narrative:

  • The Civil War: A Narrative. New York: Random House. 2011.
     
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 1: Fort Sumter to Perryville. New York: Random House. 2011. 
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 2: Fredericksburg to Meridian. New York: Random House. 2011. 
  • The Civil War: A Narrative, Vol. 3: Red River to Appomattox. New York: Random House. 2011. 
  •  

Notes

  1. ^ Meacham, Jon (April–May 2011). "Shelby Foote's War Story: How a Memphis novelist’s history of the Civil War made history itself". Garden & Gun. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 

References

  • Meacham, Jon (April–May 2011). "Shelby Foote's War Story: How a Memphis novelist’s history of the Civil War made history itself". Garden & Gun. Retrieved 2011-05-08. 
  • New York State Writers Institute: Shelby Foote
  • The Mississippi Writer's Page: Shelby Foote

External links

  • "Shelby Foote's War Story: How a Memphis novelist’s history of the Civil War made history itself" from Garden & Gun
  • , September 11, 1994.Stars in Their Courses interview with Foote on Booknotes
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