Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Book Review: A Deeper Look at the Confederate Soldier

"Faces of the Confederacy is an indispensable new window on the Civil War and the society that fought it," writes Dr. John L.S. Daley in a review of my book that has just appeared in the Civil War Book Review by the Louisiana State University Libraries' Special Collections.

Daley, an associate professor of history and chair of the Department of History at Pittsburg State University in southeastern Kansas, mentioned a number of details that other reviewers passed by, including this opening line: "Consciously taking cues from Thomas Macaulay and Thomas Carlyle, Ronald S. Coddington has presented history as a sum of individual experiences in this collection of seventy-seven short biographies of Confederate soldiers..."

Daley compares the book to Bell J. Wiley's classic, The Life of Johnny Reb (1962), and adds a paragraph that accurately reflects my research: "The Internet and Interlibrary Loan have allowed Coddington to tread where Wiley and other predecessors could not. While awaiting responses to his Civil War Message Board Portal and queries, he mined, digitized Library of Congress records and pension files in state archives. On-site research in the Library of Congress and National Archives turned up service records, as did the Southern Historical Society Papers, newspapers and regimental histories. Even with internet help, it took him an average of two months to piece together each life.

I am particularly pleased with this review. You can read the complete version on my web site, or view the original on the Civil War Book Review.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Interview on ACW Essays & Research

Greg Rowe, the author of American Civil War Essays & Research, posted an interview with me based on a series of email questions I recently answered at his request. The result, The stories of Civil War soldiers as told by a visual journalist, is an excellent account of my author experience. I am especially pleased that he included a number of details, including my days as a baseball card collector.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Unexpected Discovery at Antietam Monument

Yesterday I visited Antietam with my friend Chuck and hiked several battlefield trails in humid conditions under an overcast sky. Along The Cornfield Avenue we came upon the State of New Jersey Monument, dedicated in 1903 to the Third, Fourth and Thirteenth Infantries and Hexamer's Battery (Battery A, First New Jersey Artillery).

Along the base of the monument is inscribed the names of the governor and three veterans, all commissioners who helped make the monument a reality. The name of the third commissioner instantly caught my attention, for John James Toffey is one of the seventy-seven soldiers featured in Faces of the Civil War. That Toffey's name should appear at Antietam is unexpected, for he did not serve in these units (he was part of the Twenty-first and Thirty-third infantry regiments) nor participate in the battle.

Toffey (1844-1911) received the Medal of Honor for his actions at Chattanooga in 1863.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Impressive New Market Event

Spent today signing Faces of the Civil War and Faces of the Confederacy in the Museum tent along Sutler's Row at the New Market reenactment. I enjoyed meeting several people known previously by email, notably Nick Sekela and Nick Picerno, and meeting new friends, including Mike Zucchero, author of Loyal Hearts: Histories of American Civil War Canines.

I did manage to snap a few images during the battle reenactment, before a thunderstorm tore through the area, reminiscent of the rains reported during the battle 145 years ago today.

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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Book Signing at New Market

Thanks to sutler Nick Sekela, I will be signing copies of my books at the The Battle of New Market Reenactment. I'll be set up in the bookstore tent, adjacent to sutler's row, on Saturday, May 16, from 10-3, and Sunday, May 17, from 10-2. I am informed that this year's event will be especially impressive, due in part to the cancellation of the Spotsylvania reenactment.

Hope to meet you there!

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

MI Publishes Confederate Faces Review

Military Images publisher David Neville reviewed Faces of the Confederacy in the latest issue of the magazine (May/June 2008). This excerpt captures the essence of his words:

"These stories are not the often told ones of famous Confederate leaders like General Lee, Stonewall Jackson, or J.E.B. Stuart, but of enlisted men and lower ranking officers, whose life stories deserve to be heard by this generation of American history and Civil War readers."

The complete comments are available in the Confederate Reviews section of my web site.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Thanks

Jason Puckett of Bartlesvile, Oklahoma, collects old photographs with a passion and interest that reminds me of my own. He contacted me some time ago after reading Union Faces, and since then we've maintained a periodic correspondence. Last week, I sent him signed copies of Confederate Faces, and yesterday received with delight a package containing several beautiful cartes de visite — a thoughtful gift from a generous spirit that I will treasure.

He also sent me a card that reads, in part, "I have truly enjoyed your correspondence, and being able to read the stories of the men who I consider to be my heroes. You have given a voice, as well as a rebirth to men long gone."

Jason's words remind me that the remembrance of those who came before us, the sacrifices that they made in times of great peril and national crisis, are a reminder that we are challenged to muster courage and inner strength to make our country and our world a better place for those who come after us.

Thank you, Jason, for sharing your thought.

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Web 5.0

Spent time over the past week redesigning the web site. The old design had a limited navigation bar that had outgrown its usefulness as I've added a number of new features and links during the past couple years. A major change is moving from a Flash-based environment to HTML, which is helpful for search engine optimization and text display.

New features include a page dedicated to purchasing signed copies of both books.

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